Fateh Sami


Re-emergence of Taliban and extremists in Afghanistan


 Afghanistan’s geographical location in the course of history played a substantial part in changing the balance of power between the rival neighboring nations in one way or the other. As history shows, Afghanistan was used as a buffer state between British India and Russia in the 19th century. In the early 1980’s, Red Army as a consequence of East-West rivalry during the cold war period occupied Afghanistan in an attempt to strengthen its domination over the presence of American forces in the Indian Ocean and Gulf region. Hence, the Afghan soil lost its role as a surrogate state. The former Soviet Union planned to use it as a ‘spring board’ for its strategic domination in south East Asia. For the realization of this strategy the Soviet Union supported the former pro-Soviet regime of PDPA in Afghanistan economically, politically and militarily for over a decade. Ultimately the occupation of Afghanistan was ended and the Red Army was forced to leave Afghanistan. Continuous resistance of Mujaddin with the unsparing support of USA, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic countries did not only nullify the plan of former Kremlin authority but also significantly contributed to its domestic disintegration and loss of its international prestige as a superpower.

After the defeat of the former Soviet Union, USA walked away and Pakistan has been persistently attempting to bring Afghanistan under its full control through ISI’s assorted  “divide and rule tactics.” 

The emergence of Taliban’s movement in 1994 has been a calculated strategy masterminded behind the scene by an unholy triangle of apparently invisible external forces, united for achieving their long-term sole economic, military and political goals in the region. This appalling strategy has been laid out and inhumanely implemented in the last decade by Pakistan’s successive ruling regimes. According to Mr. Ahmad Rashid, a renowned Pakistani journalist,   “ Many Taliban had grown up and studied in madrassas  (religious schools) run by the mercurial Maulana Fazul Rehman and his Jamiat-e-Ulema (JUI), a fundamentalist party. Maulana Rehman was a close ally of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and he had access to the government, the army and the ISI to whom he described this newly emerging forces.”

However retired General Nasrullah Babur, the former interior minister of Benazir Bhutto has been portrayed as an organizer of Taliban’s movement. He is regarded as the father and founder of this movement in Afghanistan. But the root of the matter is much deeper than what is believed by certain people and reflected by mass media.  

Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been the principal supplier to the Taliban and facilitator for implementing the economic domineering policy of the giant oil companies. Taliban have been receiving weapons on a regular basis to replenish supplies consumed during battle with the opposition forces. Pakistan has been assisting extensively Taliban’s forces by facilitating the recruitment of fighters, offering military training and planning pivotal military operations. Former Pakistani military officers provided specialized military forms of assistance with a view to increasing Taliban’s forces combat efficiency and effectiveness. Several political parties used madras’s as natural recruiting centers for recruitment of volunteer soldiers.

Taliban, headed by Mula Omar was initially brought into power by ISI to replace Hezbe-Islami of Gulbidden Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar has been loyal and dutiful in fulfilling ISI’s instructions in killing thousands of innocent civilians and caused the devastation of Kabul City by launching 2-3 thousand rockets in a single day. The massive rocket attacks against Kabul killed over 35 thousand civilians, including men, women and children and destroyed large parts of the city. Thousands of people were displaced and migrated to the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran.

“In 1996, CIA chief William Casey had stepped up the war against the Soviet Union by taking three significant but at the same time highly secret measures. He had persuaded the US congress to provide the Mujaheddin with American–made stinger antiaircraft missiles to shoot down Soviet planes and provide US advisors to train the guerrilla. Until then no US-made weapons or personnel had been used directly in the war effort. The CIA, Britain’s M16 and the ISI also agreed on a provocative plan to launch guerrilla attacks into Soviet Socialist Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the soft Muslem underbelly of the Soviet State from where Soviet troops in Afghanistan received their supplies. The task was given to the ISI’s favorite Mujaheddin leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In 1987, small units crossed the Amu Darya (river) from bases in northern Afghanistan and launched their first rocket attacks against villages in Tajikistan. Casey was delighted with the news and on his next secret trip to Pakistan he crossed the border into Afghanistan with president Zia to review the Mujaheddin groups.” (Taliban –Rashid 2000. P129.)

On page 128 of his book on Taliban Rashid continues.  I arrived at Torkham, the border post at the head of Kaiber pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan when I was returning from my journey to Kabul I waited on the Afghan side of the border.  I saw groups of Filipino Moros, Uzbek from Soviet Central Asia, Arabs from Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait and Uighurs from Xinjiang in China. Their escort was a member of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami. They had come to fight with the Mujaheddin and to train in weapons; bomb-making and military tactics so they could take the jihad back home.

“ Mirwais Jalil, an Afghan journalist who worked for the BBC, was assassinated by Hekmatyar’s men. A foreign journalist who had accompanied him revealed the reason for the assassination. Jalil had filmed Pakistani and Arab fighters in Hekmaryar’s rank. So Hekekmatyar wanted to scare Jalil and wipe out this evidence of foreign mercenaries among his men” (My Forbidden Face, p132)

“The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan also relied on crucial help from Pakistan. By 1994 Pakistan was tiring of its Afghan Mujahiddin puppet, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s its ISI had channeled more arms and money from CIA to Hekmatyar’s radical- fundamentalist faction than to any of the moderate Mujahiddin groups. Yet his attraction for the ISI lay in the fact that he had little grassroots support inside Afghanistan itself and was thus behold to the Pakistan. The continuing anarchy in Afghanistan after the departure of the Soviets showed the fundamental flaw in the ISI’s policy. Hekmatyar could never consolidate power to the extent required in order to safe guard its land routes to the new oil states of Central Asia.”  -     (Kaplan Robert D, Soldiers of Good, 2001, P238).

Pakistan needed a new pawn to replace Hekmatyar’s forces, which were not able to fulfill any longer her goal in Afghanistan. The new pawn appeared in the name of Taliban, initially branded as “saviors of nation” and “messengers of peace’’. 

Pakistan’s objective in this “pawn replacement game” was apparently achieved in installing Taliban’s puppet regime in Kabul to facilitate the process for the development of a gas and oil pipeline through Afghanistan with the cooperation of Cent Gas, the oil consortium led by UNOCAL, a Californian-based International Corporation.

Taliban with the all-sided assistance of Pakistan have imposed the most oppressive and horrible ‘regime’ on the people of Afghanistan in history. They have committed numerous crimes against the defenseless civilians in Afghanistan under the banner of Islam.

“ While the Taliban claimed they were fighting a jihad against corrupt, evil Muslims, the other ethnic groups see them as using Islam as a cover to exterminate non-Pashtuns.” (Ahmad Rashid- Taliban, 2000, P87).

A book entitled, My Forbidden Face, translated by Lisa Appoignanesi published by Virago Press 2002 in Paris writes on page 155, “ the country is starving to death. Refugees from the countryside mass in camps at the border of Pakistan and Iran. Beggar women grow in number in the streets of Kandahar, Kabul, Heart, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad. But the Taliban talks of none of this. They are too busy putting barbers in prison, whipping men or punishing women”.

Taliban and their Pakistani patrons have plundered the Afghan cultural heritage. The devastation of over 1500 years old Buddha statues in Bamian city is cited as an example. They have been engaged in drug trafficking and have link with the international terrorist organizations.

Taliban do not feel obliged to observe and respect human rights. Their vision of Islam has nothing to do with Islam, which is a religion of peace and tolerance. They are misrepresenting and defaming Islam.  Since their emergence they have been continually committing crimes including genocide, mass murder, ethnic cleansing, terrorism and devastation of historic relics. All these crimes have been perpetrated with the instruction, military and economic aid of ISI of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

 According to Mr. Rashid, “When Taliban forces entered Mazar on 8th August 1998, Mula Omar had given them permission to kill for two hours, but they had killed for two days. Driving their pick-ups, up and down the streets of Mazar shooting to the left and right and killing everything that moved- shop owners, cart pullers, women and children, shoppers and even goats and donkeys. Contrary to all injunctions of Islam, which demands immediate burial, bodies were left to rot on the streets. They were shooting without discriminating between men, women and children. Soon the streets were covered with dead bodies and blood. No body was allowed burry the corpses for the first six days. Dogs were eating human flesh and going mad and soon the smell became intolerable.

Thousand of Hazaras were taken to Mazar jail and when it was full, they were damped in containers, which were locked, and the prisoners were allowed to suffocate. Some containers were taken to Dasht-e- Laili desert outside Mazar and the inmates were massacred there” (Taliban P73). 

Most people still may remember that Mohammad Zaher, the former king of Afghanistan, congratulated them for their victory in Mazar-e Sharif.

“In April 1996 alone, the Taliban fired 866 rockets against Kabul, killing 180 civilians, injuring 550 and destroying large tracts of the city- a repetition of Hekmatyar’s attack in 1993-95.” (Rashid- Taliban 2000, P47). “Taliban conducted a bloody scorched- earth policy north of the capital, which led to some 200,000 people fleeing the area and the devastation of the Shamali valley- one of the most fertile regions in the country.” (Rashid- Taliban 2000, P79).   

It is widely believed that most statistics on the incitements of violence, rape, torture, and selling women to foreigners are under estimated. Victims often feel unable to speak out about domestic violence due to feeling of shame, fear of retribution from the perpetrator and negative community attitudes towards them.

Pakistan as a major actor of the “ new great game” has been seeking its interest through devastation of Afghanistan under various contexts, which would ultimately be proved a short-term profit. It will burn in the fire that has kindled itself. Pakistan has cunningly been taking assorted roles to gain access through Afghanistan to the newly liberated central Asian nations, which own boundless natural resources. It is reasonable to achieve its goal in seeking unity among various ethnic groups, and in facilitating the establishment of a stable and broad-based government, representing all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Pakistan has fueled war between Afghan factions by using various tactics and relying on tribal code of conduct.

Until September 11 2001, the world community was deaf to hear the voice of those innocent people in Afghanistan who have been suffering from the smoke of international terrorism and cruelty of Taliban. After US administration was not able to convince Taliban in handing over Osama Bin Laden, for the first time President Bush officially condemned Taliban’s behavior as barbaric toward civilians and women. However this barbarism was going on for nearly 4 years.

Pakistan’s tactics of kindling hostility among various Afghan ethnic groups, who have lived in peace and harmony for hundreds of years in the course of history, has left a negative impact on their national unity. The technique of such a greedy policy is obvious. The on-going rivalry for gaining a greater chunk from extension of the envisaged pipeline has tremendously aggravated sufferings for the Afghan people. The intra-governmental agreement between Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Cent Gas, the oil consortium, led by UNOCAL, convened in 1996. According to UNOCAL proposal, a 48-inch pipeline will extend through Afghanistan, via heart-Kandahar provinces to Quetta of Pakistan. It will then be extended to Karachi on the Arabian Sea. This project once again has tremendously enhanced the strategic role of Afghanistan in this economic game.

Once again reinsuegence of Taliban seems looming over the country. Experience has shown that whenever the balance of power swings against the group supported by Pakistan, Islamabad’s ruling circles immediately change their role and appear as a “ mediator” between the Afghan warring factions. The majority of the people of Afghanistan view Pakistan’s regimes, as notorious stage players, who have committed severe crimes against the people of Afghanistan in the name of “brotherhood”, “Islam”,   “ neighborliness” and so on.

It is not accidental that “ the UK has started holding indirect talks with the Taliban to seek a "honorable" exit from Afghanistan, MMA secretary-general Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who is mediating between the two.

 Maulana feels that the British authorities are working on behalf of the United States and this indirect process has been chosen to avoid any ill effects on forthcoming presidential elections. The polls are to be held on Nov 2. (That is why Karzaie’s rescheduled the election for 9th of October. All attempts are being focused to somehow clinch to the power and to give a legal form to his government.)

UK foreign minister Jack Straw during his recent visit to Islamabad had called on Maulana Fazl, who is also opposition leader in the National Assembly, to initiate the talk process.

After contacting and getting a go-ahead signal from the Taliban,  Maulana Fazel then had suddenly left for Britain at a time when the MMA, of which he is secretary-general, had announced a long march on Wana against ongoing army operation launched for pushing out "foreign militants" taking refuge there.

During his three-day stay in London, he held several meetings with officials of foreign and interior ministries as well as of secret agencies, Maulana Fazl said. He is scheduled to call on UK high commissioner in Islamabad in early July before leaving for London later in the month to further discuss possibilities and modalities of direct talks between the two parties” (Dawn’ Pakistani English newspaper, 13 June 2004). 

Benazir Bhoto, former Pakistan’s Prime Minister described the Russian invasion of Afghanistan as a Christmas cake for Pakistan. In the new anti-terrorism campaign, Pakistan military leader looks forward to receiving a bigger cake through pushing their in lackeys once again in power. Pretending that they are removing the terrorist camps from Pakistan. Pakistan, indubitably, cannot get through forever using a double-faced and opportunistic policy in extinguishing the fire, which has kindled itself by harboring and aiding terrorist camps in Afghanistan-Pakistan.

Mr. Kaplan continues on page 235 of the same book: “The Taliban were good, honest people,” Karzai told me over green Afghan tea and almonds. “They were connected to the madras’s (Islamic academies) in Quetta and Peshawar, and were my friends from the jihad (holy war) against the Soviets. They came to me in May 1994, saying, ‘Hamed, we must do something about the situation in Kandahar.  It is unbearable.’ I had a lot of money and weapons left over from the jihad. I also helped them with political legitimacy. It was only in September of 1994 that others began to appear at the meetings-silent ones I did not recognize, people who took over the Taliban movement. That was the hidden hand of Pakistani intelligence”.

Mr. Karzai has already embraced several Taliban and Hezbe- Islami’s high profile members in his government. The infiltration of Taliban and Hezbe- Islami in view of most observers could easily endanger the fragile power of Mr. Karzai.   Apparently Mr. Karzai has spent most of his time in consolidating his power base and relying on ethnicity and tribal affiliation as a means to win the election, rescheduled for the month of October.  Interference and manipulation by the team of Mr. Karzai in the process of working on the constitution and ignoring the opinion of participants in the Loyal Jerga (grant assembly, reflected extensively in Afghanistan’s mass media inside and outside the country, could be cited as evidence that people have lost their trust in fairness of the coming election. Experience has shown that Taliban and Hezbe-e-Islami would not be loyal to any one if they were not in power themselves

It should be clear by now to the  concerned sides in the politics of Afghanistan that peace and security will not fully resume in Afghanistan or in the region without a broad based government including all ethnic groups in  Afghanistan. Tribalism and nomadic norms would not work any more if imposed on the long-suffering people of this country.