Pakistan : Taliban are “our boys”
Islam has always been at a the very center of the lives of ordinary Afghan people. Islam has been deep rooted in Afghanistan. But no Afghan can insist that the fellow Muslim standing next to him prays also. Traditionally Islam in Afghanistan has been immensely tolerant- so other Muslims sects , other religions and modern lifestyles.
According to a survey , more than 80 per cent Afghans consider the Shia sect . Muslims but in Pakistan 50 per cent Pakistanis consider shia non-muslim
But after 1992 brutal civil war destroyed age-old Afghan Tolerance and consensus.
Thanks to the CIA-ISI arms pipeline, the engine of the Jihad was the radical Islamic parties. The radicals of Afghanistan had gone to Pakistan where they were patronized by Islamabad as means to pressurize future Afghan governments. So the interference of Pakistan in the internal affairs of Afghanistan started long before the 1978 April revolution and which continues till to date.
Before the Taliban, Islamic extremism had never flourished in Afghanistan.
Anyone who has been touched by an Afghan or visited the country in peace or in war, will understand the country and the people are amongst the most extraordinary people. The Afghans have also been affected by one of the greatest tragedies of this century- the longest running civil war in this era which has brought untold misery. And this civil war was fueled by ISI , both overtly and covertly.
Afghans are Brave, magnificent , honorable , generous , hospitable, gracious , handsome people .
Over the centuries , trying to understand the Afghans and their country was turned into a fine art and a game of power politics by the Persians, the Arabs, the Mongols, the British, the Soviets , and most recently Pakistanis along with the world community.
Only the Afghans could have been capable of keeping two empires- Britain and the Soviet Union- at bay in 19th century.
But after the defeat of Soviet Union the Afghans drove straight from Geneva into a bloody , senseless civil war that still continues today where Pakistan was the main catalyst.
Unfortunately after the withdrawal of Soviet, the world community forgot Afghanistan, leaving it on the mercy of Pakistan and thus the everlasting dirty role of Pakistan in Afghanistan continued.
Afghan government was formed under the supervision of Pakistan in Peshawar.
Pakistan wanted Hikmayar to be in power in Kabul. But Hikmayar terribly failed .So Pakistan was getting tired of backing a loser and was looking around for other potential proxies. Thus another group was created by Pakistan called Taliban .
There was a large arms dump outside Spin Boldak that had been guarded by Hikmatyar’s group. Pakistan then helped the Taliban by allowing them to capture that arms dump. At the dump the Taliban seized some 18,000 Kalashnikovs , dozens of artillery pieces , large quantities of ammunition and vehicles.
When Taliban captured Kandahar , it was celebrated by Pakistan government and JUI ( Jamitul ulama Islam).
During Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s second term of office ( 1993-1996) , the interior minister retired General Naseerullah Babar had promoted Taliban.
Nasirullah babar was calling Taliban “my boys”.
Hamid Mir a renown Pakistani journalist said,” once I wrote a column against the Taliban , then I was called by Benazir Bhutto. She warned me, don’t write against Taliban , they are very good people.” But later on she was killed by those “good people”.There is a saying , “ Don’t keep the snake in your backyard to intimidate the neighbors, some times you will also be bitten.
But as international and domestic pressure mounted on Pakistan to explain its position , Bhutto made the first formal denial of any Pakistani backing of the Taliban in February 1995.
Since the capture of Kandahar some 20,000 Afghans and hundreds of Pakistani madrassa students had streamed across the border from refugee camps and other religious madrassas in Pakistan to join Mullah Omar.
Those boys from Pakistani madrassas were from the generation who had never seen their country at peace- an Afghanistan not at war with invaders but itself. They had no memories of their tribes, their elders , their neighbors nor their homeland. They had no memories of the past , no plans for the future
while for them the present was every thing. Many of them were orphans who had grown up without women- mothers, sisters, cousins. They lived in segregated camp life and in madrassas. So they had simple never known the company of women.
In the madrassas they were deliberately kept ignorant from the modern day education. But upon keeping in view their dirty game in Afghanistan , ISI were preparing another brigade of militants and terrorists.
The Taliban with their linkages with the Pakistani madrassas encouraged thousands of children to enlist and fight.
The son of Mullah Omar, Yaqoob, now second in command of Taliban leadership, also completed his education in the likewise madrassa in Karachi, another asset of Pakistan for terrorism.
Once there was a very secret meeting of Taliban how to impose Sharia law in the Taliban held area. Foreigners were banned to go there. However, Pakistani officials were there to monitor the Shura, including Pakistan Ambassador to Kabul Qazi Humayun , and several ISI officers such as Colonel Imam , Pakistan’s Consul General in Herat.
Mullah Omar was nominated to become the ‘ Amir-ul Momineen’.
Pakistan was worried by Rabbani’s success in Afghanistan and attempted to woo the same warlords to join the Taliban and form anti Kabul alliance.
The ISI summoned Hikmatyar , Dostum and some Hazb-e- wahdat chiefs to Islamabad to persuade them to ally with Taliban. These warlords met with President Farooq Leghari and Army chief General Jehangir Kiramat. The negotiations continued for one week, between 7 and 13 February 1996.
Pakistan proposed a political alliance and joint attack on Kabul, but the Taliban declined to have any thing to do with the other warlords whom they condemned as communist infidels.
Islamabad failure to create a united front against Kabul , emboldened Rabbani further. After visiting Iran Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan and Tajikistan , Rabbani asked them to increase military aid. These countries including Russia started supporting the Rabbani government. India backed Kabul regime simple because of Pakistani support to the Taliban.
In turn , Pakistan and Saudi Arabia stepped up arms supply to the Taliban. Providing new telephone and wireless network for the Taliban , Pakistan also refurbished Kandahar airport.
The Saudi provided fuel, money and hundreds of new pick-ups to the Taliban. Much of this aid was flown into Kandahar airport from the Gulf port city of Dubai.
In the mean while the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Robin Raphel arrived in Islamabad to review US policy towards Afghanistan. Starting on 19 April 1996 , Raphel visited the three power centers of Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-e- Sharif and later three Central Asian capitals. ‘ We do not see ourselves inserting in the middle of Afghan affairs but we consider ourselves as a friend of Afghanistan which is I am here to urge the Afghans themselves to get together and talk. We are also concerned that economic opportunities here will be missed , if political stability can not be restored, “ said Raphel in Kabul.
Raphel was referring to a proposed gas pipeline to be built by the American oil giant Unocal to carry gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.
US reluctance to support the Taliban was also influenced by Pakistan’s failure in creating an anti-Rabbani alliance. This proved even more embarrassing for Islamabad when , in May 1996, 1000 of Hikmyar’s troops arrived in Kabul to support the government and defend the front line against the Taliban.
On 26th June , 1996 Hikmatyar himself entered Kabul for the first time in 15 years, to take up the post of Prime minister offered by the regime , while his party accepted nine other cabinet posts in the government. In retaliation on the same day , the Taliban launched a massive rocket attack on Kabul in which 61 people were killed and over 100 injured.
Camped outside the capital , the Taliban had been rocketing Kabul mercilessly throughout the year. In April alone , the Taliban fired 866 rockets , killing 180 civilians , injuring 550 and destroying large tracts of the city.
In July 1996 , Taliban rockets fell close to the newly appointed newly mediator for Afghanistan, the German diplomat Norbert Holl who was visiting Kabul. Holl was furious. This is no way to treat a peace emissary , by shooting at him. If you receive a guest in your house you don’t start spitting at him. It demonstrates a sort of contempt for my mission,’ he told the Talbian.
The Saudi intelligence chief Price Turki al Faisal visited Islamabad and Kandahar in July 1996 to discuss with the ISI a new plan to take Kabul, and both countries stepped up supplies to the Taliban. Within two months of Turki’s visit , the Taliban were on the move- not against Kabul but the east city of Jalalabad. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia helped engineer the surrender and eventual fight of the head of the Jalalabad Shura, Haji Abdul Qadeer.
He was given a large bribe , reported by some Afghans to be US$ 10 million in cash, as well as guarantee that his assets and bank accounts in Pakistan would not be frozen.
The Taliban launched their surprise offensive on Jalalabad on 25 August 1996. As the main Taliban force moved up on the city from the south , Pakistan allowed hundreds of armed Taliban supporters, from Afghan Refugees camps and other madrassas in Pakistan to cross the border and move on Jalalabad from the east. There was panic in Jalalabad. And the Shura fell apart.
Haji Qadeer Khan fled to Pakistan on 10 September and his replacement , acting governor Mehmoud was killed along with six bodyguards a day late, while also trying to escape to Pakistan. That same evening a Taliban mobile column of pic-ups led by Mullah Burjan drove into Jalalabad after a brief firefight in which some 70 people were killed. Nangahar , Kunar and laghman were also captured by Taliban.
On 24th September 1996 the Taliban moved on Sarobi , 45 miles from Kabul and the gateway to the capital Kabul.
On the evening of 26th September 1996 , the Taliban columns swept into Kabul, just a few hours after Masud had ordered a general withdrawal to evacuate the city. Small units stayed behind to delay the Taliban advance and blow up ammunition dump, while Mahsud escaped northwards with the bulk of his Armour and artillery.
The Taliban victory was complete which stamped the further disaster of Afghan people and Afghanistan while Pakistan was enjoying to get what it wanted.
The Taliban’s first and bloodiest act was to hang former President Najibullah , then aged 50 , who had ruled Afghanistan from 1986 to 1992. He was killed on the directions of ISI.
Mullah Razaq had ordered to kill him. Mullah Razaq had very close relations with ISI , and he admitted later that he had ordered Najibullah’s murder.
Najibullah’s execution was the first symbolic , brutal act by the Taliban.
By the help of Pakistan , Taliban captured Kabul in September 1996. Many of these Taliban had been born in the Pakistani refugees camps. They were educated and trained in Pakistani madrassas and had learnt their fighting skills in Pakistan. These younger Taliban barely knew their own country and history, but all of them were radicalized to fight for Islam.
And thus Pakistan succeeded to place their puppet government in Afghanistan.
As a result disaster started for the people of Afghanistan and specially for women.
But four years in power in Kabul , Mahsud’s army had turned into arrogant masters who harassed civilians , stole from shops and confiscated people’s homes which is why Kabulis first welcomed the Taliban when they entered Kabul. But soon their atrocities , reprisals and mass arrests were started by the Taliban in Kabul.
Faced with rising casualties the Taliban began to suffer manpower shortage. Thousands of Pakistani students and Afghans from the refugees camps and from other ISI sponsored organizations in Pakistan began to arrive daily to Kabul and Kandahar on buses . The religious madrassas were closed and sent the students to help Taliban.
Pakistan waived all passport and visa requirements for them.
After 1996 , Power was entirely concentrated in the hands of Mullah Omar while the Kandahar Shura was consulted less and less.
When the Taliban first entered Kabul , the religious police beat men and women in public , for not having long enough beards or not wearing the burka properly.
Women were not allowed to work in any field except in the medical sector. The women education was banned. The majority of boys were also deprived of education, because the teachers were women. An entire generation of Afghan children were growing up without any education, Thousands of educated families have fled Kabul for other countries simply because their children can no longer receive an education. And Pakistan government was supporting the Taliban for these type of activities deliberately to keep the Afghans illiterate. So Pakistan destroyed the various generations of Afghanistan with all respects.
Taliban were completely under control of Pakistan , Saudi Arabia and gulf states , but non of them had issued a single statement on the need for women education or human rights in Afghanistan. Surprisingly, Iran issued the toughest defense of women’s right under Islam.
The fall of Kabul and the intense fighting that followed, created serious apprehensions in the entire region. Iran , Russia and four central Asian Republics warned the Taliban not to move north and publicly declared they would help rearm the anti-Taliban alliance. Meanwhile Pakistan and Saudi Arabia sent diplomatic missions to Kabul to see what help they could offer the Taliban. The region was now deeply polarized with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia allied to the Taliban and other regional states backing the opposition. But again the battle field was Afghanistan.
Russia, Turkey and the central Asian republics blamed Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for backing the Taliban.
Pakistan transferred all the terrorists training camps to Afghanistan to lead Afghanistan to a terrorist state. Pakistan has always been trying to make Afghanistan the weakest state because Pakistan has occupied the land of Afghanistan from Durand line to Indus River and Afghanistan has always been not recognizing this territory a legal part of Pakistan. Afghans claimed it its own land.
Naseerullah Babar ordered Pakistan Telecommunication to set up telephone network and wireless set up for the Taliban.
Pakistan had its own agenda to help Taliban. In throughout Afghan history, no outsider has been able to manipulate the Afghans. But Pakistan had learnt no lessons from the Afghan history. Pakistan thought about the strategic depth in Afghanistan , recognition of Durand line and to replace Pukhtun nationalism in Pakistan into Pakistan Islamic radicals , but Pakistan was terribly failed to gain non of their these ambitions.
With the Taliban ban on photography and television, nobody knew what their leader even look like. The one-eyed Taliban Leader Mullah Omar remained an enigmatic mystery. First Mullah Omar used to sit on the cement floor alongside visiting Taliban , but then sat on a bed while others sit on the floor – a move but that emphasizes his status as leader.
Formal communication to foreign embassies of Taliban government in Islamabad were frequently dictated by Pakistani advisers.
In each and every department of the Taliban government there would be ISI personnel there. All the Major Afghanistan cities would be dialed from Pakistan not as a long distance but local call. It was in the interest of Pakistan to keep Afghanistan isolated from the world so that they would be depended completely on Pakistan only. Only three countries , Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE had recognized the Taliban government.
In July 1998 Saudi Prince Turki had visited Kandahar and a few weeks later 400 new pick-up trucks arrived in Kandahar for the Taliban, still bearing their Dubai license plates. But under the pressure of US , when Turki asked Mullah Omar to hand over the Osama bin laden or expel him from Afghanistan , Mullah Omar said , it is not the business of Saudi Arabia to come and ask about Bin Laden.
After that Saudi suspended its diplomatic relations with the Taliban and ostensibly ceased all aid to them but even then Saudi Arabia did not withdraw recognition of the Taliban government.
Mullah Omar also turned down the demand of US to either hand over Osama bin laden or expel him from the country. But Taliban denied.
However in 1998 the Taliban wanted to use Osama bin Laden as a bargaining chip and to cut the deal with Washington- to allow him to leave the country in exchange for US recognition of Taliban government in Afghanistan.
UN Security Council also passed a toughest resolution on Afghanistan. Afghanistan-based terrorism has become a plague ,’ said US envoy Nancy Soderberg. Pakistan was the only country that did not support the resolution, calling biased and by now Pakistan was as internationally isolated as the Taliban. But even then Pakistan continued its dirty role in Afghanistan.
At the beginning of 1998 Kofi Annan had warned , ‘ In a country of 20 million people, 50,000 armed men are holding the whole population hostage.
It is like Pakistan that 500,000 Army has made the hostage of 200 million people of Pakistan.
UN mediator Lakhdar Brahim announced his resignation. He blamed Taliban for their intransigence, the support given to them by thousands of Pakistani madrassas students and continued outside interference.
Another UN Security Council resolution imposed on Taliban on 15 October , banning commercial aircraft flights for and from Afghanistan and freezing Taliban bank accounts world wide – even as Washington stepped up pressure on the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden.
Thus Afghanistan got isolated in the international community. And that what Pakistan wanted the Taliban to depend only on Pakistan and use them not only to suppress the people of Afghanistan, but Pakistan also used the Taliban militants in Kashmir and India. Pakistan also used the Taliban to suppress the Pukhtun’s , Baloch and Sindhi freedom fighters in Pakistan.
In the mean while Taliban also had started the massacre of the Shia Muslims.
A small Taliban unit led by Mullah Dost Mohammad and including several Pakistani militants of the anti-Shia , Sipah-e-Sahaba party entered the Iranian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif , herded 11 Iranian diplomats, intelligence officers and a journalist into the basement and then shot them dead.
The Taliban victories in northern Afghanistan in the summer 1998 and their control of over 90 per cent of the country , set in motion an even fiercer regional conflict as Iran threatened to invade Afghanistan and accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban.
Al-Qaeda and Kashmiri militants from the world and Kashmir respectively were being trained in the ISI funded and constructed by Pakistani contractor training camps inside Afghanistan. In these training camps ISI officers were directly involved.
On 7th August 1998 , Bin Laden’s sympathizers blew up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and wounding 4500. This prompted the US to launch missile strikes on Bin Laden’s training camp in north-eastern Afghanistan on 20th August 1998. Dozens of cruise missiles hit six targets, killing over 20 people and wounding 30 more. Most of those killed were Pakistanis including two ISI officers. The Pakistani terrorists were trained not only to fight in Afghanistan but in India and Kashmir as well.
The Taliban were playing host to extremist groups from Central Asia , Uzbekistan , Iran , Kashmir , China and Pakistan . Those militants fought not only for the Taliban inside Afghanistan and in their own countries as well.
The Taliban , controlled and directed by ISI, was harboring all the terrorist activities of the international network of al-Qaeda.
After the military coup in Islamabad on October 12 1999 , Pakistan stepped up its support to the Taliban providing increased military aid to the Taliban for its summer offensive in 2000.
Pakistan was happy to see the deteriorating and isolating situation of Afghanistan , that what Pakistan wanted to isolate Afghanistan from the international community to destroy it as much as it could. That would also increase the dependence of Taliban on Pakistan more and more.
Taliban’s insistence on continued fighting , increased public criticism of the Taliban’s lack of concern for the civilian population.
February 14 , 2001, Taliban order closure of U.N. offices in Kabul .
February 20 , 2001 , U.N. announces that a starvation crisis looms in Afghanistan.
March 01, 2001 : The Taliban provoke international outrage by blowing up the giant Buddha statues of Bamiyan.
September 09 , 2001 : Northern Alliance military commander Ahmed Shah Masood is fatally wounded in a suicide-bomb attack carried out by two Arabs posing as journalists.
September 11 , 2001 : More than 3,000 people are killed in New York and Washington when hijackers fly three passenger planes into the Pentagon and the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
September 14, 2001 : Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network named as leading suspect in the terror attacks on New York and Washington.
September 15 , 2001 : The Taliban order all foreigners to leave Afghanistan and warn of retaliation if any of its neighbors aid U.S. attacks on Afghanistan.
September 25 , 2001 : Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Kabul.
September 26 , 2001 : Taliban loses the support of chief ally Pakistan, which agrees to cooperate with the United States in its fight against the regime.
October 7, 2001 : First U.S.-led military strikes launched on Afghanistan.
October 26, 2001 : Afghan resistance hero Abdul Haq is executed by the Taliban after being captured while trying to persuade ethnic Pashtun tribes to turn against the ruling militia.
November 9, 2001 : Northern Alliance opposition forces capture Mazar-i-Sharif and make sweeping gains against Taliban forces across northern Afghanistan.
November 13, 2001 : Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul following an overnight pullout by Taliban troops.
November 17 , 2001 : Exiled Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani returns to Kabul and vows a broad-based government will be installed as soon as possible.
November 26, 2001 : Northern Alliance forces mop up Taliban defenders, staging a bloody last stand in the Taliban’s remaining northern foothold of Kunduz after a bitter two-week siege.
November 30 , 2001 : The final Taliban fighters surrender after staging a bloody prison uprising in a fort near Mazar-i-Sharif that resulted in hundreds being killed.
December 5, 2001 : In Bonn, four rival Afghan groups sign an historic power-sharing agreement to form a post-Taliban interim government. Royalist ethnic Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai is appointed head of the six-month interim body.
December 6, 2001 : The Taliban agree to surrender their last stronghold of Kandahar.
December 7, 2001 : Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai says Taliban fighters begin to hand over their weapons and control of Kandahar to local commander Mullah Naqibullah.
The tragedy of 9/11 on one side completely changed the world order and on the other hand the Taliban government was toppled. And the nightmare of Afghan people came to end.
Pakistan betrayed its ally Taliban , and then again started making money in Afghanistan crisis.
Pakistan has always been keeping in view its main objectives in the Afghan crisis, one to destroy Afghanistan , second making fool the international community specially the America , to take military, financial and economic aid from them.
After the fall of Taliban government, Pakistan started its double cross game with its international allies to keep the wounds of Afghanistan bleeding.
Since 2001 , Pakistan got 33 Billions US dollars only from USA to fight against Al-Qaeda but in Pakistan , Osama bin Laden was enjoying honey moon with three wives under the cover of Pakistan intelligence organization ISI in Abbotabad , in the backyard of Kakul military academy not far from the capital of Pakistan ‘ ISLAMABAD’.
The famous Indian poet Mohammad Iqbal described Afghanistan as the heart of Asia , if there will be no peace in Afghanistan , then there will be no peace in the world. While lord Curzon , the early twentieth – century British Viceroy of India , called Afghanistan ‘ the cockpit of Asia’.
But the good gesture is that after decades of war in the Afghanistan , the Afghans now know their real enemy which is of course the terrorist , fundamentalist , extremist and occupying state of ‘ PAKISTAN’ .
Now the Afghans are sure that unless they will get back its territory from Durand line to Indus river occupied by Pakistan , there will be no peace in Afghanistan. And when there will be no peace in Afghanistan , the world will be suffering likewise.
Mashal Khan Takkar
Editor in Chief
THE VOICE TIMES
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