Afghanistan wa Zuhoor-e-Taliban (Afghanistan and the Rise of Taliban) by Hissameddin Emami; Shab Publishing Company, Teheran; 1378 AHS (1999); pages 240.
By Dr Sher Zaman Taizi
A Note by the publisher
Emergence of the Taliban is not a sudden and unexpected phenomenon related to a few past years – its root causes should be traced in the history of Afghanistan and the interest of colonial and expansionist powers of the world in this region. This book is an attempt to reveal these links to answer some ambiguous questions from students of political science. The author is a well known journalist with 40 years of experience. (P: not numbered)
Afghanistan has become a detention cell for Afghans. Every thing related to Afghans has been taken away during the four years under inauspicious shadow of Taliban – radio, television, newspapers, music, painting, sculpture, exhibition, arts and sciences etc. were thrown in to the raging fire to burn and turn into ashes. This period blurred the memory of the aggression of Chengiz and Taimur.
First Chapter gives a brief of the past history of Afghanistan, referring to the interest of Pakistan, USA and Saudi Arabia in installation of a government under Gulabdin Hikmatyar. When this plan did not work, they turned to madrassas. The Pakistan Army and CIA provided secret assistance to start military training for religious students and prepare them for political organization. General Aslam Baig, Gauhar Ayub Khan and General Mohammad Gul were promoters of this plan. The group of Taliban, thus, emerged for strategic needs of America, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is pro-West.
Second Chapter deals with fusion and diffusion during the anarchic period due to declining power of mujahideen and the northern alliance which opened the way to the victory of the Taliban.
Gulbadin Hikmatyar was the only person who could set well to implement the long-term plan of America and Pakistan through the ruthless bloodshed.
After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, Pakistan and American, which had invested huge amounts on anti-Soviet jihad, found that the Rabbani government, supported by majority of jihadi leaders, would not serve their long-term interest as being nationalist and religious person.
Hikmatyar did not succeed but rendered great services for the foreign powers by weakening the Rabbani government, destruction of Kabul, driving the people backward and created state of desperation and unrest in the capital and other cities of Afghanistan. In fact, Hikmatyar was the person who cleared the way for the Taliban and provided an opportunity for the intelligence agencies of Pakistan to raise the Taliban. The clashes of Hikmatyar dehydrated the energy, financial resources, support to the government of Rabbani to such an extent that the ethnic allies of Hikmatyar – Pukhtun Taliban – conquered city after city of that country in a swift drive without any resistance. When Kabul fell in the hands of the Taliban, the capital was shifted to Balkh. There also infighting among warlords, as Dostam and Malik, weakened the government. (The author clearly pleads legitimacy of the government of Rabbani. (P: 58).
Brutal murder of Najibullah at the hands of the Taliban alerted Abdul Malik (Uzbek rival of Dostam who had switched over to the Taliban and promised the seat of northern Afghanistan) who staged turnaround and revolted against the Taliban, inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban and freed Mazar-e-Sharif (P: 59).
Shia political organization in the name of Hizb-e-Wahdat split into two factions; one led by Khalili and the other by Akbari. Iran continued assistance to the Shia community even after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces. That year, Afghan parties in Peshawar formed a shura and introduced that to the world as the interim government. Iran persuaded Shias to join that, but Shias demanded 20 per cent share on the basis of their ratio of 20 per cent in the population. The Suni parties in Pakistan did not yield to their demands and blocked the entry of Shias in to that shura (P: 61).
Iran as well as Rabbani arrived gradually at conclusion that Pakistan was pursuing a long-term policy in Afghanistan which did not entertain any concession and treaded its own course (P: 61).
Prime Minister (in Rabbani government) Ghafoorzai (a Pushtun) along with some high ranking officials was on way to Bamiyan on 30 Murdad 76 (21 August 1987) for a meeting with Khalili, leader of a faction of Hizb-e-Wahdat, when the airplane exploded at the time of landing. Some people who were there to receive them considered the incident extraordinary as being a sort of sabotage and conspiracy.
At that time Pakistan and its intelligence agencies were not exposed for conspiracies, persecution of the opposition, purchasing rulers and creation of rifts at national level. But now, in view of the overt and covert interference of Islamabad, the assumption of sabotage by (Pakistan) in case of the explosion of the airplane of Ghafoorzai is considered true, and the evidence of the eye-witnesses is accepted, because Ghafoorzai might have succeeded in stabilisation of political situation. (P: 62).
When differences in the northern alliance were on increase, delegations of patriotic Afghans and the government of Iran tried their best for removing their differences and restoration of peace among them. In a series of such attempts, a conference of ‘the committee of mutual understanding of the fronts in western Afghanistan’ was held at Isphahan on 10 Azer 76 (01 December 1987). All the Afghan groups, including the Taliban, were invited. The conference, without Taliban, continued for three days. The 15-point resolutions passed at that conference provided for durable unity, eradication of ethnic, religious and regional discrimination, rights of women, condemnation of any kind of foreign interference and release of prisoners. (PP: 66-67).
Ahmad Shah Masood, the great leader of jihadi fighting and military commander of the northern alliance, said in an interview with Khairullah Shafie of daily Iran; ‘Egoism, lust of power, expansionism and foreign instigations have reduced the people of Afghanistan to black dust…” In the interview, Masood gave the credit of the fall of Dr. Najib the forces based in the north – i.e. under his command. He also said that, while holding Kabul and all the political power, he voluntarily offered the power to leaders of the jihadi groups. After ten days of his offer, mujahideen leaders started negotiations in Peshawar. He accepted without any hesitation the agreement concluded in Peshawar. On the other hand, when the leaders were busy in negotiations, Gulbadin Hikmatyar evaded the parley and remained out of the meetings. Masood contacted Hikmatyar on telephone and vainly tried to persuade him to join the coalition and abandon the idea of attacking Kabul.
This chapter also refers to differences among jihadi parties abroad. (PP: 71-76)
Chapter Three: the Rise of Taliban
“The preceding unusual circumstances, coupled with many other causes at foreign, regional and international levels, created conditions for the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan and their tyranny and bloodthirtiness against the innocent people of Afghanistan, as well as shattering the social and national structures of that land.”
It refers to reoccupation of Mazar-e-Sharif by the Taliban, murder of (Iranian) diplomats and massacre of minority Hazara and Tajik Shia which strained relations between Iran and Taliban (P: 79).
The author enumerates causes behind the rise of Taliban; main points being the following:
a. Pukhtuns reigning Afghanistan since 18th century claim to the rule;
b. Each mujahideen group wanted maximum share in the power;
c. For disarmament of jihadi groups, the West and America assigned Pakistan to watch movements of the fundamentalist forces. A solution to that proposed by Pakistan was the raise the movement of Taliban for ‘disarmament for restoration of peace’. This slogan appealed to the people who were tired of violence and unrest. Hence, the people supported and helped Taliban in recovery of open as well as secret arms.
d. Economic depression in the state of anarchy (PP: 81-82).
The initial success of Taliban in Kandahar and Ningrahar was due to the weakness of the central authority and unrest across the country. In the beginning of 1994, jihadi groups were faced with the rise of Taliban.
The poverty due to extent of starvation drove the young poor people, particularly Pushtun, to join religious institutions in Pakistan to receive religious education at nominal to organize these students in to a religious movement (P: 83).
The madrassas are sponsored by Saudi Arabia with an aim of propagation of Wahabi creed; they are against the Shia creed. Taliban leaders tell Taliban from those madrassas that fighting in the north against the Shia community was jihad. In order to exploit the situation for material gains and superiority the two rival Sunni sects of Devbandi and Barelvi entered in to a hectic competition to lure more Afghan students for admission in the networks of their madrassas.
In order to save their assets, anti-Taliban leaders also joined the movement and Taliban made good use of their partnership.
Before capturing Kabul, Taliban moved northward from Kandahar and captured 14 provinces without any resistance. In the meantime, non-Pushtun leaders – Ahmad Shah Masood, Abdul Rashid Dostam, Syed Nadiri and Karim Khalili – were weakened by their infighting. In 1996, the flight of Rabbani and Masood from Kabul facilitated the victory for Taliban.
The number of religious schools in Pakistan in 1982 was 893 out of which 354 were Devbandi, 267 Barelvi, 144 Ahl-e-Hadith, 41 Shia and 105 run by other local religious leaders. After 1979, the number of these madrassas increased rapidly. In 1994, 2512 madrassas were in operation in Punjab alone. Some madrassas including Jamiat-ul-Ulum Islamia run by Maulana Mohammad Yousuf Binori in Karachi were recognised at international level. Mullah Mohammad Umar, leader of the Taliban movement, was a student of the Binori’s madrassas. Three of the 6-member ruling council headed by Mullah Umar at Kandahar were students of that madrassas. Many members of Sepah-e-Suhaba Pakistan joined Taliban in fighting and massacre of Shias in Afghanistan. (P: 84-87).
Regional situation – policies of Pakistan, enmity of Arabistan with Iran and hostility of United Arab Emirates against Iran – played important role in strengthening Taliban movement. Pakistan played the key role in organisation and providing political guidance to the movement of Taliban, whereas Arabistan and United Arab Emirate monetary assistance. ISI, particularly General Akhtar Abdul Rahman – a prominent officer of ISI and a close friend of Zia-ul-Haq, played important and effective role in, and gained good experience of, organisation of jihadi groups and distribution of money and arms received from other countries, particularly USA, to them. (PP: 90-91)
Chapter: Interest of Pakistan in Afghanistan
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained since the very beginning due to Durand Line drawn in 1893 by the British colonial power and the old claim of Pashtun leaders for secession of NWFP – the area in Pakistan inhabited by Pashtuns. Emergence of Taliban is in line with this policy. Any kind of analysis of the situation in Afghanistan and the adventure of Taliban without the knowledge of policies of Pakistan, political and religious parties of that country and pressure groups, their aims and activities, is sketchy and incomplete. The following contents are for awareness of the readers in this regard. (P: 92).
Political parties of Pakistan: The strongest party of Pakistan is the Army of Pakistan, although the armed forces have no right, under the constitution, of intervention in political affairs (P: 92). Most of the presidents of Pakistan, during the 50 years of is history, were army generals. The latest coup d’état took place in 1977. From1979 onward, political leaders have been running the state instead of Generals, but it is not secret that decisions are made by the army (P: 93).
During the past 51 years, army of Pakistan with the support of the intelligence network – called ISI, the strongest agency to implement policies – hold control over the democracy and political parties. They elect party leaders and politicians. The largest national political parties have been limited to nationalities – Muslim League under Mohammad Nawaz Sharif is know as the party of Punjab and the Peoples Party under Benazir Bhutto as the party of Sindh (P: 94).
Important political parties are: Muslim League, Peoples Party, National Awami Party (under Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the strongest party in NWFP), Mohajir Qaumi Tehrik (in Sindh) (PP: 94-95)
Religious parties are Jamaat Islami, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (Dev Bandi; In 1373 = 1994 AD, ISI collected one thousand students from religious schools affiliated with Sami-ul-Haq faction and created the Taliban movement under Mullah Umar Kandahari), Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan (Barelvi), Sepah-e-Suhaba (Wahabi), Fiqh Jaffari (Shia). (PP: 95-110).
Stand of religious parties: They are divided into pro- and anti-Taliban. The Pro-Taliban ulema are generally from NWFP, Balochistan and some from Sindh and Punjab. Out of them Jamiat-ul-Ulema (F&S both) maintain overt and covert relations with Taliban. (P: 101).
Although the government of Pakistan and commanders of armed forces consider support to Taliban unavoidable, yet they are not satisfied with statements of pro-Taliban ulema as regards introduction of Islamic system in Pakistan similar to that of Taliban. In future, government, army and ulema of Pakistan may take serious and significant stands (P: 102).
Apart from Fiqh Jaffari, Jamaat Islami – the strongest religious party in Pakistan – is not in favour of Taliban although Qazi Hussain Ahmad is a Pashtun and, thus, has ethnic relations with Taliban leadership. Instead they criticise the policy of Taliban as well as the policy of Pakistan as regards Afghanistan and its impact of relations between Teheran and Islamabad. Another point that hold them back from Taliban is related to the relations of Qazi Hussain Ahmad with Hekmatyar and Rabbani – all the three following Akhwan-ul-Muslimeen (P: 103).
The author discusses the Shia-Sunni relations and differences with references to their relations abroad – mainly Iran and Pakistan.
Generous financial assistance of Saudi during 13 years of occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet troops promoted religious education, propagation of Wahabi-ism and increase in number of religious madrassas – majority being in Pashtun and Baloch areas adjoining Afghanistan (P: 104).
Other pressure groups: these groups, staying behind the curtain, influence the politics. Important of these groups are landlords, industrialists and tribal chiefs. Each one of them takes maximum benefits from the system in Pakistan (P: 106).
The Army: Pakistan came into being as the result of the divide and rule policy of the British colonialist power which created rift between Indians and Muslims. The British colonialism also created the Kashmir issue (PP: 106-107).
Political aims and security:
Discussing the partition of the sub-continent and ‘weak position’ of Pakistan, the author says; “Experiment shows that Pakistan does not want a friendly but independent government in Afghanistan. The government wanted by Islamabad means the government that should not only be a friend but obedient to Pakistan.”
After Soviet invasion, India maintained relations with the Communist regimes in Afghanistan. Pakistan considered it was besieged by India and its supporters in Afghanistan. Hence, it supported Mujahideen and demanded withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The policy of Pakistan that the government of Pashtuns in Kabul should be subservient to it, and its support to Hekmatyar, drove Tajiks like Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masood to seek assistant from the rival governments – i.e. India etc.(P: 109).
After the failure of Hekmatyar in capturing Kabul then in hands of Tajiks, Pakistan was constrained to raise Taliban. However, Pakistan has not yet succeeded in formation of a titular government under its thumb in Afghanistan. (P: 110).
Pakistan also tried another Pashtun – General Tani – to form a government in Kabul. It tried assimilation of Pashtun tribes and finally succeeded in raising Taliban as a political movement and armed force. General Naseerullah Babar – think-tank of Pakistan, was behind this scheme; he established contacts with madrassas, particularly those of Dev Bandi creed. Since the late 1970s the intelligence service of Pakistan commanded directly operations in Afghanistan. General Naseerullah Babar, who was given a blank cheque by Benazir Bhutto, played key role in this regard. Babar, a retired General and a former federal minister in the government of Benazir Bhutto, is the original initiator of this scenario. One of the reasons of his selection was his four-fold qualifications: (a) his relation with the army an a trustworthy officer, (b) his status in the government as a member of the ruling party of Bhutto, (c) being a Pushtun and (d) his knowledge about the political geography of Afghanistan, especially the Pukhtun-dominated areas. (P: 111-112).
Afghans are by nature allergic to strangers. Pakistan army devised a strategy to exploit the situation in Afghanistan in Afghan-style – i.e. fighting – not involving the Afghans, in general, but only Pushtun nation and Pushtun Taliban to advance the policies of Islamabad. (P: 113)
The long-term strategy of Pakistan in Afghanistan and its total dependence on Taliban, without taking into consideration the characteristics of Pukhtuns, the history of their opposition to the regimes of Pakistan, look defective. It needs thorough and serious study. (P: 113)
The author has discussed the origin of Pushtuns their appellation and geographical location, being divided into Afghanistan and Pakistan – in Pakistan some live in Balochistan and majority in NWFP. Relations of Afghans are strained from the very beginning due to the claim of Afghanistan over the Pukhtuns. He has also referred to referendum for India or Pakistan in which, according to the author, the Pakhtuns being strong Muslims were cheated that it was a referendum between Hinduism and Islam.
Pakistan fears that any stable and strong government in Afghanistan may refresh the issues of Pukhtunistan and Durand Line. The policy of Pakistan is exploitation of the endemic jealousy among Pukhtuns – ‘Pukhtuns against Pukhtuns.’ Likely, Pakistan pursues the policy of ‘Pukhtuns against Pukhtuns’ in Afghanistan as well. (P: 118).
Pakistan always keeps Pukhtuns busy in their internal problems or in fighting against foreigners in order to divert their attention from creating problems for Pakistan. In this way, it expands its influence and drive rivals out of the scene. For example, when relations of Hekmatyar with Iran were strained, he fought against the government of Rabbani and it was hoped that they might merge with Taliban movement, Pakistan supported that party. But when they sensed improvement of relations between Hekmatyar and Rabbani leading to their coalition and also between Hekmatyar and Iran, Hizb-e-Islam fell from its favour, its offices were closed, its publications were proscribed and Hekmatyar was not allowed to enter Pakistan. (P: 120).
Taliban, in fact a movement of Pukhtuns, were also treated in similar way. Internal and external problems were created form them to divert their attention from other problems as Duran Line and Pukhtunistan. The slogans given to Taliban and the indiscriminate massacres at their hand were in line with this policy; to make them natural targets and lead them to ultimate isolation.
Improving relations of Taliban with Hizb-e-Wahdat and support to Taliban of 10 millions of Afghans through Rabbani against Hekmatyar flopped with the murder of Mazari, a Shia leader of Afghanistan. After that when Taliban took over Kabul, nationalist parties started campaign in their favour. Some leaders including Wali Khan indicated support of Pukhtuns in Pakistan to them for achievement of their goals – Pukhtunistan. But, the murder of Najib, the symbol of leftist Pukhtuns, in Kabul, turned the leftist Pukhtuns who are in majority in Pakistan against Taliban.
In fact, Pakistan gave Taliban aberrant and vague slogans for expansion of their rule to Samarqand, Bokhara, Great Khurasan and Kashmir, but created hostile situation for them to divert their attention from Pukhtunistan (P: 121).
After bombardment of the positions of Bin Laden by America, Pakistan got an opportunity of creating rift between Mullah Umar and Mullah Rabbani. First news about the coup d’é•tat in the ranks of Taliban spread in the month of Mehr 77 (Sep/Oct 1998). It was learnt that General Tani defence minister in the government of Najib and General Abdul Ali defence ministers in the government of Daud had to play key roles in that. It resulted in defection of 55 captured commanders, Tani and one or two others fled to Pakistan. Pakistani media already spread news about the rift, depicting Mullah Rabbani as moderate as compared with Mullah Umar.
The flight of the leaders of coup d’é•tat to Pakistan reveals involvement of Islamabad in this coup d’é•tat and the others that followed (P: 122).
Chapter IV deals with economic aims and objectives.
Economic interests of Pakistan in Afghanistan turned into its military strategy in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is landlocked and depended on Pakistan. With the invasion of the Soviet Union, the trade of Afghanistan turned towards the north. After the fall of Najib, the transit routes through Pakistan regained importance for Afghans. With the emergence of Taliban, Pakistan created problems for Rabbani government on the transit routes and ultimately close them. When Taliban captured the border areas, these routes were reopened for them.
Pakistan fixed eyes on Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union in which case Afghanistan had to provide transit facilities. It was the time when economic crisis in Pakistan deepened (P: 126).
Transaction of fuel and gas from Central Asia through Afghanistan to Karachi is the most important and lucrative factor for the economy of Pakistan. Organisation of the group of Taliban was necessitated by the interest of Pakistan in extending its influence to Central Asia, particularly for exploitation of fuel and gas and their flow from Turkmenistan to Karachi via Afghanistan. For more than three years, three companies – UNICOL American, BRIDAS Argentines and Delta Saudi have been in contact with Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Taliban. UNICOL has spent millions of dollars so far, having given millions to Taliban, Pakistan Army and ISI as bribes. UNICOL provided arms and equipment also, including tanks, to Taliban to carry out massacre of people and build up a peace zone along the aligned pipe-line. (P: 127).
Luckily, the fall of fuel prices, and the internal strife that continued even after the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, increasing unrest and anti-human policies of Taliban compelled the UNICOL to retreat from the venture which, according to their estimates, could brought two milliards dollars annually in interest only
Although UNICOL abandoned the scheme, yet strategic importance of Afghanistan for Pakistan was still there. There are three trade routes to Central Asia two of which pass through Afghanistan: (a) Karachi – Peshawar – Kabul – Salang – Central Asia; (b) Quetta – Kandahar – Heart – Central Asia and the third to China and Central Asia is through Qaraquram which is not considered economical. The best route is the first one passing through Salang which has been closed by Ahmad Shah Masood – the honest jihadi commander of Afghanistan.
From military, political and economic points of view, Pakistan needs Afghanistan under its hand OR as the political wizards of Islamabad consider it as the fifth province. However, enforcing the group of Taliban on the land of misfortune could not be possible without the financial, military and diplomatic support from the West and USA (PP: 128-129).
With occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Pakistan stood in the frontline in the fight against the Communism. Pakistan exploited Influx of Afghanistan and received a good share of foreign assistance to stabilise her economy and strength her armed forces. (Mrs Bhutto in a seminar on Islam and West estimated the aids at 4.21 milliard dollars.)
With the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, (the fall of the Soviet Union) and the end of the cold war and resolution of the conflict of Afghanistan reduced the importance of Pakistan for the West, especially USA. On the hand, India gained importance – enemy No one of Pakistan. So, Pakistan was compelled to renew her relations with West and USA. (PP: 130-131)
The west assess Pakistan’s importance in Afghanistan: ISI gained complete knowledge and experience of strategic and non-strategic aspects of Afghanistan through jihad against the Soviet troops. Pakistan established relations with influential figures of Afghanistan living among millions of refugees administered through a commissionerate. Pakistan maintained its central position for activities of hundreds of NGOs and tens of government agencies and humanitarian agencies, which shifted their activities to reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Pakistan exploited worries and interests of the West in Afghanistan. The West was worried about the quantity of arms, including stinger missiles, with mujahideen and smuggling of narcotics. The interests of the West in Afghanistan were: reanimation of the status of Afghanistan as a buffer state; contain the influence of neighbouring countries and the regional powers of Russia and India, which except for Pakistan, opposed intervention of USA in the region; establish links with Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan and open access of the Central Asia to free waters excluding the routes through the Islamic Republic of Iran (PP: 136-137).
Benazir Bhutto, in her first speech after taking over as the prime minister, took 180-degree turn from the policy of Zia-ul-Haq and declared Pakistan as the first-line state against the fundamentalists. Ms Bhutto who was in fact supported by pro-Taliban religious parties (Jamiat-ul-Ulema – Fazl-url-Rahman and Sami-ul-Haq) immediate initiated with the support of these parties organisation of Taliban and pushing them into Afghanistan. It was followed by sealing of the offices of jihadi groups who were accused of being fundamentalist and their members were expelled from Pakistan. They were accused even of being in collaboration with India, interference in internal affairs of Pakistan and involvement in subversive activities. It went as far as to sever diplomatic relations with the Islamic state of Afghanistan on the excuse of an attack on its Embassy and putting fire to it. It disconnected the transit of goods and stopped food supplies to Kabul, starting an undeclared war against the mujahideen, considered by Pakistan – in fact by the West and America – as fundamentalist, by supporting and arming the Taliban. (P: 133).
In order to win support of Washington and reassuring its loyalty, Pakistan started arresting anti-US elements and handing them over to USA. Later, American forces carried out operation in Balochistan to arrest and take away Mir Amil Kansi, accused of being involved in some explosions against USA, to America. (P: 134).
The campaign against fundamentalism launched by Ms Bhutto in pursuance of the policies of the West and USA, was not aimed at Afghanistan only (as the anti-Communism campaign of Zia-ul-Haq) but at neutralisation of the nerve-centre of fundamentalism and draining out the Islamic revolutionary spirit in the region i.e. Islamic Republic of Iran. (P: 134).
Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates financed various madaris (religious schools) in Pakistan, particularly the Jamiat-ul-Ulum-ul-Islamia of Allama Binori, which played key role in formation of militant groups of Sepah-e-Suhaba and then the Taliban. Saudi Arabia increased financial assistance to the Taliban. During 1995 and 1996, the Taliban needed US $70 million per month to continue their operations. (P: 136).
UAE provided funds to the Taliban before their march on Mazar-e-Sharif. (P: 137).
Turkmenistan, ranking fourth in world in holding natural resources, has 13,000 milliard cubic metre reservoirs of gas; it extracts 80-9- milliard cubic metres annually of which about 90 per cent is exported. Its petroleum reservoirs are estimated at 6/3 milliard tons and current annual output is about five million tons. (P: 139) In this context, it discusses the interest of Pakistan in Central Asia through Afghanistan, which could be ensured by Taliban.
India is not joining border with Afghanistan, but it is sensitive to Pakistan’s influence in that country. Therefore, it supports Rabbani against Taliban. (P: 143-44)
Chapter Five discusses international factors behind the emergence of Taliban. Russian policy is based on (a) containment of the spreading of the beliefs of Taliban in to the Central Asian Republics, (b) containment of the advance of the West towards the borders of Russia, (c) countering the operations of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, (d) revival of its influence in countries in the region, (e) countering the efforts of countries out of the region for occupation of reservoirs and natural resources of the Central Asian Republics, and (f) containment of smuggling of narcotics in to the republics of t he former Soviet Union. (PP: 152-153) In this context, it discusses the pros and cons of the Russian policy.
Shift in US policy as regards Afghanistan has been discussed to depict the duplicity in US policies. USA is not interested in conflict resolution; instead it wants to exploit the unrest in Afghanistan against Iran and Russia. It wants an Islamic but liberal and westernised government in Afghanistan.
The British still considers Afghanistan in its orbit of influence and does not want it slip out of that orbit.
The role of UNO, which is under the influence of the big powers, is weak and indistinct.
Chapter Six discusses what it considers the ominous deeds of the Taliban who destroyed the whole political, economic and social structures of Afghanistan and treaded down the individual as well as social rights, thus, returning to brutality and barbarism. (P: 183)
The ‘mysterious’ role of Bin Laden has been discussed, saying that bin Laden and Taliban – both – are creation of intelligence agencies of USA and Pakistan. (PP: 212 -216)
Threat of Taliban to Pakistan: The Taliban movement is, in fact, the national movement of Pashtuns as they consider themselves representatives of Pashtuns only; they had adopted the slogan of Islam to establish despotic rule of Pashtuns in Afghanistan. If Taliban captured the whole of Afghanistan, they will turn into the biggest enemy of Pakistan. They will demand the Pashtuns areas of Pakistan to be reintegrated with Afghanistan. Taliban leaders have announced several times that Pakistan should pay compensation to them for its 51-year rule over the Pashtun areas of that country.
Political analysts consider that stabilisation of the power of Taliban in Afghanistan will boost up religious fanaticism in Pakistan. (P: 217)
Iran vis-à-vis Pakistan and Taliban: the worries were created for Iran in Afghanistan by the policies of Pakistan against Iran. (P: 221)
Chapter Seven casts a quick look at the History of Afghanistan, having put the ‘turbulent and blood-stained history of Afghanistan’ in chronological order since the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar and emergence of Ahmad Khan Abdali as Ahmad Shah in 1747. (PP: 228-ff)
The extracts from the book leave no doubt in the mind of the reader that the author holds Pakistan responsible for the creation of the movement of Taliban. Whereas he supports the stand of Iran in favour of Burhanuddin Rabbani and the interests of Iran in case of Shia community and ethnic Persian groups against Pashtuns, he accuses Pakistan of supporting Pashtuns and Taliban although he admits that support of Pakistan to Pashtuns in Afghanistan is a future risk to Pakistan. The author discusses the roles of Russia, USA and India as well; Russia wants to maintain influence in the former republics of the Soviet Union and keep away the powers-out-of-the region from the natural resources of the Central Asian Republics; USA is interested in natural resources of the Central Asian Republics as well as exploiting the unrest in Afghanistan against Russia and Iran; India does not want influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan.
The book may be rated as ‘political analysis’ but with biased approach.
Sher Zaman Taizi, Ph. D.;
Dist. Nowshera, NWFP.
Tel: 0923-529832; email: email@example.com.
9 November 2006.