No announcement yet.

Afghan-Pak Holy connection

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Afghan-Pak Holy connection

    To understand the relationship between Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and Pakistan, The Week made an investigation on the spot asking the same questions to top leaders and specialists on both sides. Here’s a report of the diverging opinions of Nasirullah Babar, Pakistani Interior minister during Benazir Bhutto's government in 1993-96; Kamal Matinuddin, Lieutenant General Rtd. of the Pakistani Army specialized in Afghani affairs; Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist and author of many books on Afghanistan; Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, Foreign minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and counsellor of Mullah Omar. The opinions of Ismail Khan, former Governor of Herat and mujaheddin opposition leader recently escaped from a Talibani prison in Kandahar, have been reported from an interview broadcast by Azadi Afghan Radio.

    QUESTION: Is it true that the Talibani movement has been created and supported by Pakistan?

    ANSWERS: According to Kamal Matinuddin “the Taliban stemmed out of the internal fights amongst the different mujaheddin factions of the anti-Soviet guerrilla. Their leaders have been educated in Pakistani madrasas years before their movement got in contact with Interior minister Nasirullah Babar in 1994. They are a spontaneous movement”. The former general denies any military support by Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) or by the Pakistani government itself, stating that “the first groups of Taliban seized their weapons from mujaheddin commander Burhanuddin Hekmatyar”. Nasirullah Babar, considered the ‘father of the Taliban’, is more articulate on these matters and admits that “Pakistan and Usa trained several mujaheddin groups in Khost, during the anti-Urss jihad”. “After the Soviet withdrawal”, Babar continues, “Pakistan stopped all kinds of direct intervention. In 1996, I myself ordered the arrest of 140 Pakistani soldiers illegally sent to Afghanistan by the (Islamic extremist party) Jamaat-i-Islami”. Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil follows the same line: “Pakistan gives us only formal and not military support”. Asked whether Saudi Arabia is still sustaining his government, he vaguely answers: “Our relations with the Saudis are worsening because of Osama bin Laden’s presence in our country”. Anyway, international press agencies and media confirm ISI’s role in Afghanistan also in recent times. For example in the capture and imprisonment of Ismail Khan in 1997. From his Iranian exile in Mashad, the interested party explains: “The Taliban brought many of their resources from Pakistan, and even used the prisoners to unload the military resources coming from Pakistan. It is a fact that the Taliban started their war effort from Spin Boldak at the Afghan-Pakistani border. If they were self-emerging and homegrown, then it should have started from an area inside the country. But this proves that they were prepared for this task. The war spread from Spin Boldak toward Kandahar, Kabul, Herat and then Mazar-i-Sharif in the North. The war's center of logistics demonstrates that it was not a self-emerging and spontaneous phenomenon, but rather a pre-arranged plan”. Ahmed Rashid puts it in a different way: “One of my theses is in fact that the Pakistani military and intelligence service were latecomers into the game. The Taliban never stuck to any single lobby such as the ISI. Unlike other mujaheddin factions of the past, that had exclusive relationships with the Pakistani Intelligence and the Jamaat-i-Islami, now the Taliban are in contact with many different influential groups in Pakistan. And this enables them to shift from one side to another, even defying the ISI if this can help them to reach a certain goal. Furtherly the present Pakistani military regime, in contradiction with the early promise to bring democracy back, is now supporting both the Talibani and the Kashmiri movements. And this won’t help”.

    Q.: What about the coming back in Afghanistan of exiled King Zahir Shah, as the head of the Loya Jirga formed in Rome a few months ago? Could he work as a catalyst in the present situation?

    A.: The number two of the Talibani hierarchy, Muttawakil, strongly opposes this hypothesis: “We will never make any compromise with Massud, Rabbani or King Zahir. We will bring peace all over Afghanistan with every means”. His rival Ismail Khan has a more balanced and moderate point of view: “I don't think that the Loya Jirga process should be considered as a complete government alternative. I think that there are elements within the Loya Jirga process that should be taken up by the Afghan factions and adopted. First of all the Loya Jirga itself. But I don't think it would be suitable for Afghans to transplant, through a peace process, a bunch of Afghan exiles into power in Kabul. I think that would be a real disaster”. For Matinuddin “the Loya Jirga is a possibility, but Hekmatyar will never accept it and King Zahir Shah is too liberal for the Taliban”. The most favourable about the return of the King is Nasirullah Babar: “Benazir Bhutto’s government strongly supported the idea of the coming back of the King. We had in mind to re-unite all the mujaheddin factions under his guidance, so that Afghanistan would have been benefited by our development plan and Pakistan could have built a very useful pipeline from Turkmenistan. But Iran made a strong opposition, fearing that their pipeline – 2,600 kilometers longer than ours – would become useless”. Finally, Ahmed Rashid plays down the role of the international meetings: “Zahir’s Loya Jirga is just one of the many efforts made abroad to find a way out. There is also the Organization of the Islamic Conference that is working on this issue, and one must not forget the role of Iran in the present situation. But I think that no international pressure on Taliban will work without the involvement of the United States”.

    Q.: In conclusion, with or without the support of Pakistan, is there any future for Afghanistan?

    A.: Of course, for Muttawakil there is only one future for his country: the continuation of the Pashtun-controlled regime. But many analysts point out that the Talibani movement already suffers from internal splits and ideological disagreements. Nothing serious, affirms Matinuddin: “It is true that Kabul and Kandahar have different ideologies, but at the very end everybody accepts the decisions taken by Mullah Omar”. Ahmed Rashid is more radical on that and does not think that the impending summer offensive will bring any final solution: “I do not see the Taliban overwhelm Massud’s troops in the North. I see the Taliban in fact splitting. Maybe they can mount one more offensive next summer, but without obtaining important gains. I think there are very serious divisions within the Taliban and during the next year we will see what is happening within them. For the moment the Taliban are having recruitment problems in their areas, because nobody is swallowing their claim that the opposition Northern Alliance is formed by kafir (infidels), and there are already many defections in their ranks”. Rashid is also quite pessimistic about a positive role of Pakistan in the crisis: “The military regime has been in power for about seven months and there have been no changes so far to Pakistan's policy in Afghanistan. We still don't know which way the military government will go”. Nasirullah Babar, instead, sees no possibility for Islamabad to intervene: “General Musharraf has no economic resources to restart the project we planned in 1994, the only possible way out, and he is blackmailed by the Islamic parties in his decision-making process”. Anyway, the most serious reflection comes from Ismail Khan: “I know that the Taliban will collapse. I saw it close-up when I escaped from jail, people are no longer willing to go to war, no longer ready to help the Taliban. They are just a bunch of smugglers and opium sellers who use the profits from the sale of illegal drugs to pursue the war effort. I am certain that the new Afghan year ahead of us will be the year of the Taliban's decline, but unfortunately the war will not end in Afghanistan. The next war in Afghanistan will be the opium war, a very shameful war”. And he ends with a deep introspection, unusual for an Afghan warrior: “Unfortunately, we Afghans always struggled, but we were unable to realize our aspirations. I have always questioned myself about this. Why were the Afghans not able to create a government of their liking?”. Ironically, the only possible answer seems to be the one given long time ago by the British: “The Afghans will always be free, but never united”.

    one word 'paragraphs"