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Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region Part-2 Brig.Gen(Retd)Asif Haroon Raja

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region

Part-2

Asif Haroon Raja

Situation in Afghanistan

 

 

The seven Mujahideen groups duly supported by Pakistan had fought, defeated and ousted the occupying Soviet forces in Feb 1989 after a 10-year bloody war. Left in a lurch by the USA, they got embroiled in a power struggle which led to a civil war in 1992. Tehreek-Taliban-Movement (TTA) under Mullah Omar originated in Kandahar in 1994 as a consequence of the highly disturbed security situation in Afghanistan. Mullah Ghani Baradar was Omar’s trusted deputy. The Taliban were able to capture over 90% territory less Panjshir enclave in northeastern Badakhshan province.

 

 

 

After taking over power in Oct 1996, Mullah Omar established Islamic Emirate and in no time restored normalcy. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE recognized the Taliban regime. Sharia laws helped the inexperienced rulers to make the society crimes and vices free. However, war with the Northern Alliance under Ahmed Shah Masoud duly supported by Russia, Iran and the West continued unabated in the Panjshir.       

When 9/11 happened, Afghanistan was a peaceful country. In spite of the US/UN sanctions the Taliban regime had managed to run the state affairs fairly well. Al-Qaeda was blamed for the attacks and the Taliban blamed for not handing over Osama bin Laden. These two reasons were played up to ignite the emotions of the Americans and to justify the invasion of Afghanistan in Oct 2001 and deposition of Taliban regime.    

After getting regrouped in FATA, the TTA resorted to guerrilla warfare to confront many times bigger and stronger enemies. Their strengths were religious ideology, valor, faith, will to die, suicide attacks and IEDs. All the Taliban leaders including Mullah Omar remained in hiding and couldn’t be traced by the CIA-FBI in spite of big head money announced for each wanted leader. Omar died in 2013 but his death was kept secret. His successor Mullah Mansour Akhtar operating as the de facto commander from 2013 onwards was elected the Ameer in end July 2015 after Omar’s death was revealed. He cultivated relations with Iran in order to procure arms.     

Once the tide swung in favor of the Taliban after the withdrawal of bulk of 140,000 foreign troops by Dec 2014 in accordance with Obama’s drawdown program, and it was established that the Taliban couldn’t be defeated on the battleground or divided, use of airpower and drones was maximized, peace talks with the Taliban through their political office at Doha stimulated, not to make the war-torn country peaceful, but to divide the TTA.

Map Courtesy

 

 

The Afghan national army was trained by the US, British and Indian instructors. Emphasis was on making them self-reliant to be able to fight the Taliban independently.

The CIA and RAW established Daesh-Khorasan (K) at Nangarhar in 2015 and was married up with Jamaat-al-Ahrar led by Khalid Khurasani, a breakaway faction of TTP. 

Elections were held in March 2016 in which only 10% voters from urban centres and Afghan refugees in Pakistan voted, and a unity regime formed in Sept that year in which Ashraf Ghani was appointed President and Dr. Abdullah CEO/PM. The two leaders remained locked in a power tussle which further weakened the governance and institutions, and the writ of the government got confined to Kabul only.

Corruption among the ruling regime scaled new heights and drug business kept flourishing making the country the biggest narcotic producing country of the world. Flow of dollars from the US modernized the major capital cities particularly Kabul, but also decayed the morality and values of the liberals and seculars. The downtrodden became poorer and they preferred to get recruited in TTA.  

The ANDSF also got corrupted and soldiers and policemen became addicted to drugs and other social vices including selling of weapons to the Taliban and becoming their informers. Officers minted money by recruiting ghost soldiers. Warlords and drug mafias kept filling their coffers and so did the US security and defence contractors. Raising and equipping ANA helped the US Military Industrial Complex to fatten the purses of the fat cats. The ANA on which $ 1.3 trillion was spent couldn’t win a single battle against the Taliban and in each confrontation they were rescued by NATO air support. The phenomenon of green-over-blue attacks and suicides propped up and suicide cases among occupational troops suffering from home sickness and post trauma stress disorder jumped up.

The Taliban managed their war expenditures through drug profits, seizure of NATO containers and levying tax on each passing container, or on development projects in areas under their influence. They earned $ 500 million annually from the US kitty.

These negative developments enabled India to further consolidate its influence in Afghanistan, keep the Kabul regime on a warpath with Islamabad, poison the ears of the Afghans against Pakistan, and to further bolster its clandestine operations in Pakistan.

Inequities and fault lines of the ruling regime made it unpopular, thereby giving reasons to the Taliban to dub it as illegitimate, and to refuse holding talks with it. ANA’s lack of will to fight allowed the Taliban to gain more and more space in all parts of the country.

The US government kept bestowing favors to India to enable it to achieve its ominous objectives against Pakistan. It kept pouring American taxpayers money in the kitty of Afghanistan to reinforce failure, while adopting a tight fisted and discriminatory policy against Pakistan.        

The US Alternative plans

Once the occupiers realized that stalemate on the battlefield favored the Taliban, and it was no longer possible to reverse the tide, the US made alternative plans so as not to lose Afghanistan. These were:-

  • The force level of the ANDSF was gradually raised to 352,000 (Army, commandos, air force and police) and was equipped with sophisticated weaponry. They were trained to fight the Taliban independently from mid-2013 onwards by handing over frontline security to them.
  • Divide Afghanistan on ethnic lines and hand over Eastern, Southern and parts of Western Afghanistan to the Taliban where they had a definite superiority. Retain Northern Afghanistan and integrate Central and Western parts including Kabul and Herat and continue fighting the Taliban. Major drawback in this option was the loss of the main supply route to Kabul via Torkham, and dependence upon the northern network which was dicey due to the unpredictability of Russia.
  • Instead of the whole of Northern Afghanistan, retain Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Badakhshan and Bagram airbase.
  • In the backdrop of Panjshir Valley under Ahmad Shah Masoud having remained unconquered during the rule of the Taliban in the 1990s, it was considered as an option to give last ditch battle duly backed by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India’s air force was to supplement the US drone attacks from Farkhor air base in Tajikistan.
  • Another plan envisaged making use of Daesh-K stationed at Nangarhar in 2015, coupled with 20,000 Blackwater elements based in Bagram base to help the ANA in retaining control over the cities. This force structure guided by CIA, RAW and NDS was considered sufficient to fill the power vacuum after the departure of US-NATO troops.
  • Regroup TTP and Baloch rebel groups, bolster Daesh-K and bring them on one platform to continue destabilizing Pakistan.  
  • Return power to the Taliban peacefully through a peace deal under a policy of give-and-take, so as to retain influence in Afghanistan. The Doha agreement was signed after 18-month long negotiations with this intent in mind. For the accomplishment of this plan, Pakistan was to be pressured to convince the Taliban to share power with Ashraf Ghani regime and to keep political Islam at bay.    

New narratives after plans misfired

Once all the plans misfired and the Taliban abruptly seized power on Aug 15, the baffled occupiers had to undertake ill-planned and disorderly withdrawal. To hide their mortification, the spoilers led by the US came out with new themes and narratives to discredit the Taliban and Pakistan.

To start with, the Indo-US-Western-Israeli media blared fake news that the monsters helped by Pak Army are on the verge of snatching power and soon there will be chaos, bloodshed, civil war and refugee exodus and the Afghan women would again be shackled. This narrative remained in play till July when 90% of territory and majority of provinces including provincial capital cities had fallen and no case of human rights violation had taken place.

Taliban’s master stroke  

Learning lesson from their first takeover of power in 1996 in which about 8% of Panjshir Valley couldn’t be captured, and it had provided an opportunity to Russia, Iran, India and the West to support the Northern Alliance, this time the Taliban changed their strategy and focused more on capturing almost the whole of Northern Afghanistan including provinces of Badakshan and Kunduz as well as the palaces of Rashid Dostum, and then homing towards Kabul. Strategy of encirclement and choking of cities was adopted. After the fall of a provincial capital city, (34 in numbers), the Taliban prisoners were released who beefed up the combat strength.

All trade points with the six neighbors and inter-provincial toll plazas were captured and kept functional to earn income. 

Wherever the ANA soldiers didn’t put up a fight and surrendered, the Taliban forgave them. This led to a chain reaction and surrender became a norm thereby providing fillip to the conquests of the Taliban.

Unlike the Bolsheviks, the French and American revolutionaries, the Saudis, the Iranians and many others who butchered their fallen foes and raped their women, the Taliban announced general amnesty, which was unique. 

By treating the captured or surrendering Afghan Army soldiers humanely irrespective of their ethnic background, the Taliban neutralized them, thereby making their task of capturing major capital cities easier.

The other notable thing was that no incident of killing, theft, and rape took place in all the captured areas. Normal routine was not disrupted, and educational institutes, offices and businesses were not closed. Their benevolence won the hearts of the people and shattered the demonizing myths. Urban dwellers welcomed them and chanted pro-Taliban slogans which further shattered the morale of Afghan soldiers. Consequently, when the Taliban knocked at the gates of Kabul on Aug 14, they encountered no resistance.         

After dominating all the roads leading to Kabul and surrounding and choking the capital city, the Taliban succeeded in entering Kabul and capturing it without firing a bullet.

After the botched drama staged at Kabul airport, the mountainous Panjshir under son of Ahmad Shah Masoud and Amrullah Saleh was played up which had been stocked with huge dumps of armaments. The Taliban managed to capture it on Sept 6 and the two leaders fled to Tajikistan.

Divine intervention 

Notwithstanding willful efforts of the US led western world to economically incapacitate the newly formed interim Taliban regime on Sept 11, the latter today has huge caches of sophisticated armaments left behind by the foreign forces which include tanks, APCs, Humvis, artillery guns, rockets, small arms, jets, gunship helicopters, night vision goggles, radars, super computers etc. Damaged equipment is repairable. According to some estimates the equipment is worth $ 85 billion, sufficient to raise several corps and air force.

They have also been gifted well-developed infrastructure, eight high-tech military bases, schools, colleges and universities, airports, dry ports, modernized provincial capital cities particularly Kabul studded with large numbers of high quality shopping malls, plazas, hotels, restaurants, gaming clubs, parks, sports grounds, water filtration plants, sewerage system, hospitals, gas and electricity projects.

India gifted parliament building, two dams, Zaranj-Dilaram Highway, several educational institutes, healthcare in rural areas, and structured RAAM and NDS intelligence outfits.

The fleeing Afghan elites have also left behind plenty of foreign currency recovered from their palatial houses.

Afghanistan has trillions of dollars’ worth untapped mineral resources which the US couldn’t extract due to insecurity.

To be continued

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

 

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Afghanistan: How America and NATO betrayed humanity by Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja

Afghanistan: How America and NATO betrayed humanity

Thomas Paine (Common Sense, 1776), one of the leading ideological architects of American Freedom noted: “Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a Government, which we might expect in a country without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”

America and NATO Lacked Sense of Rational Thinking, Practices and They Lied

For twenty long years, American led NATO occupied Afghanistan under the guise of peace, nation-building, democracy and strategic harmony.  Lacking wisdom and forbearance, America and NATO became swollen with pride and prejudice in their military power and fell into crass materialism, violence and planned destruction of Afghanistan and its political destiny. On August 16, President Biden in his speech clarified that it was not the aim of  “nation-building” or “democracy” to keep our forces in Afghanistan. He acknowledged that Afghan political leaders were responsible for the turmoil and continuing societal conflicts with massive corruption and illegitimacy of the political rule as they fled the country. American leadership and allied NATO countries blame the Taliban* for the prevalent chaos and insecurity across Afghanistan. The Western news media appears biased and unprepared to recognize the new Taliban* administration as a legitimate transformational entity for peace and stability in the region. The myth of Taliban* being an extreme “Islamist”, “militant” and sometimes a “terrorist” group is kept functional in all of the recent reporting. Do the Western news media ever describe the Bush’s invasion as “Christian Crusade” or “terrorist” occupation of Afghanistan? To revisit the formative history, the Western leaders deny any reference to the pathological lies and political deception engineered by George W. Bush when he invaded Afghanistan as part of the prolonged scheme of “war on terrorism.”  

Michel Meacher, former British Environment Minister under PM Blair (This War on Terrorism is Bogus) – provides reliable insight into the real reasons for the ‘War on Terrorism’. He claims that the “war on terror” is flatly superficial:

“The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination … the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives … in fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11.” 

According to David Corn (Is the President a Pathological Liar?  12/2003; and the Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, 2003), Bush lied and misled the American masses about the real reasoning for the invasion of Afghanistan. Recall that it was Al-Qaeda* (the US sponsored and trained group) blamed by Bush for the 9/11 attack, not Taliban*. Afghanistan under Taliban government in 2003 had no military-political capacity to threaten America or its security in any rational context. When nations and leaders live in darkness – away from truth, they seem to lose any rational sense of direction and imagination. This happened to America and NATO under its control. No wonder, why America and NATO are fearful of the futuristic unthinkable consequences if truth is revealed to the global mankind.  They invaded Afghanistan without any justification, dismantled its culture and values and tortured innocent civilians and political enemies – the Bagram Airbase tells that all. 

The Talibs are the people of Afghanistan and are a political organization within the geo-political culture of Afghanistan. The Taliban* takeover of Afghanistan was politically motivated after some twenty years of struggle for power. If Talibs are dressed in their own national costumes, speak their own language and adhere to Islamic thoughts and values, it does not make them terrorist or Islamists. In all perceptive eyes and rational analysis, Taliban* is a political party, not a “terrorist” entity or an extremist “Islamists” as some Western media suggest to its public viewers.  If they were terrorist or extremists, why would America and NATO and others in international community engage them in peacemaking conferences and forging relationships over the decades?  In its pursuit of unbridled ambitions and global hegemonic power, America and its allies enjoin wrong thinking, wrong aims and do the wrong things as it happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. 

Glenn Greenwald, a prominent American journalist and lawyer (The US Government Lied for Two Decades about Afghanistan, Information Clearing House: 8/16/2021) makes the startling remarks:

The pattern of lying was virtually identical throughout several administrations when it came to Afghanistan. In 2019, The Washington Post — obviously with a nod to the Pentagon Papers — published a report about secret documents it dubbed The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war. Under the headline AT WAR WITH THE TRUTH, The Post summarized its findings:……Year after year, U.S. generals have said in public they are making steady progress on the central plank of their strategy: to train a robust Afghan army and national police force that can defend the country without foreign help.

In the Lessons Learned interviews, however, U.S. military trainers described the Afghan security forces as incompetent, unmotivated and rife with deserters. They also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries — paid by U.S. taxpayers — for tens of thousands of “ghost soldiers.” None expressed confidence that the Afghan army and police could ever fend off, much less defeat, the Taliban* on their own.

Towards Making Peaceful Future of Afghanistan under Taliban*

Taliban* has just been in Kabul for two days, and one should not expect miracles out of a systematically and politically destroyed country under NATO and American occupation for 20 years. Surely, Taliban* governance would urgently need rethinking and planning for socio-economic and political change and stability across Afghanistan. They were alleged to have mistreated women, children and other minorities in the past. Taliban* would need people of new ideas, proactive vision and planned change to avert the dark imagery of the past. Under President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, country was entrenched in mismanagement and corruption and democracy was just a ghost of the unknown. The chaos at Kabul airport is a glimpse what went wrong under the foreign occupation and exploitation. Taliban* appear to be in control of the whole of Afghanistan and will need planned efforts and a wide range of reconciliation efforts to settle-in for viable political governance. One cannot imagine law and order to come out of nowhere in a highly chaotic situation ordained by America and NATO’s absurdity and contradictions for a long time. 

Caitline Johnstone (Stop Believing that US Military Invasions had Noble Intentions, Information Clearing House: 8/16/2021) makes us believe that:  

If the US had a free press and was anything like a democracy, the government wouldn’t be getting away with squandering thousands of lives and trillions of dollars on a twenty-year war which accomplished literally nothing besides making assholes obscenely wealthy.

Thousands of human lives. Trillions of dollars. If western mass media were anything remotely resembling what they purport to be, they would be making sure the public understands how badly their government just f****d them. Instead it’s just “Oh no, those poor Afghan women.”… I am once again asking you to stop believing US military invasions have noble intentions.

War apologists talk about “doing nothing” like that’s somehow worse than creating mountains of human corpses for They had twenty years to build a stable nation in Afghanistan. Twenty years. If you believe that’s what they were really trying to do there, or that results would be any different if you gave them twenty more, you’re a fucking moron. 

America and its belligerent allies have caused havoc humanitarian, social, economic and political conditions in Afghanistan. The war and its consequences will not end with the US sudden withdrawal but will leave imprints for generations to come – the innocent men, women and children massacred and human habitats destroyed. Should America and its allies not be held accountable by the Afghan people for all the war damages?  Please see: America led-NATO forces in Afghanistan: Crimes against humanity call for accountability. Also see by Mahboob A. Khawaja – How the United States and Britain Lost the Bogus Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Would the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague initiate actions to hold the US-British and others NATO members responsible for the war damages and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq?
  • Who would patch the wounds of torture and cold blood murdered committed at Bagram prison and Guantanamo Bay?  
  • Americans strategic psyche is desperate to be seen as a winner, not loser in Afghanistan. Would Taliban* allow the American–NATO military plans to disrupt the future of nation-rebuilding and political stability?
  • If America’s egoism turns into cancer to consume both gimmicks, where would the wounds and warriors be buried with honor – would it be the bombed graveyards of Afghanistan or the new secret sites in America?  
  • More often wars have ended on their own after exhaustion and unworthy cause with or without political dialogues to make the roadmaps for the future. Would peace and reconciliation with Taliban usher a new era for a different kind of future and co-existence to all concerned?

If mankind was looking towards ethical principles and some rational consideration to be in peace and harmony after the dreadful warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and drone killings in Pakistan, it is utterly dismayed with the US politicians and policy makers. Time and again, they appear to be devoid of reason and any sense of humanity and accountability for their belligerent acts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Global politics is not a system of moral principles or intellectual and political values but often an absurd game – a cruel drama – a puppet show staged to appease the few bloody Draculas – a psychopath puzzle of few insane people who had nothing useful to contribute to the mankind except drudgery, deceit, lies and inborn deceptions – the net outcome of this Thinking was the bogus War on Terrorism.   It is unclear what is in-waiting for the US and NATO after shamefully leaving Afghanistan without any formal agreement or surrender to the new political realties in Kabul.

History is a weapon and tyranny is tyranny, noted late historian Howard Zinn. American intransigence in Afghanistan will not be a new exciting story in history books.


Reference

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