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Posts Tagged Afghan Taliban Front Lines

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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Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry And Dr Moeed Yousuf Joint Press Conference

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Nawaz Sharif Statement on Independence day | Proof of dishonesty with Pakistan | By Imran Riaz Khan

 

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Is Pakistan Controlling Afghan Taliban? کیا پاکستان افغان طالبان کو کنٹرول کررہا ہے؟

 

Mapping Taliban Contested and Controlled Districts in Afghanistan

Description: For nearly two decades, the government of Afghanistan – with the help of U.S. and coalition forces – battled for control of the country against the ever-present Afghan Taliban. FDD’s Long War Journal has tracked the Taliban’s attempts to gain control of the territory since NATO ended its military mission in Afghanistan and switched to an “advise and assist” role in June 2014. Districts have been taken and retaken (by both sides), only to be lost shortly thereafter, decreasing the security situation. Since the U.S. drawdown of peak forces in 2011, the Taliban has unquestionably been resurgent.

Map of Afghanistan’s districts, updated daily

Methodology: The primary data and research behind this assessment are based on open-source information, such as press reports and information provided by government agencies and the Taliban. This is a living and breathing map that LWJ frequently updates as verifiable research is conducted to support control changes.

An “Unconfirmed” district colored orange has some level of claim-of-control made by the Taliban, but either has not yet been — or cannot be— independently verified by LWJ research.

“Contested” district may mean that the government is in control of the district center or buildings within the district center, or a base, but little else, while the Taliban controls large areas or all of the areas outside of the district center. Or, the Taliban may control several villages, mines and other resources, runs prisons in the district, or administers areas of the district.

“Controlled” district may mean the Taliban is openly administering a district, providing services and security, and also running the local courts. LWJ may assess a district Taliban controlled if the district center frequently exchanges hands and/or the government only controls a few buildings or villages in the district.

Beginning in Jan. 2018, LWJ incorporated district-level data provided by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which is based on assessments by Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan. This information was helpful in filling the gaps in reporting on districts where there was little open-source information (note: reporting on more opaque districts has improved since mid-2019).

However, Resolute Support has continually downplayed the Taliban’s level of control as well as contested districts in its reporting. For an explanation and analysis of why see LWJ report: U.S. military assessment of Taliban control of Afghan districts is flawed.

In April 2019, Resolute Support stopped producing the assessment. The U.S. Department of Defense stated that negotiations with the Taliban, and not the status of Afghanistan’s districts, was the real metric of progress. For a detailed explanation of this, see the LWJ report: US military ends reporting on the security situation in Afghanistan’s districts. Some districts may retain the Resolute Support district assessment. If there are no indications that the status of the district has changed since the time of the Resolute Support’s Jan. 2019, report, that assessment will remain and will be noted in the comments.

Population control: Due to internal displacement, flight from the country, and a lack of accurate census reporting in the active combat zones, the population numbers are disputed and subject to change. The current projection is based on data from the CIA World Factbook’s 2018 evaluation of Afghanistan. The population estimates should be used as a guide only. 

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Enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan: COAS

Enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan: COAS

* Gen Raheel says menace of terrorism has badly hurt both Pakistan and Afghanistan and needs to be tackled boldly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KABUL/ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday said enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan.
He paid a crucial visit to Kabul on Tuesday amid the reports that the terrorists involved in the recent spate of bloodshed in Pakistan had their traces across the border. The day-long visit saw the army chief’s interactions with the top government functionaries and the military commanders from Afghanistan. According to security sources, the visit took place following intelligence reports that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Fazlullah directly masterminded the recent Imambargah attack in Peshawar reportedly from Afghanistan’s Kunar province or its adjoining belt, that left several people dead. “There was credible intel (intelligence) information that it was cross-border activity,” the sources commented on the army chief’s visit, who was accompanied by his military aides.
This was General Raheel’s second visit to Afghanistan since December 17, 2014 when he had rushed to Afghanistan to share information with the Afghan authorities regarding TTP’s involvement in Peshawar school attack, a day after the deadly attack on Army Public School in the provincial capital had left 150 people dead including 134 school children, on December 16. On Tuesday, the TTP also claimed responsibility of yet another deadly attack on security personnel in Lahore that left at least 10 policemen dead. During Tuesday’s visit, Director General Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, DG MilitaryOperations( DG MO) Major General Aamir Riaz Rana and other senior officials from the ISI’s Counterterrorism and Counter-intelligence Directorates and the Directorate General of Military Operations reportedly accompanied the COAS. Military Spokesman and DG Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said the COAS met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “Both appreciated improving relations, pledged to continue operations on respective sides, won’t allow use of soil versus each other,” he said in a tweet. Separately, General Raheel also met Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Abdullah Abdullah. Dr Abdullah, according to Bajwa, acknowledged overall “positive trajectory in bilateral relations, concrete progress in operations, border management and intelligence sharing.” The security officials said Pakistan’s military delegations held low-key meetings with the Afghan military and intelligence authorities led by their army chief General Sher Muhammad Karimi. Last week, DG ISPR told a press briefing that Pakistan demanded of Afghanistan to “either handover Fazlullah to Pakistan or to eliminate him.” He said that the two countries were in contact over tracking down the TTP chief. 

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