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HVK Archives: Talinam in Kabul - How long?

Talinam in Kabul - How long? - The Organiser

Muzaffar Hussain ()
17 November 1996

Title : Taliban in Kabul - How long?
Author : Muzaffar Hussain
Publication : The Organiser
Date : November 17, 1996

What is happening in Kabul these days is sure to bring
solace to the soul of the autocrat, late General Zia-ul-
Haq of Pakistan. In the course of his foreign policy
General Zia had executed two army operations in 1980.
One was Operation Topac, the other Operation Gibraltor.
Both the operations had one aim-annexing more territory
to the truncated Pakistan.

Through one operation, neighbouring India's Kashmir was
to be invaded; the internecine strife in the other neigh-
bouring counts, Afghanistan was to be taken maximum
advantage of through the other. After the loss of the
erstwhile East Pakistan, as a soothing balm for its
injuries, Pakistan wanted to invade other's land to
compensate for the loss. Pakistan believed that for
truncated Pakistan some land from else-where would make
its regime stable. This would not support the autocracy
in Pakistan but it was expected to keep up Pakistan's
patriotic fervour. That is why it got the advantage of
the situation in Afghanistan. After the Soviet Union
left Afghanistan, for a long time there were conjectures
of a civil war breaking out in that country. Pakistan was
prepared to exploit the situation through this operation.
When struggle to free Afghanistan of the Communist tenta-
cles was in full swing at the same time in support of
Islamic fundamentalists, Afghanistan identified itself
with the bloody struggle of the Mujahideens. In this
war, the influx of Afghan refugees was welcomed by Pakis-
tan with open arms.

Pakistan had double advantage. It seized the arms car-
ried by the refugees. Next, in the name of Afghan refu-
gees, it was able to get huge amount of petrodollars from
the Arab countries. The third gain that accrued was that
Pakistan admitted children of Afghan refugees in its
madarsas. Through these madarsas the lesson of Islamic
jehad was preached. Children were indoctrinated into
fundamentalism and communal frenzy.

These Afghan children began receiving military training.
In 16 years' time, they came of age. When they returned
to Afghanistan, Taliban was the name of this army.
Students are called Talib ilm. The plural of this in
Arabic and Pushto is Tulba and this is how it came to be
known as Taliban. In the same way, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
was an engineering student in Kabul University. He gave
up his studies and came to Pakistan for army training
with a view to challenging his country's Communist gov-
ernment. His training was at the Jamaat-e-Islami's
madarsa in Peshawar. Likewise, today the head of the
Taliban government is 42-year old Mullah Mohammad Umar
who was trained in a madarsa sponsored by the Jamiat-ul-
Ulema in Pakistan. Now Mullah Umar is the president of
the ruling party's supreme council in Afghanistan called
the Majlis-i-Shura.

When Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was the head of the most power-
ful of eight Mujahideen groups, it appeared that as soon
as he got power-Pakistan's cherished dream would be
fulfilled. But Hekmatyar soon realised what Pakistan
wanted him to do. After President Burhanuddeen became
prime minister, Hekmatyar snapped whatever remained of
Afghanistan's relations with Pakistan. Till yesterday,
Pakistan used to dream of a Pakistan-Afghanistan federa-
tion which however was shattered with the advent of
Hekmatyar. That is why it is too early to say whether
Kabul which is in the Taliban's hands will let Pakistan
fulfil its dream. For the present it is difficult to say
whether Mullah Mohammad Umar, of whom Pakistan has great
expectations, would be able to deliver the goods. Because
looking at the fast changing scenario in Afghanistan it
is difficult to predict how long the Taliban government
or their hold on Kabul will stay.

Burhanuddin has not yet laid down arms. Except Pakistan,
so far no other government has recognised the new regime.
That is why it is difficult to gauge how long the Tali-
ban rule is going to last. Even Iran that had started
the movement for Shariat rule. is not in favour of the
Taliban. Saudi Arabia too that follows Islamic laws, has
not so far shown any enthusiasm. By proclaiming Islamic
laws, the Taliban expected the Islamic world would be on
its side-on this front too it is disappointed. It is
widely believed that whatever the Taliban did was not in
its own capacity-it had, and more or less continue to
have the backing of America, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Iran is a neighbour of Afghanistan. From the time of
Khomeini, a Shia Mujahideen group in alliance with rebels
has been fighting shoulder to shoulder in Iran. Iran's
influence in Afghanistan cannot be dismissed. Whatever
America does will be against Iran in such situation how
can Iran tolerate Taliban's regime? Taliban's army com-
prised Sunni personnel, that is why Afghanistan's 30%
Shia Population will have to think of the possibility of
what is happening in today's Pakistan. The demand for
declaring Pakistan a Sunni state is gaining grounds;
tomorrow a similar situation may develop in Afghanistan.
Until Shias get a share in power, it cannot coalesce with
the Taliban. Afghanistan's Majlis-i-Shia-the way it has
announced the promulgation of Islamic law cannot have
cent per cent support of Shias, as in many matters the
two sects have sharp differences.

Pakistan is helping the Taliban in all possible ways-from
food provisions to firearms in a big way. As the Taliban
attacks are indiscriminate, random and sporadic Pakistan
is helping it clandestinely. But the world knows that
Taliban is virtually a part of the Pakistan Army and
whatever the former does is at the behest of the latter.
America is happy, at the elimination of what remains of
the erstwhile Communist support in Afghanistan. The
gruesome killing of Najeebullah and his companions may
please America, but what is the guarantee that in future
the temporarily-sheathed Taliban sword will not be un-
sheathed against it.

America wants the Taliban to grow into a major adversary
of Iran. If today the Taliban is a headache for Iran; in
future it can do greater harm to America. From its very
beginning America has been the target of the Muslim
terrorism. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has established

contact with the corrupt and deposed Zahir Shah through
his son-in-law and one-time general Abdul Wali. People
suspect that Taliban wishes to invite him to Kabul again.
The Shah who was retired in 1973 is now spending his
exile in Rome. It only shows that Tulbas have no worth-
while leader to run the government.

It appears once again in Afghanistan there is going to be
a major strife based on race, ethnic groups, and tribes.
The Taliban will not be such conflicts. What is happening
in Afghanistan will have its repercussions in the West
Asian countries. New equations mill emerge. Pakistan
should understand one thing that Afghanistan has never
allowed any foreign power to thrive on her land. So, if
Pakistan dreams of directly or indirectly ruling Afgha-
nistan or wishes to dismember Afghanistan with a view to
annexing territory-it will experience nothing but disap-

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