An historic peace accord was signed on leap year day this year between USA and Afghan Taliban. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/taliban-set-sign-deal-war-afghanistan-200228055452287.html). The importance of this accord will be understood by taking a brief over view of last 100 years of Afghan history.
Early Last century, Amanullah Khan was the King of Afghanistan, who declared it as a sovereign and fully independent state, after signing “Treaty of Rawalpindi” on 19 August 1919. In pursuit to establish diplomatic relations, he in 1927–28 went on tour of Europe and Turkey. He introduced several reforms intended to modernize his nation. Some of the reforms that were put in place, such as the abolition of the traditional burqa for women and the opening of several co-educational schools, quickly alienated many tribal and religious leaders, and this led to the Afghan Civil War (1928–1929).
In 1929, Kabul fell to Saqqawist forces led by Habibullah Kalakani. Prince Mohammed Nadir Shah, Amanullah’s cousin, soon after killed Kalakani in October 1929, and was declared King Nadir Shah. He abandoned the reforms of Amanullah Khan in favor of a more gradual approach to modernization but was assassinated in 1933 by Abdul Khaliq, a fifteen-year-old Hazara student. Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Shah’s 19-year-old son, succeeded to the throne and reigned from 1933 to 1973.
The New World after World War -II
In 1953, Mohammed Daoud Khan, the king’s cousin and brother-in-law, became his PM. He was a Pashtun nationalist, who sought the creation of a Pashtunistan, leading to highly tense relations with Pakistan. During his ten years at the post until 1963, Daoud Khan pressed for social modernization reforms and sought a closer relationship with the Soviet Union. Afterward, in 1964, constitution was formed, and the first non-royal Prime Minister was sworn in.
King Zahir Shah, like his father Nadir Shah, had a policy of maintaining national independence while pursuing gradual modernization. The country built close relationships with the Axis powers. Afghanistan was a beneficiary of the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States. However, on per capita basis, Afghanistan received more Soviet development aid than any other country. In 1973, while the King was on official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan, abolishing the monarchy.
After the Monarchy
In April 1978, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), USSR backed Party, seized power in the Saur Revolution, and declared the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, with its first President as Nur Muhammad Taraki. Friction between the competing factions of the PDPA — the dominant Khalq and the more moderate Parcham — resulted in September 1979, assassination of President Taraki. Hafizullah Amin, assumed the presidency. The Soviet Union was displeased with puppet arrangement so decided to act directly and on 27 December 1979, President Amin was killed. Babrak Karmal was saddled into power. However, the history witnessed a Soviet–Afghan War for next decade till 1989. In 1989, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan – Jihad against Soviet Union
The Afghan people are fearless free souls and determined fighters. In 1979, they decided to challenge the Soviet Invasion. The Soviet Forces along with its puppet PDPA stooges unleashed massive fire power upon the common people of the Afghanistan. The Afghanis took up arms and that resulted in massive destruction of men and materials. Resultantly, More than Six millions of common Afghanis migrated to Pakistan and Iran. The Afghan nation grouped in various regions in local factions. There were seven main mujahideen groups: Hezb-e Islami (Gulbuddin Hikmatyar), Hezb-e Islami (Molvi Khalis), Jamiat-e Islami (Tajiks), Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan (Abdul Rasul Sayyaf), the National Islamic Front for Afghanistan (Pir Gillani), the National Liberation Front ( Jubhe Nijat e Milli), and the Islamic Revolution Movement (Nabi Muhammadi).
Pakistan was threatened by the Soviet Bear’s forward movement, the infamous great game theory of reaching warm water. The world was under cold war and USSR had till then marched into any territory and converted it into its alley-Soviet Block. The world had watched the invasion silently; however, Pakistan took a strategic leap to support Afghan Mujahideen. The USA, Allied Western countries, and KSA along with Arab Allies also supported the Mujhideen politically, financially and military equipment and tech support.
The Afghan Jihad resulted in the withdrawal of USSR and fall of Iron Curtain. The Jihad overwhelmed the godless forces. USA along with its allies declared victory of Capitalism over Socialism. The Afghanis were left helpless, rudderless, and directionless and grounded for next game.
Afghanistan- After the Cold War
After the Soviet withdrawal, the conflict between the mujahideen and the PDPA continued. President Najibullah, who had become president in 1987, tried to build support for his government by moving away from socialism to pan-Afghan nationalism and portraying his government as Islamic. Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, but continued to support Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah until 1992. The battle for control over Kabul- the capital of Afghanistan continued between the warring factions and War Lords.
Taliban Emirate and Northern Alliance
The Taliban emerged in September 1994 as a movement as militia of Pashtun students (talib) from Islamic madrassah under Deobandi ulama in Pakistan, pledged to rid Afghanistan of ‘warlords and criminals’. The Taliban, in September 1996, attacked and occupied Kabul after Ahmad shah Massoud and Hekmatyar had withdrawn their troops. By late September 1996, the Taliban, Taking control of most of Afghanistan, proclaimed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Pakistan, KSA and UAE accepted their government. But the Taliban were condemned internationally for the harsh enforcement of their interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Massoud and Dostum formed the Northern Alliance. From 1996 to 2001, the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri was also operating inside Afghanistan. On 9 September 2001, Massoud was assassinated by two Arab suicide attackers in Panjshir province.
Afghanistan- 9/11 and New World Order
11 September 2001, plane attacks took place in the United States. The US government accused Osama bin Laden as the perpetrator of the attacks, and demanded the Taliban to hand him over. The US launched in October 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom and gathered a large collation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under UN umbrella. The ISAF (mainly US and UK forces) bombed Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power, partnering with Northern Alliance. The hell broke loose on Afghanistan as the term Islamic Terrorism was coined and Al Qaida was declared the greatest threat to humanity. Only the future researchers will be able to document the exact kind of bombardment, attacks and resulting devastation that was brought upon the people and land of Afghanistan. The US along with its collation was charting a New World Order.
On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government. The NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day as a successor to ISAF.Thousands of NATO troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forcesand continue their fight against the Taliban. A report titled Body Count concluded that 106,000–170,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting in Afghanistan at the hands of all parties to the conflict. This Afghan Jihad has no alley and Taliban are the soul merchandiser of this brand. They fought the war all alone against all the possible allies USA could gather willingly or unwillingly. USA after 9/11 threatened all with a simple slogan “with us or against us”. Therefore none could dare to even covertly help Taliban fighters.
Afghanistan – The Graveyard of the Empires
In every country, two forces have always existed, the modernist-liberalist and the traditionalist-conservatives. In Afghanistan, the last hundred years has shown a clear struggle between both forces. It is noteworthy that modernist had a clear advantage in power game. It is also worth noting that, whenever the modernist got under trouble, they tried to pacify the conservative people by introducing half cooked religious measures.
After Soviet invasion, the modernist gathered under PDPA and conservatives- the Islamist became Mujahideen. The Mujahideen fought against the foreign forces considering the same as a religious duty ordained by the Book of ALLAH and His Messanger Muhammad (PBUH). They considered it as an honour, bestowed upon them by ALLAH, to undertake Jihad. The Afghan Jihad against USSR was funded by USA and Allies; therefore, the gloss of the victory was mitigated.
The rise of Taliban in 1994 was attributed to ISI, Pakistan. Pakistan was attributed for all the wrongs taking place in Afghanistan after the Soviet with drawl. Mullah Umar became the unchallenged leader of the Taliban. The Taliban enforced strict control and their school of thought sharia. AlQaida and OBL along with his accomplices took refuge under the umbrella of Mullah Umar. The world has not accepted Taliban’s Rule as only three countries, namely Pakistan, KSA and UAE accepted them. Finally, they were sent to Tora Bora and beyond (Stone Age), by worlds’ combined fury garnered after Twin Towers Collapse.
After 9/11, the USA and her allies are in Afghanistan for last 18 years now. They have eliminated Mullah Umar, OBL and AlQaida, however, their main nemesis the Islamist, the traditionalist, the conservatives have out maneuvered them. The Taliban struggle against the foreign invasion and its stooges will be remembered in the history not just as a gorilla warfare but a potent lesson for fight of a helpless few against an adversary of gigantic myth. The Afghan Jihad has buried two super powers during last four decades.
Afghanistan- Is a Sun Shine Possible?
After a hundred years of modernist rule, it appears that Islamist will form government soon in Afghanistan. USA has decided to leave Afghanistan after signing the peace treaty with Taliban. New York Times, on February 2020, published an article from Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of Taliban (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/opinion/taliban-afghanistan-war-haqqani.html).
The article can be termed as a prelude to the things coming to unfold in future. Some of the highlights of the article are added here. “We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves…… We are aware of the concerns and questions …about government … it will depend on a consensus among Afghans…… no front-load.. pre-determined outcomes and preconditions… committed ..with other parties in a consultative manner … a new, inclusive political system in which the voice of every Afghan is reflected and where no Afghan feels excluded… liberated from foreign domination and interference, we together will find a way to build an Islamic system in which all Afghans have equal rights, where the rights of women that are granted by Islam — from the right to education to the right to work — are protected, and where merit is the basis for equal opportunity.”
The above is for sure a sign of heralding new sunshine. A peaceful Afghanistan will be a cross road of prosperity for the region.
This article has been penned by Muhammad Asif Raza (Cdr Retd, PN ), with the help of data / info available on free web net.
USA Taliban Peace Deal at Doha Qatar