(This is in continuation of the article “Afghanistan: “Historical Splendid Cultural Country Burned By Cult Of Pakistan’s ISI Sponsored Terrorism”, Part 1 was published on July 4th, 2021)
Is it right to say that the current situation of Afghanistan is due to Afghan’s nature of shifting alliances which are continuing since its creation? Historians, Policy Makers, Eminent Regional Experts, and even some readers who understand Afghanistan’s history and the turmoil in the last 5 decades will be in agreement with me.
Let’s join the dots of Afghan history !!!
Kabul’s shifting alliances and factions are also intertwined with its diversity, though ethnic, linguistic, or tribal variation but these alone do not entirely explain these internecine struggles. Afghanistan in its modern form was shaped by the nineteenth-century competition between the British, Russian, and Persian empires for supremacy in the region.
Afghan Diversity: “Boon or Curse”
The resulting Kingdom of Afghanistan was and remains ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse. Today, Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group within the country, but they represent only 38 percent of the population. An almost equal number of Pashtuns live across the border in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Ethnic Tajiks comprise one-quarter of the population. The Hazaras, who generally inhabit the center of the country, represent another 19 percent. Other groups — such as the Aimaks, Turkmen, Baluch, Uzbek, and others comprise the rest. Religious diversity further complicated internal Afghan politics and relations with neighbors.
Once home to thriving Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities as recently as the mid-twentieth century, Afghanistan today is overwhelmingly Muslim
On this globe, many countries did thrive on their diversity, and India, the Oldest civilization is the perfect example. However, in the context of both Afghanistan and the civil war, the fact that most identifiable Afghan groups have co-linguists, co-ethnics, or co-religionists across national boundaries became a catalyst for the nation’s collapse, as well as a major determinant in the coalition-building during both the years of Soviet occupation and post-liberation struggle.
The Neighboring Pakistan government has a long though often forgotten history of interfering with the ethnic minorities in its neighboring countries. Alas, India and Afghanistan are the best examples.
Afghanistan: “Slicky Road”
Zahir Shah took the throne of Afghanistan in 1933 after the assassination of his father, Nadir Shah. In the next 25 years, Afghanistan was on an economic spree. King awarded a San Francisco-based engineering firm the rights to develop hydroelectric and irrigation projects in the Hilmand River Valley. Women were attending colleges and universities in large numbers. Slowly, Afghanistan began drifting toward the West, culturally, politically, and economically.
In 1953, Zahir Shah’s first cousin, the 43-year-old Muhammad Daoud Khan became prime minister. Though a firm opponent of the liberalization in Afghan society, he sought closer relations with the Soviet Union.
Till the early ’50s, both the Soviet Union and the United States increasingly plied Afghanistan with economic and technical assistance. But when in 1955, Washington declined arms sales to Afghanistan, Moscow sees a golden opportunity and sold tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and small arms worth $25 million. Soviet experts helped construct or convert to military specifications airfields in northern Afghanistan.
The Cold War between Two Super Powers had now reached Afghanistan. It builds the foundation of an unprecedented war-torn future that honest hardworking Afghans were unaware of.
Afghanistan: “Demand for Pashtunstan”
After Pakistan was created, the Pushtun areas of Pakistan should likewise have the option for independence on the same ideology as Pakistan was created and become an entity to be called “Pashtunstan,” or “Land of the Pushtun“. Once independent of Pakistan, Pashtunstan would presumably choose to unite with the Pushtun-dominated Afghanistan, to form a “Greater Pashtunstan”. The Pashtunstan issue continued to simmer into the 1950s. In 1955, Pakistan reordered its administrative structure to merge all provinces in West Pakistan into a single unit. In March 1955, mobs attacked Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and ransacked the Pakistani consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar. Pakistani mobs retaliated by sacking the Afghan consulate in Peshawar.
The same demand continued in the next decade and twice, in 1960 and in 1961, Afghan troops marched into Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Both Soviet Union and the USA see this rivalry between the two neighbors as a “Golden Opportunity” and start acting in their own way. Between October and November 1961, 13 Soviet aircraft departed Kabul daily, transporting more than 100 tons of Afghan grapes. US increases its AID to Pakistan’s and effectively ended the U.S. aid program in Afghanistan.
Pakistan: “History of Supporting Insurgents”
In 1970, West Pakistan announced the country would hold an election for its first general elections since the country was created after Undivided British India was partitioned in 1947. 138 seats went to West Pakistan representatives and 162 to the more populous East Pakistan which had about 20 million more inhabitants. While West Pakistan’s votes were split between different parties, an overwhelming majority of votes in East Pakistan went to the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who campaigned on a platform of Bengali autonomy.
Shocked by the results, Yahya Khan, West Pakistan’s military dictator delayed calling the first meeting of the assembly and instituted martial law. On the night of March 25, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and 60-80,000 West Pakistani soldiers, who had been infiltrating East Pakistan for several months, began what would be known as “Operation Searchlight”, the massacre of Bengali civilians by Pakistani soldiers.
In May 1971, 1.5 million Hindu refugees sought asylum in India; by November 1971 that number had risen to nearly 10 million.
Estimates for the total number of deaths range from 500,000 to over 3 million, the majority of which are Bengali Hindus, with the death toll having become politicized over the years, says Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. When Australian doctor Geoffrey Davis was brought to Dhaka by the United Nations to assist with late-term abortions of raped women, at the end of the war, he believed the estimated figure for the number of Bengali women who were raped—200,000 to 400,000—was probably too low.
Failed Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was already on his knees. In the Indo-Pak War of 1971, 93,000 Pakistani Soldiers (the highest number in history) had surrendered to the strong Indian Army. After losing the war with India, PM Bhutto, Pakistan Army, and its intelligence agency ISI was in a very much decapitated state of mind. Pakistan had paid a heavy war cost as East Pakistan was lost and it had become an independent country “Bangladesh”.
This Trio then planned to compensate their lost glory by supporting an Islamist movement in Afghanistan, a strategy that Islamabad would replicate two decades later with the name everyone is aware “TALIBAN”.
Saur Revolution: “Exordium to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan”
The government of Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan came to a violent end in what was called the Saur Revolution. Insurgent troops led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan [PDPA] stormed Presidential Palace on April 27, 1978. Daoud had taken power five years before by overthrowing and exiling his cousin, King Zahir Shah. Though he promised a democratic government, Daoud’s administration was characterized by a harsh land reform program and growing suppression, particularly aimed at factions of the PDPA.
From the evening of April 27, 1978, till midnight, Aerial attacks continued on key locations but were intensified on the palace and by the morning of April 29, 1978, Daoud and most of his family were dead and rebels were in control of the capital city.
It was just the start of what Kabul will witness for the next 5 decades of insurgency, economic instability, gang rapes, mass murders, bomb blasts, and nothing but only chaos…
Afghanistan: “The Soviet Invasion“
In December 1979, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, not willing to lose the tenuous Soviet advantage in Afghanistan, sent the Red Army pouring into the country.
As Red Army soldiers flew on Aeroflot planes into Kabul, and as Soviet tanks rolled across the Friendship Bridge from what is now Uzbekistan, a cadre for the enlargement of the Afghan mujahideen already existed. This cadre had remained in Pakistani exile since their failed uprising four years before. However, even if the mujahideen existed prior to the Soviet invasion, it was the occupation of a foreign power that caused the “Mujahideen Movement” to grow exponentially in both influence and size as disaffected Afghans flocked to what had become the only viable opposition movement.
Having lost in Iran’s Islamic revolution their staunchest regional ally, the United States again sought to engage Afghanistan, and the White House saw it as a perfect Timing of “To kill two Birds with One Stone”.
Operation Cyclone: “Pakistan & USA Arming the Afghan Mujahideen“
The decision to arm the Afghan resistance came within two weeks of the Soviet invasion and quickly gained momentum. “Operation Cyclone” was the code name for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covert program to arm and finance the Jihadi warriors, mujahideen, in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, prior to and during the military intervention by the USSR in support of its client, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
In 1980, the Carter administration allocated only $30 million for the Afghan resistance, though under the Reagan administration this amount grew multifold. In 1985, Congress earmarked $250 million for Afghanistan, while Saudi Arabia contributed an equal amount. Two years later, with Saudi Arabia still reportedly matching contributions, annual American aid to the mujahideen reportedly reached $630 million this does not include contributions made by other Islamic countries, Israel, China, and Europe.
It was said that initially, the CIA refused to provide American arms to the resistance, seeking to maintain plausible deniability. The 1983 suggestion of American Ambassador to Pakistan Ronald Spiers, that the U.S. should provide Stinger missiles to the mujahideen went nowhere for several years. As much of the resistance to the supply of Stinger missiles were generated internally from the CIA station chief’s desire) to keep the covert assistance program small and inconspicuous. Instead, the millions appropriated went to purchase Chinese, Warsaw Pact, and Israeli weaponry.
Only in March 1985, did Reagan’s national security team formally decide to switch their strategy from mere harassment of Soviet forces in Afghanistan to drive the Red Army completely out of the country. It was not until September 1986, that the Reagan administration decided to supply Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the mujahideen, thereby breaking the embargo on “Made-in-America” arms.
The CIA may have coordinated the purchase of weapons and the initial training, but Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) controlled their distribution and their transport to the war zone. Upon the weapons' arrival at the port of Karachi or the Islamabad airport, the ISI would transport the weapons to depots near Rawalpindi or Quetta, and hence on to the Afghan border.
John McMahon, deputy director of the CIA, attempted to limit CIA interaction with the mujahideen. Even at the height of American involvement in Afghanistan, very few CIA operatives were allowed into the field.
Pakistan: “ISI Covert Treacherous Plan against India“
The ISI used its coordinating position to promote Pakistani interests as it saw them. The ISI refused to recognize any Afghan resistance group that was not religiously based. However, ISI did recognize seven groups but insisted on contracting directly with each individual group in order to maintain maximum leverage. Pakistani intelligence was, therefore, able to reward compliant factions among the fiercely competitive resistance figures.
ISI tended to favor Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, perhaps the most militant Islamist of the mujahideen commanders, largely because Hekmatyar was also a strong proponent of the Pakistani-sponsored Islamist insurgency in Kashmir.
In the 1980s, the U.S. State Department considered India a lost cause. However, India, the greatest possible diplomatic check to Washington’s escalating relationship with Islamabad, removed herself from any position of influence because its unabashed pro-Soviet policy eviscerated any American fear of antagonizing India.
While beneficial to Pakistani national interests at least in the short-term, the ISI’s strategy had long-term consequences in promoting the Islamism and fractiousness of the mujahideen. However, the degree to which disunity would plague the mujahideen did not become fully apparent until after the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan. This strategy was then used against India in Kashmir and is still going to date. And World is silent against the “Terror State of Pakistan”.
Afghanistan: “Soviet Forces Left and USA Betrayal“
In 1988, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev announced his intention to withdraw Soviet troops. Despite Gorbachev’s continued military and economic assistance to Najibullah, Afghanistan’s communist president, most analysts believed the Najibullah would quickly collapse. The CIA expected that, at most, Najibullah would remain in power for one year following the Soviet withdrawal1.
While the United States budgeted $250 million for the mujahideen in 1991, the following year the Bush administration allocated no money for military assistance. Money is an influence, and individuals in the Persian Gulf continued to provide almost $400 million annually to the Afghan mujahideen.
Pakistan: “ISI role in Emergence of Afghan Arabs“
This is not a hidden fact that the CIA directly supported Arab volunteers who came to Afghanistan to wage jihad against the Soviets but eventually used those American arms to engage in the terrorist war against the West. However, the so-called “Afghan Arabs” only emerged as a major force in the 1990s. During the resistance against the Soviet occupation, Arab volunteers played at best a cursory role.
The relationship between the Afghans and the Internationalists was like a varsity team to the scrubs. The Afghans fought their own war and outsiders of any stripe were kept on the sidelines. The “Bin Laden” of this Jihad could build and guard roads, dig ditches, and prepare fixed positions; however, this was an Afghan Jihad, fought by real Afghans, and eventually won by real Afghans. Bin Ladin sat out the ‘Big One”.
Milton Bearden, former CIA station chief in Pakistan, was equally blunt, writing “Despite what has often been written, the CIA never recruited, trained, or otherwise used the Arab volunteers who arrived in Pakistan. The idea that the Afghans somehow needed fighters from outside their culture was deeply flawed and ignored basic historical and cultural facts”.
Now the big question is that if the CIA never recruited any Afghan Arabs, then from where did the Afghan Arabs come from and who established them? Did these volunteers originate in the Muslim Brotherhood or other radical Islamist organizations? And Answer is that “The Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Coordination Council organized both the new recruits and disbursement of assistance”.
The next question is how they reach Afghanistan? Who provides safe heaven? The answer is Today’s FATF Grey Listed Terror Country “Pakistan”.
In Pakistan, Arab volunteers staffed numerous Saudi Red Crescent offices near the Afghan frontier. Pakistan ISI helped Afghan Arabs to establish a well-financed presence in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan. As per one of Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, an estimated some 35,000 Islamists serve in Afghanistan between 1982 and 1992, whom ISI has established by the USA and Saudi Dollars.
Pakistan: “ISI role in creating Taliban“
Did The Taliban seemingly arise from thin air? Absolutely Not ….
Following the 1989 withdrawal of the Soviet military, Afghan president Najibullah managed to maintain power for three years without his patrons. But In 1992, ethnic Tajik mujahideen forces captured Kabul and unseated the communist president.
Taliban while being supported materially by Pakistan, Taliban relied heavily upon momentum in its near-complete conquest of Afghanistan. The situation in Kandahar “particularly precarious,” and “civilians had little security from murder, rape, looting, or extortion”.
ISI openly support the internecine fighting, especially in Kandahar, which had virtually eliminated the traditional leadership, leaving the door open to the Taliban. Following the fall of Kandahar, ISI motivated thousands of Afghan refugees, madrasa students, and Pakistani Jamiat-i Ulama supporters to join the movement. It is estimated that by December 1994, more than 12,000 recruits joined the Taliban. Each subsequent Taliban victory resulted in thousands of new recruits. Often these victories were less a result of military prowess than the cooption of opposing warlords into the Taliban movement.
Afghanistan: “ISI Maelstrom with Shifting Alliances“
ISI-backed Ismail Khan controlled Herat and much of Western Afghanistan, while several Pashtun commanders held sway over eastern Afghanistan.
Another ISI backed Dostum along with other Taliban groups headed by Himatyar Kept shelling the capital Kabul. The southern Pashtun warlords and bandits continued to fight each other for territory,
ISI’s Taliban militia started selling off Afghanistan’s machinery, property, and even entire factories to Pakistani traders. Kidnappings, murders, rapes, and robberies were frequent as Afghan civilians found themselves in the crossfire. It was in the backdrop to this fighting that the Taliban arose, not only in Afghanistan but also among Afghan refugees and mujahideen studying in the madrasas (religious colleges) of Pakistan.
Although in the 1980s, Pakistan was the base for the Saudi-American alliance behind the mujahideen. But by the mid-1990s, Pakistan had become the safe haven of the Taliban insurgency and its logistical supply line. ISI continued supply of new equipment and munitions — from rifles and bullets to tanks and MiG fighters, for Taliban help them in their continued advances.
Territorial conquest began on October 12, 1994, when 200 Taliban seized the Afghan border post of Spin Baldak. In late October 1994, the local mujahideen warlords intercepted a convoy containing arms, senior ISI commanders, and Taliban. The men and material in this transport proved crucial in the seizure of major cities of Afghanistan. Less than a month later, on November 3, the Taliban attacked Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan. Within 48 hours, the city was theirs.
By February 11, 1995, they controlled 9 of Afghanistan’s 30 provinces. On September 5, 1995, the Taliban seized Herat, sending Ismail Khan into an Iranian exile. Just over one year later, Jalalabad fell, and just 15 days later, on September 26, 1996, the Taliban took Kabul. On May 24, 1997, the Taliban seized Mazar-i Sharif, the last major city held by the mujahideen. However, after just 18 hours, a rebellion forced the Taliban from the city. When the Taliban again took the refugee-swollen city in August 1998, they took no chances, brutally massacring thousands.
Pakistan’s: “ISI Media role in promoting Taliban“
Taliban’s activity, in the beginning, was shrouded in myth in Afghanistan. Pakistan media projected the Taliban as “Robin Hood of Afghanistan”. Media very blatantly cited examples. When the Neighbors of two girls were kidnapped and raped by Kandahar warlords, the neighbors asked for the Taliban’s help in freeing the teenagers. The Taliban attacked a military camp, freed the girls, and executed the commander. Another example they aired flamboyantly when another squad of Taliban freed a young boy over whom two warlords were fighting for the right to sodomize. ISI sponsored Pakistan media of portraying the myth of the Taliban as Robin Hood grew up around Mullah Umar resulting in victimized Afghans increasingly appealing to the Taliban for help against local oppressors.
Nevertheless, one must imagine that how simple, hardworking, and honest Afghan civilians, (many of whom took up arms simply to protect themselves during the ’80s by the Red Army), had faced catastrophic when they themselves witness the heinous acts of gang rape or mass murders or bomb blasts or looting by Pakistans's ISI sponsored Taliban and who were often appraised as “Regional Robin Hood”. However, the greatest predicament is that the terror agenda of such militia groups are often overlooked by "Cold Geopolitical Analysis", often manufactured presumptuously, especially when coming from Global Powers.
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