Afghanistan: Brief history of the current Taliban offensive

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Pakistan-backed Taliban is rapidly capturing territories in Afghanistan. (Photo: News Intervention)
Pakistan-backed Taliban is rapidly capturing territories in Afghanistan. (Photo: News Intervention)

Afghanistan’s history spans centuries from the Ghaznavid era to the Hotak empires. As inheritors of ancient history, Afghanistan certainly had an inkling of the turn of events in the modern era, which is why the Afghan government refused to recognize Pakistan’s membership in the United Nations on September 30, 1947. Further, on July 17, 1973 the then President of Afghanistan, Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan, in his first radio address said, “Pashtunistan is the lost heritage of our forefathers …and it is an undeniable fact that the solution can only be according to the aspirations of Pashtuns. Let the world know that Afghanistan has no dispute with any country in the world except Pakistan… and Afghanistan will continue to make every effort to resolve this dispute.”

After Dawood Khan’s speech, the then President of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, ordered the deployment of Pakistani troops on the Afghan border and in the same month he set up an ‘Afghan Cell’ in Pakistan’s foreign ministry and appointed General Naseerullah Babar as chief of this cell to oversee Afghan affairs.

Afghanistan’s area which was taken away by the British colonialists against the will of Afghans and is known as the Durand Line, was later on handed over to the newly formed state of Pakistan. Here also the British took a step against the will of Afghans. It was an unnatural and illegal division, so the Afghan people have been resisting this division ever since it became public. As many as half a million Afghans have shed their blood till date due to the short sighted steps taken by British to destabilize the then Afghan government.

Pakistan was created by the British to further their interests. The main purpose of creating Pakistan was to stall the rapid spread of communism. In 1955, when the erstwhile Soviet Union tried to pave its way into Afghanistan, every effort was made to stop it.

British adopted their policy of divide and rule in Afghanistan as well. During their colonial rule the British had initiated a policy to destroy the Afghanistan’s secular society. So as a matter of this policy the British started promoting Afghan mullahs, and reaped short term rewards against the erstwhile Soviet Union.

However, in 1979 the Soviet Union assisted the Afghan government in rooting out the radical Islamic extremists called the Mujahideen. The Mujahideen were formed with the active involvement of Pakistan, the United States and its allies such as the Saudi government.

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Pakistan created a network of madrassas and the Saudi government provided funds to run them, while the United States provided military equipment. During those days there was an unwritten agreement between Pakistan and the United States under which both the powers agreed to informally turn Afghanistan as the fifth province of Pakistan.

The prospect of Pakistan getting ‘ownership’ of an Afghanistan rich in minerals, along with the parts snatched through the farce called Durand Line, was nothing short of outright treachery. It is rather strange that United States and Saudi Arabia knowing that this unnatural state (Pakistan) was falling apart still went ahead to provide all kinds of material and logistical support. The biggest example about Pakistan falling apart came in merely twenty four years after its existence, when East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) won its independence from Islamabad in 1971. But this independence for Bangladesh’s Bengalis came after immense bloodshed. More than three million Bangladeshi Bengalis were martyred and thousands of Bengali women were brutally raped, but the Bengalis did not lose heart.

On December 16, 1971 when over 92,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army it was the dawn of a new nation, Bangladesh. The Bangladesh liberation war must have served as an eye opener for the world and Pakistan’s duplicitous face must have been visible to US, UK and Saudis. Unfortunately this did not happen. And Mujahideen continued to receive arms, ammunition and training in Pakistan through active help from the US and Saudis. The Mujahideen continued to flourish only to serve the parochial objective to halt Soviet Union’s involvement in Afghanistan. The military trained Mujahideen along with the large number of students graduating from Pakistan’s madrasas were sent to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet forces. Saudi Arabia instilled Wahabism while the United States armed these radical Mujahids. Afghan nationalists tried to fight back all these forces but with active involvement of imperialist powers they continued to suffer. Pakistan planted radical Islamists and madrasa educated extremists across Afghanistan.

After the fall of Soviet Union and their retreat from Afghanistan, it is these Mujahideen that were re-branded as Taliban.  

Earlier, this nefarious game of sponsoring bloodbath in Afghanistan was in the name of Mujahideen movement, but after Soviet Union retreated this game was re-started in the name of Taliban. The Taliban, buoyed with the backing of Pakistan’s military establishment massacred thousands of Afghans on the streets of Kabul. Soon the Taliban brutally murdered Afghanistan’s nationalist leader and the then Afghan President Dr. Najib (Mohammad Njibullah).

After the martyrdom of Dr. Najib, the Pakistan-backed Taliban government was established in Afghanistan, but even then Afghanistan continued to struggle against these Pakistani proxies (Taliban) under the leadership of Ahmad Shah Massoud. With the establishment of Taliban government in 1992, the Taliban succeeded in capturing most parts of Afghanistan. By the year 2001, except for a few areas such as Panjshir that still held forth against the Taliban, Pakistan-backed Taliban had taken full control of Afghanistan.

However, the 9/11 attack on Twin Towers at New York changed the world. The United States blamed Al-Qaeda for the attacks, which is another radical Islamic terrorist organisation. At this time the Soviet Union had disintegrated and access to Central Asian Republics (CAR) was urgently needed to prevent a resurgence of the Soviet Union. The central Asian states are rich in minerals, and by becoming the custodian of the region, the United States would be able to fulfill its dream of controlling almost the entire world, including Russia and China.

Soon US invaded Afghanistan, but even after the US invasion, Pakistan continued to nurture military training camps and also increase its network of madrassas for newer recruitment of Taliban.

At present when the United States and its allies are withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of bloody war, we see the Taliban’s military operations intensifying day by day such that they have already taken control of a large area of Afghanistan. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani recently said that more than 10,000 Taliban terrorists had entered Afghanistan from Pakistan. And this number continues to swell.

Recently when the Taliban captured Spin Boldak it was through direct assistance from the Pakistani forces. Amrullah Saleh, Afghanistan’s vice president said in his tweet that Pakistan had threatened air strikes against Afghanistan. Despite all odds, the Afghan governments’ forces regained control of Spin Boldak.

Apart from the military support the Pakistani state is also providing other logistical and medical facilities to the Taliban. So the Taliban terrorists who are wounded in the ongoing battle with Afghan security forces are treated in Pakistani hospitals. Pakistan also makes arrangements for the Taliban to bury their dead in parts of Balochistan that belong to the Pashtun tribes.

Recently, the Afghan government handed over 39 bodies to the Red Cross from different parts of Pakistan.

Whether it is the madrassas used against Afghanistan, the attacks on Afghans living across the Durand Line and other nations who are being made scapegoats in the name of religion, the Pakistani state is directly involved in all these operations. All this evidence must open the eyes of the world, yet the world has closed its eyes and refuses to offer any help to war torn country, Afghanistan.

The world should have taken strict action against the rogue Pakistan Army so that peace could be established in the world, yet all civilized nations look the other way and behave as if Pakistan is their close relative and the lives of millions of Afghans do not matter. If the world had not recognized the existence of Pakistan in 1947, there would have been no terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, Kashmir would not have been burnt, the blood of three million Bengalis would not have been shed, there would not have been daily mourning in every house of Balochistan, nor would innocent Afghans have been killed by the Taliban.

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