Bamiyan, 12 March New York, 11 September 2001
Warning: Taliban Is Back - More 9/11s
The Taliban/Al-Qaeda regime was broken by the bombardment of American forces from the air and toppled by the advancement of the United Front forces from the ground at the end of 2001.
The notorious middle-age regime was ousted, but it was expected that the Americans, with the help of the international community, would establish a proper government (relatively democratic) in Kabul to heal and alleviate the prolonged wounds and pains of Afghanistan people, rehabilitate/reconstruct the country and bring peace and stability to the society. Moreover, it was expected that the Americans would rebuild the society, in the hope that it would become a model, enabling other countries in the Middle East to bring democracy and social prosperity to their countries. It has also been stated, countless times, that Afghanistan is a true example of a success story in the “War on Terror” and that the Karzai regime is a “shining example” of a democratic society. However, the question remains: Is this turning out to be true or false?
War on Terror – True Success?
Over the past week, the fierce clashes between the Taliban fighters and the combined coalition and Afghan security forces have proved that everything said by the Bush/Karzai administration was wrong and full of deception and falsification. The security environment has deteriorated in a very significant way in Afghanistan. Taliban no longer solely rely on hit-and-run tactics by small groups of guerrillas. Instead, they have formed groups of more than 100 fighters to carry out frontal assaults on the coalition forces and government security posts. They are now challenging the Karzai regime and the coalition forces by controlling a number of districts in several provinces within south and east Afghanistan (Kunar, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Urozgan and Helmand). They are slowly advancing to north and west Afghanistan. Rather than recognising the faults of its own policies and actions, the Karzai regime continue to blame Pakistan as the only source of the issues and problems related to Afghanistan. They are not considering the internal factors at all. They are failing to recognise that there could be something wrong inside their regime/government. It is very likely that the main source of resentment among the people of Afghanistan and foreign interferences lies within this regime/government.
It all shows that the Bush/Karzai policy is at fault, ending a deadlock. But to understand what went wrong and how to make it right, it is important to understand the main roots/causes of the problem - imposing a puppet regime with wrong policies.
Shining Example – Bush/Karzai Democracy?
The US forced a puppet person, in Bonn agreement (Karzai – 2 and Prof. Sirat – 11 votes) on other representatives, without considering the complex, regional and ethnic divides within Afghanistan. The instance that a “Pashtun” must be in power was the first wrong milestone for the building of a new Afghanistan put down in Bonn (obvious violation of democracy/election principles).
American did not know that decades of war and centuries of brutal ethnic cleansing and religious persecution by Pashtun rulers required basic preconditions such as trust-building and goodwill among the different ethnic groups and regions for a peaceful society in Afghanistan. They must have understood that it could never be achieved through focusing on a single Pashtun leader within a centralized state in a multi-ethnic society. As it was barbarically practiced by Amir A. Rahman Khan during 1880 - 1901 and followed by Zahir Shah, Hafizullah Amin and Taliban regimes.
The US and United Nations must have been focused on building national institutions and a relatively democratic system to provide equal opportunities to all ethnics. In contrast, they provided strong support to a “person”, Karzai - a founder of the Taliban movement in Pakistan - “a wrong man for a big job”. Moreover, if this “wrong” man was advised and supervised with “right policies”, the conditions would not be such as today.
Americans thought that installing a “Pashtun”, in a presidential system, within a centralized state would have a unifying effect on a fragmented country. They accepted the wrong views of many radical Pashtuns, that all ethnics in Afghanistan are (called) Afghans (knowing that “Afghan” is the historical name of Pashtun and even the word “Afghanistan” as the official name of a country for the “Kabul” rulers was first created and used by British in the Anglo-Persian Treaty in the first half of 19th century, while the “Kabul” rulers called themselves as Amir/King of “Khurasan” until the end of 19th century). They have been told that Afghans see each other as brothers, undivided by differences (covering all the atrocities/genocides took place during the past century) and any talk and dialogue of addressing ethnic issues and diversity in the country was/is stamped as a “crime” against national unity and categorized as a “plot” by outsiders to divide the country. They have been told that who controls Kabul controls Afghanistan.
It is well known that Pashtun rulers in Kabul have usually requested foreign intervention (from British, Russians, etc.) to sustain the suppression of non-Pashtuns and even some Pashtun tribes in the past. Karzai’s attempts for the US to restrain local conflicts and restore a central power in the country is heading that way. The signs of Pashtun domination and Pashtunization (moving/settling of Pashtuns from south to north on the lands confiscated from other ethnic groups by royal/official edicts, forcing Pashtu language, monopoly of senior positions, elimination of others historic/cultural values, imposing of tribal values, etc.) are shining up again, as several key posts/positions have been given to radical Pashtuns in the government while the leaders of other ethnics who claim rights for their people and regions or who talk of diversity are dismissed and sidelined as “warlords” to re-establish the so-called “national unity” in the country!
It should be remembered that Afghanistan is a country of minorities (with their majorities in neighbouring countries) and no ethnicity is more than 30% of the total population. In the aftermath of a century of oppression of the non-Pashtuns and numerous measures, projects and actions to “Pashtunize” the country, there will be no permanent peace, security and trust among different ethnic groups in Afghanistan. However, there is a very simple and least expensive solution to this long-lasted painful problem even at present situation (if someone honestly wants to solve it). In order to cure the fractured relations and history of violence and distrust, it is needed to create a greater political space by making the local organs/authorities to be elected in district and provincial levels besides having a national government in Kabul. It is also the only approach that directly renounces ethnic and religious extremism at present situation.
Today, the Karzai regime is sadly opposing this solution and this is the main reason/concern that many non-Pashtuns believe that radical Pashtuns in the government are using their posts and positions to re-establish Pashtun domination of the country as before. The US is exacerbating the situation (by backing the Karzai regime and its wrong policies) in contrast to their lraq policy, which recognizes Iraq's diversity and the political rights of different groups long oppressed there.
The general public resentments and social unrests/uprisings could be the final achievements of the Karzai regime (backed by Bush administration), considering its overall failure in other aspects of people’s life (after four and half years) such as trust-building, nation-building, state-building, rehabilitation/reconstruction (billions of pound spent without any tangible change); fraud in constitution, presidential and parliamentary elections; extensive corruption, NGO-ism, narcotism (even the brother of Karzai has been linked to the trade as a major smuggler) and terrorism. As it was announced in several occasions, Afghanistan is among top ten “failed states”.
It was crystal clear that Taliban was created by the Pakistan military Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan in 1994 (after its failure to impose Hekmatyar as the head of Kabul government) and exported to Afghanistan to establish the darkest regime (with the name of a pure Islamic state) serving the interest and strategic depth of Pakistan. The Taliban regime provided such conditions and Afghanistan was practically transformed to be the 5th federation of Pakistan during that time (Pakistan’s main objective).
Pakistan knew that the establishment of a powerful Pashtun (an ethnic minority in Afghanistan with their majority in Pakistan) regime with the support of the US in Kabul can create huge problems regarding the un-recognition of the Durand Line and division of Pakistan (it has already been claimed several times that social unrests in Baluchistan have some roots in Afghanistan). Therefore the Pakistan government have done and will do whatever they could/can (knowing that Pakistan is an atomic power) to prevent the creation of an anti-Pakistani regime in Kabul which do not recognise/respect its internationally recognised borders. Pakistan knows that Karzai/Bush administration has collected and organised the most radical Pashtuns in the Kabul government which clearly claim/propagandize the “expiration of the Durand agreement?” and the establishment of a “Great Afghanistan?” - the inclusion of two federations of Pakistan (North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan) to be part of Afghanistan. A radical Pashtun regime in Kabul not only poses the greatest danger and utmost threat to Pakistan, but also to all non-Pashtuns in Afghanistan.
To prevent this, the easiest way and the least expensive tool for Pakistan is backing and sending of thousands of fanatic Muslim fighters under the name/flag of Taliban/Al-Qaida to fight “infidels” and American “occupation” in Afghanistan (such as Iraq)! Pakistan may receive financial and logistic support from different sources for this purpose. It is thought that even the Russians and Chinese may not be upset and uninterested for the drowning of Americans in the swamp of Afghanistan to compensate the disintegration and collapse of the USSR few years ago. It seems that the same scenario of the Soviet occupation is repeating with American occupation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is playing the same role, that time against the USSR and now against the USA (in both cases against the establishment of a radical Pashtun regime in Kabul).
It was very wise for Bush administration (to force the Kabul regime) to positively respond to Pakistan’s proposal of border-fencing to stop the so-called terrorist infiltration and flow of arms by both sides. Karzai and his team harshly responded to this proposal, but the Bush administration strangely ignored it. In reality, this proposal was a gauge to measure the temperature/pulse of the Kabul regime (composed mainly of radical Pashtuns) and its intentions; otherwise it seemed to be impractical.
The key solutions to end this vicious circle of endless ethnic tensions and Pakistan interventions in Afghanistan are
Ensuring all local organisations/authorities have a chance to be elected at district and provincial levels besides having a national government in Kabul for trust-building, nation- and state- building and national unity in Afghanistan.
Recognition of the Durand Line as the official border by the Kabul regime for ending the border dispute and Pakistan interferences in Afghanistan. This will help not only to end the mistrust between the two countries but also reduces the concerns of Pashtun domination in Afghanistan.
Otherwise this bloody wound continues to bleed with more 9/11s!
London, 28 May 2006