By Muhammad Adan Nisar
“Taliban” is a term used in the Pashto language for the student of an Islamic school known as “Madrasa.” The Taliban is the name of a movement that started in Khushk-i-Nakhud, the area near Kandahar, led by Mullah Omar (the supreme leader of the Taliban) after the fall out of Najibullah’s Government, supported by the Soviet Union, in 1994.
In the beginning, it consisted of three dozen Islamic students of Madrasa, which raised their voices against the lawlessness in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union.
Within three years, it took over control of the capital Kabul, and 90% area of Afghanistan was under the control of the Taliban in 1996.
In the initial period of the Taliban movement, the US diplomats in Islamabad and the State Department strongly believed that the Taliban would restore peace in Afghanistan, and establish a centralized government.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Pakistan recognized the Taliban’s government. The Taliban tried to fill the power vacuum but needed help to deliver on this.
Northern Alliance consisted of Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks communities. It came into existence in 1996 as a counter-force to the Taliban in northeast Afghanistan.
Ahmad Shah Masood was the leader of this alliance. India and Iran supported it, and provided assistance militarily, and economically to take over Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, which would be used against Pakistan in the reign of the Northern Alliance.
Pakistan was deeply concerned about Indian involvement, and activities in Afghanistan. India considered Afghanistan strategic depth against Pakistan and has been using Afghan soil against Pakistan since that time.
The US supported the groups of Mujahadeen against the Soviet Union in the Afghan war and supported them militarily and economically.
It played its role in bringing people from across the world to participate in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. The US introduced the Kalashnikov and the Opium culture in this region.
Still, after the pullout, and disintegration of the Soviet Union, the US pulled out from this region and left Pakistan and Afghanistan at their fate, which the former foreign secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged.
The people who participated in the war could not return to their homes and settled in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s northern areas.
The culture, which was promoted by the US during the Afghan war, became the cause of terrorism across the world, and Al-Qaeda attacked US Embassies in East Africa in 1998, and USS Cole, a navy-guided missile destroyer in Aden in 2000.
Two days before of 9/11 incident, which changed the scenario of the world, Ahmad Shah Masood (the leader of the Northern Alliance) was killed by Two Arabian suicide bombers before the television, and they blew themselves up.
The US believed that Al-Qaeda was behind the killing of Ahmad Shah Masood. On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four airplanes.
Two planes were hit into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York; the third crashed at the Pentagon (headquarters of the Defense Department, and the US military forces), while the fourth crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Around 3000 people were killed in these deadly attacks. The US was under high strain after the attacks. However, this was the biggest failure of the US intelligence agencies, because they failed to provide information regarding the attacks and to prevent the 9/11 incident.
The US immediately blamed Al-Qaeda for this incident without initiating an investigation. The US warned the Taliban to hand over Usama Bin Laden to the US, but the Taliban demanded evidence of Bin Laden’s involvement in this incident.
However, the US did not provide any evidence, and the Taliban did not hand over Bin Laden to the US. Pakistan’s role was crucial in “the war on terrorism,” which was declared, and launched by the US and its NATO allies against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Pakistan provided unconditional support, and three military air bases to the US (two in the region of western Balochistan, and the third in Sindh province).
Pakistan played a key role in facilitating the US-led operation “Enduring Freedom” against the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. It shared crucial intelligence with the US regarding the activities of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) and American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) launched combined combing operations against the most wanted terrorist in, and across Pakistan.
The “Tora Bora” Operation initially brought terrorism to Pakistan. It was conducted in the White Mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, near the Pak-Afghan border, by US Special forces, and CIA operatives in December 2001.
However, Pakistani security forces were not informed by the US. Hence, Thousands of terrorists crossed the border and settled in lawless northern areas of Pakistan.
On December 18, 2001, US General Tommy Franks asked Pakistani authorities to deploy their forces on the Pak-Afghan border. General (R) Shahid Aziz claimed that America deliberately did it.
Pakistan was badly struck and hit by the terrorists. Pakistan lost more than 80,000 people, including civilians, and faced an economic loss of more than $252 billion as estimated by economist Dr. Hafiz Pasha in his book titled ‘Growth and Inequality –Agenda for Reforms.’
Pakistan was a strategic partner of the US during the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, and an important ally of the US in the “War on Terrorism.” The US spent more than 20 years in Afghanistan to eliminate terrorists and maintain peace, but it could not.
Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan has been justifiable and insisted the US that there is only a political solution to this ongoing conflict in Afghanistan rather than the military. Pakistan is a peaceful country, and its policy has been “to promote peace” in, and across the region since.
Pakistan’s basic concern is Indian involvement in Afghanistan. India infiltrates Balochistan using Afghan soil, and supports state-banned organizations militarily, and economically in Balochistan.
The world community or the so-called champions of peace need to review their policy towards India if they want peace in this region.
*The writer is a graduate of Diplomacy & Strategic Studies (DSS) from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, and is associated with the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
**The Diplomatic Insight does not take any position on issues and the views, opinions & findings represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its staff.