Blunder, change, business, religion and militancy: The Talibans

Akash Rajkumar *

Exiled! Ousted! Fled! Given shelter! Had no choice! Kabul! Talibans! Afghanistan! Flood of bloodshed! Vows to return!!

Headlines of news that circulated all around the world in the recent days , and we know only what we perceive not the intentions and way people wants us to!! To err is human!

9/11 referred hereafter is a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Wahhabi Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, 11th of September, 2001; 6:16pm IST.

Geography plays an important role in history and geo-politics is a complex structure presently. Foreign affairs and diplomacy is not a bed of roses. The tits and tats, the alliances, the apostasy will never be free from this game. We have witnessed the WWI and WWII. In the post -WWII period we have witnessed the Cold war and the fall of U. S. S. R(Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) . The situations gave particular conditions for certain geo-politics in the Asian countries which have mild influences of Communism but which weren't able to establish themselves at the forefront as if yet, then.

Recently, on the 14th of April 2021 the newly elected American President Joe Biden announced, after the deal with the Talibans back in February of 2020 C. E. , the desire of leaving Afghanistan by the 11th of September same year, on the 20th anniversary of the fateful 9/11 incident, which is still consider by the bearers of the liberty and democracy as one the biggest 'terrorist ' attack in recent past. All American troops including the allied NATO( North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) of 36 countries will be leaving Afghanistan.

However, to conclude whether the proposed mission by the U. S President George Herbert Walker Bush following the 9/11 remains far from being achieved to many eyes who actually believed in the 'promise' to defend the freedom. The firmness he showed in his speech and the resulting event today seems a tangent being drawn away from the believe, or should we say " mission un- accomplished" as projected to be accomplished.

The U. S. troops leave the Bagram base in July 1st, 2021 without any prior information. Bagram base is located in the Afghanistan. It was the epicenter of activity against the Talibans and the Al Qaeda by the U. S and its allies. Besides for all these years, The U. S. have been immensely succeokn their narrative building as the saviour of democracy. To note, they control nearly 90% of the media reach to us be it in text or visual-audio. The narratives are build according to their own need with the careful selections of words which Aristotle had termed as "epideictic rhetoric". The U. S. enjoy a fair share of the information warfare.

The bi-polar world of the Cold War era was a period of conflict between two different ideologies and geo-political tension between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. While trying to expand their sphere if influence accordingly to their own believes, we can infer that the US involvement in the Middle East were temporary ones, considering the proximity it share with USSR. And this would change to active engagement in the post-Cold war period. The fall of USSR was seen as a victory of democracy and capitalist society and economy.

The involvement of the US can be traced back to the decade long Soviet-Afghan War (1978 C.E. 1989 C.E.). This was a result of the blunder the US had made in the Vietnam War which they claimed victory. China became Communist in 1949 C. E. and the wave was felt in North Vietnam. To stop the spread of communism to South Vietnam and further to Asian countries, the US made active participation favouring the South Vietnam.

However, the situation they face made them call off the war in 1975C. E. . So the Soviet-Afghan war which began in 1978 C. E. was a chance to redeem and purge their past mistake and blunder. Meanwhile, we witnessed the Indo-Pakistan War or the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 C. E. This situation will pry not only the US but the Asian country of Pakistan too. The involvement of Pakistan from herewith will change the whole geopolitics.

During the Soviet-Afghan War many Afghans fled to neighbouring countries. However the Afghans had good and cordial relation with the Soviets since 1947 C. E. but the situation change after the assassination of communist statesman Nur Muhammad Taraki in 1978 C. E.. The unstable political condition in Afghanistan made the Soviets to shift from advisory role during their friendship days to active engagement. Thus began the Soviet-Afghan War. This war is also the last engagement made by USSR before its collapse.

Afghanistan was a nation divided into two blocks one supporting the communist Soviets and the other were Anti-Communist Islamic Afghans or the Mujahiddens. They had no resource, no military training and no support. The U. S. who have been a silently studying the situation wanted an strategic involvement bit without active engagement.

On the other hand, Pakistan who was not having an cordial relation with India since the Kashmir War of 1949 C. E. and the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 C. E. under the leadership of military general Muhammad Zia ul Haq sense the desires of the U. S. and soon forged a relation with the U. S. President Jimmy Carter. The US were happy in finding a way, so initiated Operation Cyclone where resources including finance and military aids were supplied in huge quantities for the Mujahiddens through Pakistan. In this way Pakistan did business during the Soviet-Afghan War and they used large part of the aid in their own needs. So we see a sudden hike in the militant activities in Punjab by then.

When the Soviet war in Afghanistan was coming to an end, Pakistan saw that the interest of the U. S. could fade. so they aim in creating new conflicts where the U. S. would be interested. The Mujahidden also seem to run out of factors to continue the fight against their own country-men. The Pakistani Army and the I. S. I(Inter Service Intelligence) Agency plays a crucial role. They created the Al Qaeda in 1988 C. E. at Peshawar, Pakistan.

Earlier the leader of Mujahiddens were also calked for important meetings at Peshawar. This shows the hand Pakistan was playing in between. Al Qaeda was composed of several war veterans and heroes from the recently concluded Soviet-Afghan War. The face of Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam were heroes for Afghanistan and the U. S. during the war. However, post creation of Al Qaeda they were brainwashed by the Pakistani Army and Agency and projected the U.S. as enemy for them and to fight against the corrupt politicians of Afghan Democratic Republic . Thus, began the conflict between Afghanistan and the U. S..

We should note that Pakistan needed fund and resources for their K2 mission Kashmir and Khalisthan Mission. Meanwhile, the Soviet Republic collapsed in 1991 C. E. And the attention of the U. S. was shifted to the case of Saddam Hussain and Iraq invasion of Kuwait. Pakistan and Al Qaeda, which is basically an Pakistani creation, wanted American attention. The expanding Al Qaeda in the Islamic world conducted atrocities in Northern Africa.

A civil war broke out by 1992 in Afghanistan and amongst the. Six(sometimes three or five) powers competing, the Talibans, again created by the Pakistani Army and I. S. I. Agency, captured power. The Talibans were founded under the leadership of Mohammad Omar, Abdul Ghani Barada at Kandahar in 1994 C. E.. Al Qaeda reestablish themselves in Afghanistan under the shadow of the Talibans and began the confusing character mingling of the Talibans and the Al Qaeda. While the Al Qaeda was trying to gain attention, the most significant was the attack of 9/11.

The U. S responded within a week and on account of the denial by the Talibans to hand over the 'man' behind the attack launched an aggressive militarization against the Talibans and Afghanistan. By 2002 C. E. , the Talibans and allies were retreated to the NorthEastern part of Afghanistan which is a hilly region and hid among the mountains.

We can notice the double character played by Pakistan where they use 'religion militancy' and the aids of the U. S for their own benefits against India. This doesn't mean the C. I. A( Central Intelligence Agency) or the American government are dumb and mummified. Yet, the policy was continued by the Presidents of Pre-Trump period. Pakistan had succeeded so far in converting the war heroes of Soviet-Afghan war to be enemies amongst themselves while she enjoy a fat share, and keeps on creating militant groups. Many on India are supported by the Pakistan and affiliates to Al Qaeda. This raises certain security question. And the quick response to Al Qaeda's action of 9/11 serves Pakistan the best in terms of funds and aids they receive from the U. S. by creating 'religious militant ' groups.

However, the foreign policy adopted by Trump towards Pakistan is a landmark event. And in regard to the withdrawing of the troops we have seen an 'unsuccessful ' talk with the Talibans and the Obama Government in 2016 C. E.. But direct talk with the Talibans initiated by Trump in 2020 C. E and the peace deal of 2020 are changing landmarks.

The emergence of the Talibans owes to Pakistan but the changing nature of the Talibans, as they accept diplomatic talks and solution, tends a re-union on religion base ground seem unlikely, as the Talibans should also, by now, had learned the double character played by Pakistan. Instead the religion card could serve against Pakistan considering the rise of Pastu Nationalism and Baloch Nationalism in Pakistan. Moreover rthe issue of hastily drawn Durand line is still a problem as ethnic spreads across the boundaries.

AS of now India do not share any boundary with Afghanistan, the part earlier shared is in POK( Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). And India have a cordial relation with Afghanistan. We have the case of P. V Narasimha Rao's government supplying medical and humanitarian aids to the Talibans. And recent talks with both the Talibans and the Afghan Government.

However, the mainstream media and American government under Bush had blended the Talibans and the Al Qaeda. The Talibans despite being an radical Islamic group had no participation at 9/11. And the U. S. had already been able to execute the assassination of Osama Bin Laden back on 2nd of May, 2011 at the Khyber Paktukhwa(KPK) region of Afghanistan. If the intention of the U. S. was against terrorism it could have ended there. But the continuing process for almost a decade and the sudden stoppage indicate otherwise.

All the while, the sudden redraw of the troops without prior information whereby the resources, as claimed by sources, falls onto the hands of the Talibans indicate careful examination given the change in characters after the deal of February.

And a fear of civil war stops many from sending their resources to Afghanistan presently, as the Talibans do not recognise the Afghan Government that had existed. But all are keeping a keen eye to the geopolitical situation. Nobody wants the blunder committed by the U. S. to be repeated by themselves. Further the exit is consider a 'face saving 'exit, an 'escape' from the blunder. Or an 'exhausted' superpower who had miscalculated its standing.

Lastly, As John Seeley puts "History is past politics and politics is present history", we see the second coming of the Talibans. In past politics of Cold war, they left home and educated themselves at madrassas in Pakistan imbibed the thoughts that would lead a and believed what would bring freedom to them. To a liberal eye, the measures are just too much. Given the background and condition they tried to equate, it was necessary for them, however cynical and inhuman they are.

Then, after the conflict with one of the cold war power leads to conflict with the remaining power. Forced out and decline, so that the frame of western liberty and democracy could be adjusted when they are in the middle of conflict. Again they rise today, tomorrow they may fall. It will become history, past politics making way for politics and present history.

* Akash Rajkumar wrote this article for
The writer is from Department of History, Manipur University
and can be contacted at akashrk(DOT)akash2A(T)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on August 20 2021.

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