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The Afghan upheaval of the of April Revolution in 1978 was a classic example of a ‘developing country revolution’, implemented by a radical left in military, and enforced by its educated elite, with typical radical ‘top-down’ reforms in all fields in a backward Afghanistan. The inward-looking Afghan society resented these reforms from ‘above’ for various reasons and the result was open defiance in rural areas and cracks in the ruling PDPA. This antagonism in the rural areas was exploited by both internal and external enemies of the revolution, and resulted in the direct Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979. The PDPA regime in Kabul rashly changed all institutions to fit communist patterns, and substituted a traditional political vocabulary with socialist rhetoric; while in Pakistan, Zia, under state policy, Islamized all constitutional and institutional aspects of the government. In this fashion, both sides were indulging in extermination of the Afghan nation through an erosion of their language, culture, literature and history. Burning of books, selling of archaeological and historical artifacts, and destruction of museums were all included in his conflict’s chain of events. The personal interests of Zia and those of Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan converged with the long and short range objectives of the US in the region. Zia’s ‘carrot and stick’ policy toward the Afghan refugees, for all its rhetoric of peace, humanitarianism, Islamic brotherhood, and asylum and refuge in
Pakistan- Darul-Islam (abode of peace), was covert aimed at a premeditated destabilization of Afghan state- Darul Harb (abode of war) by creating the Mujahideen or holy warriors. During this period, Zia’s Islamization drive and ‘Jehad mania’ in Pakistan were nothing but sub-agenda of an overall plan of the CIA and ISI. For the implementation of their plan, these intelligence agencies, under the umbrella of Islam, created a number of objective and subjective conditions both inside and outside Afghanistan, and later, on the pretext of ‘ground realities’ justified their actions and reactions. The Afghan War had been posed as Jehad for the Islamists; and badal, or revenge for the common Afghan; but for the US, it was an anti-Soviet resistance and for Pakistan it was a golden chance to suppress Afghan / Pashtun nationalism and to create a ‘Pakistani generation’ (which had been a perennial source of domestic opposition within Pakistan, where demands for Pashtun national rights were often blended with critiques of powerful economic and landed interests). The entire administrative pyramid for the Afghan refugees in Pakistan was structured on an overall political bigotry, and a military strategy involving three organizations: ISI, the ‘Peshawar Seven’ Tanzimat, and the ARC. In this grand vicious pyramid another rectangle of mullah, masjid (mosque), madrasa (religious seminaries) and maktab (school) played its role of ideological indoctrination of the innocent refugees, to prepare them (both mentally and physically) for the holy war. The refugee camps were used for refuge and rest of the Mujahideen and their families; similarly the madrasas and maktabs (schools) were producing raw
material in the form of new recruits for Jehad. On both sides of the Durand Line, educated and intellectual Afghans were excluded from the mainstream of the social and political system. Less-educated and self-educated low paid employees were appointed governors in Afghanistan, and recruited as Mujahideen leaders and commanders in Pakistan. The traditional maliks and chiefs were forced to obey to their command. In this entire adventure, some of the gains and losses from Islamabad’s point of view were: First, through US aid, Pakistan equipped its armed forces with modern weapons, and despite US sanctions it developed a nuclear arsenal. Though the idea of ‘Strategic depth’ did not fully materialize, but it did avert a threat of Afghan aggression for the time being. Eventually, Pakistan succeeded in the fragmentation of the Afghan State and its entire constitutional and institutional fabric. Second, the threat of Afghan or Pashtun nationalism (real or imagined) and the Pashtunistan issue was diverted or suppressed by Pakistani authorities by propagating, encouraging and financing the notions of Islamic Umma and Muslim brotherhood. The net result of this was the legitimization and prolongation of Zia’s rule; the strengthening of Islamist groups (in particular the Jama’at-eIslami and JUI), the spreading of Tablighi Jamat, and the rise of MQM, a mushroom growth of sectarian groups and the weakening of political forces in Pakistan. Third, during this period the Western and Middle Eastern aid in the form of petro-dollars brought cosmetic economic prosperity and employment in Pakistan, which directly and indirectly
sustained the Afghan Jehad, and the Zia regime in power. Fourth, ISI officers openly confessed that “the CIA's contributions have played a vital role in the conduct of the Afghan Jehad. Without the backing of the US and Saudi Arabia, the Soviets would still [have been] entrenched in that country. Without the intelligence provided by the CIA many battles would have been lost, and without the CIA's training of Pakistani instructors the Mujahideen would have been fearfully ill-equipped and could not defeat a superpower”. Fifth, the Afghan Jehad ran counter to traditional Afghan or Pashtun nationalism, and the secret agencies of the West and Pakistan were able to coopt that contradiction into religious internationalism and tribalism. The political vacuum created by war between Kabul and Islamabad and its foreign allies, was filled by almost all radical Islamic fundamentalists in various institutions. Some other negative fallouts of the war include the fallowing: Born and bred in the Afghan Revolution and counterrevolution, the new Jehadi culture took inspiration from Islamic Revolution in Iran; “nurtured by US “Operation Cyclone”; nourished by the extremist views and money of the Middle Eastern Arabs led by Osama bin Laden; and came to fruition in the acts of the Taliban. Under Jehadi ambiance, Pakistan willingly or unwillingly allowed the proliferation of arms-culture in the entire country to support the Afghan resistance. The unholy alliance of the Islamic Jehadis, a military dictator, and a secular opportunist West against Soviet Communism by engaging in blind support for radical Islam as a Cold War tool not
only created problems for Pakistan but for the entire world. The CIA and ISI, in their all-out efforts against Moscow and Kabul, opened a Pandora’s Box of proliferation of weapons, poppy cultivation; drug trafficking, gun running, fundamentalism, extremism, sectarianism and terrorism in the entire region. De-secularization, de-liberalization Kalashnikovization and Talibanization slowly crept into Pakistani and Afghan society, and developed into a monster to be reckoned with. The religious seminaries, which had been places of learning and institutions of higher moral training in South and Central Asia, turned into training camps under the covert patronage of the national and international intelligence agencies. Even some students of the regular educational (secular) institutions of Pakistan participated in the Afghan war and lost their lives. Ironically, after the withdrawal of Soviet forces these militant bands shifted to other places of the region, and the holy war turned into sectarian violence. The madrasas developed into sanctuaries for religious zealots and political power in Pakistan. The factional religious leaders began to encourage some form of military training; therefore, Jehad was portrayed as a tool to achieve political power within a country or to gain material support from other countries. Thus, for motivation and mobilization, Jehad was put forth propounded as legitimate concept to wage war against all enemies not only the ‘infidels’. Pakistan provided shelter on its soil to all the key Afghan leaders, its fighting factions, and its foreign supporters. The hatred of the Middle Eastern Muslims against their own monarchical or dictatorial regimes, finding no other avenue for their political
ambitions or reaction, sighted an outlet in the form of Afghan Jehad as well as a safe heaven for training in Afghanistan, in the tribal areas, and even in Pakistan proper. The Afghan crisis and refugee problem never ended with the ousting of Soviet forces from Afghanistan or with the death of the ‘Evil Empire’; rather, intensified in a new form of fratricidal war. The off springs of war or Jehad were fighting for their own personal or party interests, and in this new infighting, Afghanistan was transformed turned into a collection of small fiefdoms. Everyone regarded themselves not as Afghans but as either Muhajir or Mujahid, because they were indoctrinated to remain Mujahideen and Muhajireen and/or trained to fight. Both warlords and their compatriots saw their future in changing loyalties and political intrigues. The Afghan refugees found themselves already sandwiched between regimented administrational systems of both Kabul and Islamabad. They were finally betrayed by their so-called leaders, and hosts in Pakistan. Most of their leaders were successively patronized and then disowned by the agencies, one after the other. In such a milieu and confrontational politics, they lost their true Afghan identity. The word ‘peace’ was lost in their vocabulary, and any bright future became an illusion. Disillusioned with the present and uncertain about their future, the Afghans seemed to be obsessed with their past. The regional powers and their local protégés with their own vested interests rooted variously in personal ambitions, profitmaking, ideology, and strategy assumptions, supported the logic of war. In Afghanistan's war culture, the guerrilla commanders
constituted new elite whose powers were threatened in case war terminated. All the Afghan warring factions had no other option but to fight. None of these leaders were ready to accept the leadership of other, and no one agreed to accept the democratic norms or Afghan traditional system of Jirga for power sharing or resolution of the political crisis. Due to the devastation of agricultural resources in Afghanistan, all agricultural related activities were shattered and nothing left for the ordinary Afghans or for internal refugee except to adapt their labor to the shifting economic situation in Afghanistan. That is to say that (a) Membership of a combatant group was much more profitable and secure activity; (b) it was close to echelons of power; (c) it was honorable from a religious as well as social point of view in tribal society; and (d) looting, raids, plunders of rival villages or factions or occupation of third party property in the name of Jehad, sect or revolution not only promised a material profit but spiritual glory in the next world. The Afghan war has produced a lucrative international trade – in drugs, arms, and other contraband – which enriches the few at the expense of the majority of Afghans and Pakistanis. The Drug Mafia and the resistance or in the words of Mr. Eqbal Ahmad "Jihad International Inc." saw their doom and destruction in the termination of war. It is “bizarre that these communities of gun and gold have found friends among men of God”. (Quoted source) New terms like ‘economy of violence’ have been added to the English lexicon. In fact ‘economy of violence’ focuses on a selfperpetuating system, in which violence itself emerges as a marketable good. From an economic point of view the immense number of combat groups which existed at least until the
appearance of the Taliban in 1994 can be regarded as “war enterprises” adapted to a ‘market of violence’. Pakistan lost the confidence of almost all Afghans and its leaders for obvious reasons despite its tall claims of support to the refugees and resistance. Anarchic tendencies based on millenarianisms are gaining ground in Pakistan without any regard for ‘state’ or tolerance in a society. The political vacuum created by political parties under the direct and indirect interference of army in all affairs of the state led to the capturing of pivotal space by religious conservatives.
The major contours of Pakistan’s Afghan policy during Afghan conflict were the fallowing: • Zia the main architect of Pakistan's Afghan policy had opted for a disunited and decentralized Afghan state. The result was the recognition of only seven Parties. The paramount aim of Pakistani policy makers was to make Afghanistan its client or at least subservient state. The main objective was to insure that no government antagonistic to Pakistan would be able emerge in the future. Islamabad authorities virtually controlled every aspect of Afghan presence in Pakistan as well as the direction of the war. The activities of Afghan refugees and the objectives of their armed struggle were congruent with the perceived interests of Pakistan. The authorities in Islamabad were to
be the final arbiter of war management. The operation involved close management of refugees, and the direction and coordination of Afghan resistance parties based in Peshawar. • Pakistani authorities never seriously inhibited either the free movement of resistance forces across the border nor the recruitment and training of fighters. The ISI was the main source of information for the US about the politics of the resistance groups. The CIA operatives and others came to depend heavily on Pakistan's military intelligence not only in reference to supplies and its relationships with resistance groups but also for strategic assessments. The CIA also relied heavily on often less than reliable Pakistani sources for information about the reception and use of arms across the border. The US overlooked the report that elements of the Pakistani army and refugee administration were cooperating with members of the Peshawar organization in the sale of weapons to parties outside the conflict. The US also condoned the regular siphoning of aid which was intended to pass across the border into Afghanistan, but which instead was utilized for the comfortable life styles of some of the resistance leaders in Peshawar. Above all, Hekmatyar's Hizb, an ideologically compatible Afghan party was expected to provide the geopolitical assurances that Pakistan was aiming at. It was also allowed to run its own security service, presumably to watch for Kabul trained infiltrators but in actual fact the force was
designed more for the purpose of undermine competing Afghan resistance groups. • Pakistan favored a fragmented future of Afghanistan, incapable to pose any threat to Pakistan. Thus, an alliance of the seven Peshawar-based parties provided for a rotating leadership. This arrangement assured that no Afghan leader including Hekmatyar, could grow in stature to become independent, and that the movement would therefore have to continue to look to Pakistan for guidance. The Cold War Mujahideen or holy warriors turned against their own master in the Post-Cold War and their offspring at times appeared in the form of Talibans, Osma bin Laden, and Neik Muhammad of Wana, South Waziristan. This unholy alliance of the military, mullah and mujahid created conditions for Talibanization of civil society both in Pakistan and Afghanistan by threatening democratic, liberal and pluralist values of peace and prosperity in the region. The net result of the war policies in the pre or post Cold War period was strengthening of military dictators either in the name of religion, reforms or war against terrorism in the developing countries. All such policies deprived the common people of their basic rights, and diminished the process of peace, pluralism and democracy.
The tragedy of 9/11 has been a manifestation of mishandling of
the Afghan imbroglio by CIA and ISI. Out of proportion military and financial aid and training to Afghan refugees not only prolonged the unabated Afghan war, but also created and nourished religious extremism, terrorism and Kalashnikov culture among the Afghan refugees, their foreign colleagues, and local population of Pakistan. The only lesson we should learn from the past blunders and experience of the Afghan conflict and refugees is that all local or regional issues and conflicts should be resolved through a political dialogue with the UN in very dedicated manner, and not through military options. The UN and world community should adopt means and methods to persuade all those countries to sign the refugee conventions and covenants. The fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan should be a lesson to all religio- political parties of Pakistan that the only way to gain political power is not through violence and the barrel of a gun but through democratic process and dialogue. Another important lesson of the 9/11 to all Jehadi and proJehadi elements is that the Cold War is over, and that no society can afford to engage in militancy or adventurism in the name of religion or extremism, or to cross the border for helping the coreligionist brethrens. There is a cry for Jehad from palace to public and from masjid (mosque) to mandir (temple) against particular creed, sect or religious groups, yet not Jehad against corruption, nepotism, favoritism, violence, terrorism and narcotics. It would be better for us to create a conducive environment for education and tolerance, because these are necessary for a credible political
system and for the development of civil society. Lastly, in Pakistan’s situation, globalisation has only led to the religious extremism and the marginalisation of state authority, as well as a failure of the international community to take concrete and meaningful steps in the direction of diverting its meagre resources toward the betterment of the developing nations.