‘Talibanization’ of Afghanistan and Pakistan

May 13, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and the northwestern regions of Pakistan, particularly the swat valley have proven deadlier for the ruling powers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Sates due to the inevitable civilian casualties and displacement arising from the incessant shelling supposedly targeting the Taliban militants.

According to the Pakistani government, the military operation has been effective thus far in the attack against the militants, without any confirmation or denial on the humanitarian catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s pervasive retaliation to the military force is evident from the clashes in other districts, Buner and Dir with the Taliban expected to be within 60 miles of the Capital city, Islamabad. Incidentally, the Taliban’s eyes are set on Karachi, the commercial capital and an epicenter for various terror networks readily available to forge alliance with the ideological militant group.

The North -Western Frontier Province appears to be under siege. The heavy bombing has elevated the humanitarian crisis with the internal refugees toll reaching a phenomenal 1.3 million and still rising including the earlier 550,000 from the tribal warfare.

It’s intriguing for those familiar with the Taliban’s rise and fall and their sudden emergence with well-equipped weaponry to challenge the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the Pakistani artillery predominantly supplied by the United States and China.   Most recently, the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly blamed the United States i.e. CIA for creating the Taliban and implied that such creation consequently led to the present quagmire.

Origin of Taliban as ‘Mujahideens’ (The Arabic meaning “strugglers” )

As per Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia – Thanks

“The best-known mujahideen, various loosely-aligned Afghan opposition groups, initially fought against the incumbent pro-Soviet Afghan government during the late 1970s.

The mujahideen were significantly financed and armed (and are alleged to have been trained) by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Carter[5] and Reagan administrations and the governments of Saudi Arabia, the People’s Republic of China, several Western European countries, Iran, and Zia-ul-Haq’s military regime in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was the interagent used in the majority of these activities to disguise the sources of support for the resistance. Under Reagan, U.S. support for the mujahideen evolved into an official U.S. foreign policy, known as the Reagan Doctrine, which included U.S. support for anti-Soviet resistance movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.”

Reality Check:

Although, the facts support the origin of Taliban (historically the orphans of the former Soviet oppression) as the ‘Mujahideens’ previously funded and trained by the nations vigorously involved in the lucrative arms race up until now,

The contemporary rise of Taliban and their empowerment attributed to the covert support by the Pakistani military and prominently the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) implicated in various terrorist activities around the world notably the September 11, 2001 and notwithstanding the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008.

The dynamic duo also presumably associated with other national and international conspiracies…

Fostering acrimony between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute,

Coordinating with China and Israel in the arms supply to the island nation Sri Lanka in the ethnic cleansing of the Tamils,

Assassination attempts on the Afghan President Hamid Karzai,

The Indian embassy bombing in Kabul, and

Last but not the least, the possible link in the assassination of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto are few of the many contentious issues related to both institutions.

The above information might be controversial and inflammatory however, in Pakistan’s political reality democracy never allowed to blossom by the all-powerful Pakistani military force and the Intelligence Services apparently controlling the nuclear site. The successful coups in the past right down to the former Military Commander and President Pervez Musharraf are testimony to the fact that democracy proven oxy-moron by the ISI and the Pakistan armed forces.

Ironically, the waging of war against Taliban by the Zardari-Gilani administration succeeding a Military regime with a puppet figurehead after having given refuge and diplomatic immunity to the ousted Taliban forces post 9/11 is analogous to a raging forest fire set by the rangers entrusted with safeguarding the habitat’s interest.

It’s noteworthy that the former President Musharraf’s government was the only nation and the Islamic power to extend an open invitation to the Talibans following the U.S. troops led war against Afghanistan in 2001, while simultaneously posing as an important ally to the former U.S. administration under President George W. Bush.

Talibans are the by-product of the historic multinational blunder and botched up conventional stockpiles sale by the military industrial complex in Afghanistan under the guise of prototype for democracy in the lawless region of the world.

How does the scenario play out in Pakistan’s neck of the woods and for the rest of the world?

Taliban and Al-Qaida are formidable in their ideology to destabilize the democratic (more appropriately ‘dynasty’) rule in Pakistan perceived as the “American appointees” with the political cohesion of the Pakistani ISI and the Military hierarchy.

The Congress under Bush administration approved and granted $10 billion U.S. taxpayers aid to the Military power represented by the ex-President Musharraf for FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) in an effort to fight the global war on terror. In return, the Pakistani Military misappropriated the funds(?) and diverted all attention towards the long time rival India in anticipation of a major confrontation on Kashmir by instigating the local militant groups alongside the Kashmiri border.

Evidently, failure on FATA combined with the conciliatory actions by the Pakistani ISI and the Military contributed to a myriad of terror networks within Pakistani soil.  Furthermore, the lack of oversight and accountability on the U.S. taxpayers’ aid to the Pakistan Military rather than the people enabled the precipitous decline of law and order.

As a result of the unconditional foreign aid to the institutions with flawed track record, today Waziristan is a safe haven for the Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden and the North-Western Frontier Province now under Taliban control, thereby comprising a strategic victory for the terror and militant groups.

Interestingly, the Pakistan military has incorporated the incumbent U.S. President Obama’s “Change” philosophy in their traditional political agenda, i.e. toppling the government elected through a muddled electoral process in Pakistan. The difference being the conspicuous departure from the overt military coup launched against the prior democratic governments in the state.

Nothing more potent in fomenting anti-government and anti-American sentiments than a political turmoil from the homegrown insurgency forcing the ruling government to stage air and ground assaults yielding immense civilian casualties and ultimately the refugee status for a sizeable population in the homeland, again the humanitarian disaster unfolding with the blessings of the United States behind the scenes.

The anger and disappointment is visibly widespread among the victims and the families, they are demanding that the international community hold the United States and Zardari government accountable for the greatest human tragedy.

In this particular instance, the Pakistani ISI and the Military score the highest points for being the smooth operators.

Not surprisingly, the moderate, peaceful and pro-democracy population in Karachi and different parts of Pakistan is terrified of the Taliban rule and the Sharia law. The domestic and the international news agencies along with the human rights organizations have released several reports with graphic visuals on the civilian deaths and the exodus of at least 1,000,000 refugees and probably more are fleeing the main town, Mingora in Swat Valley and other war zones.

Accordingly, the Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani seeking international aid to relieve the millions and the President Zardari’s visit to the U.S. requesting Congress for at least $83 billion U.S aid to rescue his nation from tyranny might be justified.

Howsoever, the United States taxpayers and other nations should not fall into the booby trap of funneling funds to the state, since the ordinary citizens in Pakistan and Afghanistan never ever receive a dime and invariably the funds are channeled to the nefarious sources lacking in ethics and defiant of national or international law. Please refer to the alternative recommendations detailed in the ‘remedy’ section of the article.

With respect to Afghanistan, the United States Special Forces’ recent aggression against the Talibans and other terror networks producing the huge civilian casualties is unacceptable. The medical reports from the international aid organizations suggest the use of White Phosphorous bombs in the raid, claiming to be legal in the international wars despite the use of such chemical arsenal considered a humanitarian crime on all accounts.

These are the reasons why war is a terrible choice as there is no winner except for the deaths and destruction of innocent civilians apart from the truth being the other casualty. An independent, international committee should conduct any investigation and not the parties accused of the crime to reflect seriousness and credibility in the matter.

International Crisis Remedy

Civil unrest and internal violence anywhere is a matter of concern. Nevertheless, the situation in Pakistan is precarious not just for the ‘nuclear’ factor and the potential ramifications in the Indian sub-continent, but also the imminent danger of radical elements in control of a highly volatile nation complex in demographic, political and socio-economic structure. In addition, Taliban and Al-Qaida together constitute a tremendous threat to the international security.

Effective immediately, any financial assistance from the United States and other nations must be conditional with a requirement for complete overhauling of the Pakistani ISI and the top Military officials to assure the international community the legitimacy of democratic power in the state.

Under no circumstances, cash payments made directly to the government agents in both countries i.e. Afghanistan and Pakistan in the light of embezzlement and bribery scandals involving the political figures. The economic aid to the people delivered by the credible non-profit humanitarian organizations is appropriate to realize the real gains and progress in the nations affected by corrupt bureaucracy.

Investments in cash and kind must be subject to accountability by an oversight committee of the respective nations.

Given the magnitude of the humanitarian plight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States and NATO should engage more in the relief effort by providing logistic support to the people of these two nations desperately in need of efficient services from evacuation to settlement in peaceful manner.

Henceforth, the United States and allies must shift gear from the offensive military operation towards the relentless Peace Corps projects and rebuild civilizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and war zones around the world. Such unprecedented action called for image reparation and trust revival lost in the imperialistic desire to invade and occupy nations vulnerable to new age weapons experiment.

The escalating violence and tension in these two countries has generated a severe loss of confidence in the local and foreign governments by the victims caught in the crossfire between the tribal warlords in cahoots with the fundamentalist forces and, the military might of the economic powers in the world.

Therefore, it’s essential for Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States and NATO to prioritize civilian protection and welfare before, during and after the combat period. It would greatly improve relationship with the local civilian population important to prevail in the indomitable task of defeating terror around the world.

In the twentieth and twenty first century, the rich and affluent nations imposing economic sanctions against the economically weak offenders has been the common and popular course of action, regardless of the real victims being the people and not the government authorities in power.

Now is the time to abandon the military action, economic sanctions and concepts that are obsolete, redundant and counterproductive.  Instead, useful and meaningful methods guided by moral principles are the best replacement to deal with any and all crises.

International consensus and action is paramount in the permanent arms embargo to relieve poor/ impoverished nations and developing/developed nations alike from the persisting outbreak of civil wars constantly witnessed in Africa, Latin, Central and South America, and relevantly in Sri Lanka with Pakistan and Afghanistan leading the world trend.

The existing conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are not a regional issue but a global calamity.  Similarly, it’s no longer the United States’ unilateral battle and the cooperation from the world over at all levels viz. troops involvement, financial assistance and logistic provision instrumental in maintaining international peace and order.

Finally, the game is over for the military industrial complex raking profits at the expense of innocent blood in the worldwide promotion of senseless carnage and chaos among humanity.

For the world at large, it’s worth remembering that,

“Peace within you helps spreading peace around you.”

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant