The rise of Taliban and Taliban-ism

Taliban 1

One must go back a few decades to understand the birth of Taliban and the continuity of this phenomenon that has shaken the world, quite literally. Yes the world underneath one’s foot shook on 9/11/2001, tremors caused by the country cousin of Taliban called Al Qaida.

Getting back to a few decades as proposed in the beginning, it started around the time when a part of Afghanistan saw an Islamic insurgence movement that rang alarm bells with the then legitimate govt at Kabul. Not seeing a quick solution to the crisis, a SOS was sent to Moscow. The Soviets responded and dispatched an unit of their army to quell the extremist uprising. This is the period when the CIA, the Saudi Wahabbis and the ISI of Pakistan’s feathers got ruffled. The US govt saw this as a geopolitical move by the USSR, the Saudis were for this movement in Afghanistan and the ISI felt a threat from the Soviet army being in their backyards. The Pakistanis and the Saudis were in the American camp and India, a close neighbour was strategically close to the Soviets. This move by Moscow antagonized Pakistan. So the trio where the US and Pakistanis were members of the now defunct CENTO, decided to up the ante in this regard.

They decided to confront the Soviet army and formed the Mujahideen, a loose band of Islamic soldiers. Saudi Arabian rulers came forward to fund this program, the US administration decided to arm this band of mercenaries and Pakistan’s ISI readily assisted with the much needed man-power.

The Soviet Union’s attempt at helping the Afghan people of getting rid of this menace, was seen as an illegal invasion by the US and European nations and was much highlighted in the western mainstream media with screaming headlines. The truth about this Afghan-Soviet participation was thus hidden by the media.

Afghanistan is known for rough terrain full of mountains, ravines and desert. It is rough for anybody to manoeuvre and especially so for a foreign army. This was one of the reasons for the ultimate withdrawal of the Soviet army, which did suffer losses of both men and arms. The Mujahideen succeeded at this time.

This loose band of mercenary soldiers thus gave the birth to Taliban, which spread alongside the borders of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taliban over the years became stronger and out of which came the entities of Al Qaida and the dreaded ISIS, on which I’ll inform a bit later.

Later, much after the Soviets withdrew and the idea of the USSR collapsed, a civil war ensued in the territory of Afghanistan. It was Taliban on one side and anti-Taliban forces called the Northern Alliance formed on the northern parts of the country where the population comprised of mostly Tajiks unlike other parts where Taliban was concentrated. Northern Alliance was fundamentally opposed to the ideas of Taliban and was seen as a progressive alliance. Unfortunately Ahmed Shah Masood, one of its primary leaders was assassinated by the Taliban which strengthened its iron grip over the nation.

The fundamentalist nature of the Taliban as everyone is aware, has been anti-progress and is steeped in the ancient version of the Islamic religion. This sadly has had a terrible effect on the women and minority communities across the ancient land. This effect can be directly attributed to the interference of the US govt, the Saudi monarchy and the ISI of Pakistan.

The strangle-hold emboldened the Taliban of giving to its country-cousins Al Qaida and other extremist Islamic militant rogue organisations. Osama Bin Laden, the notorious head of Al Qaida was given land and manpower to found a base in Afghanistan. Proxy wars began.

On 11th of September 2001, Al Qaida was accused in the terrible and terrifying acts of terror on the US soil.

The author of this report was an eye witness to these horrid events in New York City. Close to 9AM, the first attack on one of the towers of the World Trade Centre took place and followed by another a few minutes later. The Pentagon located in Washington DC was attacked and one of the United Airlines flights fell to the ground in Pennsylvania short of its target, whether it was Washington DC or New York, it is still uncertain. This horrible event not only took the lives of civilians who had nothing to do whatsoever to the idea of geopolitics, it shook the earth – turned it upside down and changed many things for ever. As a result of this tragedy that befell many, two countries which had nothing do with these events on 9/11 were decimated and millions killed. Those two were Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both countries were militarily bombarded by the US and its allies. Prominent ally has been the UK administration which is yet to digest the fact that the Sun has finally set on the British Empire.

The US took over the country of Afghanistan right after. Staying on with this nation, which boasts of the status of an unconquered country, the US took over key cities and the overall administration. Civilian governments were formed and lasted till a few weeks ago. The Taliban which was never vanquished by the military super-power of the US, remained in the shadows for long in the hands of war-lords. That is until the recent past.

A question comes to mind. In the last twenty years or so, the occupation of Afghanistan by the US military never provided solace to the Afghan women and minorities. The former, whose rights were taken away long ago by the Islamic fundamentalists have never regained their freedom as a human being even during the US occupation. They lived in the shadows created by the entity and in extreme fear. The question is, were the Soviets right after all, if only they had succeeded in exterminating the menace of this fundamentalists and if the US, Saudis and the Pakistani ISI had not interfered, the lives of all the Afghans would have been normal like mine and yours? And considering the life style of neighbouring Central Asian republics as a comparison to what might have been or could have been in Afghanistan, reality is hard to digest.

Jagdish Keshav is a writer, author of two books and a columnist with international media specializing in international current events.

© Jagdish Keshav

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