The people of Afghanistan face another grim anniversary as their rulers—all puppets of the West—continue to enjoy the perks of office. Their days, however, appear numbered.
The people of Afghanistan must be the most unfortunate people in the world. They are brave and hospitable but suffer extreme poverty. The country has been in the throes of war since the Marxist coup of April 27, 1978 that overthrew the government of President Sardar Daoud. It was a bloody affair; Daoud and his entire family were gunned down although they resisted bravely until the last bullet. Their bodies were buried in unmarked graves that were discovered only recently.
The Afghan Marxists, a tiny minority in the country’s tribal society mouthed socialist slogans that made no sense to the vast majority of people. Not surprisingly, the people rose against what they called “godless communism.” There has been no peace in Afghanistan ever since. First, Nur Muhammad Taraki, a Soviet lackey, took over as president. He was overthrown and strangled to death on the orders of his Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin in September 1979. The Soviets were furious with Amin. Within three months, Amin was overthrown and brutally murdered while the clown Babrak Karmal was brought to power as Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan on December 27, 1979.
Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, Pakistan and Iran, were badly affected. Millions of refugees poured into both countries as resistance to the Soviet invasion intensified. Soon, a number of other countries got involved. The Americans came with billions of dollars in “aid” and weapons not so much to help the Afghans but to exact revenge for their humiliation in Vietnam. They fought the Soviets on the backs of the Afghans. A number
of Arabian countries, notably Saudi Arabia, also got involved. Their petrodollars came tainted with the toxic ideology of Wahhabism. There was a proliferation of Wahhabi-sponsored madrasahs in Pakistan whose negative consequences are still being borne by the people of Pakistan. Terrorism has spread, although in recent years the Pakistan army has made a determined effort to drastically reduce if not entirely eliminate it. Sectarianism has also become rampant in a country that had faced no such problem before the Afghan war.
In February 1989, the Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan and soon thereafter, the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Afghanistan, however, saw no peace. While Dr. Najibullah, another Marxist, became the nominal president of Afghanistan, the Afghan groups that had battled the Soviets now started to fight among themselves. The primary victims were the Afghan people. Out of this chaos emerged the Taliban in October 1994. In less than two years, they took control of much of the Afghan countryside (does this sound like a trial run for what would later be called ISIS?) and arrived in Kabul in August 1996. Dr. Najibullah was captured, tortured, and after his body was dragged through the streets, hanged in the public square, as was his brother.
The Taliban brought peace and security to the people but they fell foul of their sponsors because of their primitive understanding of Islam and their refusal to accede to the wishes of the Americans for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan. Instead, the Taliban signed a contract with Bridas, an Argentine company. By July 2001, the Americans made clear they would carpet bomb Afghanistan into the Stone Age (most Afghans were already living in the Stone Age!). Using the pretext of the 9/11 attacks and allegations that al-Qaeda was responsible (al-Qaeda was an American creation as is its modern-day incarnation, ISIS) for attacking the US.
The Americans started dropping one-tonne bombs on Afghanistan in October 2001 and within a month, the Taliban abandoned Kabul. They melted into the countryside or took refuge in the mountains. Strategically, this was a wise decision. The Taliban could not match the Americans’ firepower. Instead of being pulverized on the ground, they took cover to regroup and fight another day. And they did. In the process, US rubric also helped them. The Americans became so intoxicated by their “success” in driving the Taliban from power that they thought they could fight multiple wars simultaneously. In March 2003, they attacked Iraq and while they overthrew the Iraqi tyrant Saddam Husain (they had backed him against Islamic Iran for eight years!), this diversion enabled the Taliban to intensify their campaign against the Americans and their puppets in Kabul.
Today, while there is a nominal Afghan government headed by Ashraf Ghani and American forces have sought refuge in secure military bases, much of the country is under Taliban control. There are frequent attacks inside Kabul as well. The Afghan army, supposedly trained by the Americans is not up to the task. There is little peace or security for anybody, least of all the Afghan people. The country has become an incubator for an assortment of terrorists. Al-Qaeda may have been banished but it has spawned tens of others.
While their opportunistic rulers enjoy life, the Afghans pay the price, as do those in neighboring countries — Iran and Pakistan.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT).