|For the past few weeks the Urdu-language press, which is generally favorable to the Jamaat-e Islami and the Afghan Hezb-e Islami, has launched a Taleban rehabilitation operation. The visit by Maulana Sami-ul Haq to Kandahar, his meeting with Mollah Mohammad Omar, and his pleasure at again meeting a number of his former students [at the mullah's] was extensively covered by the press with a level of sympathy that would be somewhat astonishing if one did not know of the fear that the rise of the JUI inspires in certain circles in Pakistan.
A Millenary Movement
How can one interpret the Taleban movement?
The very austere life in the madrassas, the privations [the students] endure, and a militant Islamic education that mixes pachtounwali (the Pushto moral code, editor's note) values and the sharia, have radicalized the Taleban and mobilized them to take revenge. In this way, the movement is part of the extension of the social restructurings that took place in Afghanistan during the war. It is a reaction by the less well off and young social strata to the Khans and traditional notables, a reaction of the periphery against the center, and of the countryside against the city, which is seen as a place of perdition where traditional Pushto values are in danger.
The movement is also part of the tradition of millenary Pushto movements which appear at moments of crisis when moral and religious values are threatened and when the solution appears to be in a return to the old order and a moral approach to public life. The jihad that was proclaimed by the Pushto mullahs under such circumstances is based on cultural and religious values, with pachtounwali and the sharia not being seen as distinct or in conflict. There is an internalizing of pachtounwali in Islam, which partly explains the particular type of sharia currently enforced by the Taleban. In this sense, the Taleban movement is deeply Afghan.
Last, the Taleban movement's millenary character is ever more pronounced when you frequently hear it repeated that Afghanistan's savior will come from Kandahar and when certain accounts pertaining to the appearance of the mehdi (Footnote 9) call for him to appear from Kandahar in a context that might evoke what the last few years have been like. It is clear that it is not only foreign military and financial assistance, wherever it came from, that has helped the Taleban make such rapid progress. The popular backing and the personality of Mollah Omar, among others, make you think of movements that were observed in these areas during the last century. None, though, lasted as long as the Taleban's.
(2 November 1996)
1. Cf. in particular Barbara Daly Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband 1860-1990, Princeton University Press, 1982, and Rizvi S. S. A., History of the Dar ul Ulum Deobrand, Deoband, 1980. 109 Afghans graduated from Deoband between 1867, when it was founded as a theological seminary, and 1967. Deoband is a theological school founded in 1867 in northern India and which was the source of a fundamentalist reform movement in the Hanafite tradition (the rite practiced by the Sunni of Afghanistan and the entire Indian sub-continent).
2. Cf. on this subject Mariam Abu Zahab, "The Jamiat-e Ulama-e Islam and the madrassas" (Les Nouvelles d'Afghanistan, No. 68) and "The Teaching in the Madrassas" (Les Nouvelles d'Afghanistan, No. 71).
3. Pakistan's prime minister Benazir Bhutto has acknowledged that the Baluchistan madrassas received financing from Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
4. Rivalries between the Pakistan religious parties (the two factions of the JUI and the Jamaat-e Islami) have been exacerbated by developments in the situation in Afghanistan since 1992, with the JUI having acquired great importance at the expense of the Jamaat-e Islami. This explains, at least partly, the populist strategy adopted by the Jamaat in the domestic policy area and aims to make it once again the top religious party.
5. Jamal Malik, Colonization of Islam: Dissolution of Traditional Institutions in Pakistan, Manohar Publishers, Delhi and Vanguard Books, Lahore, 1996.
6. Jalaluddin Haqqani, among others, is one of Akora Khattak's famous graduates.
7. Cf. Jamal Malik, op. cit., p. 207 for a study of the content of the monthly [magazine] Al Haq published by this madrassa.
8. Cf. Jamal Malik, op. cit. Zakat funds, which accounted for 5.2[percnt] of the resources in 1980, rose to 18.9[percnt] in 1984.
9. In Sunni Islam, the mehdi is supposed to return at the end of time to reestablish justice on earth.
Pakistani Students Dead, Captured in Fighting
FTS19970719000091 Islamabad The Nation in English 14 Jul 97 pp 1 7
[Report by Ahmed Rashid]
KABUL -- Over 200 Pakistani madrassa [religious school] students have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan since the Taliban were driven out of Mazar-e-Sharif on May 28. Afghan opposition leaders, General Malik Pahalwan, Ahmad Shah Masud and Karim Khalili are now holding an estimated 550 Pakistanis as prisoner in at least four different locations. However, the Pakistan government, which is involved in shuttle diplomacy for the release of several Afghan Taliban leaders held prisoners, has made no formal request to either the faction leaders or international humanitarian agencies to seeking the release of Pakistanis held prisoner. Islamabad appears unconcerned with their plight, although some Pakistani prisoners are known to be seriously wounded and ill.
According to Taliban field commanders and soldiers at the front and senior Western officials and humanitarian aid agency representatives, General Malik is holding 225 Pakistani prisoners in Maimana in western Afghanistan. The presence of these prisoners has been confirmed by international agencies present in the region. Last week the prison was reported to have been accidentally bombed by Taliban fighters, killing 44 and wounding 50 Taliban prisoners. However, the Taliban deny the bombing. It is not known if Pakistani prisoners also died in the bombing raid. According to multiple but highly reliable sources, Malik is also holding an estimated 200 Pakistanis in Mazar-e-Sharif, while Masud is holding over 100 Pakistanis in the Panjshir Valley, although Masud's spokesman claims to have 200 Pakistani prisoners. At least 50 of these Pakistanis were captured last November during Masud's abortive drive on Kabul. Reliable Afghan sources said Hizbe Wahadat led by the Hazara leader Karim Khalili is also holding not less than a dozen Pakistanis in Bamiyan.
In interviews with several Taliban Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, the Taliban leadership categorically denied that Pakistanis are fighting alongside their forces. Pakistan also denies that their government personnel or madrassa students are involved inside Afghanistan. In contrast opposition leaders claim that these prisoners are Pakistani personnel, but there is no evidence to confirm this and most of the prisoners appear to be madarassa students.
However, the presence of these students, who come from madrassas outside the control of the government, has been made much easier because of the refusal of the Federal Government or the NWFP and Balochistan governments to close the borders with Afghanistan. Most of the Pakistani students interviewed said they had crossed easily from major crossing points--Torkhum in NWFP and Chaman in Balochistan--using normal mini-buses which are operating a shuttle service from Peshawar and Quetta.
Most of these madrassa students were captured when between 3000- 4000 Pakistani students answered Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's call for reinforcements after the Taliban defeat in Mazar. Thousands of Afghan madrassa students, Afghans living in FATA and refugee camps also answered the call. Many Pakistanis were captured in the headlong Taliban rush to Mazar from Kabul along the Salang Highway, when they thought Mazar had fallen to Taliban forces. However, within days the Taliban were pushed back and thousands of their troops in the north and along the Salang Highway were trapped in pincer movements by Malik, Masud and Khalili.
Meanwhile, Pakistani students continue fighting with their Taliban brothers. At Jabel Seraj, north of Kabul, there are at least 50 Pakistani students on the front-line and Taliban field commanders, who did not wish to be quoted said the Pakistanis were fighting well and had made many sacrifices for the cause of Islam. A few Pakistanis are known to be on the front-line at Mohammad Raqi in the east and Jalrees in west, where the opposition belt around Kabul is tightening in a huge 180 degree are around the city at a distance of between 60-80 kilometers from Kabul.
Pakistani students are still roaming around the bazars in Kabul waiting for a military assignment and weapons to be made available. There are Sindhis from Nawabshah, Mirpur and Sukkur, Muhajirs from Karachi and Hyderabad, Punjabis from all over the province but the bulk are Pashtuns from the NWFP and Balochistan. The majority belongs to particular madrassas rather than Islamic political parties in Pakistan although they have been joined by several Sunni militants, who have arrived to avoid the present crackdown against them in Pakistan and receive military training. The bulk of the Pakistanis are from two institutions in particular, the Darul-Uloom Haqqani in Akora Khatak near Nowshera in the NWFP which has more than 8000 Afghan and Pakistani students in 12 affiliated madrassas and the Jamia Uloom- ul-Islamiyah in Karachi, which also has a large Afghan students enrollment. Haqqania is run by Maulana Samiul Haq who has been proud to declare that most of his students have joined the Taliban since the Mazar battle. "Mullah Omar personally rang me to request that I let these students to go to Afghanistan on leave since they are needed there," Maulana Haq was quoted in earlier Press reports.
Many of the top Taliban Ieadership have graduated from Haqqania. These include the famous former Mujahideen Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani who is now in charge of the Jabel Seraj front and spent six years in Haqqania before the Jehad in 1979 as, both a student and teacher. Others include Ahmed Jan the Minister of Mines and Industries, Maulvi Qalamuddin, head of the powerful Department of Observances of Religious Commands or the Religious Police, Maulvi Arifullah Arif the Deputy Minister of Finance who spent 14 years at Haqqania, and several others. Several prominent figures including the deputy to Maulvi Mohammed Hassan, the Governor of Kandahar graduated from Islamayiah in Karachi.
In the past few days a high-level Pakistani delegations has been shuttling between Mazar and Kandahar ostensibly to get peace talks moving between the two sides. However, sources said the delegation has been more involved in trying to obtain the release from General Malik, of several Taliban leaders including the former Foreign Minister Mullah Mohammed Ghaus, Maulvi Abdul Mansur, Chief of the Taliban air force and Maulvi Abdul Rezaq, the former Governor of Herat, who were captured during the Mazar fighting. Afghan opposition and Western aid workers who recently returned from Mazar say the Pakistani delegation told Malik that the release of these three men would be a goodwill gesture after which the Taliban would agree to hold peace talks. However, Malik has categorically said that peace talks must start first and before any prisoner exchange begins.
However, the Pakistan government has neither approached Malik nor Masud for the release of its citizens nor has it made any official request to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Afghan Red Crescent Society nor Dr Norbet Holl's UN Special Mission to Afghanistan, to try and secure the release of these prisoners or even obtain verification about their numbers, their health and the conditions in which they are being held.
Officially Islamabad may deny even presence of these Pakistanis, but there appears to be no reason for the appalling lack of any private humanitarian effort by Islamabad to recognise the reality on the ground. The Pakistani prisoners are said to be in a terrible plight, some are wounded and others are ill. Reliable sources say that Masud has even been willing to release several Pakistani prisoners who are seriously ill in Panjshir, but there has been no response from Islamabad.
Meanwhile, at least 200 Pakistanis and possibly many more have been killed in fighting since the battle for Mazar at the end of May. The Taliban have gone to considerable expense, care and political foresight to make sure that Pakistani dead bodies are returned to their villages in Pakistan. The Taliban have sent such bodies as far as Karachi and Hyderabad.
The prisoners exchange issue is the key to any future peace talks between the opposing factions but the simple fact is that the opposition forces hold more than double the numbers of Taliban. They also hold 10 top Taliban leaders. Thus the Taliban are talking from a position of relative weakness, when they demand the release of their prisoners before any peace talks begin and use Pakistan as a go between. According to several international agencies and other humanitarian groups involved in the prisoners issue, the Afghan opposition presently holds an estimated yet still staggering figure of 3600 Taliban as prisoners.
Malik holds some 1,000 Taliban in Maimana, 1,000 in Sheberghan and 800 in Mazar-e-Sharif. Some of those prisoners held in Maimana had been moved south from Mazar for security reasons and to enable Malik to have better control over them. Meanwhile, Masud holds between 600-700 prisoners in the Panjshir. General Naderi's Ismaeli forces north of the salang tunnel an estimated 100 Taliban and Hizbe Wahdat hold an unspecified number which is not less than 100. In contrast the Taliban hold an estimated total of 1900 prisoners from the opposition forces. The Taliban hold some 1200 prisoners in Kandahar including the former Governor of Herat, Ismael Khan, who is said by Western NGO visitors who saw him this week, to be in good health. Ismael Khan was betrayed by General Malik when he switched sides to the Taliban in mid-May. Some 500 of these 1200 prisoners were those captured during the battle for Kabul last year, but the remaining 700 are reportedly those captured along with Ismael Khan and who were handed over to the Taliban by General Malik. The Taliban also hold some 700 prisoners in Kabul, but some of them are known to be Kabul civilians rather than opposition fighters.
According to Western agencies, between Monday and Wednesday the Taliban had arrested some 200 Hazara and Panjsheri citizens of Kabul in a major security drive and a search for illegal weapons. Hazara sources said that on July 8, Hazara shopkeepers closed down the Taimanay bazar in north west Kabul in protest, but opened up shops the next day out of fear of more reprisals. Some 300 Hazaras were arrested in June after the Mazar defeat, but many of them were later freed. The arrests signal fears of anti-Taliban activities by the non-Pashtun residents of Kabul, but for the moment the Taliban appear secure in Kabul.
The lack of a clear policy in Islamabad towards the Afghan conflict, the continuing series of diplomatic and political blunders by Pakistan, starting from the premature recognition of the Taliban government and the present aim to call a regional conference in Islamabad which is unlikely to be attended by any of the regional powers who are backing the Afghan opposition, has already led to Pakistan's isolation in the region and total mistrust of Pakistani intention by the Afghan opposition leadership. Pakistani Consular officials were booted out of Mazar by General Malik for a second time last week after spending only seven days there, since they returned for the first time after closing down the Consulate in May after the Mazar debacle.
Pakistani diplomatic representation is unacceptable now to any Afghan opposition faction and how Islamabad can still claim to be even-handed, have a policy of no favorites and maintain a dialogue with the opposition when its diplomats are not accepted appears unrealistic. However, for Pakistan to ignore the fact that it has hundreds of its own citizens being held prisoner in Afghan jails and the failure to make any attempt to either secure their release or learn about their condition, appears to be a major humanitarian miscalculation by Islamabad and could lead to growing anger at home by those families whose children are being held prisoner.
Activities of Harkatul Ansar Viewed
FTS19971011000444 Islamabad The News in English 09 Oct 97 pp 1 8
[Report by Kamran Khan]
KARACHI -- After an exhaustive probe, the United States authorities have concluded that the kidnapping, three years ago, of five westerners from Indian-held Kashmir was actually carried out by the Pakistan-based Harkatul Ansar guerrilla organization under the cover of Al-Faran group, this was disclosed in background interviews with knowledgeable sources in Islamabad last week.
Sources said that the US authorities expected to make that announcement shortly, identifying Harkat ul Ansar as a terrorist organization that had kidnapped the five westerners from the Valley and had murdered, if not all, at least two of their hostages. One of the five kidnapped westerners had escaped from the captivity soon after the incident.
In their quest to reach the bottom of the case, the sources said that the American, British and German officials had joined hands and had actively sought the help of the Indian authorities, who remained under international pressure for the safe release of the hostages.
Two British nationals, an American and a German were among the four western hostages feared to have died or were murdered during their three-year long captivity with the previously unknown Al-Faran Group. "All hopes have faded for the safe recovery of the hostages from their kidnappers," said a senior Pakistan official familiar with the case.
While the expected announcement from Washington will put the Pakistani authorities in a difficult situation, it may create some jubilation in India where authorities consider the activities of Harkatul Ansar, particularly in the Valley, as a major threat to the Indian security forces. Sources acknowledged that Harkatul Ansar volunteers also operated in other parts of India.
Soon after the sensational kidnapping near Srinagar in 1994, the Al-Faran group had demanded of the authorities to release several top ranking Harkatul Ansar leaders who had been arrested by the Indian security services. They included Maulana Masoud Azhar, the Secretary General and leader of the Indian operations of Harktul Ansar.
Sources said in their battle to free Kashmir from Indian control, the freedom fighters in the Valley get active support of at least 5000-men strong Harkatul Ansar that believes in extending military support to the subjugated Muslims all over the world.
High-level serving and former security officials acknowledge that they were aware of the Harkat's battle operations against the Soviet army during the Afghan war. "Fighting along with the troops of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani in the Paktia province of Afghanistan, Harkat's boys gave severe jolts to the Soviet army," recalled a former intelligence official.
Privately Pakistani security officials concede that they have some knowledge of the fact that religiously motivated Pakistani youth do cross borders into India to take part in the freedom struggle there, but they stress that Pakistani authorities do not exercise any control over those boys and security services make every effort to discourage their activities.
During an investigation by this correspondent into the activities of this increasingly militant organization last year, several Harkatul Ansar sources had informed that Harkatul Ansar was born in central Punjab in the early eighties when a group of religious Punjab philanthropists decided to offer some kind of assistance to the Afghan Mujahideen. "We started off by offering relief services in Afghan Mujahideen camps in the NWFP. Later, we extended these services to the Mujahideen who subsequently had become very fond of the Harkat's selfless services," an Harkat activist said, giving a background of his organization.
"Ours is basically a Sunni organization close to the Deobandi school of thought. We are not a sectarian organization and would like to stay away from the current sectarian tension in the country. Our people are mostly impressed by the "Tablighi Jamaat". Most of our workers do come from the Tablighi Jamaat. We regularly go to its annual meeting at Raiwind," added another Harkat official, throwing some light on the organization's ideology.
Senior police officials in Punjab, however, felt the Sipahe Suhaba Pakistan (SSP) is closely tied to the Harkatul Ansar and both organizations draw direct or indirect support from a friendly Arab country and several rich Arab nationals.
Harkat insiders disclosed that financial support for their organization came mostly in the shape of donations from businessmen in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. One Harkat source said that a group of Indian Muslim businessmen in Britain whose relatives and friends had suffered most in the carnage of Muslims in the aftermath of the demolition of Babri Mosque in India, contributed generously for its secret operations in India.
Giving an outline of its operations, several Harkat insiders said separate units within the organization look after the training, operations and finances. One Harkat warrior, who had participated in a military operation in Srinagar, gave an insight into the working of this secretive organization. He revealed that a typical Harkat sympathizer joins the organization during the mass contact campaign or through its offices by offering his life for Jihad anywhere in the world. The new recruit, after a necessary in-house security clearance, is then sent for a forty-day training program. Later, he is sent to the relevant Harkat commander who delivers weapons and select routes to transport the Mujahid to the area of active operation where he would operate under a field commander. Each worker volunteers his services for a period ranging between 40 to 120 days.
Under the set procedure, the Mujahid is told in advance that in case of martyrdom his body would not be brought back to Pakistan and he would be buried at the place of the operation. The Harkat, its activists claimed, took full care of the families of 'Shaheeds'. "Our brave warriors are buried in Kashmir, Tajikistan, Bosnia, Burma and the Philippines. Muslims in those countries would never forget these courageous boys from Pakistan," according to an Harkat activist.
CIA Said Trying To Recover Missiles Bequeathed to Afghans
FTS19980831000884 Paris Le Point in French 29 Aug 98 p 39
[Report signed "O.W.": "The Forgotten Stingers"]
Urgent. Secret service in disarray seeking to recover missiles. This is the torment facing the CIA, which is concerned about the proliferation of the fearsome American Stinger ground-to-air missiles, bequeathed to the Afghan resistance in the 1980's during the war against the Soviet Union. Highly efficient -- almost 100 percent so at less than 3,500 meters, and a maximum range of 5,000 meters -- these missiles, which weigh 10 kg, are 1.5 meters long, and reach speeds of 1,935 kph, were not distributed by American agents in the resistance, but by Pakistani intermediaries. These intermediaries were keen to encourage their proteges within Afghan fundamentalist circles, such as the fighters for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hez Islami [name as published] party. Initially, the CIA was hesitant, but Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA officer and ex-director of intelligence at the NSC, managed to force the idea through. He himself negotiated with Pakistani head of state Zia in 1986. "Then US President Ronald Reagan signed the order form when he saw a video showing the first 10 missiles hitting their targets: Soviet MiG's," Vincent Cannistraro said.
All in all, 1,000 Stingers were distributed, worth $30 million, at least three of which were given -- as Le Point's special correspondent was able to find out -- to the allies of radical commander Jalaluddin Haqqani [name as published] in their stronghold in Khost, one of the Arab combatant training centers bombed by the Americans. Out of the 1,000 Stingers, between 200 and 250 were actually launched. Around 100 are in the hands of the Pakistani secret services, the Isi. Several hundred were bought on the black market by intermediaries at a price of between $100,000 and $250,000, and resold to Iran, to the Bosnian forces, and probably to North Korea and Libya. "These missiles are no longer operational," one former CIA officer says, "because they are delivered with batteries that last two years." Wrong. These batteries can easily be cobbled together by an electrical engineer, as confirmed by Paul Beaver, an expert from Jane's Defense International in London. According to the information we have, the Taleban have several of them. Some of the missiles acquired by foreign emissaries in the Afghan resistance were bartered for acetic anhydride, a component used in the production of heroin. The CIA experts are chewing their nails. Once again, this is a singular kickback.