|Asia Times Online: When are the Taliban expected to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: Well, the whole Islamic world is waiting for the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, but it will take some time. But sure, it will ultimately happen, and this is what the Taliban's struggle is all about.
ATol: Can you define the level of Taliban-led resistance in Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: It has already passed the initial phases and now has entered into a tactical and decisive phase. It can be measured from the hue and cry raised by the US and its allies. Daily attacks on NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces are now routine and suicide attacks are rampant.
ATol: To date, the Taliban have been very active in southwestern Afghanistan, but traditionally success comes when a resistance reaches eastern areas, especially the strategically important Jalalabad. When will this happen?
Haq Yar: Well, I do not agree that the Taliban movement is restricted to southwest Afghanistan. We have now established a network under which we are allied with many big a nd small mujahideen organizations, and in that way we are fighting foreign forces throughout Afghanistan. In a recent development, the deputy chief of the Taliban movement, Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani, is now positioned in the eastern zone, including Jalalabad, from where he is guiding attacks on coalition forces. This eastern zone is also part of the Taliban's stronghold.
ATol: What is the role of bin Laden and Zawahiri?
Haq Yar: We are allies and part and parcel of every strategy. Wherever mujahideen are resisting the forces of evil, Arab mujahideen, al-Qaeda and leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr Zawahiri have a key role. In Afghanistan they also have a significant role to support the Taliban movement.
ATol: Is the present Taliban-led resistance against the US and its allies a local resistance or is it international? That is, are resistance movements in other parts of the world led from Afghanistan?
Haq Yar: Initially it was a local movement, but now it is linked with resistance movements in Iraq and other places. We are certainly in coordination with all resistance movements of the Muslim world.
ATol: What is the Taliban strategy with groups like Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (Khalis)?
Haq Yar: The Hezb-i-Islami of Hekmatyar and the Taliban are fighting under a coordinated strategy and support each other. The leadership of the Khalis group is now in the hands of his son, who is coordinating everything with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani.
ATol: What is the Taliban's weaponry? Is it old Russian arms or they have acquired new ones - and if so, where are they getting them?
Haq Yar: The Taliban have all the latest weaponry required for a guerrilla warfare. Where does it come from? Well, Afghanistan is known as a place where weapons are stockpiled. And forces that provided arms a few decades ago - the same weapons are now being used against them.
ATol: The Taliban contacted commanders in northern Afghanistan. What was the result?
Haq Yar: About one and a half years ago these contacts were initiated. Various groups from the north contacted us. We discussed the matter with (Taliban leader) Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund and then, with his consent, I was assigned to negotiate matters with the Northern Alliance.
The first meeting was held in northern Afghanistan, where I represented the Taliban. Many individuals from various groups of the Northern Alliance attended the meeting and they all condemned the foreign presence in the country, but insisted that the Taliban should take the lead, and then they would follow suit. Another meeting was held after that in which various individuals come up with some conditions, and there was no conclusion. There was no collective meeting, but there are contacts.
ATol: What is the role of the tribal chiefs?
Haq Yar: The tribal chiefs have always been supportive of the Taliban and still are. How could they not be? The US bombed and killed thousand of their people and the puppet (President Hamid) Karzai government is silent. All Afghans are sick and tired of US tyrannies and daily bombardment, whether they are commoners or chiefs, and that is why they are all with the Taliban.
Actually, we have also worked on organizing that support. On the instructions of Mullah Mohammed Omar Akhund, I met with tribal chiefs last year and prepared the grounds for this year's battle (spring offensive), and all tribal chiefs assured me of their support. And now there is support - it is there for everybody to see.
ATol: It is said that the Taliban are now fueled by drug money. Is this correct, and if not, how do they manage their financial matters?
Haq Yar: It is shameful to say that the Taliban, who eliminated poppies from Afghanistan, are dependent on the drug trade to make money. This is wrong. As far as money is concerned, we do not need much. Whatever is required, we manage it through our own limited resources.
ATol: Are you satisfied with the media's role?
Haq Yar: Not at all. They do not publish our point of view. They never tried to talk to the genuine Taliban. Rather, they go after not genuine people who are basically plants and rejected by the Taliban leadership.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Description of Source: Hong Kong Asia Times Online WWW-Text in English - - Hong Kong-based online newspaper with a Bangkok branch office focusing on political and economic issues from an "Asian perspective," with over 50 contributors in 17 Asian countries, the United States, and Europe. Successor of the Hong Kong/Bangkok based print daily Asia Times that closed in 1997, it claims an average of 100,000 daily site visitors as of Feb 2006, with 65% of the audience based in North America, and 22% in the Asia-Pacific region. Root URL on filing date: http://www.atimes.com]
Pakistan: Taliban Runs 2d Office After Govt's Peace Deal With 'Wanted' Militants
SAP20061014033002 Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English 14 Oct 06
[Report by Ismail Khan: "Why the Waziristan deal is a hard sell"]
[Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention]
PESHAWAR, Oct 13: New facts have emerged about this year's September 5 deal between the government and militants in North Waziristan that may explain the unease felt by international players involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. Although the agreement secured the public endorsement of US President George W. Bush, western and Afghan officials are privately critical of the deal.
Sources say there are a number of factors fuelling suspicion. Firstly, the deal was signed with militants and not with tribal elders, as is being officially claimed. The signatories are the two principal parties to the conflict: (a) the administrator of North Waziristan as the government representative, and (b) militants and clerics who until September 5 were on the wanted list. Among them are Hafiz Gul Bahadar, Maulana Sadiq Noor, Azad Khan, Maulvi Saifullah, Maulvi Ahmad Shah Jehan, Azmat Ali, Hafiz Amir Hamza and Mir Sharaf.
The first two in the list are top militant clerics and the remaining six were nominated by them to co-sign the agreement, sources say, adding that they were all pardoned by the government subsequent to the deal. The agreement identifies them as 'fareeq-e-doum' (second party). As the names indicate, no tribal elder from the Utmanzai tribe was among the signatories, as claimed by the government. The 45-member inter-tribal jirga handpicked and nominated by Governor Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai countersigned the document as the interlocutors. Period.
As such the argument that the peace agreement is against the Taliban, and not with the Taliban, just does not hold water. One expert asks: "How could the militants in North Waziristan, who owe their allegiance to Mullah Omar and his commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who is responsible for southern Afghanistan, sign a deal against their brothers in arms?"
Secondly, the deal stipulates that foreign militants living in North Waziristan would either leave or live peacefully. But no mechanism has been put in place to oversee and verify either their conduct or the departure of those who violate the agreement. Over a month after the signing of the deal, there is no progress on this front.
Contrary to the government's assertion, troops deployed in and around Miramshah, except those manning the borders, have been removed from check-posts and relocated to their camps. All weapons seized from militants have been returned and their men released.
There have been more kidnappings, robberies and murders since then as the Khasadar force -- a ragtag, untrained tribal force left to man the posts -- has neither the teeth nor the wherewithal to rein in the militants or control crime, area residents point out.
Eyewitnesses say there are now not one but two Taliban offices in Miramshah to maintain law and order, control crime and address public complaints, a serious violation of the agreement by the Taliban who had undertaken not to form a parallel administration in the tribal region.
There is growing evidence that militants are now more assertive than they were before the September 5 agreement. Recently they wrested custody of suspects, along with a vehicle the latter had snatched, telling the Khasadars that they would deal with the suspects themselves. Nothing is known as to what happened afterwards as the hapless Khasadars merely looked on.
The agreement says that there will be no cross-border infiltration but Nato military officials stationed in Afghanistan have been quoted as saying there is a 3oo per cent increase in militant activity in the border regions. The death of a local militant commander, Maulvi Mir Kalam, and his men in an operation across the border and the capture of 10 of their comrades by security forces is a case in point.
The deal also stipulated there would be no targeted killings but recent reports indicate that alleged spies have been assassinated by militants in the region.
In essence, there are two main verifiable clauses in the agreement: one, that the militants would not attack government forces and installations and, two, that the government, for its part, would not undertake any ground or air offensive. That the two sides have stuck to their word on at least these two points explains the relative peace in an otherwise volatile tribal region.
Equally crucial and perhaps central to this whole agreement were the two other clauses, the presence of foreign militants and cross-border infiltration. It is unclear what additional steps the government has taken to stop militants' movement across the border since the truce. But if the death of Mir Kalam and the reported arrest and subsequent release of three 'mujahideen' in the Kurram tribal region -- at the request of militants in North Waziristan -- are any indication, the government will find it hard to defend its position that the truce is directed against the Taliban and not in their favour.
Indeed, peace is the desired goal. But one look at the agreement and the situation on the ground and it is glaringly evident that the government has chosen the path of pacification by appearing to capitulate to the militants than take corrective measures to ensure lasting peace. Peace is vital but not at the expense of abdicating state authority, as appears to have happened in Waziristan's case. Therefore, when President Musharraf said at a recent gathering that "there is no guarantee that it [the agreement] will succeed", it was pretty clear why.
Given the complexity of the situation, and to be fair to the president, it should be mentioned that Gen Musharraf also said that if anybody had a better idea of how to deal with the situation, he would be a patient listener.
But he is not the only player in the region, however critical his role in the war on terror may be. On cross-border infiltration, Kabul is being joined in its complaints by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). With a growing Taliban insurgency and mounting casualties being taken by the 37-nation Nato-led ISAF, Pakistan is coming under a lot of pressure to do more.
Islamabad may be asking Nato and Kabul to replicate the peace pact with the Taliban in Afghanistan but it will be difficult to push this argument along -- as Pakistan has sought to -- by citing considerations of Pushtun nationalism and a possible sense of deprivation.
Half of the Afghan parliament is Pushtun, and except for foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta and interior minister Zarar Maqbal, Pushtuns hold all the powerful positions in the cabinet. President Hamid Karzai is, of course, also a Pushtun. They are also fairly well represented in the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, so to suggest that Pushtuns face alienation in Afghanistan would be a misrepresentation of the ground realities in that country. The days of the Tajik-led Northern Alliance's dominance are over.
Indeed, Pakistan would do well to avoid using the ethnic card. It is a double-edged weapon that can cut both ways, considering the growing sense of deprivation amongst the smaller provinces at home.
It would also be unfair to liken the Taliban's resistance to a Pushtun uprising. This view betrays a lack of understanding of contemporary Pushtun society. Ethnic Pushtuns they are, but the Taliban have never espoused any nationalist ideology. Theirs is not a nationalist struggle; their resistance is fired by a desire to wage 'jihad and defeat the infidels'.
[Description of Source: Karachi Dawn (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- Internet version of Pakistan's first and most widely read English-language daily promoting progressive views. Generally critical of military rule; root URL as of filing date: http://www.dawn.com]
London Daily Reports on 'Book' by Al-Qa'ida 'Theorist' Abu-al-Walid al-Misri - V
GMP20061028837003 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 28 Oct 06
[Part V of a report by Muhammad al-Shafi'i, datelined London, on a book entiled "Chatter on the Roof of the World" by Abu-al-Walid al-Misri, whose original name is said to be Mustafa Hamid, and is also known (in London) as Hashim al-Makki, and is described as the "theorist" of the Afghan Arabs: "Chatter on the Roof of the World. The Theorist of the Afghan Arabs: 'The Muslim Brotherhood Caused us Much Hardship and Pain Throughout Our Work in Afghanistan.' Abu-al-Walid al-Misri: 'Pakistani Intelligence Kept the Mujahidin's Military Efficacy Low'."]
In the fifth installment in the serialization of the book "Chatter on the Roof of the World" by its author Abu-al-Walid al-Misri, the theorist of the "Afghan Arabs" and the in-law of Sayf al-Adl, Al-Qa'ida's military commander, Al-Masri talks about the spoils of war they saw in the wake of the first operation in which the Arabs participated against the Communist forces. He says: It was the first time we see the spoils of war. We were astonished and our feelings were indescribable. We used to hear about the spoils of war in history books on the conquests and the Muslims' flourishing days.
Abu-al-Walid al-Misri is one of the oldest Arab fighters in Afghanistan. He signed the book "Chatter on the Roof of the World" which was found by the US forces in his real name, Mustafa Hamid. Abu-al-Walid is known among Islamists in London by the name of Hashim al-Makki. Al-Sharq al-Awsat had published several articles by him after the fall of Taliban in which he criticized [Usama] Bin Ladin and his "strategic" view of the exacerbation of the conflict with the United States, and which led to the "Afghan Arabs" losing the Taliban state in which they had lived in safety and security.
Abu-al-Walid says in his new book: "We later discovered that the rivalry over showing off and leadership is yet another serious trait in the Afghan personality. It took me several years to discover that personality -- on my part at any rate -- until I became aware to a certain extent of its basic components. However, after the victory [over the Soviet forces] and the mujahidin gaining control over the country I was surprised to find that there were traits of which I was not aware until that late hour." With regard to character and temperament there were many similarities -- in our view -- between the Afghans and the ancient Arabs, and the most prominent difference between the Afghans and the new Arabs is their rejection of humiliation, their love of religion, and their quick acceptance of the option of death if their freedom is threatened or their Islam is in danger.
On the following day, our Afghan escort, Muti'allah, accompanied us to the site of the latest battle. When we reached a relatively wide valley in the midst of which was a stream we saw three armored vehicles that were burned down. Muti'allah went ahead of us carefully and asked us to watch out for mines. I felt cold sweat dripping from my body. I wanted to ask him how we watch out for the mines, when he answered me in action before I spoke. He was leaping with agility like a deer over the rocks and stone elevations. The other mujahidin did the same, and we -- I and my two friends --imitated them with some success and a great deal of fear.
The mines they used were locally made and contained several sticks of dynamite with an electric detonator and a small battery. The key to the circuit were two cardboard pieces that get folded when one steps on them and the charge blows up. It was a dangerous and imprecise device, and a dog or goat passing over it could detonate the mine. In any case, a number of armored vehicles had been blown up, and that was enough to demoralize the attacking forces which surrendered a short time after the mujahidin opened fire at them.
It was the first time in which we came across the mines problem which has become one of the problems of the Afghan war and which -- according to UN estimates -- will remain for a 1,000 years. Estimates of the number of mines that were left beneath the ground after the war vary: there are 10 million mines by some estimates, and 100 million by others.
Abu-al-Walid says if there is a description other than infidelity that can be given to the communist regime of [Nur Muhammad] Taraki [president of Afghanistan from April 1978 to October 1979] it is foolishness. Foolishness was the distinguishing feature of the behavior of Taraki and his communist party Khalq in all spheres of his domestic policy or military policy. They became arrogant and over-confident and used force in excess, turning the people against them. Moreover, they were openly hostile to Islam. Militarily, they embarked on reckless adventures that lost them large sections of the army, and the regime almost fell had it not been for the Soviet intervention. One of the indications of such foolishness was the "heavy" military campaigns that were launched deep inside mountainous areas. Taraki's military commanders -- together with a group of Soviet fools -- launched large campaigns with infantry forces backed by tanks, heavy artillery, and aircraft against the mujahidin forces in the rugged mountains. The results were tragic and were brought about by the mujahidin who had faith and determination and who fought fiercely. Those foolish campaigns led to supplying the mujahidin with a vast military wealth of weapons and hardware.
At the time, Taraki had 5,000 Soviet military experts who worked in the various Afghan army commands up to the detachment [fasilah] level. They took part in directing and commanding most of the campaigns against the mujahidin. From the beginning of the war to its end -- except for brief periods -- it was clear that the Soviets believed in a military ideology that relied wholly or to a very high degree on massiveness: massive equipment and massive numbers of soldiers and equipment used.
Haqqani: The Beginning of a Long Friendship
The Afghan war proved that the decisive weapon in war is the soldier who has faith, not massive numbers or technology. The communist regime lost the war on the morale level when the people did not respond positively to communist slogans, but decided to confront them with arms whatever the outcome. The Soviet forces throughout the war did not demonstrate a high morale or real belief in the aim of the war, namely to defend a friendly communist regime from foreign interference. Communism had died in the souls of Soviet soldiers before they came to Afghanistan, and then it died before their eyes in Afghanistan despite the outstanding efforts of their state to keep it alive. That is why when those soldiers returned to their country frustrated and defeated, communism in the Soviet collapsed. The Red Army -- the mainstay of the state and the protector of the regime -- realized that it is protecting a long-dead body.
We left Muti'allah's center in the Zerok region of Oruzgan and we headed -- in accordance with our host's itinerary -- toward the mawlawi [a religious title] Jalaluddin Haqqani center in (Sirana). They said to us he is a religious scholar and a brave and famous military commander and that he is the second man in the Yunus Khalis' Hizb Islami. We were forced to go round a long distance in the mountains that were covered with pine trees to get from Zerok to (Sirana) to bypass Nakka where the Taraki government still maintained a strong garrison. Several kilometers before we got to (Sirana), they asked us to stay until Haqqani, who is outside (Sirana) and who is engaged in a battle with the communist forces, is notified. We waited for a whole day until we received permission to proceed to meet with Haqqani who received us with 20 of his men in the midst of a woody area in a valley between two mountains. They did not open fire as in the Muti'allah camp. Moreover, Haqqani ordered his men to remain near the trees, away from the sunlight. It was clear that the situation was tense and they ere expecting aerial bombardment of their area following the previous days' battles which -- we had learned -- they won deservedly.
The mujahdin gathered around us with their old weapons and they gradually grew in numbers. Haqqani asked me to address them. That was quite embarrassing. I did not consider myself equal to those men, and I was not an orator. The men sat on the ground, with their rifles in their hands, waiting for us to address them. I delivered a short speech and I recall saying: "The banner of jihad that was raised in Badr [seventh century A.D. battle between early Muslims and Meccan infidels] has reached you. It is a big trust and a great honor for you, and the nation of Islam has its eyes on you as you raise this long-awaited banner. Indeed, the world has its eyes on the result of this battle that is taking place in Afghanistan between Islam and communism..." I recall that I ended my speech with the Koranic verse: "You who believe. If you help God He will help you and make you stand firm."
Jalaluddin Haqqani elaborated on my speech and then he invited us to climb to a house at the top of a nearby hill to complete our discussion. Haqqani explained to us the situation in Afghanistan and in their region -- Paktia province -- in detail. He also explained to us the situation among the jihadist organizations and the mujahidin's needs. The mujahid Haqqani, with whom I forged a deep friendship that survives to this day, told us that the fighting of the past two days resulted in a great victory. He invited us to see the traces of the battle on the main road not a long distance away. I still remember our visit to the location of the battle on the road between the cities of Gardiz and Khowst not far from Gardiz, the capital of the province, but separated from it by the high (Sati Kando) mountains. It was a winding road between the mountain peaks.
The convey that had been heading toward Khowst fell into a cruel ambush whose devastating effects were clearly seen, with more than 20 trucks completely destroyed and the bodies of their drivers and their assistants were charred, and white bones were protruding from them, in addition to more than 10 armored vehicles that were burned down. There were the bodies of soldiers who had fallen behind their firing positions, while some were burned inside their armored vehicles or on the main road. There was a body of a soldier, or an officer, who had crawled to the side of the road and leant his back on a rock and died beneath it. The body had disintegrated and become as black as coal, while the bones of his skull were laid bare, his two hands were on his belly, and his jawbones were open in a desperate cry for help.