Subj: Fw: Where Did The Taliban Come From?
Date: 10/3/01 9:26:37 PM Pacific Daylight Time

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             Question:    WHERE DID THE TALIBAN COME FROM?


MID-EAST REALITIES © - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 10/03:
    Osama bin Laden, arch nemesis of America today, is blowback from recent
history -- the Gulf war, the permanent stationing of American forces in
Arabia, and other American policies in the region, including the deceptive
"peace process" fronting for Israel's brutal subjugation of the
Palestinians.   He began as a member of a leading family of Saudi Arabia,
inheriting a huge amount of petrodollars channeled through the Royal Family,
and had close ties with the CIA in the days of the Cold War.
    The Taliban, arch nemesis of America today, is blowback from the Afghan
War; a regime created, sponsored and financed primarily by two U.S. allies,
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
    What unforeseen blowback will result from the events of 2001 and from
the new "new world order" about to be created and enforced by American
military might (fittingly with the help of the former British empire)...this
remains to be seen of course.  But we can both learn and extrapolate from
the past; in which case the future is going to be more bloody and more
dangerous than ever.
     These two articles from Pakistan -- the first from Peshawar, the second
from Islamabad -- help put today's events in recent historical perspective.


[The Observer (U.K.) - September 30, 2001] :   She can remember the cinemas
and the picnics in the sun. She can remember the packed cafes and the
student parties and the libraries with their shelves heaving with books and
the clean, modern hospitals with the calm, competent doctors that made her
decide she wanted to be a doctor herself.

'They were the good times,' she says. 'When the Soviet Union was in control.
Since then everything has been a long dark night.'

The Pakistani noonday sun, harsh despite the coming autumn and the thin
curtains on the windows, reflects in the smooth glossy red of Saira
Noorani's fingernails. She is holding them up to the light and laughing.

'I have painted my nails,' she says softly, smiles a long slow smile and
then laughs again. It has been five years and three days since Saira, a
29-year-old surgeon, could paint her fingernails. Five years and three days
since the Taliban militia came running through Kabul's wide, tree-lined
streets and Saira, newly qualified as a doctor, watched in horror as they
began to impose their harsh brand of Islamic law.

Last week Saira finally left Kabul for the relative safety, and very
relative liberalism, of Pakistan. Here she will not be harangued, or worse,
if a soldier spots her make-up.

'It was hell,' she says quietly. 'It got worse every day. After being used
to freedom it was just so much humiliation and frustration.'

Saira is one of the last of the Afghan middle class to leave. Her father,
once an important official in the state airline, left two years ago. Saira
had hung on in the hope that things might get better. They didn't.

Afghanistan has been stripped of its middle class. All those with capital,
qualifications or initiative have left. Some have made homes in Pakistan,
the lucky ones have made it to the West.

Only the poor remain. Saira's story explains much about the turmoil in the
country - and the twisted logic underpinning the ideology of the Taliban
regime which governs more than 90 per cent of it.

She was born in 1972, in the year King Zahir Shah was deposed by his cousin
Mohamed Daoud. The king had tried to modernise his isolated and conservative
country. Though the pace of change was too fast for the conservative
religious and tribal leaders in the rural areas, it was not fast enough for
the Soviet-sponsored republican clique that succeeded him.  When they tried
to impose a radical reform programme there was a rural revolt that
threatened the regime's existence. Moscow sent in the tanks to prop it up.

For the next decade rural Afghanistan was racked by war. But, while in the
provinces villages were burnt, helicopters dropped mines to kill children
and Russian soldiers were staked out in the sun to die, Kabul prospered.

'Life was good under the Soviets,' Saira said. 'Every girl could go to high
school and university. We could go wherever we wanted and wear what we
liked. A lot of my friends wore miniskirts but I liked my long summer dress
which was more comfortable. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the
latest Indian films on a Friday night and listen to the latest Hindi music.
I can remember having picnics with my friends after school when it was hot.'

Partly for ideological reasons, partly for practical ones, the Soviet Union
subsidised schools and hospitals, built a vast bureaucracy with well-paid
jobs for Kabulis and constructed a new city centre with open streets and
parks. Saira was one of 1,000 medical students at the University of Kabul.
She specialised in surgery and obstetrics. But soon after she qualified
things began to change.

'It all started to go wrong when the Mujahideen started winning. They were
uneducated peasants. They used to kill teachers and burn schools,' she said.

With massive US support, the Afghan resistance groups finally forced the
Soviet Union out of their country in 1979. Three years later they had
defeated the stooge government the Russians had left behind and marched into
Kabul. Saira watched them entering her city on the television because it was
not safe to walk the streets.

'We were terrified. When we saw them they were horrible. With their beards
and turbans and their smell they were like wild animals. It was funny and
sad to think these were the people the West had supported.'

To the Mujahideen - and to the Taliban who followed them - Kabul was a city
of collaborators who had led good lives while they had suffered to liberate
their country. Everything was a target - property, women, whole areas of the

When the Mujahideen factions started fighting they thought nothing of
rocketing civilian areas. Whole parts of the city were levelled, including
the Nooranis' house. The family fled, returning to Kabul in early 1996 when
fighting died down. But the worst regime was to come.

When the Taliban seized Kabul they were determined to purge what they saw as
a satanic den of iniquity and set about imposing their fanatical rule. Music
and television were forbidden. Women were banned from schools and
universities, and from leaving their homes without a male relative. They
were made to wear the burqa - the head-to-toe veil and gown customary
throughout rural Afghanistan. It was a visible symbol of the revenge of the
countryside on the city.

Saira started work again in one of the main hospitals in Kabul. Supplies
were hard to come by and she had to wear the burqa in the streets and a
headscarf and veil while operating.

'It was very hard and very difficult to work as a doctor in those
conditions. We were not even allowed to talk to the male doctors,' she said.
'I had grown used to so many freedoms and suddenly we could not cut our hair
the way we wanted. They made rules about which clothes we could wear even in
our homes and banned nail varnish and make-up.

'When the Taliban first came we were happy because the Mujahideen were
raping and robbing and we couldn't leave our homes, and at the beginning the
Taliban did bring us security, but they just got worse and worse.'

Finally, after Saira had refused to operate on a senior Taliban's relative
instead of a seriously ill child, she was banned from her hospital. Her
wage - £15 a month - had not been paid for six months anyway. She went to
stay with friends in the eastern city of Jalalabad and spent a week
illegally watching the television.

On Thursday last week she took an overcrowded bus to the Pakistani border,
fought her way through the seething crowds waiting on the Afghan side and
bribed her way across. She is now staying, with her young son, in a
relative's overcrowded home in the frontier city of Peshawar.

'I do not know what I will do now,' she said. 'I cannot stay here for ever.
Unless there is a strong and good government in Kabul I cannot go there.
'But where else is there? Afghans are not welcome anywhere in the world.'

                         PAKISTAN'S AFGHAN POLICY
                                  By Mushahid Hussain*

[Islamabad, 2 October 2001]:  Pakistan and the United States seem keen to
prevent any perception of possible cleavage in the anti-terrorism coalition
given their competing interests over Afghanistan. The key areas of
divergence revolve around the role of the Northern Alliance in the
anti-Osama campaign, and, equally important, were the Taleban regime to
unravel in the process, what sort of new political dispensation should
replace it?

Ironies abound for the United States and Pakistan as they try to cover their
tracks while recovering from the consequences of policies they pushed and
promoted in the past.

Take the case of the press conference on September 25 of Foreign Minister
Abdul Sattar who obliquely warned Washington: "We must not make the blunder
of trying to foist a government on the people of Afghanistan. We fear that
any such decision on the part of foreign powers to give assistance to one
side or the other in Afghanistan is a recipe for great disaster for the
people of Afghanistan".

But is that not what Pakistan has tried to do for the last 25 years in
Afghanistan, starting with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto providing a sanctuary in 1974
to Gulbadin Hekmatyar and Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, and then training
their men to destabilise the Daoud regime in Kabul, in a tit-for-tat
exercise since Kabul was then a haven for Pakistani dissidents? That we
didn't meet with success is another thing. However, after dumping these two
long-time 'friends' 20 years later, did we not proudly proclaim that the
Taleban were 'our boys' following their first victory in Kandahar in
November 1994?

The Clinton administration concurred with Pakistan's policy because it saw
Afghanistan as a pressure point on Iran, changing its view only after Osama
bin Laden landed in Afghanistan in 1996. Afghanistan apart, the Bush
administration was reluctant to even remove nuclear-related sanctions
against Pakistan concurrently with India. Now it has promptly waived
sanctions imposed under American law regarding democracy because, President
Bush cites it as being in US 'national security interests', which is fine
since sanctions as punitive policy is wrong. But it does show that all these
sanctions that the United States had imposed on Pakistan had nothing to do
with principles either of nuclear or missile proliferation or of promoting
democracy, but these were inextricably linked to politics and policies based
on American interests. This should be a good lesson to our policy-makers as
well that in the real world, interests are paramount and that is how we
should learn to operate.

Even on terrorism, the American approach is instructive. It is now clear
that all 19 terrorists who blew themselves up along with the planes,
passengers and thousands of innocent citizens were Arabs, who had no
connection with Afghanistan and probably never visited that country. But why
is it that there is a conspiracy of silence? Neither the United States nor
Israel nor the American media have tried to establish even a remote
connection of that act of terrorism with the Arab-Israeli conflict or the
Palestine issue. Even the date of the crime, September 11, 2001, tallies
with September 12, 1970, when Palestinian hijackers, including Leila Khaled,
hijacked four planes and then blew these up, introducing hijacking as a
weapon in the Palestinian armoury.

Why is the accusing finger pointed only at Afghanistan?   Because any
reference to Palestine would invariably invite uncomfortable questions
regarding American unstinted support for Israel and Israeli policies towards

It is rather late in the day for Pakistan to voice its fears regarding
Afghanistan's future regime. President Bush publicly sought 'the cooperation
of citizens within Afghanistan who may be tired of having the Taleban in
place', although he added a caveat 'we're not into nation building, we're
focused on justice'.

However, the problem is that Pakistan's concerns on this count  are not
shared by even its friends in the region. Turkey, for instance, has publicly
proclaimed its support for the Northern Alliance. Iran, which rejects any
role in support of the United States but supports anti-terrorism under the
United Nations umbrella by saying 'we are neither with the Americans nor
with the terrorists', would not shed any tears for the Taleban's demise nor
would China, whose intelligence and anti-terrorism experts held a meeting in
Washington on September 25 for sharing information regarding Afghanistan
with their American counterparts, the first such intelligence cooperation
between the two countries since the  Afghanistan war in the 1980s.

A peep into the American game plan for Afghanistan was provided in an
article in The New York Times on September 29: "In Afghanistan, the United
States military faces two of the most difficult tasks it has ever
confronted. It must track down an enemy leader and his fellow terrorists on
their home turf. And it must try to remove the foreign regime that shelters

Pakistan needs to understand three realities in the present situation.
First, the United Nations Security Council unanimous resolution mandating
use of force against terrorism can put Pakistan's Kashmir policy at risk,
since at least one Kashmiri jehadi organisation has already been banned by
the US for alleged links with Osama. An imaginative approach and deft
diplomacy would be required to preserve important segments of our stand on
Kashmir, since its legitimacy is derived from UN resolutions. In a change of
Western policy, Russia's has been rewarded for its support with a green
light to hammer Chechnya's fighters.

Second, we should no longer continue to delude ourselves. The hard fact is
that our Afghan policy lies buried in the debris of the World Trade Centre.

Third, after the candid comments of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
on September 26 regarding the 'superiority of Western civilization over the
Islamic civilization' and his optimism that that the West will 'conquer'
Islam just as it 'conquered Communism', there should be little doubt about
the targets in the campaign against terrorism. This is mainly confined to
Muslims, since terrorism of the Tamils, IRA and the Basque is excluded, and
there are those in the West straining at the leash for a 'clash of
civilizations'. Pakistan and the Muslim countries should heed the Italian
leader's remarks as a wake-up call.

The United States, which is leading this coalition, needs to listen to saner
and sober elements rather than be swayed by those who would like to convert
a war against terrorism into a nation-destroying exercise, widening the
chasm between the US and the Muslim World. President Megawati Sukarnoputri,
leader of the world's biggest Muslim state who was the first to meet
President Bush after the carnage of September 11, urged him to "pay
attention to the feelings of the Islamic world as well as not mixing up
terrorism with Islam".

Writing in The Los Angeles Times on September 30, Chalmers Johnson, called
his thoughtful piece 'Blowback' referring to the unintended negative
consequences of policies. He wrote: "President Bush has formed the largest
air armada since World War II and brought it into position to bomb
Afghanistan. He has deployed at least 630 US military aircraft, three times
as many as were deployed in the Gulf War. If this armada is used against the
hapless and impoverished people of Afghanistan, there is no doubt that it
will produce a general crisis throughout the Islamic World." And he
concludes with advice that deserves to be heeded by policy-makers in
Washington: "We must recognise that the terrorism of September 11 was not
directed against America but against American foreign policy. We should
listen to the grievances of the Islamic peoples (and) .if the United States
only response to terrorism is more terrorism, it will have discredited

Regrettably, in a crisis involving Muslims, the Organization of Islamic
Conference is a virtual white elephant, a non-factor and all it has done is
to call an
'emergency' meeting of Foreign Ministers on October 9, almost a month after
the event. This will be one of the umpteen 'emergency' meetings convened by
Arab and Muslim leaders after the Intifidah began on September 28, 2000, but
the results of all these meetings remain a well-guarded secret! It is thus
no accident that Western leaders can now boast of 'conquering Islam' or
openly talk of the Muslim world with a contempt that is unfortunately
well-deserved given the abysmal track record of Muslim countries and leaders
and their abject failure to promote and protect the interests of Islam.

        *Mushahid Hussein is a graduate of Georgetown University in
Washington, DC, and former Minister of Information of Pakistan.

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