HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN (1996-2001)



5. The Taliban Period

"The martyrs are gone, now the Muslims fight each other,
Where is the Muslim Ummah, to care for one another."
Nargis Farahmand

The Taliban took over a country wracked by nearly 20 years of internal conflict and civil war, including military occupation by the Soviet army from 1979 to 1989. They emerged in the fall of 1994, in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, as a faction of mujahedin soldiers who identified themselves as religious students. The members of the Taliban Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (TIMA) are mostly Pashtuns and are led by the mullah Mohammad Omar. The Taliban advocated an "Islamic Revolution" in Afghanistan, proclaiming that the unity of Afghanistan should be re-established in the framework of Sharia (Islamic law).

On 11 September 1996 the Taliban captured Jalalabad, the eastern city bordering Pakistan and on 27 September 1996 they captured Kabul, ousting the government. They took former President Najibullah and his brother from a UN compound where they had taken refuge since the fall of his Soviet-backed government in April 1992, beat them severely and then hanged them at the entrance of the city. As of the beginning of June 1997, the Taliban effectively controlled two-thirds of the country. The opposing Northern Alliance lost ground, controlling then only about five to ten percent of the country's territory. Amnesty International has documented widespread human rights violations by both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Taliban’s status as a genuinely Islamic movement is at the very least highly questionable, there are very few Muslim scholars who would agree that their policies constitute Islamic policies. As pointed out by former US Congressman Paul Findley, Chairman Emeritus of the Washington-based Council for National Interest and Chairman of the Illinois-based Human Relations Commission :"the Taliban calls itself ‘Islamic’, but its regulations directly violate some of the most cherished principles of the Islamic faith.” Indeed, most Muslim scholars do not agree with Taliban's practices.

In 1997, the Taliban reportedly killed some six-hundred civilians in Faryab province. In August 1998, the Taliban captured Mazar-I-Sharif. There were reports that between 2,000 and 6,000 men, women and children, mostly ethnic Hazara civilians, were massacred by the Taliban after the takeover of Mazar-I-Sharif. During the massacre, the Taliban forces carried out a systematic search for male members for the ethnic Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek communities in the city. Human Rights Watch estimates that scores, perhaps hundreds, of Hazara men and boys were summarily executed. There were also reports that women and girls were raped and abducted during the Taliban takeover of the city. (Source: State Department)
Human Rights Watch reports that in 1999 the Taliban, during their offensive in the Shomaili plains, committed serious war crimes. These included the murder and abduction of civilians and the burning of homes. Also in 1999, their forces massacred hundreds of men, women, and children in Bamiyan. "The BBC has confirmed that the central Afghan town of Bamiyan was totally destroyed by the Taliban before they fled over the weekend. Evidence has also emerged of Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing in the region involving the execution of hundreds of local ethnic Hazara men." (Source: BBC News, 11/13/01)
Early last year, they massacred civilians, mostly Hazaras, at Yakaolang. Their troops rounded up about three-hundred men, including staff members of local humanitarian groups, and executed them. Amnesty International has eyewitness reports of Taliban forces firing rockets into a mosque where some seventy women, children, and elderly men had sought refuge. Dozens were killed.

The Taliban had only two sources of military assistance: Bin Laden with his army of experienced and highly motivated Islamic fighters, and the powerful Pakistani intelligence service. Pakistan has long sought to gain some influence over a neighbor with whom it shares a long and exceedingly porous border. The Taliban were initially trained by the Frontier Constabulary, a para-military force of the Interior Ministry of Pakistan, which at the time was headed by Gen. Nasrullah Babar. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were not involved in the earlier stages of Taliban development, continuing to support the Hizb-i-Islami under Hikmatyar to dislodge the Rabbani government. Pakistan feared that an exclusively non-Pashtun government of President B. Rabbani would lead Afghanistan’s Pashtuns to revive the demand for Pashtunistan. Eventually, the remarkable success of the Taliban, and economic considerations, led to Pakistan’s policy change in 1994-95 towards its support for the Taliban. As Iran started signing joint ventures with Central Asian countries, Pakistan hoped that the Taliban would restore order and reopen roads, and provide it with the opportunity to expand markets to Central Asia. Even before the Taliban's victorious drive on Kabul, the ousted Afghan government had long insisted that the Taliban were actively backed by Pakistan's ISI and by some members of the Pakistan's powerful military. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has denied any involvement, but in late September 1996, Nasrullah Babar, Pakistan's Interior Minister, flew to Afghanistan to work out a settlement between the Taliban and the most powerful of the Afghan warlords. The ISI, for years the agent of Pakistan's Afghan policy, also is believed to have helped the Taliban logistically and advised them on strategy. ISI has links with Pakistani religious parties that provide volunteers for jihad in both Kashmir and Afghanistan.
(Source: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/taleban.htm)

To be continued...At the end of last year, US has bombed Afghanistan and planned getting rid of the Taliban network...

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