Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Dirty Game Of Pakistan in Afghanistan: A Look From Inside

Author Amir Khan Maseed
The ISI, the Intelligence agency of Pakistan, has played a very dangerous role in Afghanistan, from arming unsavoury figures to flooding the country with weapons during the civil war. The ISI has done all it can through any means to keep Afghanistan weak and on its knees. The ISI is the main obstacle in the way of progression in the region; it has interfered, meddled and forced its way into Afghan affairs right from the beginning. The author will discuss the role of the ISI in Afghanistan in more detail.

The ISI has always favoured the Islamists in Afghanistan over any other dissident faction or group because Pakistan was founded on Islamist ideals; having political Islamists running Afghanistan would allow the ISI to meddle more easily in Afghanistan under the pretext of the Muslim brotherhood.

Since the 1970s, Pakistan has protected the Islamists in Afghanistan and provided them with shelter, training and weapons. At that time, Afghanistan was slowly changing into a modern progressive society; women were beginning to show their faces, there was more equality between the genders and cities were being modernised through development. The ISI on the other hand, were planning new tactics to counter this progression, and so the “Peshawar Seven” were born.

The Peshawar Seven, aided by the ISI and the Islamic Middle East, started to promote the “Islam is in danger” war cry just as Afghanistan was leaving behind the backwardness and tribalism that had plagued its society since its creation as a state. The ISI knew very well that a radical form of Islam could counter a strong Afghanistan so they worked on people’s emotions and spread propaganda such as “Afghan women are wearing skirts and not wearing the Burqa” through radio, mosques and loudspeakers all over the refugee camps in Pakistan.

While Pakistan enjoyed a secular lifestyle with a moderate Islamic law system, under which women were permitted to sing songs about Pakistan and promote Punjabi Pakistani culture and arts, the ISI had other plans for the people of Afghanistan; these plans were not nice and were extremely two faced.

On 27th November, 1979 a call for jihad was made by the ISI-led “resistance parties”. The ISI had run out of patience, and wanted to start the war quickly while there were no Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan. The ISI wanted to start some form of rebellion in the name of Islamic Jihad because they knew full well the Afghan government would call upon Soviet assistance, as it had done in the past, especially when Pakistan blockaded Afghan trade routes.

Pakistan sidelined any groups opposed to the Socialist Government of Afghanistan that did not hold or follow an Islamist belief; and that is how the Peshawar Seven came into being. All the members of this group were chosen by ISI/Islamabad. The groups within the Peshawar Seven were all radical Islamists; they were as follows:-

· Hizbul-Islami-Afghanistan led by Hekmatyar
· Hizbul-e-islami Afghanistan led by Maulvi Younas Khalis
· Jamiet-e-Islami Afghanistan led by Prof Burhan Ud Din Rabbani
· Ittehad-e-Islami Afghanistan led by Abdul Rabb Rasool Sayaf
· Mahaz-e-Millie e Islami Afghanistan led by Syed Ahmed Gilani
· Jabha De Nijat e Milli-e-Afghanistan led by Prof Sibghatullah Mujaddidi
· Harkat-e-Inqilab e Afghanistan led by Maulvi Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi
The Peshawar Seven were opportunists who were looking for any opportunity to enter Afghan politics, and they were assisted by the ISI who felt it would benefit them. Take the example of Daud’s coup in 1973; at the time, Burhan ud Rabbani offered Daud assistance from the Islamic movement on the condition that he left his communist comrades. Daud knew that this was an attempt by Pakistan to place their proxies in the Afghan government; Daud refused and many Islamists were arrested.

Afghanistan was constantly attacked by a revolution that was started in Pakistan and funded by the ISI. The Arab world also wanted a piece of the pie, and found the idea of an Afghanistan under Islamists quite attractive; that’s why the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Umar Salasani, visited Peshawar in October 1982 to show his support for the likes of Hekmatyar and for the Islamic revolution in Afghanistan.

The Islamists, had always turned to the Pakistanis for help and assistance; even during the rule of Sardar Daud, Younis Khalis, the leader of the Khalis group, would visit ISI-led Islamic Madrassahs such as the Darol Ul Haqqania in Akora Khattak, Nowshera district, to seek knowledge and education in implementing what the author would refer to as “Arabisation through radical Islamic doctrine”. In addition Younis Khalis formed a group that was against obscenity that went the name of “Hebz-Tawabin” in Ningrahar and Kabul. Younis Khalis also had a weekly magazine entitled “Gaheez” in 1968, which was used to produce materials in support of a radical Islamic system. Again, he was funded by and linked with the Aala-Al Maudoodi, then the Chief of Jama at-e-Islami in Pakistan.

The ISI knew very well, that if other Islamist groups were to emerge, they would find it very difficult to control and organise them, so they gave ultimatums that a failure to join one of the recognised Peshawar Seven groups would mean no weapons, and, without weapons and funding, the Islamists would be powerless in their Jihad against Afghanistan. The ISI developed a special cell by the name of the Afghan Bureau, which assisted and helped Islamist fighters in Afghanistan, provided those arms and weapons, and forged links with warehouses to provide constant supplies to bring about a radical Islamist revolution in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has two faces and suffers from self-denial; there have been countless times that Pakistan has denied any link or connection with Islamists in Afghanistan but then has been exposed. Pakistan would always deny it was arming Afghan refugees, and state that the fighters were in the tribal areas just to prevent it being seen to break any UN rules; however, everyone knew the Pakistanis were arming the Islamists, recruiting and brainwashing them in refugee camps through scare mongering tactics, and funding Islamists to spread propaganda. However, according to Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf of the Pakistani Army:

“During my four years some 80,000 Mujahedeen were trained, hundreds of thousands of arms and ammunition were distributed, several billion dollars were spent on this immense logistic exercise and ISI teams regularly entered Afghanistan alongside the Mujahedeen”. [1]

Pakistan remains a corrupt double dealer and two-faced hypocrite to this day. It is double dealing its own allies, on one hand taking dollars from the Americans, but on the other hand using those dollars to train suicide bombers to kill innocent Afghans through the Haqqani network and so to get even with India on Afghan soil.

Pakistan’s main goal in Afghanistan was to create a Pan Islamist entity, and a federation for which Pakistan’s Punjab would be the capital. US representative Wilson stated that the Pakistanis were committed to Hekmatyar as they predicted, just like Zia ul haq did, a world conflict between Muslims and Hindus. However, what makes the author astonished but not surprised is Zia Ul Haq’s plans to turn Afghanistan into another province. Wilson recalls Zia Ul Haq giving him a map “in which overlays indicated the goal of a confederation embracing first Pakistan and Afghanistan and eventually Central Asia and Kashmir”. [2]

The ISI was instrumental in forming these plans for a Pakistani-led confederation that would imperialise other countries in the region and radically Islamize their societies as a counter-strike against any rebellion against Pakistani control. Pakistan has a very long record of using Islam as a shield for its strategic interests in the region, and Afghanistan is a very good example of this.

The whole anti-Soviet war was not a war for the liberation of the Afghan people, but a war for ISI/Pakistan’s Islamic interests. Dr Marwat recalled an Islamist Afghan refugee leader stating the following:-

“We will try to make Pakistan and Afghanistan one country with a new name of Islamistan, and if not possible, then we will make a confederation of the two countries”[3]

Pakistan used radical Islamic beliefs and teachings to turn Afghanistan into a province so that if an attack by India occurred the Pakistanis would have easy access to station its troops and citizens in Afghanistan. The author feels that another reason why Pakistan required a defenceless Afghanistan to exploit was so that it could use the terrain and the people as proxies, or allow the establishment of militant groups for the liberation of Kashmir from India.

The traitorous and backward-minded sell-out Mullahs, not only supported taking anti-progressive measures, but also sold Afghanistan piece by piece to the Pakistanis. Even in May 1991 when the UN produced a five point peace plan for Afghanistan that promoted a ceasefire, fair elections and an end to all arms supplies, the bickering Mullahs and their Islamist supporters rejected the plan, and Hekmatyar requested the Pakistani government to formulate a new plan to satisfy the Mujahedeen. As usual, the Islamists begged Pakistan to defend them and their criminal ways.

To save its Islamist assets and secure Pakistan’s dominance over a future Afghanistan, in April 1992 Nawaz Sharif made the Peshawar Seven sign an accord to create a Mujahedeen government in Kabul. Nawaz Sharif, ISI general Nasir Ahmed, Army Chief of Staff General Asif Nawaz Janjuwa and Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal all came to show their support to this interim government.

The real reason for this interim government was to secure both Pakistani and Radical Wahabist Arab interests in Afghanistan. The ISI knew that uniting the factions under a pan-Islamist ideology with allegiance to Pakistan would prevent the bickering Mullahs from fighting one another. However, as usual, the author feels the Mullahs were only interested in money, as Nawaz Sharif gave President Mujaddedi a cheque for 250 million rupees.

As time progressed, the accord failed due to infighting and constant bickering on who should be involved in sharing power; the Islamists had no idea nor knowledge of how to run a country, in the same way the Taliban had no understanding nor knowledge of how to run Afghanistan during the 90s. Due to this disturbance, on 7th March 1993 the Pakistanis, Saudis and Iranians brought all the Mujahedeen leaders to Islamabad, Pakistan to sign a power sharing plan called the Islamabad accord.

The Peshawar Seven/Islamists proved to be useless leaders and men of no value with regard to making Afghanistan stable and strong. The Afghan people, especially the refugees, were mistreated and forced to join the Peshawar Seven. People in most camps were required to become a member of one of the Peshawar Seven groups to be entitled to an identity and ration card from the Afghan refugee’s commissionrate. These were later called the “ration card parties” and they were led by Maliks/Mullahs who made money on the miseries of the Afghan people.

Pakistan’s intentions towards Afghanistan have always been cruel and self-centred. According to Dr Qaudir Amiryar, a professor at George Washington University, Pakistan supported the radical islamization of Afghanistan and favoured the Islamists, while rejecting the Secularist/Nationalists; they resorted to rejecting their visas and even denied a visa to King Zahir Shah.

The ISI could not see Kabul in peace or modernised. Most of the American aid destined for the Islamists went straight into the pockets of the Punjab/ISI elite in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Zia Ul Haq made it quite clear, that all American assistance to the Mujahedeen/Islamists should go directly through Pakistan alone. Pakistan used the aid first to modernise and strengthen its army along the Indian-Pakistani border and secondly to provide a share of the aid to its most favoured Islamist elements in Afghanistan.

The ISI was never an organisation that wanted to see Afghanistan in peace; in fact the same General Akhtar Abdur Rahman of the ISI stated that “Kabul must burn”.[4] The ISI’s intention was to secure a future Islamist Afghanistan that would be recruited to serve the interests of Pakistan in the name of Islam and Al Jihad, even though most of Pakistan was living a different lifestyle to the one proposed and promoted by the ISI in Afghanistan. The ISI needed its Islamist assets to counterattack Secularism/Pashtun Nationalism in Afghanistan. It supported Islamist culture, such as suicide bombing camps, public lashings for minor crimes and the abolishment of indigenous culture and music, while Pakistan itself promoted a different kind of lifestyle on its own soil, with hardly any rebellion or objection from the Islamist parties, such as JUI which was more focused on destroying the well-being of Afghans than Pakistanis.

More years went by and peace was never brought to the land of Afghanistan. The same Mujahedeen, which had claimed at the start that is was bringing liberty to the Afghan people, started fighting one another for power. The ISI and other agencies were the main orchestrators of the mess, especially during the civil war. Pakistan’s Afghan policy started to face many problems, one being unaccomplished missions and another being the expense of funding particular under-performing proxies.

Hekmatyar and Dostum failed to capture Kabul and it eventually became too expensive for the Pakistanis to fund their activities. Rabbani become difficult to overthrow in Kabul and had sided with the Iranians, Russians and India. With the Kashmir front also being fought for by the ISI and the Pakistanis, the ISI found it difficult to organise its proxies and keep them intact due to the fact that most of the aid from the West stopped after the end of the Cold War. Pakistan had successfully destroyed Afghanistan, dismantled its infrastructure and turned its people into its “Jihadis of fortune”.

With the on-going dispute between Ahmed Shah Masood and Pakistan over aid and arms, the Pakistanis were in desperate need to formulate a new strategy to keep its influence intact in Afghanistan. This new strategy was the Taliban. The ISI, with the assistance of the JUI party, started to recruit young boys from well-known Islamist Madrassahs all over Pakistan; Darol ul Haqqani/Binori Masjid being one of the main recruiting centres.

Pakistan also started creating divisions by ethnicity and couldn’t resist turning the conflict into a Pashtun vs. Tajik war. The author can recall how Pakistanis used false propaganda and scare mongering tactics about a decline in Pashto usage in Afghanistan and the country being ruled by minorities. This spread into the minds of gullible Pashtuns all over the Pashtun region, but in fact it was Pakistan that had reduced Pushto’s importance by replacing it with Urdu in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This is the same Pakistan that armed the non-Pashtuns under Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Masood to counter Pashtun Nationalism. Now the tides had turned in a different direction and the ISI took full advantage of it.

The Taliban followed a radical Islamist ideology that brought Afghanistan back into Pakistan’s sphere of influence. Most of the Northern Alliance realised, regardless of its Islamist past, that Pakistan was a double dealer and an untrustworthy friend. Former assets of Pakistan within the Peshawar Seven started to turn their guns on Pakistani interests, which led to Pakistan’s ISI trying to find some way to take control once again. The Taliban, under the pretext of “bringing peace and order”, was assigned the likes of Col Imam and Col Faizan by the ISIS to assist Taliban military gains and to take control of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

However, the author feels, there was another reason why the ISI and the Pakistanis invented the Taliban that the media and most readers never discuss; to show this, the author would like to point out the events that took place after Kandahar was taken by the Taliban. During the Zia Ul Haq government, Zia himself had always dreamed of an Islamist union with Pakistan as the leader, as mentioned earlier. Zia ul Haq really wanted to provide Pakistan with access to Central Asia, especially through the trade that goes through Afghanistan. The author feels the purpose of the Taliban was to secure this trade route through Afghanistan, as well as bringing order and preventing attacks from rivals or enemies of Pakistani interests.

General Babar, who was a Pakistani commander in the frontier corps, was the man who developed the Afghan trade development cell that had the task of facilitating a trade route to Central Asia. However, the author feels that Pakistan favoured its own economic interests over the so called peace they claim to have brought to Afghanistan through the Taliban. Pakistan was very much involved in projects in Afghanistan such as Pakistani Telecom setting up a microwave telephone network for the Taliban in Kandahar, which then became part of the Pakistani telephone grid.

Civilian Pakistani engineers from the Public Works Department and the water/power development authority worked on making road repairs and supplying electricity to Kandahar. Pakistan was once again, working to integrate Kandahar as a Pakistani city by providing development packages; however, the Pakistan Army was also involved, and was tasked to help the Taliban set up an internal wireless network for its commanders in the field. The PIA (Pakistani International Airlines) and the PAF (Pakistani Air Force) sent technicians to Kandahar airport to repair it along with the MIG fighter jets and helicopters captured by the Taliban.

When the Taliban captured Herat, the Pakistanis became joyful and decided to send a ten-man team led by the Director-General of the Afghan Trade Development Cell by road from Quetta to Turkmenistan. Those with him included men from the civil aviation, Pakistan Telecom, PIA, Pakistan Railways, Radio Pakistan and the National Bank of Pakistan. The individuals and their ministries were encouraged to fund and support the Taliban from their budgets.

The author feels the Pakistanis used the Taliban to extend their influence into Central Asia through an Islamist ideology. The Pakistanis knew very well that the society would become weak due to religious conflict, and with a Pakistani presence in the region they could somehow enter the politics and social life of the inhabitants through the name of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the Pakistanis have their own interests, and couldn’t care less whose lives they destroy. Pakistan aimed to imperialise Afghanistan, and make Afghanistan dependent on its projects and development packages, and sooner or later planned to fully integrate it as a province led by Islamists.

Those vile and gullible supporters of Taliban must realise the Taliban were/are proxies of the Pakistani ISI and government. If NATO had not disrupted the Taliban network and operations in the region, the whole of Afghanistan would have become another province of Pakistan flooded by Islamist elements from abroad.

Pakistan armed, supported and provided assistance to the Taliban from its creation and throughout its time ruling Afghanistan; now one must ask what if NATO had not attacked the Taliban? What would the policy of the Taliban towards Pakistan be? Pakistan infected the fabric of Afghan society with the poisonous Islamist Ideology and anti progressive militancy. The Taliban supporters can use all the justifications they can come up with, but the fact remains that it was due to Pakistan that the Taliban become what they are today.


Amir Khan Maseed


Dr Fazal-Ur-Rahim Marwat. (2005). The Illusory "Peshawar Seven" Tanzimat (Parties). In: Dr Marwat From Muhajir to Mujahid. Peshawar: University of Peshawar. 59-99.

M. Hassan Kakar, Mohammed Kakar (1997). Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982. USA: University of California Press. 291.

William Maley (2001). Fundamentalism reborn?Afghanistan and the Taliban. UK: C. Hurst and Co Ltd. 84-86.

[1] Dr Fazal-Ur-Rahim Marwat. (2005). The Illusory "Peshawar Seven" Tanzimat (Parties). In: Dr Marwat From Muhajir to Mujahid. Peshawar: University of Peshawar. 59-99.

[2] Dr Fazal-Ur-Rahim Marwat. (2005). The Illusory "Peshawar Seven" Tanzimat (Parties). In: Dr Marwat From Muhajir to Mujahid. Peshawar: University of Peshawar. 59-99.

[3] Dr Fazal-Ur-Rahim Marwat. (2005). The Illusory "Peshawar Seven" Tanzimat (Parties). In: Dr Marwat From Muhajir to Mujahid. Peshawar: University of Peshawar. 59-99.

[4] M. Hassan Kakar, Mohammed Kakar (1997). Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982. USA: University of California Press . 291.

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