This article by Mohammad Ahsan, a journalist from Afghanistan gives an insight into how Taliban won the confidence of Afghan people and came to power ruling the country for five years before being toppled by the US-led coalition forces in 2001. It also shows what the natives feel about Taliban, the NATO, Pakistan and the Afghan government.--Editor
By Mohammad Ahsan
Since 2006, the Taliban have successfully regrouped and reorganized to give a tough time to Afghan government and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Now, Taliban are actively involved in creating security constraints covering more geography of Afghanistan. Durand line regions are their epicenter for recruiting, training and commanding their fighters. Our neighbors have been accused of giving financial and technical assistance to Taliban. But these countries have time and again denied such accusations saying they support peace, reconstruction and democratic processes in Afghanistan.
Whatsoever! It is necessary to know the secret of Taliban’s success keeping aside the issue of assistance by neighbors. Before the present image and meaning of Taliban, the word Talib was perceived positively. Talib is a student of religious schools called Madrassa who after studying for certain years will become an Islamic clergy called Mullah. In the past there was much respect for Mullahs. However, their involvement in politics and activities other than religion has brought a significant decrement in their fame among the people who have a little bit of know-how. In last two decades the meaning of Talib has completely changed. By hearing the name of Talib, images of brutality and killings appears on one’s mind.
Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until they were toppled in late 2001 by US-led coalition forces. They had been able to have a firm control over 90 percent of Afghanistan. They accomplished this success in a very short span of time by gaining the trust of a large portion of Afghan population. 99.9 percent of Afghanistan stands to be Muslims. Before occupying an area or fighting, the Taliban used to present the holly book of Islam, the Quran to the people of that area and would tell them, ‘would you people fight Quran?’ The people had no say and were bent towards Taliban allowing them to enter their towns, districts and provinces. After finding hold over capital Kabul, the real face of Taliban started becoming visible to people.
They were tyrant and completely against the human rights. They acted completely against the humanity and Islamic codes by killing tens of thousands of Afghans especially in central parts and Northern provinces of Afghanistan. Towards the end of nineteenth century out of fourteen million refugees around the world, 5 million were Afghans forming more than one third of all refugees. The life of these refugees was very concerning. No one could dare to return to Afghanistan fearing the brutality of Taliban. After the fall of Taliban, a major number of Afghans have returned home but still millions of Afghans are living abroad. Their condition in countries like Iran has been of great concern.
Today the Taliban are morally strong. If they have not been successful in overthrowing the government, for sure they have succeeded to compel the Afghan government to invite them for talks. At this position the rigid Taliban regime will never show readiness for talks without complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, power sharing and probably reimplementation of Shria Law. On their side, the people of Afghanistan have already made views clear to government and countries backing President Karzai’s reconciliation program. They would never allow government to compromise on the Afghan constitution and share power with Taliban leaders. So what is the way out? The government of Afghanistan has to make the Afghans who are on Taliban’s side understands that they have been deceived and that the Taliban are not their friends. Media campaigns to defend preaches by Taliban should be intensified. The people should be motivated to help the government identify the terrorists who are hiding among them and emphasize on making them understand that their efforts would mean decrement in civilian deaths and improvement in security situation. Already such schemes have been initiated by Afghan government and NATO on radio and TV channels. This should be made sure these messages reach the people who have been betrayed and distracted.
In order to demoralize Taliban, they should be pressurized. The planned operation for Kandahar must ensure success against Taliban. The NATO and Afghan forces should have the same kind of operations in their mind for other provinces which are influenced much by Taliban. According to Afghan Ministry of Interior, only nine out of 364 provinces of Afghanistan are safe. Many of the districts are fully or partially controlled by Taliban and no office of government can function in them. If security has improved in Kabul, it should be enhanced in other provinces too. No peace process can become successful until and unless the momentum of Taliban is reversed. Trust of the people is vital factor to ensure the Taliban do not come back to the areas that are cleaned up as a result of military operations. The priority and the promise of Afghan government and NATO to Afghans have been immediately kicking off reconstruction works after military operations – this should be made practical. None of the Afghans want the return of Taliban. They do not want to lose what they have achieved so far since 2001. But failure of government to ensure security and provide justice to Afghans would largely benefit the Taliban.
Source: Daily Outlook Afghanistan