The collapse of the Afghan peace talks may have created a ripple of excitement among the war-mongers sitting in the power corridors of Washington but it has affected millions of Afghans who have...
The collapse of the Afghan peace talks may have created a ripple of excitement among the war-mongers sitting in the power corridors of Washington but it has affected millions of Afghans who have seen nothing in the last four decades but death, destruction and bloodshed.
The Afghans have been a victim of rampant corruption of their ruling elite, strategic machinations of neighbours and the great game of big powers. They have already suffered a lot. First the country was turned into a battleground for the interest of big powers. Millions of people were lured into believing that Najibullah was an agent of infidels. The ex-Afghan president was portrayed as a devil who wanted to promote debauchery, obscenity and un-Islamic values. But his supporters pointed out that he carried out land reforms, promoted education by building more than 22 higher educational institutions, banned child marriage and put an end to the interest system that had turned the lives of peasants into a hell.
The Afghan people, and Muslims all over the world, were told that the fight in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion was a battle between Islam and infidels. Clerics were tasked all over the Muslim world to propagate that Islam was in danger in Afghanistan and a holy war was needed to save the religion.
But today even the enemies of Najibullah admit that it was a war waged by the US and the West to settle scores with the Soviet Union. It is widely believed that the US started training Afghan and global jihadists in 1980 but the former director of the CIA Robert Gates revealed in his memoirs ‘From the Shadows’ that they had started aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. It was a calculated move to prompt the Soviets to intervene in the country so that the US could win what it had lost in Vietnam.
In an interview to a French publication, former US secretary of state Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski also admitted that the mujahideen started receiving training six months before the Soviet invasion. Since the so-called Afghan Jihad and the indoctrination of hate that it imparted played havoc with the world in general and Muslim countries in particular, it is important to reproduce some of the parts of the interview.
“Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [‘From the Shadows’], that American intelligence services began to aid the mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
“Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
“Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
“B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
“Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
“B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
“Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
“B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems [sic] or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”
This confession makes it clear that what was projected as a war between Islam and others was in fact revenge for the humiliating defeat that the US suffered in Vietnam at the hands of the Vietcong with the support of Moscow. But it is unfortunate that millions of Afghans were used as cannon fodder for this war. The invasion claimed 15000 Soviet soldiers’ lives besides wounding 35000 troops but for the Afghans it was utter destruction. Around two million innocent civilians were engulfed by the war while millions were maimed or wounded. Several other millions had to flee the country, seeking refuge in Pakistan, Iran and other parts of the world.
The ruthless killing and destruction did not end with the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. The mujahideen first fought against the Najib government after the withdrawal of the USSR until 1992 and later turned towards one another in a bid to capture power. Kabul, which was more or less intact until 1989, rattled with terrible attacks.
The mujahideen of yesterday were now slaughtering each other in the name of religion. Interestingly even after the demise of the ‘infidel government’ in 1992, the fight remained unabated. According to some estimates 50,000 civilians perished in Kabul alone. No amount of religious sermons could stop the havoc. The definition of Muslim was further narrowed down and any group that did not accept the authority of another group was declared heretic or infidel.
This game of death and destruction continued until the rise of the Taliban who established peace of the graveyard in the war-torn country.
The writer is a freelance journalist.