Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Inside story of US policy in Afghanistan after Soviet takeover

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Inside story of US policy in Afghanistan  after Soviet takeover

From the beginning of Soviet intervention in December 1979, the United States of America  compounded  the whole issue in Afghanistan. It used Islamic fundamentalism to counter Soviet communism. To fight Soviet–style atheism, US policy–makers did not hesitate to use religion for political ends–the Catholic Church in Central America and Islam in Afghanistan. In other words, Islam was employed to unite the Muslim world and spur the spirit of Jihad against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The US–led military campaign in Afghanistan was fuelled by succeeding American administration. The Reagan Doctrine of arming anti–communist freedom fighter in places such as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Nicaragua sanctified the doctrine of low–intensity conflict. By funnelling billions of dollars, worth of arms through conduit states and their agencies, Washington allowed the conduits to bring into play their own interests, biases and rivalries. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan was followed by General Zia’s agreement with the US in 1981 for a strategic relationship. As it was concluded in the background of Afghan crisis, it made Islamabad a major recipient of US economic and military assistance. After a gap of over a decade, the Pakistani military was able to support an ambitious modernisation programme involving the introduction of some of the latest weapon system into the forces and the acquisition of advanced military technology.
Long -term effects on Pak-Afghan society
With the eruption of crisis in Afghanistan, thousands of refugees sought sanctuary in Pakistan from Soviet air raids. The Government of Pakistan had every reason to be worried about the Afghan refugees. They began to create troubles. The use of Pakistan as a base by several Afghan guerilla organisations and the arrival of millions of Afghan refugees have helped aggravate internal strife. Western nations have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sophisticated weapons through Pakistan to the Afghan rebels, but the large quantities of the supplies have found their way into underground Pakistani arms markets. Elements in the Pakistani army police and the refugee administration are still operating scams to sell weapons and relief supplies for personal gains.In that covert US war against the Soviet Union and a series of Soviet-backed regimes in Afghanistan, the USA chose Afghan religious extremists as their allies. Hand picked by Pakistan’s Inter–Services Intelligence agency from among Pakistan–based Afghan dissidents and refugees, trained by the Pakistani military and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and given generous US military assistance, the Mujahideen (Holy Warriors) waged a Jihad against the government in Kabul and its Soviet allies. During this period, the CIA also recruited thousands of volunteers from states in the Middle East and North Africa–including Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to join the Mujahideen. Motivated by religious zeal and the sight of fellow Muslims fighting against the mighty Red Army, these volunteers eagerly underwent military training and joined the Jihad.
The Islamic Jihad, like any other multinational is now a global entity. Thanks to these men, and to the heroism of the Mujahideen and the Afghan people and also to the Stingers, Western and Muslim money, the Red Army, the most powerful military force on Earth, was stopped and turned back. Followed by the death of General Zia in August 1988 in an air crash, the Soviet take over in Kabul formally ended in February 1989. The Afghans won the war but lost the peace. Jealously, tribalism and the lust for power very soon replaced by the holy war. it was a demoralising spectacle; humankind at its lowest ebb; politics as usual. At the other end, the Soviet withdrawal marked the end of an era.
Position of post-withdrawal Afghanistan
In the post–Afghan period, though Pentagon helped during 1992-95, with the movement of thousands of Mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia, even some Turks, in Europe to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs, a large number of Afghan Mujahideens became irrelevant to the US. Once the Afghan Jihad was over, the Generals did not know what to do with the fighters being turned out by the madrassas. But the United States of America was largely responsible for blocking peaceful transition of power in post–Soviet phase in Afghanistan. Its weapons and other aid created a pro-US element that had come to haunt regional and international security. These elements were fattened by the ISI at the expense of US tax–payers. Further it was a White House ceremony attended by some bearded and turbaned Afghan guerillas in the mid 1980s that Reagan proclaimed Mujahideen such as Osama bin Laden as the ‘moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers’ of the United States. When Soviet tanks started rolling out of Afghanistan, the Americans too pulled out without installing their nominee in Kabul. The chaos and bloodshed that followed only helped Pakistan to make Afghanistan its colony.
Marked global effects of US policy
In the period of US–led war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and thereafter Islamabad knew it well that the United States interest in Pakistan stemmed less from a concern for the security of this area and more from its own global strategy. This interest would wax or wane with changes in Washington’s perception of Moscow’s designs in the region. Hence, should either the Russians withdraw from Afghanistan or the two super powers agree to a détente in Europe or there be a change of heart between Washington and New Delhi, the American interest in Pakistan would decline. In fact, Pakistan used its participation in the covert US operation not so much to rout the Soviet forces in Afghanistan as to strengthen its military position against India and to favour Afghan guerilla groups based in Peshawar. Islamabad easily pushed its agenda because the United States had accepted its condition that the ISI control the weapons flow and select the arms recipients. Before Pakistan one option was to turn them into private militias and to use them to terrorise Pakistan’s minorities. The other, more attractive alternative, was to export them to Kashmir to try and repeat the so-called Afghan Jihad.
On the other there was no doubt in the fact that the Islamic victory in Afghanistan ignited the new Intifada. Muslims across the world were elated, emboldened and made proud by the victory over Soviet Union in Afghanistan by Islamic faith and ardour, many Muslim reasoned, they could just as well liberate themselves from oppressive regimes, the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon, Indian misrule in Kashmir, Catholic oppression in the Philippines, or Russia’s brutal repression of the Caucasus. Disgusted by the bloody mess in Afghanistan, many Mujahideen turned their attention outside Afghanistan. A year after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, rebellion erupted in India–held Kashmir. As the Afghan war veterans took their war outside Afghanistan, the security of the United States, several Muslim states, the Philippines, China and Russia came under pressure. But many thought the greatest impact of the movement of these men was felt in South Asia. India particularly began to identify itself as bearing the burnt of the terrorist acts perpetrated by Islamic militants. Indeed Pakistan has been identified by many as ‘waging a war by proxy in India–held Kashmir through Islamic militants. Pakistan itself has been wracked terrorist acts brought about by religious extremism and the drug trade, both a fall–out of the Afghan war.

Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head of P.G.Department of Political Science in BNMU, West Campus at Bihar, India. He can be reached at rajkumarsinghpg@yahoo.com

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