Nasir Khan, Dec. 30, 2014
It is not what the Taliban stood for when they held power that any sane person could have sided with them and supported them with regard to their crude views of Islam and forcing it upon a war-weary people. But let’s see things in their political context to judge how they emerged as a political force.
They were able to take political power in Afghanistan easily because of US military and diplomatic support they received in their war against the Soviet forces that had come to uphold the socialist government in Afghanistan. They finished off the socialist regime in Kabul by the symbolic hanging of President Najibullah in the most savage manner. That signalled the shape of the things to come and the sort of theocratic system they had in store for the land. These mujahiddin, the Soldiers of God, that American policy-makers had groomed and used against the Soviet forces opened up a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history with their vision of a state based on the Sharia laws that had not the slightest regard to basic human needs of civilised behaviour and outlook.
But soon American policy in the region brought them in conflict with their major sponsor, the United States of America. When in 2001 America invaded and occupied Afghanistan, the whole political scenario underwent a drastic change. Now Afghanistan was under a foreign occupying power. A nascent movement of national resistance against the occupier started. Even those Afghans who had opposed the Taliban for their harsh policies and their primitive ways of imposing Islam when they were in power made a common cause with them to fight the occupiers. The puppet Karzai regime had to follow his masters. He had no leverage on American policy, ongoing war and frequent civilian deaths.
The US imperialists used barbaric methods to humiliate Afghan prisoners who were blind-folded and hooded before they put them on aeroplanes for transferring to Gitmo or other prisons around the world. President Bush and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld showed great cowardly chutzpah because they were able to impose their will upon a defenceless people and humiliate a proud people. What they didn’t take into account was Afghanistan’s old history. Foreign invaders like the Greeks, the Mongols and the British had occupied Afghanistan in the past but they were not able to maintain their occupation for long. The Afghans drove them out of their country. But was the same thing going to happen to American invaders? Or was the American occupation to be an exception in Afghan history because US was the greatest military power in human history and the world recognised ‘American exceptionalism’? What happened was something like this.
The Taliban became the leading voice of resistance. In this long American war American imperialists got bogged down in one of the most intractable militaristic quagmires from which they were not able to extricate themselves. The resistance continued against them and the Taliban never wavered in their determination to wear down the foreign occupiers. As we have seen in this 13 year war, they succeeded in doing exactly what they had aimed to do. American invaders and their international allies were tied down. Despite their overwhelming superiority in arms and armies Americans could only kill and terrorise but that didn’t stop the resistance and opposition to their occupation and war. New people continued to join the ranks of the Taliban in the warfare.
Now when the foreign forces are supposedly ending their active military operations, the Taliban are on the offensive and are targeting the forces of Afghan regime and its backers. They have not been defeated or weakened. American hegemon knows this fully well. The reason for their victory lies in the fact of leading a successful resistance by guerilla warfare against US military occupation and its military might.
How will things turn out in the coming months and years is difficult to tell. The Taliban may take power and oust the present regime. If that happens then the Taliban’s primitive version of theocracy will be imposed and the cycle of more disasters and oppression will gain a new lease of life.