By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
Military operation codenamed Rah-e-Nijat launched against Mehsud inhabited South Waziristan in October 2009 dismantled base of Hakimullah Mehsud. He and his followers slipped into neighboring tribal agencies of North Waziristan (NW), Orakzai and Kurram. The ones hiding in Shawal ridges close to Afghan border when chased crossed over to Paktika and later to Kunar. Hakimullah converted mountainous Mamozai in upper Orakzai Agency into his new command & control HQ. It suited him to coordinate militancy in Khyber Agency through Tirah Valley, sectarian ridden Kurram Agency and NW since he had served as commander of these agencies less NW. Taliban under Tariq Afridi in Darra Adam Khel shifted to Orakzai. A military operation in Orakzai in 2010 forced Hakimullah to first move to NW and then to Kunar wherefrom he is engaged in cross border attacks. Maulana Fazlullah who had fled from Peochar in Swat as a result of Operation Rah-e-Rast in May 2009 is now operating from Nuristan. Peace has been restored in Kurram and Mohmand Agencies through focused military operations and cross border attacks in Dir, Mohmand, Chitral curtailed by deploying troops.
Militants of all hues have poured into NW and have got married up with TTP. Miranshah is the largest town of NW and hub center of economic activity. Hafiz Gul Bahadar heading Ahmadzai Wazir tribe is the largest tribe which has stuck to peace deal since August 2008 and has refrained from targeting military or government targets. Dawars are associated with Ahmadzais and are by and large friendly with Army. Zadran tribesmen are found in NW and Jalaluddin who belongs to this tribe has his house in Miranshah where his family resides since mid 1980s. Several members of his family were struck down by drones. In line with overall policy of Afghan Taliban, they refrain from hitting targets inside Pakistan and have left this job to Pakistani Taliban and other local militant groups.
Till recent, Sirajuddin, one of the sons of Jalaluddin with his followers was stationed in NW but since NW has become a very dangerous place because of barrage of drone strikes and proactive role of Pak security forces, he has opted to move to a relatively safer pasture across the border. Sirajuddin in his BBC interview categorically denied involvement of Haqqani network (HN) in murder of Rabbani. He said that all attacks were planned and ordered by Islamic Emirate’s Military Council and not a single attack had ever been executed by his group at its own. He dispelled the notion that ISI was linked with HN and said it was a propaganda aimed at discrediting his group. He said that by terming HN as a separate entity, the US intends to divide and weaken Taliban. He also disclosed that several Muslim and non-Muslim countries including the US contacted them and persuaded them to get detached from Mullah Omar and become part of Karzai government. He added that they are being induced in several ways but since all their offers have been rejected, in retaliation the US has branded their group as HN and declared it as most dangerous and most wanted.
If Haqqanis were non-Afghans and attacking targets in Afghanistan or elsewhere, or were involved in 9/11, they could be held accountable. Majority of Afghans don’t even know if 9/11 occurred. Haqqanis are blue-blooded Afghan Pathans who had played an important role in liberating their country from Soviet forces. They had come in good books of USA owing to their outstanding performance in the battlefield. The US military is in illegal occupation of Afghanistan since 2001 and its leadership is still in no mood of vacating it. Haqqanis have fallen from grace of USA since they are waging a Jihad against them and refusing to betray Mullah Omar and agree to the hpw US formula of peace.
The US leadership is locked in tricky negotiations with Kabul over a strategic partnership beyond 2014. While the US outwardly insists it doesn’t want permanent military bases in Afghanistan, the Afghans are skeptical of its motives and believe it is keen to hold on to Bagram airbase, which can house up to 30,000 troops and security contractors. Hawks in US military joined by CIA, corporations and security contractors have got too used to big money earned through drugs, reconstruction and arms supply. They are pressing Obama administration to extend the stay minimum till 2017 and preferably till 2024.
Occupation forces of 49 countries have ruined Afghanistan in their bid to subdue resistance forces, caused deaths to tens of thousands and displaced huge numbers from their homes. They are now imposing irrational conditions upon Taliban to end the war, which they had unjustly started. The US led ISAF has no moral ground to stay in Afghanistan, play unholy game of categorizing Afghans as reconcilable and irreconcilable, branding local Jihadis as terrorists and killing them on mere suspicion and sparing collaborators by declaring them as friendly. They have no right to create divisions on ethnic lines and pitching one against the other.
Under the given circumstances, it is the moral right of every patriotic Afghan to resist the occupiers and push them out. Freedom fighters are justified to attack foreign targets in Afghanistan whenever opportunity comes their way. It is no easy job to attack the adversaries which are hugely stronger. Having taken extraordinary measures to keep themselves safe and secure, occupiers are chasing the militants like hungry wolves and are using all means to kill them. If both sides are fighting and killing each other, why is the US complaining that Taliban attack them? Don’t they know that Durand Line is porous, indefensible and cross border movement cannot be blocked? As long as ISAF stays in Afghanistan, it should expect attacks and must not grumble.
As far as Karzai regime and its security apparatus are concerned, Afghans siding with the aggressors are collaborators and fall in the category of traitors. They are principally responsible for the misfortunes of Afghanistan and its people. Unlike the Taliban who fought their way right up to Kabul at their own, Northern Alliance took the easy way of inviting outsiders and becoming party to the slaughter and destruction. Karzai heading a non-Pashtun government of feudal lords and drug barons is seen as a puppet of USA. He is looked down upon by Afghan Pashtuns as well as non-Pashtuns. It will not be possible for him to remain in power after the departure of foreign troops. Hence, unlike Nur al Maliki who took a firm stand that all foreign troops must vacate Iraq by end December 2011; Karzai is still in two minds and has reportedly given his tacit approval for extended stay of backup force of USA.
His regime has accepted western model constitution and democracy, well knowing that great majority of Afghans are conservative and religious and western system will be unacceptable to them. The US also must be realistic that it will be unworkable to impose western model upon deeply Islamic state of Afghanistan. Moreover, why should the Americans imprudently expect the winning Taliban to lay down their arms, knowing that every Afghan values his personal weapon as his most precious possession, which he will not part with even at the peril of his life! It was possible if the Taliban had been decisively defeated. Now that victory hope is out, it will be in fitness of things if the US stops playing dirty games and tricks, creating one Frankenstein monster after another, making lame excuses and blaming others by indulging in evil habit of lies and deceit. It should come clean and talk to the Taliban honestly without irrational demands and with an open heart.