Writing about Afghanistan is difficult even for those who are there and are in touch with the people on all sides of the divide. The real analysts of Afghanistan are never foolhardy and keep their views and idea before people with caution and trepidation because Afghanistan has been in a flux since at least last four decades. The power there has changed hands often and mostly violently so the division, discord and disaffection is not only acute but is also pernicious and virulent. You cannot expect love and compassion where flames of hate have been fanned long and vigorously by so many who did not have love for Afghan people in their heart or peace there in their interest. Afghanistan has been a victim of not only its geography but also of its history; interests of overbearing powers and their factotums have simply compounded the misery of the Afghan people.
I know not much about Afghanistan and do not claim to be knowledgeable about the political and military situation there and all that I know is by reading writers like Abubakar Siddique Sahib and Mohammad Taqi Sahib. What I have is a spiritual affinity and love for the people and land because I spent 13 years of my life as a guest, along with thousands of other Baloch mostly Marris, of Afghan people from 1978 to 1991.
These years were the most turbulent and momentous years of Afghanistan’s history as they changed the course of Afghanistan nay of the world permanently. I went to Afghanistan in June 1978, walking from Dulai to Shorawak in four days and this was soon after the Saur Revolution of April 1978. The first three years I spent in the camp in mountains of Apo Tangi in Zabul Wilayat (province) and the other ten just outside Lashkargah in the ruins of ‘Qilla Kuhna’ near the airport which was then the largest camp of the Soviet Army in Helmand.
Though I hardly ventured away from the camps we lived in because I looked after the medical and educational needs of the people. However, I happened to be in Kabul at times for which many would have willingly given an arm and leg for. I was in Kabul on the 27th of December 1979 the day Hazeezullah Amin was ousted and witnessed from afar the fighting that raged at the Interior ministry and the radio station as we lived in old Mikroyan in Block 10 in apartments 26 and forty. I had to spend my birthday on 31st December in the district jail Kabul because over enthusiastic party cadres refused to believe that we were guests of the people and not ‘Ashrars’ as they termed us. I was on the outskirts of Kabul on the 29th of February 1980 when the people of Kabul expressed their resentment at the Soviet involvement. I suppose hardly anyone will have seen till now the number of flares that were dropped over Kabul that night to lighten up the places where people were protesting. We entered the city the next morning where pall of smoke hung heavy and the gunpowder smell was pungent. A Sindhi friend felt so insecure in the hotel he was in, he came to stay with us.
I am not gregarious by nature and moreover, I have never had an inclination to meet people in power and if ever have met it was either for the courtesy sake or accompanying someone. I met Hafeezullah Amin before he grabbed power, I met Dr. Najeebullah a couple of times when he was minister of security and once after he became President. I met Asadullah Sarwari, he was chief of Khad, at Darul Aman Palace after Babrak Karmal became the President. Aziz Asaas and Umar Rawand were our neighbours in Mikroyan. My meeting with officials was infrequent also because I was mostly at camp and there Mahmood Baryalay brother of Babrak Karmal and Aslam Watanjar visited once.
We the Baloch guests of Afghan people were well looked after by our Afghan hosts despite the difficult situation they were in because of the aggression by US, Pakistan, Europe and Arab states. We got a monthly stipend and flour etc which were delivered at the camp and occasionally household things were provided too. The life certainly not easy more so at Apo Tangi; while in Lashkargah people did odd jobs there or traded goats and sheep.
Our people were targeted by the so-called Mujahideens and quite a few Baloch travelling on buses were picked up and killed, our vehicles were ambushed, rockets were fired upon on our camps, shepherds tending flocks were attacked. While we were at Apo Tangi we were surrounded by the Mujahideens and as trucks could not bring the flour, it had to be brought by helicopters. It was after this blockade that we were shifted to Lashkargah in trucks provided by the government. Though the Baloch were never involved in any action against the Mujahideens but they considered us enemies and this was not something random. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had created the Afghan cell in 1974-75 with the express purpose of countering the Afghan help to Baloch. The initial flame of Afghan fire of death and destruction was lit then and today that conflagration is seemingly beyond anyone’s control. Despite US efforts, the progress towards peace and security has been slow and sketchy.
In spite of my stay there and my spiritual affinity to Afghanistan and Afghan people I think I do not really qualify to write about Afghanistan but am writing at insistence of some Afghan friends and hope that what I will make some sense.
Without peace in Afghanistan there will be no peace in the region and world; this chaos and turmoil is the outcome of the world powers and their stooges thinking that they know what is best for the Afghan people. Had the world left the Saur Revolution alone the world would have been a different place with no Osama bin Ladens and possibly no war on terror but it was not to be. Pakistan had already started nurturing the Islamists with vengeance to deploy them against Afghan government. The USA wanting to get even for its humiliation in Vietnam began a fire that now it has been trying for more than a decade to extinguish. The Arabs wanted their brand of Islam to triumph over everything and poured in money and men not knowing that eventually the chickens will come home to roost; the Islamic State genesis dates from that period. Both the West and the Arab states are today reaping the seeds they sowed then. “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”.
Living opposite the airfield and the Soviet army camp we got to see a lot of action in form of Katyusha rockets being fired, MIG fighter planes in action across the Helmand River. A few times there came innumerable helicopter gunships and transport helicopters for offensive in Marjah, Nad-e-Ali, Sangin and other places. I regret not having a camera with a good lens then to take pictures. The point is that in spite of such major operations the Soviet army failed. Force alone has never won a victory.
Peace in Afghanistan will not come as a result of use of military power because this power like in the 70s and 80s is being countered by those who have interest in destabilizing peace and the irony of it all is that now the USA is facing a situation that it had desired and created for Soviet Union, but at cost of Afghan people. Pakistan like then is now too against peace in Afghanistan then it was for dollars and countering the Afghan support for Baloch and now it is for their warped policy of ‘strategic depth’ and countering the Indian influence in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan fate, because of warped interests of regional and international players, has been left for others to decide and expecting the foxes to tend the chicken coop is positively dangerous and has been lethal for Afghan people. This simply means that unless the Afghan people decide to unite and start looking after their own interests as their primary concern and priority there will never be peace in Afghanistan. This, however, doesn’t mean that there should be unity and peace at all cost. For Afghanistan to bring about peace and with it prosperity for the people the regressive forces will have to be countered under whatever garb they may present themselves. They always make peace overtures to gain time and regroup.
The myth that the opposition to the progressive Afghan governments since the Saur Revolution is to resists foreign intervention due to their love of motherland and Afghan people. This doesn’t really hold water for if a foreign intervention was a detestable thing why was US, Pakistani, Arab help taken in the 70s and 80s and why now is the Pakistani and Arab involvement welcome. It is not the love for land but is the serving of interests be they political, economic or religious of those who purport to be friends. Compromising with these will never bring peace in Afghanistan; forces of regression cannot be expected to ever stand up for the progress of people.
Force as I said above has never been a reason of victory anywhere so expecting that USA’s military help will solve the problem it was instrumental in creating in first place is futile but this also doesn’t mean that US should leave Afghanistan; they should be there to help solve the problem they created. Leaving Afghanistan to its fate at this juncture will only endanger world peace and stability even more as Pakistan and Arab rulers want their political and religious influence to guide the destiny of Afghan people.
All Afghans who love Afghanistan and have a stake in it will have to unite not only to physically resist the forces of regression but also strive to create an ethos and an environment in which forces of progress and peace can flourish and gain strength. The battle for Afghanistan will eventually be won or lost on this front and not on the military front. To ensure that this battle and the military battle is won decisively it is essential for the Afghans and the world to realize that unless the clout that Pakistan and Arab rulers have is neutralized there will never be peace in Afghanistan.
Afghan people deserve peace after relentless chaos, turmoil, travails, death, destruction, displacement, agony, anguish, sorrow, woe and tragedy inflicted upon them since 1978 by the USA, Pakistan, Soviet Union for their own interests under plea of helping Afghans, the Arab rulers in name of Islam and those Afghans who served all enemies of Afghan people ostentatiously in name of patriotism. However this peace is not only the responsibility of Afghan people it also is duty of all people across the world who love this planet and the humanity that inhabits it. This duty also entails an unrelenting effort to weaken and eventually destroy the forces of regression by marginalizing them socially, economically, politically and of course militarily. I wish victory, peace and harmony for the Afghan people and also all those who are resisting neo-colonialism and oppression all over the world.
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has written for ‘Newsline’, ‘The Reporter’ (a monthly from Hyderabad), The Dawn, The News and wrote for ‘Daily Times’ for three years 2010-2013 and restated in 2015. Most of these articles can be accessed on Play Google @ Ustad Talpur. The articles written for Daily Times were translated into Arabic for Baloch in Gulf by Ahmed Yaqoub and Salah Albalushi and has been published as a book under the title of “The Baloch Awakening: Essays on the Baloch Question. He participated in the Long March led by Mama Abdul Qadeer Baloch the Vice-Chairman of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons and marched with Mama and brave Baloch ladies for 26 days. The March itself was completed in 106 days.
Now, he is a Research Fellow at the Strategic Center for International Relations and a member of Editorial Board of its quarterly publication.
The Afghan Tribune | Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur | Published: April 12, 2016, 12:14 AM