Contact Us

Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times

Afghanistan Cross Road CNN

The last frontier

Bruce Richardson


CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas





Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


Abdul Haq: the Afghan commander who could have led to peace.
Source: Global Geneva By: Donatella Lorch September 24, 2018

On October 26, 2001, Abdul Haq, a renowned Afghan guerrilla, or mujahed, commander was captured by Arab Taliban in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Accused of spying, he was hanged and his body riddled with bullets before being dumped on a road. Even now, 17 years later, questions remain as to the exact time and circumstances of his death. And equally crucial, who was involved, including whether nearby U.S. special forces could have rescued him or not. What is known is that Abdul Haq – together with Ahmad Shah Masoud, one of the last remaining leaders resisting the Taliban, who was assassinated by Al-Qaida six weeks earlier on 9 September – had been negotiating for nearly two years with Talib commanders, many of them tired of Pakistani and Al-Qaida supporters’ dominance. By the end of summer, 2001, more than half were believed ready to change sides. While often uncomfortable rivals, both Haq and Massoud, one a Pashtun, the other a Tajik, were two of the country’s most influential and forward-thinking leaders. And yet both were largely ignored by the West. With Massoud’s death, it was up to Abdul Haq to continue the initiative. Former New York Times correspondent, Donatella Lorch, knew Haq well from covering the Soviet war and remained in close touch with him until his final days. She looks back at this extraordinary man who was the last hope to bring about an Afghan solution to this ugly conflict.

Abdul Haq. Photo: Courtesy Ed Grazda.

FOCUS on Afghanistan: 40 years of war. This is part of a special Global Geneva series on Afghanistan to be published in the November, 2018 – January 2019 print and e-edition.

I had called Abdul Haq from Washington D.C. a few days before he entered Afghanistan. Gone was his habitual jovialness and offbeat sense of humour that had marked our 14-year-friendship. He was frustrated by the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan that had just begun days earlier on 7 October 2001, and his conversation was marked by deep sighs.

“How can I convince Taliban commanders to defect and help create a new, peaceful government when they think America is going to invade?” he said.

I often think of Abdul Haq in the context of the many missed chances for a durable peace in Afghanistan. American bombing, he said over and over, would only tear apart his country. Only an Afghan solution, he believed, would be accepted by Afghans. That October, 2001, Abdul Haq, an unorthodox commander with a strong loyal following, had pleaded with his American contacts to briefly delay the start of the bombing. He needed more time to mobilize Taliban commanders. (Editor’s note: See Lucy Morgan-Edwards’ book, “The Afghan Solution: the inside story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and how Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan”).

Afghanistan’s war has now raged for nigh 40 years, ever since fighting against the communist regime in Kabul first broke out in the summer of 1978. Seventeen of these years have formally involved – and still involve – American soldiers (the U.S. first intervened with support of the mujahideen in mid-1979) but the conflict still grinds on. There is no clear exit. Nor is there any sign of a viable political or military solution despite renewed possibilities of talks between Washington and the Taliban.

Afghanistan: A litany of failed initiatives

Afghanistan is an unrelenting string of gut wrenching tragedies, of civilian and military lives lost, of misdirected, shortsighted, dysfunctional and failed international policies. Billions of dollars of military and international aid have fed a fragile government mired in corruption. Like his country, Abdul Haq’s narrative varies depending on who tells it: the U.S. military and its allies, the CIA, the Pakistan military intelligence service (ISI), the journalists…

But then, I think that Abdul Haq, even when he was maligned, understood the value of being an enigma. Unlike most other mujahed leaders, he knew how to fit into two worlds: the one of conservative tribal Afghanistan and the political realms of the western capitals.

Donatella Lorch (R) with mujahed fighter inside eastern Afghanistan. (Photo: Lorch)

I was 26 when I met Abdul Haq. He was 30. This was in 1988, by chance. Although over time, I have realized that nothing in Peshawar (the Pakistani border city with Afghanistan that served as headquarters for the main Afghan political resistance groups) really happened by chance.  I’d first seen him on one of those heroic-looking public relations posters printed by the mujahideen, a romantic headshot of a tanned, bearded young man with a headful of curly windblown brown hair framed against an Afghan mountain. The man I met was older. He’d lost his curls, his hair was fast thinning and he’d packed on weight.   

A maverick of independent thinking – and actions 

Born Humayun Arsala, his nom de guerre became Abdul Haq (servant of justice) but his men all referred to him reverentially as Haji Sahib (Haji denoting that he had been on the Haj or pilgrimage to Mecca). Abdul Haq was a Pashtun, born to a wealthy landed family in eastern Afghanistan that had close ties to the then Afghan King Zahir Shah exiled in Rome.  

He had a resumé as a maverick and as a strategist. As a teenager, Abdul Haq participated in four attempts to overthrow the Soviet-backed government of Mohammed Daoud. At 17, he was arrested and condemned to death. His family organized his escape by bribing the prison officials. By the time he was 21, Abdul Haq already had built a reputation as a talented commander by attacking the capital Kabul and running an underground network of spies and informers.  

Abdul Haq, an exceptional urban guerrilla strategist. (Photo: Courtesy Ed Grazda)

The year before I met him, Abdul Haq had walked on a landmine and lost the front half of his right foot. By then, he had already been wounded more than a dozen times, but the loss of mobility forced him out of the field, directing most of his operations from his Peshawar compound. When I first saw him, he was sitting cross-legged on a dark red pillow that ran the length of the wall in his compound. He was sipping green tea, rubbing the stump of his foot, and holding meetings with a room-full of turbaned, long-bearded men. He was a paradoxical man, which often left me baffled. He spoke English (peppered at times with drunken sailor vocabulary learned from a Dutch journalist) in a short, declaratory style.  He was candid at times to the point of rudeness. 

The United States: a dinosaur that steps on everyone 

He claimed to be uneducated, but then he’d delve into analyses of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the problems facing American farmers. A tradition-bound Muslim, he acquiesced to an arranged marriage but he talked of a female president for Afghanistan. He had visited the U.S. several times and had met President Ronald Reagan. In late 1987, he had gone to a Pittsburgh hospital to have his maimed foot operated and in June 1989, he would go to New York to address the United Nations. His analyses were blunt and uncannily real.  

“The U.S. is like a dinosaur,” he told me over tea one afternoon. “It’s a huge animal with a little brain that steps on everyone indiscriminately.” 

Abdul Haq liked to do everything with flair. He was a bear of a man who hurled himself into chairs, square and burly and balding with thick paw-like hands and a big round belly. French diplomats and relief agencies called him L’Ours, the bear. Our meetings were often over sweets and lengthy meals where he downed gallons of green tea and what he referred to as his one western vice: diet coke. He had a voracious appetite both for food and life.  

Hollywood ‘Haq’An outspoken critic of the CIA and ISI 

Donatella Lorch reporting for the New York Times during the late 1980s in eastern Afghanistan with Mohammed Shuaib, an Afghan who worked as interpreter and guide with many journalists. (Photo: Lorch)

In my two years based in Peshawar covering the resistance side of the war during the nearly decade-long Red Army occupation of Afghanistan, I travelled with his men to the outskirts of Kabul as they rocketed the capital. A few months later, in 1989, he had me smuggled into Kabul disguised as an Afghan woman to write about his underground network. I also witnessed meetings of major commanders in rebel-controlled areas. Abdul Haq was blunt and daring and gave me the impression of moving into the unsettling unknown with great pleasure. His men both in and out of his presence worshipped him. Though he had been one of the CIA’s main contacts in the early war years, he later became a vocal critic of both the Pakistani ISI and the CIA who nicknamed him “Hollywood Haq”. 

After the fall of Kabul in 1992, he briefly joined the new government but, sickened by the bloody and relentless inter-ethnic conflict, he moved to Dubai. In 1999 he joined with Ahmed Shah Massoud, the well-known Tajik commander, to try and unite the country’s many ethnic groups against the Taliban. This, both of them believed, was the only viable long-term path to peace. There could be only one solution: an Afghan one. Still, he never doubted the viciousness of his own opponents.  

“We may not know how to make computer chips,” he told me. “But we do know how to do one thing well. We know how to kill.” 

The Afghan government: a failed and corrupt leadership 

For almost two decades, my work life was linked to the Afghan conflict. Afghanistan was my first war. In the 1980s, I frequently interviewed Hamid Karzai, the country’s future president, though back then he was an immaculately-dressed mujahed spokesperson without any significant following. Many in the original pantheon of soullessly vicious Afghan warlords are now even more powerful, cruel, corrupt and more prominent in the present government. 

Much of this had been made possible by the fact that they had been co-opted early on by the CIA, who operated primarily through ISI, who favoured their ‘own’ mujahideen. The Americans provided the guerrillas with planeloads of millions of dollars in cash, weapons and ammunition. To avoid breaking U.S. law, ammunition and weapons had to be delivered (often air-dropped) in separate planes.  

The bombing campaign in Afghanistan, which began in October, 2001, was called Operation Enduring Freedom. It was meant ‘to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.’ Today the Taliban and their Al-Qaida allies, including IS, are stronger than ever. The American military is bogged down and extremism is spreading far beyond its borders. The only part of the campaign slogan that truly endures is an unrelenting destruction of Afghan lives, livelihoods and culture. 

Unlike Abdul Haq, many of the Afghan mujahedpoliticians dating back to the 1980s became, after the overthrow of the communist regime – and especially after 9/11 – deeply corrupt, lavishly wealthy and powerful.  

Abdul Dostom: Facing allegations of crimes against humanity

Dostum: A veritable monster now back in office 

One of them, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek warlord and now the country’s first vice president, is an example of the monsters created by the belief that bombing Afghanistan would defang the Taliban and cripple Islamic extremism. In 1992, in a battle for control of a newly liberated Kabul, I saw Dostum’s men rocket and flatten entire neighborhoods, killing civilians indiscriminately. I met Dostum face to face in 2002, in northern Afghanistan, when he was accused of having suffocated hundreds of Talib prisoners held in containers.   

Most recently, invited by Afghanistan’s current president Ashraf Ghani, who had once called him “a known killer”, Dostum returned to Kabul after a year of self-imposed exile in Turkey. He still faces charges of rape and kidnapping, brutality, human rights abuses and the killing of his first wife. Yet in Kabul, he received a royal welcome from both his supporters and the government.  

Abdul Haq’s last venture: A decision not in vain? 

Abdul Haq was a pragmatist with a long-term vision. But he didn’t want the Pakistanis or the Americans to control him. So in death as in life, they belittled his role. For a while, even I was uncertain. Did he really know Talib commanders? It is easy to get muddled in the maze of conspiracy theories spread by all sides. 

Recently I found a clue in the footnotes of a book about Afghanistan that answered many of my doubts. Abdul Haq, it merely stated, had the backing of Khan Mir, a powerful Talib commander near Jalalabad with over 800 men. I was convinced this was the Khan Mir that I knew. 

Khan Mir was the charismatic commander who had taken me many times inside Afghanistan. We had come under rocket attack together and escaped by hiking for days in snow and rain. Throughout a moonless December night, I had walked in his boot prints down a mined mountainside. I knew his wife and his children and his brothers. 

Back in 1988, Khan Mir was Abdul Haq’s right-hand man. And Khan Mir worshipped Abdul Haq, the way Khan Mir’s own men followed him. He believed in Abdul Haq and what he stood for.  

Maybe it hadn’t been all in vain. Crossing the border that night in 2001 was a gamble but it was not a fool’s trip. Since then, there are clear indications that many commanders – on learning that key brethren, such as Khan Mir, were also involved – were prepared to switch sides. And yet, the last thing that Islamabad wanted was an independent-minded new leadership promoting the possibility of real – and Afghan-led – peace.  

Furthermore, in the belligerent atmosphere of post-9/11, neither Washington and London arrogance were really interested in an Afghan solution. Confusing the Taliban with Al-Qaida, the Afghans had to be punished. And besides, a political initiative could take months, even years. The military option, the Bush administration believed, offered the quickest ‘solution’.  

And yet both Abdul Haq and Massoud (who met with US officials in Paris in April 2001) had warned the West that a military intervention would only provoke more war.  The end result is that – looking back today – little or nothing has been achieved. And a huge opportunity was lost. 

Donatella Lorch, a former New York Times and NBC correspondent, has written previously for Global Geneva. She is currently based in Turkey.



The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2024 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.