US worried by setbacks to Taliban


By Rupen Savoulian

Alarm bells are now ringing in Washington and Islamabad, because the Afghanistan opposition forces, led by General Ahmad Shah Masood, have pounded the Taliban out of northern Afghanistan and are on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.

The opposition has been reinforced by Uzbek General Abdul Malik's 2000-strong detachment of troops and 100 tanks.

Until now, Masood has been fighting the Taliban without any support from the other opposition forces. However, Malik sent his forces to join those of Masood at Jabuls Siraj, 77 kilometres north of Kabul. Malik has emerged as the strongest Uzbek commander since the unseating of General Dostum in May.

The leader of an Afghan Shiite opposition force, Karim Khalili, has agreed to open a second front against the Taliban by launching attacks from western Afghanistan. The Taliban would be compelled to divert forces from the Kabul front to fight Khalili's forces.

It is no secret that Pakistan has armed and financed the Taliban movement since it was founded in 1994. While Islamabad continues to deny its involvement, it cannot explain how the Taliban acquired an army of 25,000 troops, equipped with sophisticated weaponry (such as fighter aircraft) and were able to pay their operatives with US dollars.

It is also no secret that the United States welcomed the victory of the Taliban, who have taken the most cruel and repressive measures against women since they came to power. The institutionalised cruelty of the Taliban drew criticism from various European governments, but the United States viewed the Taliban victory as highly desirable.

The US government seeks to construct a gas and oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Unocal has signed agreements with the Turkmenistan government to explore oil reserves in the region.

The Taliban's fanaticism and barbarity are of no concern to the managing directors of Unocal.

Women in Afghanistan have had to endure the harshest measures of sexual segregation and repression. They are not allowed to work in schools, hospitals or even be seen in public without the presence of a male relative. They are required to wear a burqa, a traditional form of dress which covers the entire body, leaving only the eyes exposed.

Those guilty of even minor infractions of the Taliban's severe social code (such as listening to music) are subject to public floggings, torture and public execution.

The Pakistani intelligence service actively aids the Taliban. Pakistani troops have fought alongside the Taliban, and Islamabad supplied logistical and technical help.

The Pakistani intelligence service is also a distributor of opium and heroin, and the Taliban have allowed the cultivation of drugs and the drug trade to continue unabated.

However, the Mujahedin are unlikely liberators from Taliban oppression. When the anti-Soviet resistance captured Kabul in May 1992, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the Mujahedin leaders sponsored by the United States and Pakistan, subjected Kabul to a reign of terror, raining missiles and rockets on that city until the new government relented and gave him the post of prime minister.

Hekmatyar's forces (financed by extensive drug trafficking encouraged by Pakistani intelligence) deliberately targeted the civilian population and infrastructure, so that by August 1992 at least 2000 people had been killed.

Hekmatyar's terrorists cut off the city's electricity and water supplies, all with the help of US and Saudi financed armaments.

Thousands of Kabul residents fled the city to neighbouring Pakistan, where the UN reported that the refugees were well-educated, reasonably affluent professionals who reminisced about the good old days under "communism". By 1994, another 150,000 people had fled Kabul, and an estimated 1000 were killed in eight weeks.

This is the "new world order" in practice.