Jihad Watch : In all the attention being paid to the debacle in Afghanistan, many
have overlooked the Taliban’s beginnings in Pakistan, and the loyal
support from Pakistan given the terrorist group right up until today’s
triumph. A report is here: “As Taliban conquer Afghanistan, time to
sanction Pakistan,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, August 20, 2021:
As Taliban insurgents swept through Afghanistan
this month on their brutal quest to return that country to the seventh
century, ceremonies were held in neighboring Pakistan to commemorate the
6th anniversary of the death of a man dubbed “the father of the
Gen. Hamid Gul, who died in 2015, was the former head of
Pakistan’s terror-soaked spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI). Much of his career was spent fighting the Soviet occupation of
Afghanistan in the 1980s when the ISI worked closely with the American
CIA. With the collapse of the Soviet occupation, swiftly followed by the
collapse of the actual Soviet Union, the ISI began backing Islamist
groups across the region, from Kashmir to Afghanistan, where the Taliban
first came to power in 1996, about two years after they were fostered
by the ISI’s secret Directorate “S” with funding, weapons, and military
The Pakistani ISI began in the 1980s to recruit and train jihadis
among the Afghan refugees who had fled to Pakistan to escape the
Soviets. Given weapons by Pakistan, these refugees – called the
“Taliban” after the word “Talib” or “student,” for many of its recruits
were found studying in madrasas — went back to Afghanistan to fight the
Soviet Infidels who had invaded Afghanistan. At this point, the ISI was a
collaborator with the CIA, in a shared attempt to push the Soviets out
of Afghanistan. The Americans failed to grasp that these Islamic groups
were just as hostile to American infidels as they were to the Russians.
The Taliban were supplied with weapons, military training, and money by
the ISI. And after launching attacks inside Afghanistan, they could
always return to the safety of Pakistan, to regroup and replenish their
supply of weapons.
The tributes to Gul in Pakistan last week
centered on a television interview he gave just more than a year before
he died,[that is, in 2015] in which he predicted the humiliation of the
U.S. military and its Afghan government allies at the hands of the ISI’s
Taliban proxies. “When history will be written, it will be said that
ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with America’s help,” Gul
remarked. “But it will also be added that ISI defeated America (in
Afghanistan) with America’s help.”
That comment that General Gul made in a television interview should
have been given close attention in the Pentagon, and caused alarms to be
sounded in official Washington, for here was a leading general
gleefully foreseeing the defeat – by the Pakistani ISI, working through
its proxy, and ally, the Taliban – of the Americans in Afghanistan. But
instead, it was ignored. And Pakistan continued to be regarded, despite
all the evidence to the contrary, as an American ally.
Gul’s devotion to the Taliban exemplified the
divide within Pakistan’s intelligence establishment over its
relationship with U.S. agencies. “Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S.
against the Taliban irked many former army generals who had supported
the Islamists,” Farooq Sulehria, a Pakistani expert on the Taliban,
explained to the German broadcaster DW shortly after Gul’s death from a
brain hemorrhage. “These divisions within the army still persist. While
some military generals think that a ‘double game’ with the West—kill
some Taliban and save some—is a good strategy, people like Gul wanted
Islamabad to support Islamists wholeheartedly.
Pakistan has always been on the side of the Taliban. The only
difference that arose was between those ISI generals who thought it wise
to pretend to be against the Taliban, feigning an alliance with the
U.S. against the Taliban — even killing some, so as to satisfy the West —
and keep American money and weapons flowing to Islamabad, and those
generals who felt they needn’t dissimulate, but could support the
Taliban and still receive American military aid.
By 2021, it was clear that Gul’s position had won
out, as evidenced by the horror of the revived Taliban conquering
cities like Faizabad, Kandahar, Mazar e Sharif and finally Kabul, 20
years after they were banished from the Afghan capital. That fact should
stick in the craw of most Americans, because we’ve been pouring aid
money into Pakistan year upon year, despite the nefarious role played in
Afghanistan by its military and espionage services. In 2020, the U.S.
was once again the top donor country to Pakistan of financial assistance
that always takes the form of a grant, so as not to add to Pakistan’s
debt burden or balance of payments struggles.
Yet from our point of view, this was hardly money well-spent.
According to Chris Alexander, who spent six years as Canada’s
Ambassador to Afghanistan followed by a stint as a U.N. envoy, the
Taliban’s return represents a Pakistani invasion. “Apart from being
Pakistan’s mercenaries, the Taliban are U.N.-listed terrorists,”
Alexander recently told an Indian newspaper. “Anyone cozying up to them
is playing a dangerous game.”
Having spent six years in Afghanistan as the Canadian ambassador,
Chris Alexander was well aware of Pakistan’s duplicitous support of the
Taliban – “cozying up to them” is how he put it – and warned that this
was a “dangerous game.” Presumably he meant that a Taliban takeover of
Afghanistan could lead to a similar victory in Pakistan by that
country’s most fanatical Muslims.
Large and growing segments of public opinion have grasped this reality. In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine,
Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan flatly
denied that Islamabad was still supporting the Taliban, going on to make
the laughable claim that Pakistan is “a free and democratic country,
and there are a whole range of views for and against the policies of he
government. But when asked what exactly Pakistani Prime Minister Imran
Khan had meant when he gushed that the Taliban had “broken the shackles
of slavery,” the good ambassador answered only that it was “really hard
to keep track” of what gets reported on social media, before offering
the reassurance that Pakistan wants “inclusive” government in
The Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. denies that Pakistan any longer
supports the Taliban, and even more absurdly, claims that Pakistan is a
“free and democratic country,” when everyone knows there is no freedom
of the press, no freedom of speech, nor of assembly, and no freedom of
religion, as those freedoms are understood in the “free and democratic”
countries of the West.
While the civilized world is appalled at the takeover of Afghanistan
by the Taliban fanatics, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has
described the Taliban as having “broken the shackles of slavery.” Asked
about this astonishing remark, the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.
sidestepped the question, saying only that it was “really hard to keep
track” of what is reported on social media – meaning “you mustn’t
believe everything that is claimed to come out of Pakistan” and then
said that Pakistan wants “inclusive” government in Afghanistan, which
must be an allusion to the Shi’a Hazara, whom Pakistan presumably hopes
will be represented in Islamabad, rather then being massacred at the
hands of the Taliban, as happened before the Americans arrived in 2001.
Nobody should be fooled by these rather amateur
attempts to prettify the historically destructive role played by
Pakistan in Afghanistan. To many Americans, the events of the last month
suggest that we sacrificed troops and spent billions of dollars on a
country that is no more united in purpose now than it was 20 years ago,
in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda,
the Taliban’s partner in crime. But from the perspective of ordinary
Afghans, that is a harsh judgment on the quiet progress they have made.
That “quiet progress” is, however, easily undone. Life expectancy
rose by ten years between 2001 and 2021 mainly because there was
relative peace for 20 years when the Western allies kept control of the
country. Now that the Taliban’s bloodletting – despite its protestations
of being more tolerant and less bloodthirsty than when it last held
power, in 2001 – has resumed, expect more conflict, and earlier deaths.
And the army of Western medical personnel who descended on Afghanistan
during the past two decades and helped lengthen the life expectancies of
Afghans, have now fled the country, along with many of the Afghan
doctors they trained, which will cause a reversal of that trend.
Life expectancy has risen by 10 years, to the age
of 65—still woeful, by international standards. When the United States
invaded, little more than 20 percent of Afghan children were enrolled in
primary school, a figure that now stands at 100 percent. Literacy among
female adults has risen from 17 percent to 30 percent and will likely
recede once again as soon as the Taliban reimposes gender apartheid by
excluding girls from school.
Here, too, progress achieved can be easily undone. The Taliban is
likely to spend less on regular schools and spend more on a network of
madrasas; adult women, inferior creatures according to Islam, will no
longer be the object of special literacy campaigns; they will again be
condemned to being largely unlettered mothers and wives; the offices
where women had worked, even unhijabbed, will now be closed to them as
they return to their traditional functions. As for higher education,
expect the Taliban to again make it inaccessible to women.
Most of all, Afghans overwhelmingly reject the regime
that has effectively been imposed upon them by the U.S. withdrawal on
the one hand, and Pakistani support for the Taliban, backed politically
by Russia and China, on the other. “While generally conservative
in their Muslim faith, Afghans have consistently demonstrated in poll
after poll that they want nothing to do with the pathological
pseudo-theology the Taliban continue to enforce wherever they gain
ground,” the Canadian commentator Terry Glavin, a frequent visitor to
Afghanistan, observed in the National Post. “The latest Asia Foundation
polling shows that 82 percent of Afghans say they have ‘no sympathy’
whatsoever for the Taliban.”…
82 percent of Afghans now say that they have “no sympathy” for the
Taliban, but that will not stop the violent and fanatical group from
holding the country firmly in its grip, just as it did before 2001. The
Taliban will not hesitate to rule by extreme violence; some may remember
the stadiums in Kabul and Kandahar that were full of people who were
forced to watch the mass executions, both by stoning and by gunfire, of
those deemed to be “enemies of Islam” by the Taliban. Others who were
convicted of theft had their limbs cut off in front of the crowds; their
arms and legs were then hung up in the stadium as a stark warning to
the people in the stands.
It is time to recognize Pakistan’s long and duplicitous role in
supporting the Taliban with money, weapons, and secure training camps.
And having finally done so, the Americans should give up any remaining
illusions about Islamabad ever being a “friend.” Instead, Washington has
to apply pressure to Pakistan. First, it should put sanctions on the
Pakistani elite, preventing them from sending assets abroad, to buy
homes in Europe and North America or to send their children to be
educated abroad. All of their assets in the West could be frozen. That
should get their attention. Second, along with those sanctions directed
at individuals, the U.S., which is “the largest export destination for
Pakistani goods,” could refuse to buy Pakistani goods. Third, the
American government can make it difficult, even impossible, for
Pakistani-Americans to send money back to relatives in Pakistan; those
remittances are an economic lifeline to many of those family members.
Americans can be prevented by law from investing in Pakistan. Such
measures, combined with a halt to the nearly $3 billion in annual
economic and military aid that the U.S. has continued to lavish on
Pakistan, should bring Pakistan quickly to its knees. And that, in turn,
should persuade the Pakistanis to pressure the Taliban, so that it does
not engage in a reign of terror against its perceived enemies, and even
more importantly, so that it does not again give other Islamist groups,
such as ISIS and Al Qaeda, refuge in Afghanistan.
It just might work. And it all begins with the Americans
understanding that Pakistan is not now and never has been our friend,
and that the only way to change its behavior, so that is through
Americans don’t want to be in Afghanistan. They are sick of the whole
business and know they should have left the country long ago. Still,
they would like to ensure that the Taliban does not institute a reign of
terror, and what is even more important, that the Islamic groups such
as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not again given shelter and a base of
operations in Afghanistan.
The only country that can pressure the Taliban is its oldest ally,
Pakistan. And America can make life very difficult for Islamabad. It can
end over $3 billion in annual economic and military aid. It can end
remittance payments from Pakistani-Americans. It can prohibit American
investments in Pakistan. It can place economic sanctions on members of
the Pakistani elite, making life very difficult for them.
All of this just might work. But it can only happen with the
recognition that Pakistan is our enemy. Can the American foreign policy
establishment now admit it has been wrong about that country for the
past seventy years?