‘Pakistan had no part in Taliban’s emergence’
PESHAWAR: Negating any possibility that Pakistan was instrumental in raising the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, a former senior officer of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has said the Islamic militia may not re-emerge in their original form but their ideals will continue to inspire coming Afghan generations as they represent a socio-religious system.
Delivering a lecture Friday at the Area Study Centre (ASC) for Russia, China and Central Asia, Peshawar University, Colonel (r) Sultan Amir Imam expressed his views on the topic ‘Taliban phenomenon and its effect on neighboring countries.” Former Interior Minister Naseerullah Khan Babar, Brigadier (r) Mohammad Anwar, a former ISI officer responsible for political affairs of Afghan resistance groups in Pakistan, Professor Dr Azmat Hayat Khan, director ASC, and a number of students and journalists attended the talk.
Col Imam, who enjoys legendary popularity among former Afghan mujahideen for his involvement in Afghanistan since 1983 until the fall of the Taliban, declared Taliban a “regular feature of Afghan social life” in almost all ages. He said that religious seminaries had existed in Khurasan for many centuries and even the first Afghan king, Ahmad Shah Abdali, was a Talib from Multan.
“The Taliban had never been a part of the political process in Afghan history but they were at the forefront whenever the governmental authority witnessed a severe breakdown. But ultimately they returned and did not join the political power process,” he said.
The ex-ISI official said that when Russia invaded Afghanistan, the most hardcore recruits to resist the Soviets emerged from religious seminaries. When the Russian forces withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban returned to their seminaries but circumstances once again called them back to the war front, he added. He said that when in October 1994, a Pakistani convoy being headed by him as Pakistan’s envoy in Herat was cordoned by local Asmat and Nadri militiamen, the Taliban emerged on the scene and it created a wrong impression that perhaps Pakistan had raised the Taliban force. On the contrary, he said, the Taliban were an indigenous rising. He said severe infighting and a civil war-like situation in Afghanistan, the complete breakdown of law and order, hooliganism, and the existence of warlords were the circumstances that ultimately paved the way for the Taliban’s consecutive victories.
The only force that stood in the Taliban’s way was Gulbadin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami, he said. But his fighters refused to fight the Taliban and Hekmatyar lost ground, he told the audience.
Naseerullah Babar substantiated Col Imam’s claim and said that Gulbadin had telephoned him after the emergence of the Taliban and sought advise as to whether he should fight them or not. Babar said he advised Gulbadin not to fight the Taliban.