Do Taliban belong to Afghanistan or Pakistan? What does Taliban mean and what do they want?

“The word Taliban comes from tālib, “student” in Arabic”.

Under Zia Ul Haq, the then president of Pakistan, a number of madarssas  were opened to cater for fighters to take on the Army of USSR which had moved in to Afghanistan. USA was very Keen to ensure that Russians lose their war in Afghanistan and lose face around the world. USA and Saudi Arabia funded Pakistan and also provided heavy weapons including Stinger missiles for use against Russian aircraft.

      Hundreds of uneducated and unemployed Pashtun youth were brainwashed in these  Madarassas with extreme fanatical Islamic views and let loose inAfganistan. Pashtuns form the majority of Fighters in Taliban, though there are Turkmens, Tajiks, Uzbeks and even a few Hazaras.

Afganistan has over ten ethnic groups. It is a land that has never allowed any external force to dominate for any length of time. Tribal loyalties are on the top of the cultural scale followed by Islam. A Central government in Kabul  has limited say in how things are governed in the urban areas,  and  almost none in the hinterlands.

Consequent to the Russian army pulling out, Taliban took over the country and established a government. Pakistan was the first to recognise Taliban government and persuaded Saudi Arabia to follow suit. Pakistan assumed that Taliban government would be a puppet, working under its directions. But the Afgan Taliban, even though funded trained and supported by Pakistan proved difficult to handle.

Taliban giving protection to members of Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden, subsequent US intervention and displacement of Taliban are a part of history. Under attack by US forces Taliban moved to Pakistan where it was given sanctuary.

After the debacles of 1965 and 1971 Pakistani army had formulated a policy of ‘depth’, ie Afghanistan will form a safe staging area for its forces in case of problems with india on its eastern front. This meant a pliable government in Afghanistan. However with Taliban having been sent packing and a democratically elected government in Afghanistan in  place Pakistan found itself without its perceived ‘depth’.

Therefore for the past nearly two decades Pakistan has been needling the Taliban to fight and destabilise the Afghan government, which the international community had managed to set up against all odds. Today Taliban controls nearly half of Afghanistan, and USA is planning to withdraw its 8500 troops in Afghanistan. If that happens Approximately 12000 allied troops will also leave. Afgan Security forces are no match today against Taliban which is being backed by Pakistani army. It is only a matter of time before Taliban moves into Kabul as apart of a coalition government or even a complete domination. This is what Pakistan is aiming for. A puppet Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

As mentioned earlier, Pashtuns form the Majority of fighters in the Taliban. Unfortunately for Pashtuns, the Durand Line, an artificial divide, a perfidy perpetrated by the British has separated the ethnic Pashtuns in two, Afghanistan has never accepted the Durand line as the border with Pakistan.

Tehrike Taliban came into the picture in 2007. Pakistani army lost its leverage with TTP when it commenced military actions in NWFP, and therefore allowed USA to target its leaders by use of drones. TTP has been conducting operations against Pakistan army ever since and even civilians.

Today there is the strange dichotomy in the Pakistani army, which, even while giving all out support to Afgan Taliban, is hell bent on destroying TTP ie Pakistani Taliban.

     Will it succeed? Not to forget the basic raw material for Taliban, Afgan or Pakistan are Pashtuns.

Tribal loyalties demand badal for every member of the tribe killed. Can Pakistan really separate or divide the two Taliban overt time and achieve its objects of a puppet Taliban in Afghanistan and completely decimated Pakistani Taliban ie TTP?

Only time will tell.

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