Whats next for 'Afghanistan's plains'?
|"When you're wounded on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come to cut out what remains,
Turn your rifle to your head
And blow out your brains
And go to God like a soldier."
If my memory serves me right, these were Rudyard Kiplings words - advice to the army of the British Raj. It is an advice that the Mojahideen and the Dostum Militias might very well consider as the Taleban have repeatedly stressed they will offer no quarter.
Like the hordes of Genghis Khan that swept across the Asian steppes centuries ago, the fighters of Taleban are now sweeping across Afghanistan encountering little or no resistance at all.
They have now advanced to the Panjsher Valley, stronghold of Ahmad Shah Masood, the Mojahideen military commander who caused havoc among the invading Russian soldiers.
Today Masood is a wanted man. The Taleban forgetting his past services to the country have asked him to surrender. They have also promised him safe passage. The question is where to? After the execution of Najibullah and his brother Taleban rhetoric is taken with a pinch of salt. And this is precisely what the former communist General Abdul Rashid Dostum is doing. He knows what his fate is going to be. And that is why he is digging in. His troops have taken over the Salang Tunnel just north of Jebel-us-Seraj.
General Dostum's army is the best equipped and disciplined force in Afghanistan. Many of his fighters were members of the army of the Communist regime. When it was deposed in April 1992, they fled to the relative safety of the North. He and his men will not give in without stiff resistance.
The question people ask often these days is: "Who are the Taleban?" It is a difficult one to answer. It would be safe to state they have mushroomed like the other militia groups. However, what distinguishes them from others is the "cloak of Islam" which they don.
But Muslims around the world are surprised by many of their acts which negate the spirit and teachings of Islam. Obscurantism, unfortunately, has prevailed over Afghanistan for centuries. It has grown during the struggle against Russian occupiers. The Taleban, by their edicts, are alienating an Afghan population that has already suffered a lot.
They have banned girls' schools, have ceremoniously hanged television sets in the streets and ordered men to grow five inch beards.
All these acts themselves negate the spirit and teachings of Islam. For does not the tradition of the prophet saying: "Education is a duty for all Muslims and Muslimah (female).
Do not the teachings urge the Muslim to be more informed? Why hang television sets? And why grow beards upto five inches in length and not six or two or eight?
a And it can be honestly said that the sufferings of the Afghans at the hands of their own brothers has been much more and bloodier than what was meted out to them by the Russians. Kabul is completely destroyed. The historic Blue Mosque is no more. Many more Afghans became crippled after liberation than ever more. Despair has reached a level never experienced before. Despite efforts by the well-wishers of Afghanistan to get the warring groups together, the bloodshed continues unabated.
The Taleban are now conducting a public relations exercise to woo world opinion. They want to soften the impact of their brutal victories and fiery decrees.
One or two spokesman have emerged trying to justify their actions which range from hanging former President Najibullah without a trial and the harsh laws concerning women. Thirty thousand women teachers and doctors in Kabul have been affected by this.
The Taleban are anxious to calm Afghanistan's neighbors and have issued statements assuring them of cordial relations and non-interference. However, both Yeltsin and his national security chief Alexander Lebed are not impressed and have accused the Taleban regime of wanting to annex parts of neighboring Usbeskistan and Tajikistan.
With victories on the ground almost assured, the Taleban are now seeking international recognition. They have opened Kabul airport to commercial flights, have welcomed foreign aid agencies and are expecting emissaries from foreign governments. All that may sound well but the question asked is whether it is real stability or is it a lull before the storm. The dark clouds in the horizon for Taleban are Ahmad Shah Masoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Will they disappear or will they rain death and destruction. Knowing Afghanistan's complex politics, it is difficult to predict.
Topics: Afghanistan, Taliban