The resurgence of the Taliban is helped greatly by their Islamic fundamentalist Pashtun compatriots who control the governments of the Pakistan provinces which border on Afghanistan.
Taliban activists in Pakistan and Afghanistan say they are receiving direct support from Pakistan's powerful religious parties, including Jamaat-i Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i Islam, which control the government of two key border provinces. "We are at home as we were before (President) Musharraf hatched a conspiracy against us at the behest of the Americans," says Mir Jan, a Taliban fighter in Quetta. "But our brothers [the mullahs] are in power, so it means we are in power."
The New York Times reports that even elements in Pakistan's federal government continue to help the Taliban,
Those familiar with the situation contend that Pakistan's army and secret service are allowing the Taliban to operate in Pakistan, and even protecting them. Further, the local government, now dominated by an alliance of religious parties sympathetic to the Taliban, provides them with legitimacy by association.
But that approach has failed and the evidence mounts with each new Taliban insurgence in the region. A Western aid worker with the International Committee of the Red Cross was killed in the province recently. Gul Agha's soldiers and U.S. forces have battled Taliban fighters to the north and south of Kandahar in recent days. Schools are being burned in the night. Western aid workers are fleeing.
Is the Bush Administration worried? US military figures say US troops may be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2004.
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The departing commander of U.S.-led military forces in Afghanistan says those troops' success fighting terrorist holdouts, combined with improved recruiting by the new Afghan army, means that Americans stationed here could start going home as early as summer 2004.
In addition to ISAF personnel, more than 10,000 U.S.-led coalition forces remain in Afghanistan to seek out Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week in Kabul that the combat phase of operations in Afghanistan is largely over. He said military forces have begun shifting their focus to civil-assistance and reconstruction projects.
US handling of post-war Afghanistan does not inspire confidence over how post-war Iraq will be handled. However, Iraq is more important to the US and therefore a bigger effort will be made there. Still, what is happening in Afghanistan is also important for a reason which is too often forgotten: Pakistan has nuclear bombs and the support coming from Islamists in the Pakistani government for the Taliban is a frightening indicator of the extent of Islamist influence in a nation that has nuclear weapons and the ability to make more of them.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 May 08 03:29 AM Military War, Rumours Of War|