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‘Good Taliban, bad Taliban’: the ISI’s perspective

Taliban were created by the ISI which still mentors and supports them and their affiliate organizations including the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad etc

By Hakim Hazik

There are two kinds of Taliban.

The good ones live in Quetta. They are cuddly and roly-poly. They have generous and reassuring paunches, symbolic of the glory of Islam. They sit on hand woven carpets with intricate designs, using round pillows to support their staid behinds. They have tea with the Corps Commander Sahib. They send their girls to school in Quetta and their fighters to jihad in Helmand to blow up schools. They have endearing habits. They stroke their beards with their fingers and say alhamdu lillah when they burp.

They believe in the unity of command and unity of Ummah. They dislike shirk. For their pastime, they blow up Hazaras. They like business in the best tradition of the Ummah. They specialise in transport and heroine. They live in lovely suburban villas with enclosed inner courtyards, called safe havens. They like to entertain and be invited by foreign dignitaries. They must go there in the staff car. Once or twice they have taken a taxi cab. Corps Commander Sahib was not happy.

They mentor up and coming young man as their interns, who have made their name in under-served areas such as Kashmir and Qunduz.

Unfortunately, there are bad Taliban as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference. However our scholars have come up with a test. If they move to Islamabad, they are definitely bad. A bad Taliban can become good, by moving away from Islamabad and towards Jalalabad. North Waziristan is also quite acceptable. Kurram is fine; with the added advantage of fighting shirk in the Turi area. Tarbela Ghazi is definitely unacceptable. As of last year, Swat and Boner are also off limits.

Pakistan is a forward looking country. We believe in peace and prosperity for our population. The national ideology is based on Islam, IMF, tolerance, spot fixing, nuclear technology and soft strategic depth.

Good Taliban have a role in our vision of the future. They will be provided the best modern education in the Binnori Town Mosque and Darul Ulum Haqqania. For advanced post graduate studies, Muridke is the greatest seat of learning in South Asia. This highly competitive centre will equip them with all the skills they need to rise and prosper in the modern society. These include the expert wielding of a carving knife and of Semtex™. Only a select few can aspire to be trained in the techniques of a martyrdom mission.

As mentioned above, all the good Taliban must realise that their sphere of activity has to move to the west of Indus and east of Sutlej. Lahore and Islamabad have a different role to play in the national project. Explosive devices are not of help in public spaces of these regions. They require institutions like Beacon House schools, Civil Services Academies, PMA Kakool and 111 Brigade.

Darul Ulum Haqqania and Aitcheson College, both have a role to play in the nation’s future under the sagacious and watchful guidance of our armed forces.

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  • This is a very well-written account of the distinction between good and bad Taliban, which reflects the mindset of several suckers (names deleted) of our saviours in khaki.

  • All the good Taliban are lauded in their help and assistance via their affiliated daughters(better than calling them sisters) organizations in cleansing the most disliked elements in Balochistan, the political Baloch nationalist elements, as they are a major obstacles in the great aims of integrating the Ummah under one platform.

  • This Term Good Taliban and Bad Taliban was mostly used by Eric Margolis and Robert Fisk right after [Musharraf and General Mahmud tried this before the US Attack as well] US Attack on Afghanistan after 911 when Musharraf was floating the idea of engaging Good Taliban [as defined by Pakistani Establishment – the word should have been Stablishment] in dialogue, glimpse: [Do read the arguments of General Mahmud [Former ISI Chief and now in Tableeghi Jamat] in defence ot Taliban

    US decided to stay engaged with Pakistan soon after 9/11
    By Anwar Iqbal Wednesday, 15 Sep, 2010

    WASHINGTON: Ground rules underlined in a 2001 memo the then US secretary of state Colin Powell sent to former president George W. Bush on Nov 5 that year, laid down the foundation of a strategic partnership between the United States and Pakistan: cooperation on terrorism, preventing nuclear proliferation and long-term US assistance.

    The memo is included in a set of security documents released on Tuesday by the US National Security Archive, containing exchange of messages among key US officials and departments on the war on terror in the Pak-Afghan region.

    Mr Powell’s memo highlights critical changes in US-Pakistan relations since 9/11, including higher levels of cooperation not only on counter-terrorism policy, but also on nuclear non-proliferation, the protection of Pakistani nuclear assets, and economic development.

    Mr Powell notes that former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s decision to ally with the US comes “at considerable political risk”, as he has “abandoned the Taliban, frozen terrorist assets (and) quelled anti-Western protests without unwarranted force”.

    Regarding Afghanistan, the secretary tells president Bush that Pakistan will want to protect its interests and maintain influence in Kabul. “Mr Musharraf is pressing for a future government supportive of its interests and is concerned that the Northern Alliance will occupy Kabul,” the document quotes Mr Powell as telling president Bush.

    Mr Powell urges president Bush to assure Mr Musharraf, “We will assist Pakistan through this difficult time” and to “underscore our intent to work with Pakistan closely after the current conflict”.

    On Nov 30, 2001, the US Embassy in Islamabad further explains these principles, noting that the United States cannot pursue its counter-terrorism agenda in Afghanistan without Pakistani support and asks Washington to continue to supply extensive aid packages to help America secure its long-term regional interests.

    “Suspicions about America are rampant in Pakistan,” the embassy notes. “The message to us has been clear: ‘we helped you in Afghanistan twenty years ago, and then America walked away and deserted us’.”

    “This mistrust runs high. Revisionism or not, this is what the man on the street – and particularly the younger generation – appears to believe. Nevertheless “it is in US interest to demonstrate to the Pakistani people that we are a long-term partner.”

    The best way to convince the Pakistani public to support a government in Islamabad that is pro-American, the embassy notes, is the “judicious use of our most effective foreign policy tool: foreign aid”.

    Another memo shows that Pakistan advised the United States to engage the Taliban in a reconciliation process soon after the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but Washington was not interested.

    Yet another memo from the then US ambassador in Kabul, Ronald E. Neumann, notes that Pakistani tribal areas momentarily opened to the Pakistani army when “the tribes were overawed by US firepower” after 9/11, but quickly became “no go areas” where the Taliban could reorganise and plan their resurgence in Afghanistan.

    The memo also raises “concerns about Pakistani capabilities” to deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in Fata.

    The documents show that after the Sept 11 terror attack, when the US had decided to bomb Afghanistan, former military ruler Musharraf and the ISI tried to persuade the Bush administration to instead hold a dialogue with the Taliban.

    But on Sept 13, 2001, US ambassador Wendy Chamberlin “bluntly” tells Gen (retd) Musharraf that there is absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban. “The time for dialogue was finished as of Sept 11.”

    Pakistan, however, disagrees. The then ISI chief, Gen Mahmoud Ahmad, tells the ambassador “not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations… If the Taliban are eliminated … Afghanistan will revert to warlordism”.

    Pakistan’s primary concern was that the Northern Alliance, backed by India, would return to power in Kabul.

    Gen Mahmoud, who was present in Washington on 9/11, also tells the Americans it’s “better for the Afghans” to hunt Osama bin Laden. “We could avoid the fallout.”

    Gen Mahmoud travelled to Afghanistan twice, on Sept 17, aboard an American plane, and again on Sept 24, 2001, to discuss the seriousness of the situation with Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

    Ambassador Chamberlin, however, tells him that negotiations were pointless since Mullah Omar “had so far refused to meet even one US demand”. She tells Gen Mahmoud his meetings with Mullah Omar were fine, but they “could not delay military planning”.

  • How “Taliban and Mullah Omar” were Romanticized!

    Rise and fall of village cleric who fought ‘criminals and traitors’ War on terrorism By Robert Fisk Friday, 7 December 2001

    The surrender of Kandahar by Mullah Mohammed Omar may, as far as the West is concerned, mark the end of militant Islam in Afghanistan.

    The surrender of Kandahar by Mullah Mohammed Omar may, as far as the West is concerned, mark the end of militant Islam in Afghanistan.

    His own rise and fall, from village cleric to ruler of the world’s most obscurantist state and back to his mud-walled home, took only five years. Reluctant at first, later tinged with a country boy’s ambition, it tells in miniature the story of the rise and fall of the world’s most implacable Islamic movement.

    Was Mullah Omar the protector of Osama bin Laden, his Muslim brother in a Muslim land, as he claimed? Or did the well-educated Mr bin Laden broaden the international perspective of the humble priest from Noudi, suggesting to him that the corruption which Omar fought in Afghanistan existed in – and was the fault of – the Western world, which had supported and then blithely abandoned the mujahedin once the war against the Soviet Union was over?

    Journalists like to talk about Mullah Omar as a “shadowy”, “secretive” figure, but much is known about the Taliban’s spiritual leader.

    Far from being a messianic, arrogant preacher, Mullah Omar remains a revered figure among the Pashtuns, not just for his piety but for the courage he showed as he grew up among the dirt and poverty of Kandahar province, working as both a schoolteacher and anti-Soviet partisan.

    He lost his eye in battle against the Soviet army but went on to fight the Najibullah communist regime that took over Afghanistan after the Russians retreated. As a guerrilla in the ranks of Younis Khalis’ brigade of the Hizb al Islam (the Islamic Party), he was wounded four times.

    Mohammed Omar was born in 1959 in the tiny village of Noudi, near Kandahar, the son of a poor farmer of the Pashtun Houtak tribe who died after the family moved to Tarinket, in the province of Arouzagan, leaving Omar, still a boy, to care for his relatives.

    He did so by starting a small school near the mosque at Sangasar where he also preached. He never completed his studies, remaining a mullah rather than amawlawi – one who has graduated from a religious college.

    Around him, Afghanistan was disintegrating into anarchy, Pashtuns and Tajiks and Uzbeks and Hazaras fighting each other as the Northern Alliance – our “allies” in our “war for civilisation” today – raped and pillaged Kabul. Mullah Omar called them, “a criminal and treacherous group who sold themselves and their country to foreign colonialists”. He would say the same today.

    The murder and rape of women – and boys – in Kandahar enraged the young cleric. The opium trade had corrupted the city.

    The first incident in which he became actively involved, the crucible in the foundation of the Taliban, followed the kidnap of two teenage girls who had their heads shaved and were then gang-raped in the barracks of a local militia leader. With 30 of his students and just 16 rifles, he rescued the girls and hanged one of the rapists from a tank.

    His fame spread, especially among the Pakistani religious schools of Mawlana Fadlurahman, who led the Jamiyat Ullama Islami (Congregation of Islamic Scholars) and who was an ally of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s Prime Minister at the time. In 1996, his Taliban membership grew by the day as provinces fell to the austere but law-enforcing young men – some only 14 years old – who followed the still-youthful 37-year-old cleric.

    But he remained a shy, reclusive man, reportedly spending hours in contemplation on his prayer mat, a cleric who initially appeared to be a social reformer but who – once the Taliban had captured most of Afghanistan – adopted an extreme version of the Hanafi Sunni religious sect, believing the duty of a Muslim was to create the ideal society that supposedly existed under the Prophet. Amusement, the social role of women, distraction and leisure were all to be erased. A literal interpretation of Islam, which laid down that a man’s beard must be the length of two fists, suddenly dominated Afghanistan. Rather than plan a future for the country – the economic rebuilding of the world’s most bombed nation with its 20 million mines, its wrecked roads, bridges and dams – he regarded individual and group morality as the focus of human society.

    Hence the Department for the Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue was busier than the ministries of economy or defence. Punishment was an educative process – and a brutal one.

    No one is certain how the relationship between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden developed. Mr bin Laden’s arrival followed shortly after the Taliban’s 1996 victory and, in the years that followed, the Taliban’s political statements, such as they were, became increasingly anti-Western and anti-American.

    Mr bin Laden’s “War against Crusaders and Jews” may not have been encouraged by Mullah Omar, but his desire to bring down the “treacherous Muslims” running the pro-American regimes of the Gulf must have seemed uncannily similar to Mullah Omar’s earlier campaign against the “criminal and treacherous group” of Afghans who were the Taliban’s original enemy.

    Now that “treacherous” group is at the gates of Kandahar, how true his claim that they had sold themselves to “foreign colonialists” must seem to Mullah Omar today. Back on 24 September, he announced that handing over Mr bin Laden “would mean we were no longer Muslims and that Islam was finished”.

    Now Mullah Omar is reported to be in the city he made great, but his Taliban appears almost finished. Unless, of course, he decides to keep his word and fight to the end, “to the last breath”, as he put it, against the Americans and the “traitors” of the Northern Alliance.

  • Just who are our allies in Afghanistan? Writer: Robert Fisk
    Source: The Independent Date: 3 October 2001

    ‘The Alliance have not murdered 7,000 innocent civilians in the US. They have done their massacres on their home turf’

    Northern Alliance Troops Execute Taliban Soldier, Afghanistan, 12 November 2001

    “America’s New War,” is what they call it on CNN. And of course, as usual, they’ve got it wrong. Because in our desire to “bring to justice” – let’s remember those words in the coming days – the vicious men who planned the crimes against humanity in New York and Washington last month, we’re hiring some well-known rapists and murderers to work for us.

    Yes, it’s an old war, a dreary routine that we’ve seen employed around the world for the past three decades. In Vietnam, the Americans wanted to avoid further casualties; so they re-armed and re-trained the South Vietnamese army to be their foot-soldiers. In southern Lebanon, the Israelis used their Lebanese militia thugs to combat the Palestinians and the Hizbollah. The Phalange and the so-called “South Lebanon Army” were supposed to be Israel’s foot-soldiers. They failed, but that is in the nature of wars-by-proxy. In Kosovo, we kept our well-armed Nato troops safely out of harm’s way while the KLA acted as our foot-soldiers.

    And now, without a blush or a swallow of embarrassment, we’re about to sign up the so-called “Northern Alliance” in Afghanistan. America’s newspapers are saying – without a hint of irony – that they, too, will be our “foot-soldiers” in our war to hunt down/bring to justice/smoke out/eradicate/liquidate Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. US officials – who know full well the whole bloody, rapacious track record of the killers in the “Alliance” – are suggesting in good faith that these are the men who will help us bring democracy to Afghanistan and drive the Taliban and the terrorists out of the country. In fact, we’re ready to hire one gang of terrorists – our terrorists – to rid ourselves of another gang of terrorists. What, I wonder, would the dead of New York and Washington think of this?

    But first, let’s keep the record straight. The atrocities of 11 September were a crime against humanity. The evil men who planned this mass-murder should (repeat: should) be brought to justice. And if that means the end of the Taliban – with their limb-chopping and execution of women and their repressive, obscurantist Saudi-style “justice” – fair enough. The Northern Alliance, the confederacy of warlords, patriots, rapists and torturers who control a northern sliver of Afghanistan, have very definitely not (repeat: not) massacred more than 7,000 innocent civilians in the United States. No, the murderers among them have done their massacres on home turf, in Afghanistan. Just like the Taliban.

    Even as the World Trade Centre collapsed in blood and dust, the world mourned the assassination of Ahmed Shah Masood, the courageous and patriotic Lion of Panjshir whose leadership of the Northern Alliance remained the one obstacle to overall Taliban power. Perhaps he was murdered in advance of the slaughter in America, to emasculate America’s potential allies in advance of US retaliation. Either way, his proconsulship allowed us to forget the gangs he led.

    It permitted us, for example, to ignore Abdul Rashid Dustum, one of the most powerful Alliance gangsters, whose men looted and raped their way through the suburbs of Kabul in the Nineties. They chose girls for forced marriages, murdered their families, all under the eyes of Masood. Dustum had a habit of changing sides, joining the Taliban for bribes and indulging in massacres alongside the Wahhabi gangsters who formed the government of Afghanistan, then returning to the Alliance weeks later.

    Then there’s Rasoul Sayaf, a Pashtun who originally ran the “Islamic Union for the Freedom of Afghanistan”, but whose gunmen tortured Shia families and used their women as sex slaves in a series of human rights abuses between 1992 and 1996. Sure, he’s just one of 15 leaders in the Alliance, but the terrified people of Kabul are chilled to the bone at the thought that these criminals are to be among America’s new foot-soldiers.

    Urged on by the Americans, the Alliance boys have been meeting with the elderly and sick ex-King Mohamed Zahir Shah, whose claim to have no interest in the monarchy is almost certainly honourable – but whose ambitious grandson may have other plans for Afghanistan. A “loya jerga”, we are told, will bring together all tribal groups to elect a transitional government after the formation of a “Supreme Council for the National Unity of Afghanistan”. And the old king will be freighted in as a symbol of national unity, a reminder of the good old days before democracy collapsed and communism destroyed the country. And we’ll have to forget that King Zahir Shah – though personally likeable, and a saint compared to the Taliban – was no great democrat.

    What Afghanistan needs is an international force – not a bunch of ethnic gangs steeped in blood – to re-establish some kind of order. It doesn’t have to be a UN force, but it could have Western troops and should be supported by surrounding Muslim nations – though, please God, not the Saudis – and able to restore roads, food supplies and telecommunications. There are still well-educated academics and civil servants in Afghanistan who could help to re-establish the infrastructure of government. In this context, the old king might just be a temporary symbol of unity before a genuinely inter-ethnic government could be created.

    But that’s not what we’re planning. More than 7,000 innocents have been murdered in the USA, and the two million Afghans who have been killed since 1980 don’t amount to a hill of beans beside that. Whether or not we send in humanitarian aid, we’re pouring more weapons into this starving land, to arm a bunch of gangsters in the hope they’ll destroy the Taliban and let us grab bin Laden cost-free.

    I have a dark premonition about all this. The “Northern Alliance” will work for us. They’ll die for us. And, while they’re doing that, we’ll try to split the Taliban and cut a deal with their less murderous cronies, offering them a seat in a future government alongside their Alliance enemies. The other Taliban – the guys who won’t take the Queen’s shilling or Mr Bush’s dollar – will snipe at our men from the mountainside and shoot at our jets and threaten more attacks on the West, with or without bin Laden.

    And at some point – always supposing we’ve installed a puppet government to our liking in Kabul – the Alliance will fall apart and turn against its ethnic enemies or, if we should still be around, against us. Because the Alliance knows that we’re not giving them money and guns because we love Afghanistan, or because we want to bring peace to the land, or because we are particularly interested in establishing democracy in south-west Asia. The West is demonstrating its largesse because it wants to destroy America’s enemies.

    Just remember what happened in 1980 when we backed the brave, ruthless, cruel mujahedin against the Soviet Union. We gave them money and weapons and promised them political support once the Russians left. There was much talk, I recall, of “loya jergas”, and even a proposal that the then less elderly king might be trucked back to Afghanistan. And now this is exactly what we are offering once again.

    And, dare I ask, how many bin Ladens are serving now among our new and willing foot-soldiers?

    America’s “new war”, indeed.

  • Musharraf and Co. after 911 had thoroughly annihilated [willingly or unwillingly]Mullahs all over the place but before 911 the “Good Taliban” did this with Pakistani Football Team [while Imran Khan was behind the back of Musharraf’s Revolution]

    I hope Imran Khan, Jang Group of Newspapers, and Ansar Abbasi would also accept Taliban way of dealing with sportsmen:


    KARACHI, JULY 18: The Pakistan Football Federation said on Tuesday that it would not condemn an incident in neighbouring Afghanistan last week in which members of the Taliban militia shaved off heads of Pakistani soccer players for wearing “un-Islamic dress” during a friendly football match with Afghans at Kandahar. The bizarre incident occurred when the Taliban raided the third match between the players from Pakistan and their Afghan competitors in the religious capital of Afghanistan, Kandahar, and accused the Pakistani players of “spreading obscenity and inciting passions” by wearing shorts. Reference: PFF refuse to condemn tonsures Wednesday, July 19, 2000 Indian Express


    Imran Khan’s Support: Then Musharraf Now Taliban!