The Journey of Taliban

Now Taliban is seen with a new face by explaining their new approach towards governance with the provision of fundamental human rights to all citizens

Dr. Saira Asad

By looking to the history in the early 1990s, Afghan freedom fighters were known by the name of mujahideen and over time, the name changed into Taliban.

The name was given to these freedom fighters as they were the students of madrassas in Afghanistan who were taught by the ex- freedom fighters as teachers or trainers who used to lose their limbs and were not able to fight anymore in war.

On the invasion of Russia in Afghanistan in 1979-1989 on the conflict of insurgent groups, as well as Shi’ite and Maoist groups. They fought a long 9-year war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Army of Soviets.

Pakistan was threatened by Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan as a neighboring country. In that span, the ISI intelligence Agency interacted with Mujahideen to fight against Russians on behalf of Pakistan as stated by former DG ISI, Lt. Gen (R ) Ashraf Qazi on Ary News program.

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He added that initially, in 1974, General Naseerullah Babar used to work with the group of Mujahideens and later on by Gen Zia ul- Haq in the 1980s. Americans and Saudi Arabia entered into this in 1982-83. It was decided to provide ammunition and weapons by the US and funding by Saudis.

Other than that Pakistan will provide training to Mujahideens. It was seen that with passage to time, different groups were formed between Mujahideen and later they termed as Taliban.

The name of their group leader was given War Lords. They were prominent Afghan fighters such as Ahmed Shah Massoud, Baharuddin Rabbani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Abdulrab Rasul Sayaaf, and Jalaluddin Haqqani were used to be prominent leaders of their respective groups. Even US president Ronald Reagan invited these leaders to the US at White House with full respect.

ISI also looked after them as freedom fighters for keeping Russia within the borders. Due to the internal conflicts among different Afghan fighters groups, it gave hype to differences among themselves. Mujahideens always tried to keep them united and on the view of the formation of a government based on unity.

Also Read: Opinion: A New Approach of Taliban’s Governance

At that time according to the agreement, Ahmed Shah Massoud was decided to be a Defence Minister and Gulbaddin became the prime minister, and Baharuddin Rabbani was made the president of Afghanistan. The internal conflicts between groups of blaming of more weapons provision and funding by US and Saudis, Ahmed Shah Massoud and Rabbani targeted Gulbiddin.

In real terms, Massoud and Rabbani belonged to the same party but showed themselves belonging from the different parties. The total provision of weapons and funding to both were equal to Gulbiddin, stated former DG ISI Lt. Gen Ashraf Qazi. Their internal differences raised conflict on this.

Lt. Gen Qazi was on the view that the agreement was made by the interference of Pakistan through ISI and the US, Hikmatyar was not made sit as a prime minister. On that, Massour and Abdul Rashid Dostum started a fight among themselves.

On this, Lt Gen Hameed Gul as ISI Director General (1987-89) interfered in this conflict and visited Kabul for resolving the issue among Mujahideens’ groups. On intervention, Massoud told Hikmatyar to take back his Army to Surobi (district of Kabul). Hikmatyar disagreed with the proposal and showed annoyance on ISI Chief of less provision of weapons and ammunition to them. That led to disappointment in Pakistan.

Also Read: Opinion: AfPak Takes On A New Meaning with the Rise of the Taliban

At that time, Dostum was in power in northern Afghanistan, so ISI decided to send General Iftikhar Shah to meet Dostum also for some solution. He showed a highly respectful attitude with positivity and was willing to meet then DG ISI, Lt Gen (R) Ashraf Qazi, and General Iftikhar together at Tashkunt as his family was residing there.

Dostum asked for his family treatment in Pakistan and fund’ provision as he has a shortage of funds. The demand was accepted by ISI as confirmed by Lt Gen (R ) Qazi. His family was given good treatment at a military hospital in Pakistan as a goodwill gesture and sent back. He was made promised not to allow India to open its consulate in Afghanistan as being an enemy of Pakistan.

Dostum kept his promise throughout as observed by Pakistan. At the end of the war, Russians left their missiles and weapons in the larger quantity that was asked to provide as per interest to Pakistan also. Dostum helped Pakistan in this regard although those weapons and missiles were not useable for Pakistan, stated former ISI chief. Taliban emerged from that span as the students were of madrassas who were being trained under the supervision of mainly disabled Afghan trainers.

ISI decided to disengage themselves with Mujahideens after Russia left Afghan soil as wanted to concentrate on their main enemy, stated former ISI chief. For that ISI called back their trainers from Afghanistan and appointed them on eastern borders.

Also Read: Taliban Victory Threatens To Be A Double-edged Sword For Pakistan, China

Before the departure of Russia from Afghanistan, they dumped their weapons at Kandahar in 17 tunnels on mountains and US as a permanent provision of weapons and ammunition dumped in the southern region.

Taliban invaded Kandahar on the departure of Russia and captured all weapons and ammunition. Taliban leader Mullah Rabbani came to visit ISI headquarter and met DG ISI for his two requests. Firstly, they didn’t want ISI to be a party of any group and secondly, the Taliban were on the point that they will sort out Mujahideens by themselves as they killed their people on imposition of harsh treatment.

Taliban wanted a free route from Pakistan toward Afghanistan for fuel and food as only these routes are accessible from Pakistan, stated former ISI chief in his interview. Additionally, Pakistan imposed its demand not to allow India to open its consulate in Afghanistan. All points were agreed upon from both sides.

It was seen that in Herat at Afghanistan, Ismail Khan bolted. They went for Kabul. Hikmatyar came in with his army and at night his army left without informing him. It was seen that in Afghan culture with negotiation one can overcome the enemy.

Also Read: Who Will Hold Which Position in the Taliban’s Interim Government?

In this way, Ismail captured the whole area except Panjshir valley. They took over Mazar Sharif. Dostum escaped to Turkey, and General Malik sided with the Taliban. General Malik then ambushed the Taliban and killed many of them.

For that, Mullah Ghaus, nominated as foreign Minister was heading that army. He defeated General Malik. General Malik ran towards Iran. Taliban took over Mazaar Sharif except for Panjshir Valley, and then the Taliban made their government.

In this way, the extremist group came into power with the strict imposition of Shariah Law. Internationally, the Taliban were always criticized for their strict attitude towards Afghans on the violation of human rights. After the 9/11 attacks, the US invaded Afghanistan and attacked Tora Bora where foreigners were residing.

They escaped into Pakistan as the borders were not sealed. Egypt, Algeria, and Uzbekistan were on the point to declare Pakistan a terrorist state as their enemies were escaped into Pakistan. ISI made these countries realized as there was no harboring strategy from Pakistan’s end and asked them to identify the names of their enemies.

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Khalid was the main target man who was a brother of that fighter who killed Colonel Saadat. He was traced to Peshawar in Pakistan and forced through Afghanistan to leave Pakistan’s territory. Pakistan was then able to take its name out of the terrorist list and able to make friendly relations with these countries as stated former ISI chief.

Now Taliban is seen with a new face by explaining their new approach towards governance with the provision of fundamental human rights to all citizens. Today, a Taliban is seen as educated, with a sense of strategy, with a sense of timing, strength, sense of weakness, and with a broad vision of governance.

Afghan Army comprises of 3 lac soldiers. They started with the North by closing their borders then came into the inner circle. Taliban has seen become a mature soldier now. No doubt, Pakistan is looking forward to an economically and democratically stable neighborhood.

Dr. Saira Asad is a researcher, and columnist from University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Malaysia (UTHM). She can be contacted at

The editorial policy of The Indus Tribune does not necessarily agree with the contents of this article.

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