Afghanistan: Identity Vacuum and West’s Disinformation

A Review of Afghanistan’s Social Media Discussions

In the current climate of political stalemate and ongoing conflict the users of social and online media both inside and outside Afghanistan increasingly becoming active and engaging in maintaining discussions on daily and hot topics around country’s political, security and related phenomenon. A qualitative brief review can overtly indicate an interesting outlooks along the regional, linguistic and ethno-cultural zones; which usually shows a clear contrast with the other in respect of commonly held believes and preferences. The most striking pattern is two main fronts of thoughts and believes which crudely correlates with the current security and political spontaneous zonification reality on the ground. Noticeably on level of fierceness of grass-root anti-Taliban activism, level of Taliban influence and control and local population preferences on engagement of international forces; as well as the views on government’s honesty in regards to the western engagement, commitment to democratic process and treatment of Taliban.

An observer even from outside can easily work out the background reasons behind this striking contrast, not least get overtly and repeatedly mentioned by participants in social medias: the lingo-cultural and ethnic differences. The inhabitants from the South and Eastern regions bordering Pakistan, who are Pashtu speakers and known as Pashtuns more officially and Afghan unofficially as a distinct ethnic and cultural group, tend to be less critical of Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan and more critical of NATO and the indigenous Anti-Taliban political front. This trend is exactly opposite with media users from North-east, North, West and Central zones in relation to Taliban and NATO. The users from latter zones are usually Perso-Turkic in their roots but mainly Persian/Farsi speakers and mixed urban educated and non-tribal population.

As far as an open discussion is concerned about such regional differences, it is almost like an unannounced forbidden theme to talk in government circles and media as well as international media. Similarly these differences are least talked about and explored by international specialist on Afghanistan or international think tanks. Studying inter-regional dynamics and roots of these differences is fascinating and sounds as basic requirement in better understanding of the country’s and its population’s cultural and political history which so far has not been done in details and largely influenced by systematic ethno-political biases the Afghanistan successive governments managed to lead into studies even carried out apparently by foreign scientists, a frequent theme raised by media users.
King Babur, whose love of and rise from Kabul chose the city as his capital and land of eternal rest, regarded the city as the birthplace of an influential Khorasani empire in Central Asia and Indian subcontinent in 16th century. This empire and its vast legacy, known by the West and Indians as the Mughols, is probably a good example symbolizing the current beneath the surface tension and dilemma of national ego and unifying image vacuity the inhabitants of Afghanistan find themselves to cope with since late 19th- early 20th century, a theme increasingly being discussed in online and social media sites in Afghanistan.

There is a general agreement amongst country’s urban educated originating from vast Perso-Turkic population that such vacuum is increasingly the background for ethnic tensions with a potential to polarize further the current conflict along the ethnic lines as an awaiting reality. It is feared that such reality will threaten country’s integrity with more loss of lives while some regard this as an opportunity to detach more peaceful regions of theirs from war ravaged South and East even though partition as an option has never been demanded in principle by the so-called Mellyat Haie Mahroom or deprived ethnic groups political representatives so far.

Continuing on Babur Shah story, according to Western and Indian perspectives the relationship of Babur to Khorasan (also spelled Khurasan), which historically approximates to the land called Afghanistan and her population, the Khorasanis, barely goes beyond his love of and grave in Kabul. Therefore, outside Afghanistan the common concept taken hold i.e. that the emperor, who originated in Central Asian Farghana Valley, was culturally Persianized attributed mostly to today’s Iran including his army and generals despite them being natives of Kabulistan and Badakhshan, and Babur Shah founded an Indian empire in the Subcontinent.

This assertion is directly in conflict with popular view of Afghanistanis, both with the educated including historians and common literate man, not so much with the individuals from Pashtun background for ethno-nationalistic reasons. Most regard Babur Shah and his administration achievements as their pride and a manifestation of Khorasanis/Afghanistan’s population capability in need of recognition and respect. Often stated as if such capability is not sabotaged and better managed can help the masses to rediscover their much awaited and needed strengths in rebuilding and defending the country against Taliban’s armed campaign. It is widely believed that under Karzai’s decade leadership his close co-tribal aides, who managed to keep the real key power positions in roughly in a co-ethnic control, have been either less keen or actively against the recognition achievement of non-Pashtun Khorasani ethnicities. Some fear and argue that such denial is halting the potential opportunities and realistic strengths these groups can offer in resolving the current stalemate in defending the land against the infiltration of religious warriors from Pakistan.

Examining the historic account corroborate the claim Afghanistani Perso-Turkic population make i.e. after defeated by competing royal cousins and uncle in Transoxania Babur Shah crossed Amu Darya the Amu River with few bodyguards and settled in Badakhshan in Northern Khorasan (today’s Afghanistan) where he rose a local army made up of local Tajiks/Eastern Persians, including his prominent battlefield general for invasion of India Bairam Khan too was a native of Badakhshan. He managed to invade Kabul in 1504; Kabulistan and Khorasan community proved itself as a flourishing ground for Babur’s glory and expansion of his rule beyond Khorasani regions. In his memoires Baburnama he repeatedly calls and regards himself, his people and government as Khorasani (name given to inhabitants of Eastern Persia/ Iran before the name Afghanistan was adopted in late 19th early 20th century). His love of Kabul and Khorasan was a probable reason that he was reluctant to move his capital or be buried in neither the ever beautiful turquoise city of Samarkand, the target of his early military campaign, nor the heavenly Delhi but Kabul and Khorasan.

Other talked-about historic figures connected to the current identity battle are the ones with a global reach and legacy who remains traceable to the land of their nativity in current day Afghanistan is the influential Mawlana Jalaluddin Balkhi Rumi The Prophet of Love Dr Soroush whose Mathnavi The Book of Love was topped as best poet seller in USA over 1990s, UNESCO celebrated 800th anniversary of his birth and named 2007 as The Year of Rumi. As a native of Balkh in Northern Khorasan/Afghanistan there was sporadic and limited effort led by province’s government office to revive Rumi’s cause for Peace, Forgiveness, and Love for Humanity. Rumi’s massage as a potential booster of peace spirit, again most probably due to ethno-nationalistic reasons, has not attracted a deserved and much needed attention by war ravaged country’s leadership of central government in Kabul even on Rumi’s year. It was limited to hosting a conference where country’s president unlike Iranian President fell short of attending.
Similarly Avicenna of Balkh perhaps the most famous Muslim ancient physician and philosopher with outstanding scientific work placing his work at reference text book of science and medicine for European universities for about 4 centuries between 12th-16th, which had a fortune of being translated and published for 17 times only in Europe.

For varieties of reasons latter and similar figures from the land are not celebrated and sought after inside Afghanistan but claimed by Afghanistan neighbours mostly Iran for shared language etc.

Generally there is a sense of frustration that the country’s heritage is being allowed to be hijacked and claimed by neighbours and the land’s historic cultural wealth as a backbone of current existence is being sold out for ethno-political motives to facilitate the rise of a single ethnic identity and imposing their identity as a national one on others who makes as much as two thirds of country population inheriting the strong Persian Iranic civilization and language of Khorasan.

Current government not only does not facilitate an open and frank attitude to take on board and recognise such frustrations and clarify the issues, it rather complicates the problem e.g. by removing ethno-linguistic profiling of a national census data collection to protect the perception of Pashtun majority imposed by hegemonial governments in early 20th century.

This linguistic and inter-ethnic tension and rivalry has roots in more recent history of Afghanistan in late 19th and early 20th century while country was led to adapt its current name while the land find itself increasingly squeezed between powerful Ango-Russian empires eroding Khorasanis political and cultural influence specially in the Subcontinent including a ban of their Dari/Persian as official language and replacing it with English and Hindi as new official languages of British India. The latter although in one sense was a renaming of Urdu, the language of ruling Muslims in the subcontinent, in turn extracted mostly from Khorasani Persian language with Hindi components, still remains a widely spoken language in the subcontinent. Some scholars in Afghanistan B Sakhawarz view curbing of Persian as a conspiracy of colonial powers to limit and subsequently replace Khorasani Persian influence outside its natural base, most from territories to be added to new European colonial rule and influence zone. With the arrival of European influence and modernity into Afghanistan the new Afghan rulers.

Ahmad Shah Massoud in the 1980s

Ahmad Shah Massoud                Shaikh Musa             
  This 2006 Al Hayat article is very important. In the 1980s, most Afghan and Arab Jihadi leaders systematically defamed Ahmed Shah Masood on grounds shockingly petty, irrational and false. But Abdullah Azzam, the godfather of the Arab jihadis in Pakistan and OBL's mentor, was a staunch exception.

Saudi Academic Recounts Experiences from Afghan war


Text of part one of three of interview with Musa al-Qarni, Saudi academic and former "shari'ah theoretician" for Usamah Bin-Ladin, by Jamil al-Dhiyabi in Riyadh, date not given, published by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on 8 March

Many people think that the "Afghan experience and its mujahidin" is gone forever and that it has left no mark on our present time. However, Saudi academic Musa al-Qarni, who once led the incitement to jihad in Saudi Arabia and travelled to Afghanistan in the early days of "jihad" against the Russians, believes otherwise.

Al-Qarni is an exciting character, not only because of the events he narrates about the "jihad" leaders, both dead and alive, and his testimonies about yesterday's "mujahidin" and today's "terrorists", but is also exciting because he has a calm personality that has enabled him to pass through contradictory stages and then with great cleverness to leave every one of his experiences behind him.

He was the friend of all factions. Among the takfiris [those who brand other Muslims, including their own governments, as infidels] he advocated respect for the Islamic governments. He defended those whom the mujahidin branded as "apostates", such as Ahmad Shah Masud. Indeed he was a personal friend of Usamah Bin-Ladin but an opponent of the Taleban regime. Al-Qarni is a fantastic character that lived in harmony both with the zeal of "jihad" and the quiet life of academia.

Al-Hayat met Al-Qarni and now publishes his interview in the following pages:

[Al-Dhiyabi] Tell us how you travelled to Pakistan, then Afghanistan and worked alongside the mujahidin in the 1980s.

[Al-Qarni] An academic course was being held in Peshawar, Pakistan. I was a lecturer in those days and I asked the university president to allow me to join the group that was attending the course in Peshawar. I also informed him that if I went there, I would try to learn about the mujahidin's conditions. I attended the course but found time to visit the battlefronts to learn about the life of the mujahidin. I made the acquaintance of Shaykh Abdallah Azzam and Shaykh Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. In those days Shaykh Sayyaf operated a university called the University of Call and Jihad in an area close to Peshawar that had been named the Village of Migration. It had been specifically established to house refugees from Afghanistan but most of the Arabs who had come to Pakistan with their families also lived there.

At that time Shaykh Sayyaf had been elected as president of the so-called Ittihad-e Islami, the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan. This group was formed after Muslim ulema and preachers made efforts to unite various mujahidin factions in one body, so they formed Ittihad-e Islami and elected Sayyaf as leader because he had studied at Al-Azhar and spoke Arabic well.

This encouraged the Arabs to go and settle there. Their destination was where Sayyaf resided because first of all he was the president of Ittihad-e Islami and this gave him legitimacy in their eyes and he was also proficient in Arabic. For this reason he had a guest house in the village. Indeed I was a guest there for a long time. This was the beginning.

Afterwards I wanted to stay with the mujahidin longer. Consultations were held on how I could spend a long time with the mujahidin. Since Shaykh Sayyaf had a university for call and jihad, he told me: I will petition to let you become a lecturer at my university.

He made an application to the state to allow him to invite lecturers to teach at the university. The application was referred to Medina's Islamic University, which responded by dispatching to him five instructors to teach at the University of Call and Jihad, and I was one of them. This went on for two years. Actually I played a role that was different from the four other lecturers whose tasks were confined to teaching.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Who were your colleagues at the University of Call and Jihad?

[Al-Qarni] They were Dr Hamdan Rajih al-Sharif, who is a retired professor now; Dr Ibrahim al-Murshid, who now teaches in Al-Qasim; Shaykh Rashid al-Ruhayli, a retired Islamic University professor who is over 80 now; and Professor Dakhilallah al-Ruhayli who continues to teach at the Islamic University. I was the fifth. As I said before, their role was confined to teaching at the university but my role, by virtue of my acquaintance with Shaykh Sayyaf and the mujahidin, combined teaching at the university with visits to the front to advocate the faith and give lessons in religion and Islamic shari'ah to the young mujahidin and also to take part in some operations.

[Al-Dhiyabi] What form did the advocacy of the faith take in those days?

[Al-Qarni] Many Arab young men who had joined the jihad lacked a proper Islamic education. Indeed a large percentage of them had lived a dissolute life before. Some did not become upstanding human beings until they decided to join the jihad. They became honest persons and immediately left to join the jihad. I know some young mujahidin who were later killed in the fighting - I wish God may count them as martyrs - who had led dishonest lives before and indeed some had been really dissolute. But they were attracted to jihad.

This fact actually helped me in my work as advocate of the faith because I realized that many of those dissolute young men had something good inside them but never found the proper environment that would nurture them so they fell into an immoral mode of living. When they first came to us, some of them did not even know the rules of prayer or ritual cleansing prior to performing prayers. They had only come to fight. My field of expertise was shari'ah-related and I taught the rules of physical purity before performing prayers and the rules of worship. I instructed them in the rules governing jihad, invasion, war spoils and combat and when they should fight and when they should refrain from fighting. So they attended courses in these matters. At the same time they attended military courses and received instructions from military experts.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did you yourself attend military courses? What did these courses focus on?

[Al-Qarni] They focused primarily on developing the quality of endurance. As you know, Afghanistan has a mountainous terrain that has no paved roads for vehicles. So the trainees had to learn to tolerate hardship, to climb mountains and walk for 10-12 hours a day while carrying their personal effects, weapons and food for the trip. It was important to develop their power of endurance.

Secondly they were trained in the use of personal firearms. They were in a war. They had to carry their personal weapon, a Kalashnikov rifle, and know how to use it and how to use a pistol as well. Of course military training differed from one fighter to another according to personal aptitude and the role each was expected to play. Some confined themselves to learning how to use a Kalashnikov. Some trainees wanted to learn personal combat but others wanted to learn how to use antiaircraft guns and antitank guns. Others wanted to learn how to use mines, how to manufacture them and how to dismantle them, etc. The military courses differed in these details according to the type of trainee. Most combatants received training only in the use of personal firearms, Kalashnikovs and pistols.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did anyone receive training in suicide operations?

[Al-Qarni] No, there were no suicide operations at the time. The young men used to attack tanks and fighter aircraft with their personal weapons. The battle was open. The Russian bases with their tanks and planes were there. You had your weapons and you could go and fight them face to face.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Is it true that the university where you and your four colleagues worked turned into a station for the relay of intelligence data? Was the Village of Migration also a channel for intelligence operations?

[Al-Qarni] It is necessary to have intelligence work. This is a normal state of affairs. It was not possible for the combatants taking part in the jihad in Afghanistan not to be backed by an intelligence apparatus. It is simply impossible to operate without intelligence in any country, including Pakistan and the United States. Even the enemies, the Russians, had an intelligence apparatus and sometimes they had moles in the ranks of the Afghan mujahidin. It is normal. However, we never saw any of the intelligence work. The intelligence personnel did not interact directly with the mujahidin. They worked directly with the politicians.

[Al-Dhiyabi] The mujahidin killed a group of people who used to work with them, I mean they executed them saying that they discovered that they had been providing information to other parties.

[Al-Qarni] This took place in the later stages. In the early stages, the jihad was out in the open. Public operations do not provide an opportunity for concealment. I will give you an example. Sometimes certain countries would send intelligence operatives and indeed some of them might have been sympathetic to the communists. Indeed we know that some Arab countries were sympathetic to Russia. These countries used to send intelligence personnel. What happened to those people? At first they were received as guests and then invited to join the mujahidin in combat. What would such a person do? He would be forced to become a combatant or if he was an intelligence agent, he would remain in the rear among the migrants and civilians. He could not go to the front because he would either be killed in combat or have his cover blown. These people did not want to die especially when faced with the enemy. When you confront the enemy, you must be prepared to die.

[Al-Dhiyabi] How many stages did the Afghan jihad go through in the 1980s?

[Al-Qarni] I would say the first stage lasted from the beginning of jihad until the collapse of Kabul's communist regime and the mujahidin's capture of the city. The second stage was the stage of internal conflict among the mujahidin factions, the infighting. During this period, we isolated ourselves from them. After the mujahidin entered Kabul, I returned to Saudi Arabia and refused to participate in any actions after that.

[Al-Dhiyabi] When exactly did you return?

[Al-Qarni] The problem is that I do not remember dates well.

[Al-Dhiyabi] In the early 1990s?

[Al-Qarni] Approximately.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Prior to the Taleban era?

[Al-Qarni] Yes, before the Taleban. When Ahmad Shah Masud entered Kabul and Najibullah's regime fell, I left. I believe this happened in the 1990s. I and many other brothers who had gone to the jihad in Afghanistan returned home.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did Usamah Bin-Ladin return with you?

[Al-Qarni] He returned to the country, but went back to Afghanistan later.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Do you remember the date?

[Al-Qarni] Frankly, I cannot remember dates at all.

[Al-Dhiyabi] I have heard that the mujahidin used to refuse to memorize Western calendar dates.

[Al-Qarni] No, I am not like that. First of all most of those who joined the Afghan jihad were not known by their real names but used aliases such as Abu-this and Abu-that. I used my real name everywhere I moved in Pakistan.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Was Bin-Ladin's moniker Abu-Abdallah then, the same as today?

[Al-Qarni] Yes, Bin-Ladin was always called Abu-Abdallah from the time he went there until today. He is well known. Everyone knows Bin-Ladin.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Sulayman Abu-Ghayth was with you in those days. Do you know him personally?

[Al-Qarni] I do not know him.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did you know Abu-Sulayman al-Makki, that is Khalid al-Harbi?

[Al-Qarni] Yes, we were acquainted with him at that time. He was one of the first mujahidin. He later went to Chechnya.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Let us talk more about your stay there.

[Al-Qarni] I stayed there for the first two years. Then the two years of my appointment as lecturer on loan ended. I had earned a sabbatical year by that time from my original university. I took that year because I wanted to return to Pakistan on another appointment on loan. Our original university decided that two years were enough and terminated the loan programme. However, I spent my sabbatical there. This means that I spent three years in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Later on I returned to Afghanistan for another two years, which means I spent a total of five years there.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Who took care of your family during those years?

[Al-Qarni] I still had my salary from the university and my wife's brothers lived close to her. Every six months I would go back and spend two weeks with my family. This happened during the school year. During the summer vacation I would take my family to stay with me there. I had a house in the Village of Migration. I built a house there. I stayed there for three consecutive years but I continued to visit that university in later years during the summer vacations.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Is that university still operating?

[Al-Qarni] No, it is closed now.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did you encourage extremism in those days?

[Al-Qarni] It was not called an extremist attitude at that time. Fighting the communists was the prevailing idea. Today it is called extremism. In those days it was called jihad. A Saudi architect was the one who founded the college of architecture at that university. He was a well-known brother who played a significant role in supporting jihad. He was a professor at King Sa'ud University and had an architect's office in Medina. His name was Dr Ahmad Farid Mustafa.

[Al-Dhiyabi] How did the university operate?

[Al-Qarni] Part of the curriculum of the Call and Jihad University was to instruct and train students in jihad. They were sent into Afghanistan. It was a two-hour walk between the Village of Migration and the Afghan border from the direction of Jalalabad. During the Thursday-Friday weekend groups of university students would go to the front and help the mujahidin.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Who used to train them, intelligence personnel?

[Al-Qarni] No, they had instructors. The Arab camps had Arab instructors, some of whom were retired military officers with good experience. The Afghans had their own instructors. The Pakistani army also provided material and moral support.

[Al-Dhiyabi] At that stage Bin-Ladin operated under Abdallah Azzam's command, right?

[Al-Qarni] Yes.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Did Bin-Ladin express his opinion on military matters?

[Al-Qarni] He certainly did and his views were respected but he could not dictate his views. They had something that operated like a council and it was this body that debated the mujahidin's affairs.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Describe the relations between Ahmad Shah Masud on the one hand and Abdallah Azzam and Bin-Ladin on the other.

[Al-Qarni] Shaykh Abdallah Azzam believed that no-one among the mujahidin had Masud's stature. He used to call him the hero of the north. I remember that I once asked him about his opinion of this man. Now the Arabs did not like Ahmad Shah Masud - this is something that needs to become known. The Arabs hated him for several reasons. First of all most of them were influenced by Hekmatyar and lived as his guests in his camps. It was well known throughout the jihad years that Hekmatyar was Masud's greatest enemy. The Arabs were influenced by this enmity and became hostile to Masud on these grounds. Indeed some Arabs hated Masud more than Hekmatyar himself.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Am I to understand that Hekmatyar welcomed the Arabs as his guests and incited them against Masud?

[Al-Qarni] Yes, this is a point that should become known. Masud lived in northern Afghanistan, nearer to the Russian positions. He was not close to Pakistan. It took people 20 days to reach Masud's positions from the Pakistani border. As a result Masud did not have an office in Peshawar, nor an information representative. He was stationed in the north directly on the combat lines with the Russians. In contrast, Hekmatyar and Sayyaf had camps and operated on fronts that were very close to Pakistan in the Pashtun region. Most of the Arabs who came to Pakistan and Afghanistan were on the side of Hekmatyar and Sayyaf. You could say that 95 per cent of the Arabs who joined the jihad divided themselves between Hekmatyar and Sayyaf. A small percentage joined Yunus Khalis and Jaluleddin Haqqani.

Very few Arabs joined Ahmad Shah Masud. There few of them and we knew every one. This was the first factor that made the Arabs hate Masud, namely, Hekmatyar's enmity towards him.

The second reason why the Arabs hated Masud, may he rest in peace, was that he was a methodical, strategic thinker. Combat is an organized affair, not a chaotic operation. The Arabs, many of them or actually most of them who came to carry out jihad, were not fond of military discipline. They were disorganized. Some came and stayed for one week only. They would join an operation, fire their weapons, storm a position and then return. Some stayed for a month or two and so on. For this reason the fronts on which Sayyaf and Hekmatyar operated were wide open places where people came and went.

[Al-Dhiyabi] Are you telling me that Hekmatyar's and Sayyaf's guest houses were like open coffee shops?

[Al-Qarni] I mean that they did not impose a strict regimen or force the mujahidin who joined them to stay for a particular period. This is what I mean. Masud was the opposite. He did not accept anyone who came unless he was prepared to stay on and operate under his command. He did not allow anyone to go and carry out operations except when he expressly ordered him to do so. The Arabs operating on the fronts of Hekmatyar and Sayyaf were independent. They could carry out their own operations. They did whatever they wanted without supervision. There was no-one to hold them accountable.

A group of Arabs joined Masud in the early days of jihad. They went there with the same mindset with which they dealt with Sayyaf and Hekmatyar. After they joined Masud, they planned and carried out an operation all by themselves without his knowledge. They attacked Muslim, not Russian, convoys. When Masud learned of this, he put them in jail and they were only released after a lot of pleading and intercession by certain quarters. So those who were imprisoned by Masud returned to Hekmatyar in Peshawar and they had developed an unbelievable level of hostility towards Masud because he had jailed them and disapproved of their behaviour.

Shaykh Abdallah Azzam visited Masud after a lot of negative talk was heard about him in Peshawar. Some accused Masud of being an agent of the West. They said this because his father had been a general in the Afghan army and the children of generals were sent to Western schools. Because he had studied in such schools, they accused him of being an agent of the West. This was one thing. He was also accused of immoral actions. Some people actually levelled accusations of immorality against him. The Arabs spread a lot of negative propaganda about him in Peshawar. This reached the point where they were discussing whether it was proper or not from an Islamic viewpoint to support him with money.

[Al-Dhiyabi] It has been said that Masud is a Shi'i.

[Al-Qarni] No, he is Sunni. I remember that when there was too much talk about him in Peshawar, a session was held to try him in absentia. Two people acted as his defence and 21 acted as his accusers. The two who defended him were Algerian nationals: Abdallah Uns, who now lives in Britain and is Shaykh Abdallah Azzam's son-in-law, and a man called Qari Abdelrahim. They had lived with Masud and knew him well. On the other side 21 people including Algerians, Egyptians and Yemenis acted as accusers. There were no Saudis among them. They accused Masud of offences amounting to apostasy. The trial was held and among those present were Abdallah Azzam, Shaykh Abd-al-Majid al-Zindani and Usamah Bin-Ladin.

[Al-Dhiyabi] How long did the trial last?

[Al-Qarni] It lasted a whole week. Of course they asked me to give testimony but I refused to get involved. Nevertheless I followed what was happening. I received my information from Shaykh Abdallah Azzam, Shaykh Al-Zindani, Bin-Ladin, Abdallah Uns and Qari Abdelrahim. A curious thing was that a brother of Qari Abdelrahim, who was called Qari Said, was one of Masud's bitterest enemies. I ask God to forgive Qari and have mercy on his soul. After he returned to Algeria from Afghanistan, he joined the armed groups there and was killed. The 21 accusers failed to prove Masud's guilt on any of the charges they levelled against him. When the presiding committee announced its verdict, its members declared that they would not say anything either in praise or vilification of Masud.

[Al-Dhiyabi] What do you think of this verdict?

[Al-Qarni] I think it was unfair. You should either prove a person's guilt or exonerate him but the committee ruled this way because Usamah Bin-Ladin and Shaykh Abd-al-Majid al-Zindani were more inclined to support Hekmatyar than Masud. Additionally they did not want to go against the wishes of the Arabs who were in Peshawar, saying to themselves: All the Arabs in the city are against Masud, so how could we praise him?

The only exception was Shaykh Abdallah Azzam, may he rest in peace. He said: As for me, I will praise Masud until I go to my Maker, God Almighty. He left that trial session and began implementing a plan to praise Masud. He wrote a book about him called "The Titans of the North". He could not get it printed, however, because almost all of Peshawar was semi-owned by Hekmatyar and Sayyaf. Masud had no influence there. So the book was not printed.

I once asked Shaykh Abdallah Azzam, may he rest in peace: Shaykh Abdallah, do you still believe that Masud is the hero of Afghanistan?

Azzam replied: Indeed he is the hero of Islam.

After this I told myself that I should pay a visit to Masud and get to know him from up close. Brother Abdallah Uns used to talk to me about Masud. I used to see his jihad as a different form of jihad. The mujahidin in southern Afghanistan conducted a form of guerrilla warfare. This means you cannot destroy your enemy but you can continue fighting forever. It was a form of hit-and-run warfare without a clear strategy. This is why Sayyaf, Hekmatyar, Haqqani, Yunus Khalis and all the other factions in Peshawar could not capture any of the major cities. They lived in the mountains, valleys and small villages, conducting a hit-and-run form of combat. They would carry out an attack, seize war spoils, but then the communists would come and expel them from the positions they had occupied, and so on. Masud, on the other hand, conducted a form of regular warfare. He had a regular army and a clear strategy.


- Dr Musa Bin-Muhammad Bin-Yahya al-Qarni

- Born in 1954 (1374 of the Hegira) in the town of Bish in the Jazan province

- Married with six sons and six daughters

- Obtained a doctoral degree in the principles of Islamic jurisprudence from Umm al-Qura University

- Former associate professor of Islamic jurisprudence at the Islamic University

- Former dean of students' affairs at the Islamic University

- Former head of the Department of Islamic jurisprudence at the Islamic University

- Former member of the Religious Scholarship Committee at the Islamic University

- Former president of the Islamic University in Peshawar

- Founding member of the Global Islamic Relief Organization

- Former member of the board of directors of the Global Islamic Relief Organization

- Founding member of the Global Islamic Education Organization

- Now retired, he works as a lawyer and shari'ah counsellor.


-London Al-Hayat

جنايات طالبان در شمالی

جنايات طالبان در شمالی 
تاریخ گزارش، ۱۵ سپتامبر ۱۹۹۹ 


Three Afghan fascists, one encyclopaedia

Mohammad M. Naseh
13 June 2012

Afghanistan's recently-revised encyclopaedia reveals shocking figures on ethnic composition for the country. Published by the "Academy of Science", formerly known as the "Pashto Tolana", the “Encyclopaedia of Aryana” has outrageously put the Pashtoons at 62.73% and Tajiks at 12.38%.

Although the head of Afghanistan’s Statistics Office has dismissed the figures as “unofficial” and “unacceptable”, the fact that it has gone to the print and contains President Karzai’s signature has caused an outcry in the troubled country.

The encyclopaedia also includes highly exaggerated number of Pashtoon “scholars”, personalities and makes false references, such as "Afghan Samanid rulers" and "ancient Afghanistan", by downplaying the land's historic and respected name "Khorasan" which even Pashtoon rulers revered and described their territory until late 19th century. Other falsifications include claims that the word “Parthia” or “Persia” has evolved from Pashtana, Pakhtana and Paktiana.

The fact is that the name "Afghanistan" was first used by the British to the current territory. Before 19th century, "Afghanistan" was referred to the far south-east areas such as greater Paktia regions and the Pashtoon areas which are now part of Pakistan. The controversial word "Afghan" referred to the very people but later imposed on the entire population of today's Afghanistan.

Since the early days of Islam, "Khorasan" contained eastern Iran, all of today's Afghanistan & parts of Central Asia. Khorasan is the birthplace of renowned Persian scholars, philosophers and polymaths, such as Rumi, Khayyam, Avicenna, Al-Biruni, Farabi, Ferdausi, Zakariya Razi (Rhazes), etc. An increasingly number of areas or institutions are being named in Afghanistan after little-known Pashtoon personalities with total disregard to Khorasan’s great Persian heritage and its world class scholars.

Who has tampered with the encylopaedia?

Habibullh Rafi, a known Pashtoon nationalist, has been serving as head of the Encyclopaedia section of the Academy of Science since 2006 when another Pashtoon nationalist/conservative leader, Abdul Karim Kurram, became the minister of information and culture. Both are from the Sayed Abad district of Wardak. The highly controversial Khurram is currently serving as President Karzai's chief of office.

What are the sources of encyclopaedia’s ethnic make-up?

The figures are fabrication by Pashtun super-nationalist Nabi Misdaq, who was head of the Pashto radio service of the BBC until mid 1990s. The supremacist was thrown out of the BBC for using his position and the corporation to incite ethnic tensions in Afghanistan. In a letter to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel in 2010, Misdaq and a number of other well-known Pashtoonist ideologues quoted these ethnic figures to claim that the Pashtuns were victims of "injustices" in Afghanistan!

Misdaq, Sayed Jan Karwani, Farooq Azam and Ustad Nigargar met Taliban leaders in Kandahar in 1997. At a conference in London on return from Kandahar, Misdaq, head of the so-called “fact-finding mission”, praised the Taliban as the “true sons” Afghanistan. He also claimed that the Taliban governor of Kandahar Mullah Hassan had kissed their clean-shaved faces as a proof that they were not enforcing compulsory beard on men.

Are there other culprits?

Yes. Nabi Misdaq bases his invented ethnic composition, which also appears in his book (Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference), on a so-called research by a non-existent “WAK Foundation in Norway”. This WAK seems to be his ghost venture with Hassan Wolasmal, former leader of the Pashtoon nationalist Afghan Millat Party (or Afghan Social Democrat Party).

Wolasmal spent 10 months in prison in Norway in late1990 for raping a disabled Norwegian boy, but released after his lawyers argued that he was mentally unfit. The story was published on major Norwegian papers, with one headline reading “62-year old Afghan pedophile imprisoned for rape”. The story was also published on the Farsi Omid Weekly in the USA after verified by the Norwegian embassy in the United States.

Wolasmal lived in Norway from 1986 to 2002 with his two wives (one under the guise of being his sister). He left for Afghanistan sometime after the release and now appears on TVs as a political commentator from time to time. In an interview with the Norwegian paper, in Kabul on 30 June 2006, about a hunger strike by Hazara refugees over uncertainty about their asylum cases, Wolosmal unethically claimed that the striking Hazaras were not in danger in Afghanistan. He, instead, argued that the Pashtoon refugees deserved asylum in Norway, not others.

At a time when Afghanistan needs unity more than anything else, Karzai, who was supposed to conduct a transparent national census with accordance to the Bonn Agreement, has signed the encyclopaedia to the dismay of the majority of the population. He and his Pashtoon predecessors have largely avoided conducting a census in Afghanistan fearing that the myth and fallacy of Pashtoon “majority” could be exposed.

What is the ethnic composition?

Until 2001, most international agencies, such the UN, US government, Library of US Congress, CIAFactbook, etc put the Pashtoons at 38% (see US link below). The figures were based on the general census conducted by communist Pashtoon President Noor Mohammad Taraki in June 1979. Population figures for all districts & provinces were later published in the “Atlas of Afghanistan” which was compiled by the UNDP, Afghanistan's Central Statistics Office and Polish experts on the basis of the census. Most non-Pashtoons dispute this 38% because it includes a large and arbitrary figure for Pashtoon nomads in order to inflate over all Pashtoon population.

After the US occupation of Afghanistan, the CIAFactbook (now WorldFactbook), revised its figures for Afghanistan by putting the Pashtoons at 42%, Tajiks 27% and in contrast sharply downsized the Hazaras to 9% from 19%. This was largely seen as a move to justify giving a large share of political power and resources to the ethnic group in Afghanistan.

European Campaign for Human Rights in Afghanistan

Abdul Ali Faiq on the folly of negotiations with the Taliban & the implications of abandoning Afghanistan. A sovereign and democratic Afghanistan - accept no substitutes. Watch here

The Body of Resistance Poet Returns Home after Decades

Relatives and friends of Ustad Khalilullah Khalili, a well-respected author and poet, finally transferred the poet’s body to Kabul from Pakistan where he was buried in 1987, ending a refugee life following Russian invasion at home. 

The relatives feared the Taliban threat after some famous Sufi graves were blown up by insurgent groups. Ustad Khalili, a mammoth supporter of Mujahedeen, escaped to Pakistan alongside thousands of other Afghan families as soon as the Communist parties took power. He then praised the freedom fighters with enormous poems and articles honoring their bravery in the fight against the Red Army and continued to be an outstanding devotee for them. His patriotic poems were often secretly sent inside Afghanistan and distributed among Mujahedeen.

Yesterday, May 27, Afghan lawmakers, students, activists and high-ranking officials gathered to rebury his body in a certified ceremony inside the Kabul University campus. Ustad Khalili’s body came home almost 25 years after his tragic death. Among the government officials attending the ceremony were Minister of Higher Education Obaidullah Obaid, Minister of Information and Culture Makhdom Rahin, Education Minister Farooq Wardak, and the poet son, Afghan Ambassador to Spain Massoud Khalili. Speakers appreciated the decision to have the poet rest in his own country and called it a victory for the nation. 

Ustad Khalili was born in 1907 in Kabul, Afghanistan. He travelled to Europe and North America but declined to live in the West. He returned home and begun his literary work. He served as the governor of Balkh province during the region of Habibullah Kalakani . Mr. Khalili is known as the founder of resistance poetry in Afghanistan which also impressed many Persian-speaking poets in Iran and Tajikistan by his inspiring original style of writing poetry. 

Mr. Khalili, a creative writer, generated over the course of his career a diverse selection ranging from poetry to fiction to history to biography. He published 35 volumes of poetry, including his celebrated works Ashk wa KhonTears And Blood’, composed during the Soviet occupation, and Ayyar az Khorasan ‘Hero of Khorasan’ and with  a collection of his quatrains,.

 Afghanistan Study Group

How the Taliban captured Kabul

How the Taliban captured Kabul

by Scirocco Jazz on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 5:51am ·
The nearly one-year Taliban campaign against Kabul in 1995 put the city under severe harm but the Taliban failed to take the city against Ahmad Shah Massoud's government forces. Instead the Taliban suffered devastating military defeats. At the same time Massoud and Rabbani were finally able to show political successes through an "intra-Afghan dialogue" bringing everyone including Dostum, Hekmatyar, Wahdat or the Jalalabad Shura to the negotiations table. Only the Taliban categorically refused to share power. Rabbani said: "This alliance can be consolidated by bringing in more opposition figures to create a peace axis and I call on others to join the process so that a formula for an interim government can be found". Pressured by Massoud, Rabbani agreed to relinquish the presidency for a new president to be elected  in a conference inclusive of all parties. Massoud told Rabbani that no party could claim the highest office and power for itself forever as shown by the Soviet example.

Considering both the military and political achievements by Massoud and Rabbani, the Taliban and their Pakistani backers decided they had to devise a strategy to ascent to power before the new understanding between the other parties could be consolidated. The  following strategies and external circumstances finally led to the capture of Kabul.

Religious symbolism
To silence unrest within its own ranks and elements which were demanding to negotiate with the Kabul government, the Kandahari elements behind Mullah Omar strictly opposed to negotiations sought to cement Mullah Omar's leadership by implying religious symbolism. After meetings which included Pakistani officials, the Kandahari Taliban mounted a religious play in April 1996, featuring Omar standing in the wind in Kandahar in the Cloak of the Prophet Muhammad taken from its shrine. The Kandaharis staged an event in which they declared Omar to be the "Leader of the Faithful" acting according to parts of the script of religious prophecy about an "army from Khorasan" which will save Islam displaying black banners. Omar was placed above the normal political business and any questions with regards to his decisions were no longer tolerated. The strategy proved successful. His decision was to wage war against the government and not to share power with anyone.

Internal spoiler Hekmatyar and over-streched defensive lines
When Hekmatyar joined the government, he and Rabbani demanded Massoud to cover the Hezb-e Islami lines as well. Hezb-e Islami commanders were either unwilling or unable to hold their own against the Taliban. Massoud initially refused to send his forces into largely unknown territory. But Rabbani and Hekmatyar increasingly put pressure on him accusing him of not wanting to act united and Hekmatyar again threatening to act as a spoiler if his demands were not to be met. Massoud finally send troops to cover the Hezb-e Islami lines. He found himself in largely unknown territory deep in Hezb-e Islami country. While his troops were unfamiliar with the area which they still needed to study, Hezb-e Islami commanders quit their positions and left Massoud's defensive lines over-streched and thinly manned.

Corruption and criminal activity by government allies
Corruption and criminal activity by some of the government's allies lead to very low morale among their forces, so that Massoud repeatedly needed to send in troop reinforcements of his own core force. The criminal activities by some also lead to an initially indifferent population.

Treason because of bribery by Pakistan
Pakistan for months desperately tried to bribe Dostum, Hezb-e Wahdat, the Jalalabad Shura and others to not make peace with the government but to join the Taliban's war instead. They largely failed. But when the Taliban approached Jalalabad instead of Kabul, they finally cracked the Jalalabad Shura. Abdul Qadir, leader of the Jalalabad Shura, fled to Pakistan taking, according to some sources, $10 million in Pakistani bribes with him. The Jalalabad Shura forces did not recover from the treason among their leadership and Jalalabad was lost to the Taliban. Kabul suddenly faced a new hostile front to the east. At the same time many Hekmatyar commanders committed treason and vacacted their positions for Taliban to take their place.

Seemingly unrestricted access to Saudi funds and Pakistani hardware
Seemingly unrestricted monetary funds were flowing to the Taliban from Saudi Arabia. Pakistan provided the military equipment. In the meantime Massoud had to cut his troops because of a shortage of money.

Pakistan army strategy: Mobile warfare
The mobile warfare employed by the Taliban during the capture of Jalalabad was a phenomena introduced as a strategy by the Pakistan army. Pakistan provided the Taliban with the necessary hardware including heavily armored pickup-trucks. The offensives themselves were planned, coordinated and led by Pakistan army advisers. Funds were coming from Saudi Arabia. As had happened in September 1995 in Herat, the Taliban when capturing Jalalabad employed mobile warfare, repeatedly outflanking their enemies, cutting them off and attacking from the rear. (Anthony Davis, Fundamentalism Reborn) In this style they were to rapidly move forward towards Kabul from all sides.

Thousands of Pakistani nationals as troop enforcements in cross-border incursions
While Taliban troops already inside the country were approaching from the south and west, Pakistan opened up its borders with thousands of Taliban troop enforcements, many Pakistani nationals or Afghan refugees, suddenly placed to the east of Jalalabad and later moving towards Kabul.

The result of above strategies and general circumstances were:
1. Embolded by the religious symbolism of their leader, Taliban troops had very high morale.
2. Millions in cash were coming from Saudi Arabia, military equipment was provided by Pakistan and military campaigns were planned and led by professional Pakistan army advisers. Thousands of Pakistanis acted as troop enforcements.
3. After the capture of Jalalabad Kabul was wide open from all sides for the first time, except for a small corridor to the north. Hekmatyar had abandoned his positions to the south, Abdul Qadir had abandoned his positions to the east, Ismail Khan had been defeated to the west not least because corruption had decreased the morale among his people.
4. Massoud's defensive lines were over-streched in areas were Hezb-e Islami had formerly held its positions. Immediately after the surprising capture of Jalalabad the Taliban quickly moved towards Kabul  from all sides, also trying to cut off the small northern corridor. When the Taliban approached the Hezb-e Islami areas with their rapid mobile warfare, this led to a disorderly retreat by over-streched government forces which in turn led to confusion.
5. Although morale was high among Massoud's troops in his core territories, he foresaw that reestablishing a defensive line, including troops which were in confusion and retreat, for Kabul on four fronts against a mobile warfare force with a working air force rapidly approaching from all sides, if possible, would cause destruction and bloodshed maybe worse than the destruction caused by the 1994 Dostum-Hematyar bombardments. Instead of risking slaughter and bloodbath, Massoud ordered a strategic retreat saving his forces from being trapped in the capital and preventing bloodbath in Kabul. Able to defend the northern corridor, his forces retreated to the north while the external defense circle surrounding the city was left in place creating the impression the government was still situated in Kabul while in fact covering the strategic retreat. The anti-Taliban resistance was moved to the mountains to fight another day.

What is the difference today?
The Karzai government today has forces in more parts of Afghanistan than the Rabbani government had in 1995 and 1996. The current administration also enjoys extensive foreign funding which the Rabbani government did not. The current number of Afghan security forces is significantly larger than in 1995 and 1996.

On the other hand the current administration and its hundreds of thousands of security forces are nearly entirely dependent on foreign funding which at some point is going to decrease significantly, Massoud's forces were not dependent on foreign funding. Morale today is low and Karzai's personal influence on the forces quasi non-existent, while Massoud's forces had very high morale and were ready to die for their leader and his vision. The question remains whether today's forces are sustainable, Massoud could always sustain a core force.

While Massoud's problem lay in the over-streching of his loyal  troops, the current government's problem lies in the question whether the Afghan army will remain loyal and whether it might disintegrate or not after 2014. The repercussions of Massoud's problem were the need for a strategic retreat while his forces remained largely intact. The possible repercussions of today's problem could be a complete disintegration of the current Afghan forces and government with armed splitter groups joining militias based on ethnic or tribal affiliation or even joining the enemy, the Taliban.

If the Taliban and Pakistan were to pull-off a compareabl campaign for the capture of Kabul today
- religious symbolism would still place the Taliban morale very high,
- treason and corruption could still lead to the break-down of government lines on several fronts reducing the forces loyal to the current Afghan government to a smaller core group which then could also face over-streching,
- Pakistan army strategy has not changed and it will still allow massive cross-border incursion opening up new fronts, support and lead mobile warfare and other warfare strategies,
- Hekmatyar is still working as a spoiler from within, with Karim Khurram decisively responsible for Karzai's inconsistency and a break-down of Karzai's alliance with other groups,
- as an addition, the Taliban today are able to infiltrate Kabul and launch attacks from inside which they were not able to do in 1996.

What are the lessons
As pointed out by many knowledgeable observers, Afghan forces today need a leader and a vision for which they are ready to die. A corrupt leadership cannot fulfill this role. The difference can be seen between the low morale in Herat 1995 or Jalalabad 1996, which was due to corruption among the leadership. Meanwhile in Kabul, Massoud had to force his people to leave Kabul because their morale was too strong. Elections in 2013, one year early, could provide a chance to elect such a leader.

Afghanistan needs to find a way to sustain its forces even after foreign funding is drastically reduced.

The Taliban's hegemony with regards to the claim that they are the "true defenders of Islam" needs to be shattered as they are not. What is the true Islam?! This needs to be defined and defended by Muslim leaders against the Deobandi and Wahhabi aspirations of extremists planting the seed of hatred all over the world.

Preventive strategies against mobile warfare and infiltration into major cities need to be developed.

Crucial border crossing points need to be secured.

And, time and again, the international community needs to put pressure on Pakistan, two-thirds of whose budget in 1999 was funded by international loans and credits. One of the greatest dangers to Pakistan would be if it was to be officially listed as a sponsor of terrorism. Without Pakistan all the Taliban would have been left with would have been religious symbolism. But Afghanistan also needs to deal responsibly with Pakistan's concerns such as over the disputed Durand border. The border dispute needs to be resolved in front of the United Nations once and for all. Strategic over-expansionism by Pakistan needs to be replaced by economic cooperation and the establishment of stable trade routes.

Other anti-Taliban forces could have reinforced government forces as the Taliban were approaching Kabul, but they were just standing by. With the allies waiting until the last moment to support each other, they were all decisively weakened and pushed into a corner. Such shall not be repeated.

Last one of the most important things, a population is not going to back a force involved in atrocities and corruption even if the other force is committing worse atrocities. Anti-Taliban forces need to create mechanisms controlling their own forces leading to trust among the general population. Dostum and the Wahdat have never created such mechanisms. When Massoud was in Kabul, he too could not control all of his forces, some turning criminal. But when Massoud was in the north during the anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban resistance he was able to control most of his commanders and this led to strong support among the population.