May 4, 2012

London Arabic paper on talks with Taliban

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 1:35 pm

Report from Islamabad by Umar Faruq: “Washington-Taliban Negotiations: Mines on the Road to Peace. The Negotiations have been going on for 16 Months. Mulla Muhammad Tayyib Agha is the Link between Mulla Umar and Washington”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Friday, April 27, 2012

When a senior American official came in the last months of 2011 to visit the commander of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, at the General Directorate headquarters in Rawalpindi, he wanted to surprise the General by a report he brought for him. He told him that the American Administration was conducting secret talks with representatives from the Taliban Movement at a desolate village in Germany near Munich. But there was no surprise in this for General Kayani. He told his American visitor that he knew through his intelligence sources most of what was going on in the contacts between the United States and the Taliban Movement.

What did surprise General Kayani was the request the American visitor conveyed to him from senior US Administration officials, namely “to provide protection to the Taliban Movement representatives who are conducting talks with American diplomats in Germany and Doha”. This had been revealed by Al-Sharq al-Awsat on the basis of information from reliable official sources and was published at the time. Informed sources tell Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Government and Army leaders in Pakistan assured American officials that the representatives of the Taliban Movement whose names the Pakistani Government has specified will enjoy protection if they enter Pakistani territory. The head of the Taliban delegation, Mulla Muhammad Tayyib Agha, a close aide to Mulla Umar who worked as director of his office in Kabul from 1996 until the movement fell in 2001, traveled with a Pakistani passport to conduct the talks in Germany.

This American request for protection by the Pakistani Army to Tayyib Agha and two of his companions was motivated by fear that Al-Qa’ida organization, or perhaps some extremist elements inside Taliban, would try to assassinate the movement’s negotiators after the lid was uncovered about the secret talks between American officials and the movement.

The Americans see Tayyib Agha as a valuable link with the Taliban leadership. He demonstrated that he was trustworthy on more than one occasion during the talks with the Americans. The concern for the safety of the Taliban representatives was the reason American diplomats tried to keep these contacts with Taliban secret.

A senior Pakistani official said: “The Americans feared the leak of any information on the secret talks with Taliban might endanger the lives of the Taliban negotiators. They feared that somebody from Al-Qa’ida or perhaps some extremists in Taliban would try to assassinate Tayyib Agha and his two companions.”

In the course of the talks with the Taliban representatives, the Americans became convinced they were negotiating with somebody who is in direct contact with Mulla Umar. This conviction came when Tayyib Agha, the spokesman for Taliban, issued a statement on what went on between him and the American diplomats. American diplomacy further realized that Taliban has dissociated itself from Al-Qa’ida and other international jihad organizations inside Afghanistan. This convinced the Americans that Tayyib Agha and his two colleagues represent the trend in Taliban that considers the Arab Afghans responsible for their defeat at the hands of the American forces in 2002.

The secret talks between Taliban and the American diplomats are continuing even though the two sides have not succeeded after 16 months of intermittent negotiations to reach any political understanding that could contribute to removing the mines on the road to establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan. The discussions conducted with the diplomats and experts in Islamabad on this issue showed that these continuous secret talks between Taliban’s representatives and the American diplomats have not achieved more than the release of some prisoners and responsiveness by Taliban in easing violence in Afghanistan at the request of UN officials in the country.

The two sides have held until now four official rounds of negotiations in Germany, Dubai, and Doha. The focus of the discussions in all these was on establishing a permanent line of communications between the two sides. The first direct round between the American diplomats and the Taliban representatives was held in Munich in November 2010. Taliban was represented by Tayyib Agha, who is close to Mulla Umar. The talks were attended by a senior official from the Qatar Government at the request of Taliban.

The Pakistani officials expressed dismay that the Americans did not trust them and inform them about the secret talks and that they learned about this only through their own sources inside Taliban. The Americans said they did not tell anyone about these negotiations in their initial phases to prevent disruption of the negotiations. But Pakistani officials told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the Americans informed them about these negotiations after two rounds were actually conducted.

A Pakistani official informed about the talks said: “These were more of a session than negotiations. Each side became acquainted with the other.” In the second round held in Doha Taliban representatives Tayyib Agha raised the issue of the Taliban prisoners held by the American Army and intelligence at the Bagram Air Force Base and other locations in Afghanistan. The American side made no commitments on this.

The Pakistani and Afghani Governments raised the idea of holding talks with Taliban due to many reasons. Afghani President Hamid Karzai has been convinced that the shortages in American financing for war efforts in Afghanistan make it impossible to win the war militarily. Meanwhile the Pakistanis want Taliban to get a share in power-sharing arrangements in Afghanistan just to keep India away from Afghanistan.

The European countries have persistently urged the American Administration to start a dialogue with Taliban to pave the way for a final withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. A major advance was achieved in these talks when the Americans became certain that Afghanistan’s Taliban has begun to dissociate itself from Al-Qa’ida and that it has responded to UN appeals to reduce violence inside Afghanistan. Diplomatic sources revealed to Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the second round of talks with Taliban was held in Doha in February 2011. At that round, each side wanted the other side to prove it has acquired the necessary mandate from its higher authorities to conduct these talks. Diplomats in Islamabad say that by the end of that round the Americans were convinced that Tayyib Agha had contacts with Mulla Umar and that he represents him in these talks.

The third round was held in Germany three weeks only after the killing of Usama Bin Ladin in Pakistan. It was a pleasant surprise for the Americans that the Taliban delegation did not raise the issue of Bin Ladin’s killing during these talks which continued for three days. They agreed in that round to a proposal to remove the names of some Taliban leaders from the UN sanctions list. This was followed by Afghani President Hamid Karzai’s release of some Taliban leaders from the Kabul Prison after these talks.

Opponents from both sides to these secret talks continued to play a negative role to make the process fail. After the third round, an official in the Government of President Karzai leaked some information about these talks to the German press. This resulted in suspending the talks. The fourth round was not held on schedule and was postponed for several months. Similarly, the attacks launched on the American Embassy in Kabul led to suspension of the talks between the American CIA and another group which is more aggressive than Taliban, often called in the US media by the name of “the Haqqani network”.

The Haqqani network, headed by Taliban’s former Defense Minister Jalal-al-Din Haqqani, is focused in the Pakistani tribal areas north of Wazirstan. The Pakistan intelligence convinced the CIA to hold a meeting with some representatives from the Haqqani network in August 2011 as part of the bid to arrange talks with Taliban. The meeting did not materialize, but some progress was mad e in the initial contacts between the Americans and the Haqqani network, according to some informed sources. Despite this, progress was halted after the attack on the American Embassy in Kabul and after some American officials blamed this attack on the Haqqani network.

Most experts express conviction that the Americans need to take a more comprehensive look at the situation in Afghanistan if they want to pave the way for a final withdrawal of forces by 2014. A prominent expert who preferred anonymity said: “The problem is that the Americans have no plan for withdrawal. They say they shall withdraw by 2014, but how can you withdraw your forces at a time a civil war is in progress in Afghanistan?” Taliban did reduce the scale of violence on some occasions in response to UN appeals but it has also proven its ability to raise the level of violence within days.

Similarly, some experts say that the American plan to turn over security affairs in Afghanistan to the budding national Afghani army is mere wishful thinking. These experts add: “The national Afghani army lacks training and equipment, not to mention the large-scale desertions from the Afghani Army in the past few months.” In this situation, the search for a political solution for violence in Afghanistan might be the only viable option for the Americans.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic — Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL:

Taliban spokesman in London Arabic paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 1:32 pm

Interview via internet with Taliban Media Spokesman Qari Ahmadi Yusuf, by Muhammad al-Shafi’i in London; date not given: “Taliban Media Spokesman to Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Winning Media is Winning More Than Half the Battle; Qari Ahmadi Yusuf: Social Communication Websites Are Our Voice to the Outside World; Our Islamic Values Made US Win”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Saturday, April 14, 2012

If you want to know why the Taliban of Afghanistan agreed to hold talks with the United States although it is waging a ferocious fighting against the world’s most powerful army; or what will happen to girls’ schools if Taliban return to power; the monthly salary of Taliban elements; from where does Taliban receive donations; how they communicate with the outside world; how they recruit followers; or how they follow up media outlets; all you have to do is to visit (Taliban) website and put your questions. Qari Ahmadi Yusuf, media spokesman for Taliban, whom Al-Sharq al-Awsat interviewed via internet, will reply to your questions. It is noticeable that this Taliban figure has a competent media organ, which follows up and analyzes news and submits reports to Taliban’s higher echelons. Despite being busy with fighting, he personally communicates through Twitter and Facebook. He regards (winning) the media war as winning more than half the battle. He says that what is most important in the media war is “winning over the hearts and minds of followers, which can only be won by telling the truth. The interview follows:

(Al-Shafi’i) Would Taliban spokesman Qari Ahmadi Yusuf tell us something about himself? Where did he go to school?

How old is he? Has he memorized the Koran in religious schools? Is he specialized in Muslim jurisprudence and shari’ah or in the media field? Did he go to high school?

(Yusuf) I am 37 years old. I studied modern sciences at a high school. I have memorized and chant the Koran, God willing. I finished shari’ah education in various religious schools. I recite poetry and am good at writing all forms of Arabic and Persian calligraphy. I speak Pashtu (mother tongue), Persian, and have some knowledge of Arabic, English, and Urdu.

(Al-Shafi’i) How long have you been involved in Afghan jihad?

(Yusuf) Since the final days of the jihad against the Communist rule in Afghanistan.

(Al-Shafi’i) Are you married? Do you have sons, if so, how old is your eldest son?

(Yusuf) Yes, I am married and have sons. My son, Muhammad, is the oldest, and is 12 years old.

(Al-Shafi’i) In view of your engagement in jihad, how do you communicate with family and sons?

(Yusuf) Most often I am away from my family and kinsfolk, but I am in constant touch with them.

(Al-Shafi’i) As an authentic Pashtu, which holy Koran’s verse do you recite morning and evening?

(Yusuf) As a Muslim muhajid, I often recite verse 23 of Sura Al-Ahzab: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: of them some have completed their vow to the extreme, and some still wait, but they have not changed their determination in the least (Al-Ahzab, verse 33:23)

(Al-Shafi’i) Are you good at using social communication media, such as computers, internet, Facebook, and Twitter?

(Yusuf) Yes, praise be to God; I use computers and have pages on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

(Al-Shafi’i) Why did you ban computers, television, girls’ schools, and the internet during the Taliban rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001?

(Yusuf) Afghanistan’s circumstances were then extremely difficult. Besides, there was the local fighting behind which many foreign parties stood. There was also the unjust blockade and sanctions imposed on us, let alone the poor economic situation. These factors prevented us from carrying out basic development projects in terms of education and health facilities, and other public services and utilities. We should not forget that the Soviets left the country in ruins, and planted millions of landmines, which killed and wounded people every day. In addition, the Soviets did not pay compensation for the ferocious war that destroyed Afghanistan. For this reason, the ban you mention was not deliberate on our part as much an it was imposed on us. It is like the aggressive war that the United States has imposed on us for more than 10 years. The things you mentioned were not banned in Afgha nistan, for we did use computers in our administrative offices, and girls went to schools for medical education. We used and benefited from the internet; they were not banned, rather, their misuse was.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you have experts in computers and information technology?

(Yusuf) Our youths are characterized by intelligence, resolve, and patience. They have learned a great deal under the harsh war circumstances. They will learn more after our country has been liberated and the Islamic rule is reestablished. The world will be astonished by the Afghan youths’ achievements in all modern fields.

(Al-Shafi’i) Is communication through the internet currently important to the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan?

(Yusuf) The media is a basic and important part of the ongoing war between us and the occupation enemy. (Winning) the media war means, perhaps, winning more than half the war. We communicate with our people in Afghanistan and beyond, explain our cause, and make our voice heard among all Muslims and in the world in general. Needless to say, we lack technical and material resources, but we do not lack determination and faith, something that our enemy does not have. More important than resources are truthful reporting. This makes our media outdo the enemy’s media, notwithstanding the enormous resources at the latter’s disposal. It is the Islamic values that make us triumph and outdo the enemy in the media field as well as in the battlefield.

(Al-Shafi’i) Many people visit your website; do you communicate with them?

(Yusuf) Visiting websites is not more difficult than joining jihad and the battlefield. More important than visiting websites is winning over the minds and hearts of the masses who visit websites. This can only be won by truthful reporting, and faith in the justice of our people’s cause and in their jihad against aggressors in defense of our religion and homeland.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you read Arabic newspapers or follow up, for instance, what is written in US and Western papers, or do you regard the latter as satanic papers?

(Yusuf) We follow up everything we can have access to, such as media reports and scientific material, which is part of our mission. We particularly follow up any reports relating to our cause, even if indirectly. Naturally, this is the mission of our media organ, which follows up and analyzes what it monitors and submits reports to the higher echelons. We can easily recognize satanic acts whether in newspapers or in other domains.

(Al-Shafi’i) The believers are known to have “sweet tongues,” what kind of food do you like?

(Yusuf) I do not slight any food in deference to the Prophet’s tradition, “God’s messenger does not at all slight any kind of food; if he likes it, he will eat it; if not, he will leave it.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Tarmadhi, and Ibn Majah). Yet I like Al-Tharid, the favorite Afghan meal.

(Al-Shafi’i) Why did the Taliban of Afghanistan agree to hold talks with the United States although it is waging a fierce combat against the world’s most powerful army? Why were the Doha talks suspended? Have you closed down the Taliban office in Qatar?

(Yusuf) The objective of continuing jihad against the occupiers and of holding talks with them is the same, namely to expel the aggressive armies and reestablish Islamic rule in the country. Continuing or suspending the negotiations is contingent on achieving that objective. We stopped the talks because we found out that the enemy sought to prolong the negotiation for no useful purpose, and to exploit the talks to serve his interest.

(Al-Shafi’i) How do the Afghan youths communicate with Taliban? And how do new youths join Taliban?

(Yusuf) The Islamic Emirate is an authentic part of the Afghan people. The sons of our people join the ranks of Taliban everywhere in the country. So there is no problem of communication or of joining all forms of jihad. The jihadist activity accommodates youths, the elderly, and children. A jihadis t home can only stand on jihadist women who make sacrifices and take care of their homes.

(Al-Shafi’i) How much do you pay a Taliban jihadist in monthly salary? Do you pay them in dollars? Please do not tell me that jihad is in the cause of God, because a jihadist has a family and children to provide for. How much does a jihadist receive in monthly salary; $200? Where do you get your financial aid?

(Yusuf) First, we do not have people who are paid in dollars; that blight exists somewhere else. You can ask about this in Kabul or many other capitals. It is well known that the Afghan banknotes, which were printed by the occupation, are pegged to the currency of the occupiers, namely the US dollar. This is the case in all countries that are controlled by the United States. The Afghan people provide financial aid to Taliban. Were it otherwise, jihad would not have begun in the first place, or would have stopped long ago. The global US influence is well known, and no one dares challenge it except few, rare people. The Islamic Emirate pays salaries to only a limited number of people who devote their time to particular missions. The majority of the mujahidin are provided for by their families or tribes.

Taliban offers part of the financial aid and logistical support to various fronts while the Afghan people and tribes offer the other part, as the mujahidin are the sons of those tribes. Even during the Taliban rule, tribes would send their sons to join our forces and undertake to pay their personal cost and that of their families. Tribes play a very major social role in Afghanistan, a role of great effectiveness in time of jihad that the country is going through.

(Al-Shafi’i) What is your response to those who defect from Taliban, according to Afghan government statements as part of the reconciliation program?

(Yusuf) Taliban have already explained this issue as part of the psychological warfare against the mujahidin aimed at frustrating the people to depart from jihad. The elements that surrendered are government supporters and war lords’ followers who receive enormous funds from the occupation in return for propagating those empty claims. In the final days of the Soviet occupation, we witnessed a similar government campaign using the pretext of reconciliation, a campaign that cost a great deal of funds. In addition, weapons were distributed as bribe to those who jumped on the wagon of that reconciliation campaign to reap material benefit. However, the mujahidin forced the Soviet occupiers to flee the country and brought down the Kabul government. The mujahidin now have the same program, which absolutely has nothing to do with reconciliation with the occupation or with the Kabul regime.

(Al-Shafi’i) The question that is often asked is what will happen to girls’ schools if Taliban returns to power?

(Yusuf) This question is part of the psychological campaign. It is an early attempt against Taliban’s upcoming rule, and is aimed at diverting attention from the key problem, namely the problem of occupation and its continuing crimes against the Afghan people — men, women, and children. The occupiers are not friends of education or women. They are enemies of all Afghan people and of all Muslims. Under the rule of the Islamic Emirate, no one no matter how powerful, would take more than the Islamic shari’ah determines; and no one, no matter how weak, would be denied one’s rights that are enshrined in the shari’ah. The question has absolutely nothing to do with whims, temperaments, or the wishes of the corrupt or the oppressive states no matter how powerful they are. What counts with regard to education is compliance with the shari’ah tenets, whether with regard to the education of boys or girls. The shari’ah urges education for boys and girls from early age to the end of life. Education of boys and girls, for instance, is being used by the occupation to combat Islam in the hearts of the coming generations, just as the Soviets had sought to do in Afghanistan. We are opposed to the m isuse of the education process aimed at changing the faith, identity, and culture of the nation. We are not opposed to education in itself whether for boys or girls.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can we say that you are determined to wage the communication and information warfare until the end?

(Yusuf) As long as we are in a state of war, we will use all modern means available, and acquire all possible expertise. After we liberate the country, the acquisition of modern science and technology will be our basic challenge to develop and strengthen our country and improve the standard of living of our people who suffered a great deal from the aggression of the occupiers and the greedy.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you have a shari’ah mufti? What is his name? You need one to answer your questions on jihad, battles, and daily life affairs? Or do you turn to the so-called the Afghanistan Religious Scholars Council?

(Yusuf) We have numerous religious scholars in most parts of the country. They offer advice and explain shari’ah tenets on all aspects of life that face the mujahidin and citizens alike. They also conduct trials to settle disputes in liberated areas, which currently cover most parts of the country. The Islamic Emirate offers advice and shari’ah verdicts on important issues referred by field commanders and religious scholars in all areas. The Islamic Emirate appoints to the Fatwa Council those who have the required qualifications in religious education, who are pious, and well-versed in jihad culture. Those who make use of their religious education to serve a government appointed by the occupation and protected by its forces do not have such qualifications.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can we regard your posting Koranic verses on Facebook, Twitter, and websites as jihad, or is that intended to proliferate Islam?

(Yusuf) The use of appropriate means of communication is left to the discretion of the preacher and his assessment of the situation. It is wise to say that every situation requires particular manner of handling. Spreading Islam is the duty of every Muslim, if he can.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can the civilians who are killed in battles because of you or by NATO forces be regarded as martyrs?

(Yusuf) This question is inspired by the UN bodies’ statements, which hold the mujahidin responsible for the killing of many civilians. This is not a surprising calumny coming as it does from this international body. What every Afghan national knows is that the US and NATO forces practice systematic annihilation of our Muslim people. They use every means everywhere to kill people, in villages, on roads, in safe homes, in transportation means, in funerals and in weddings, they do this day and night. They also use aircraft and airborne forces for that purpose. War generals in the Pentagon and in Kabul plan for such massacres, which are carried out by mercenaries and soldiers who are sane or half insane. Fortunately, American soldiers themselves took photos of many of these massacres. What has been leaked about these massacres, notwithstanding their heinous and horrific nature, only shows a small part of our people’s bloody tragedy. And you ask me if these victims are martyrs? I leave the answer to your question to your shari’ah knowledge and your conscience as a journalist.

(Al-Shafi’i) As Taliban official in charge of the media, what is the hardest situation you have faced; and from experience, what is the most difficult question you have been asked?

(Yusuf) No doubt, the most difficult situation any mujahidin media official faces is receiving news of the martyrdom of commanders or of media soldiers in the battlefield. As for the most difficult question I have ever heard, it is your question about the most difficult question.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic — Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL:

Pakistan GEO TV program on rise of Taliban

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — David Isby @ 1:18 pm

TV Show Explores Role of Pakistani Seminaries in Formation of Afghan Taliban
From the program titled “Jirga” hosted by well-known journalist Salim Safi who hails from the tribal area. Words within double slanted lines are in English.
Geo News TV
Monday, April 2, 2012 T13:35:05Z

(Unidentified person) 2011…

(Video shows President Hamid Karzai begining a speech with voice over by unidentified commentator giving historical background of Afghanistan and Taliban)

(Unidentified commentator) The international forces were struggling to come up with a suitable solution to the Afghanistan conflict until the end of 2011. As 2012 begins, the Taliban seem to have made a comeback to the political scenario of Afghanistan. The Taliban first emerged and then disappeared. But it seems that they have resurfaced in Afghanistan and the world knows very little about their reality. Is it that the resistance offered by the Taliban during the past 10 years has caused a change in Washington’s //stance//?

(Unknown Anchorperson on American News Channel) After fighting the Taliban for 10 years in Afghanistan, Vice President Joe Biden says that the Taliban is not really their enemy.

(Unidentified Taliban in battle field) Allah-o-Akbar

(Host Saleem Safi over video) They are the ones who gave a //tough time// to the NATO and US forces equipped with sophisticated weapons. The world’s best weapons and //technology// offer little resistance before them. They are the ones who blow up tanks and vehicles like toys. They are the ones who blow themselves up as well as others. Here they are, they are the Afghan Taliban. Who are the Afghan Taliban? What is the motivating factor behind their movement and sacrifices? Have all the fighting Taliban students of madrassas or some other elements also gathered under the Taliban banner? Is it the religion that motivates them to fight or is their fight for the sake of the Pashtun nationhood? Is the actual motive of the fight to gain power, money and control? Who are the Taliban //supporting// and who is //supporting// them? Moreover, what link do the Taliban have with Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban? To disclose the truth about these Taliban cadres, we are taking you on a journey of the place that is being ruled by the Taliban. We are starting our journey from the city that is embroiled in blood and fire today but used to be the //base camp// for the mujahideen during the jihad against the Soviet Union. Perhaps, we cannot understand the phenomenon of the Afghan and the Pakistani Taliban without being aware of the similarities between people living on either side of the Durand Line. The Peshawar University enhances the beauty of this traditional city. Located at the center of the university is the Pakistan Study Center where we met Dr Fakhr-ul-Islam to understand the region and its people and to find answers to our questions in the academic sense.

(Islam) The combination of a number of different //factors// make Pakistan’s neighborhood with Afghanistan distinctly different from its neighborhood with China, India, or Iran. Therefore, a //racial// link exists between us. For example, you name any tribe you can, the forefathers of every tribe of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa had come from Afghanistan. It does not stop here. IT cannot be disputed that the Gardezi tribe of Multan, the Jadoon tribe of Abbottabad, the Afridi, Yousafzai, Mohmand, and Lukman Khel tribes have all come from there.

(Safi) What characteristics make the Pakistan-Afghanistan border different from the other //borders// of Pakistan?

(Islam) First of all, it is a very lengthy border. Second, it has been a subject of dispute over the years, but across the border…

(Safi) How far is it true that the life of the agreement (Durand Line) was 100 years and that it has now expired?

(Islam) We will have to deal with the complexities of international law to answer that. I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough to give an opinion on this issue. Even though the dispute has not surfaced prominently yet, it is, nonetheless, a dispute. But I fear that this dispute might raise its ahead again in the future.

(Safi) In your opinion, how much did the //global powers//, the religious factor, and particularly, the traditions and //culture// of the Pashtun //belt// of Pakistan and Afghanistan contribute to the resistance against the Soviet Union?

(Islam) I think all the three factors played their roles. However, the //superpower// played a //dominant role//.

(Safi) Do you think that the Pashtun ethos and the Pashtun culture of hospitality played a role in the arrival of the Afghan Taliban and the Al-Qa’ida and the emergence of the //Talibanization// in Pakistan’s tribal areas or can it be attributed to some other factors?

(Islam) Undoubtedly, the Pashtuns show hospitality when they receive a guest. Marriages are also solemnized, people become relatives, they get married, and the women of this region are given to them as their wives. So no one can deny the Pashtun culture of hospitality. However, religious and ideological connections also played a major role in fostering hospitality.

(Safi) We have to meet an expert who has observed the situation in detail and can discuss the same correctly to understand the background and the presence of the Taliban Movement. We also have to find out how relevant Dr Islam’s scholastic views about Pashtun culture and the region’s historic background are to the current political situation. We first learnt about Islam’s scholastic views during our visit to the Peshawar University. Rahimullah Yousafazai’s beard has turned white teaching and studying Afghanistan.

(Yousafzai) The Afghan Taliban owe their coming into being to circumstances. No one created them. They came into existence on their own. I am of the view that if some force other than the Taliban emerged, people would have welcomed them as well, even if that force belonged to the communists’ old school of thought.

(Safi) How many Afghan Taliban cadres had links with Pakistan’s religious leaders or graduated from Pakistani madrassas? What role did the Pakistani Taliban or religious leaders play in the movement of the Afghan Taliban?

(Yousafzai) There was a time when Pakistan was home to five million Afghan refugees. The madrassas in Pakistan catered to the needs of their (the Afghan refugees) educational requirements. This was how a large number of the Afghan Taliban received their education from the Pakistani madrassas. As you have noted, many of them write ‘Haqqani’ with their names, which means that they graduated from Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania, Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, but…

(Safi) Did Mullah Muhammad Omar also graduate from there?

(Yousafzai) When I asked Mullah Muhammad Omar how often he had visited Pakistan, he replied rarely. However, he also said that he was shifted to Pakistan by the ICRC, the Red Cross for medical treatment when he suffered injuries while offering resistance against the Russian Army in the battlefield of Sing-e-Sar, his hometown located in the area called Merwan, along the Kandahar-Herat road. So he used to visit Pakistan and also studied here for some time.

(Commercial Break)

(Imran Khan, while addressing a rally) America… Afghanistan (words indistinct)

(Safi) The Taliban Movement is not the only example to refer to while studying Afghanistan’s national freedom movements regarding the contribution by the Pashtun population living on the other side of the border. The level of emotional involvement was the same during the jihad against Russia. The city of Peshawar used to be the //base camp// of the Afghan mujahideen. Here, we are looking for Haji Sharafat, so we went to the Town University to reach the head office of the Hezb-e-Islami, the largest group of mujahideen during the resistance against the Soviet Union. We are meeting Haji Sharafat, the former right-hand man of Golbodin Hekmatyar, and former //commander// of the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, in the building that Golbodin Hekmatyar, the head of the Hezb-e-Islami used to sit in.

(Sharafat) Peshawar played an important role in the Afghan jihad. The arrival of Afghan refugees in Pakistan began when the communists invaded Afghanistan. Most of the refugees came to Peshawar since Peshawar was very close to Nangarhar and Jalalabad. The base camp f or the Afghan jihadist organizations was also Peshawar from day one. As you said, even at that time, the headquarters of jihadist organizations, including the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, the largest jihadist organization, were in Peshawar, while the centers of the Afghan mujahidin were in the areas adjacent to Peshawar. The mujahidin would prepare themselves and move toward Afghanistan from those training centers. The mujahidin enjoyed immense support from the tribal people. The tribal people have also faced problems for providing support and cooperation to the mujahideen since Russia bombarded the tribal areas a number of times. It is obvious that Pakistan and the entire Arab world were standing behind the mujahidin. The mujahidin, to some extent, also enjoyed the support of the United States because this was a huge resistance movement involving a number of stakeholders.

(Safi) Golbodin Hekmatyar has vanished from the scene, but he continues to offer resistance to the United States and its allies. But the United States is holding talks with the Hezb-e-Islami as it held with the Taliban. It is Dr Ghairat Baheer who always leads the delegation of the Hezb-e-Islami during his talks with the United States or the Afghan Government. Dr Ghairat Baheer served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan. We also searched and found Dr Ghairat Baheer.

(Baheer) I have had the experience of living in the prisons of both the United States and Russia. I was lodged in the prison of the Russians or the //communists// for a year. First, let me admit that Pakistan is the second home to all the Afghans. We have never felt like we are an alien country whenever we come to Pakistan. The attitude of the Pakistani people vis-a-vis Afghanistan has been positive by and large. We will never forget the hospitality offered by the Pakistani people. The religious leaders played a very positive role and cooperated a lot. As far as the positions taken by the governments are concerned, they change with time. The governments’ policies, being unstable, experienced ups and downs during that (jihad). Moreover, it is a fact that the party in power hardly represents the people’s aspirations.

(Safi) There are divided opinions over the role that the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, played in Afghanistan. Opinions on the ISI’s roles in all the matters ranging from the beginning of the mujahidin’s resistance against the Soviet Union, the organizing of the resistance, the beginning of the Taliban Movement, the government’s U-turn at the time of the US invasion in Afghanistan to the resulting war on terror have all been riddled with contradictions. So, to get an accurate idea of the ISI’s role, we went to the residence of former ISI officer retired Brigadier Asad Munir. He was appointed the ISI’s in charge in some areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and in other tribal areas immediately after the 9/11 incident and spent many years in that capacity.

(Safi) What was ISI’s //contribution// to the first war in Afghanistan that was against the Soviet Union? What was the reality?

(Munir) It was the ISI’s job to provide money, weapons, and strike a deal with the mujahidin and provide them training and plan their course of action. The ISI was doing this all before the United States arrived and continued to do so until 1989.

(Safi) What role did the religious parties and the madrassas of Pakistan play and how much did they contribute to the jihad?

(Munir) The Jamaat-e-Islami played a very active role in the jihad. With the support of the ISI, the Jamaat-e-Islami had established humanitarian camps and hospitals, among other //facilities// in Peshawar for people and mujahideen fighters who came from outside. At that time, the madrassas did not have to play any role. Most of the madrassas were established after 1984. It was by the early 1990s that the first batch or the first group graduated from the madrassas.

(Safi) What was the ISI’s role in the emergence of the Taliban?

(Munir) The gen erally perceived notion that the Taliban were created by the ISI or Naseerullah Babar is not true. I believe that the ISI did not know what ‘Talib’ means until the Taliban conquered Kandahar in November 1994. The Taliban were perceived to be unknown people supported by the United States. After a few, I think two-three months, when they captured Kandahar, they began supporting them (the Taliban), since the other groups were fighting amongst themselves.

(Safi) Is it true that the ISI and the Pakistani Government supported them after they captured Kandahar?

(Munir) Yes, the ISI supported them from 1995 to 2001.

(Safi) What was the role of Pakistan’s religious parties and madrassas in the rise of the Taliban?

(Munir) Most of the //force// of the Taliban was supplied by the Pakistani madrassas. People went there after Kandahar fell to the Taliban. All our jihadist organizations, madrassas and sectarian organizations went to Afghanistan in 1996 and forged an alliance with the Taliban and fought against the Northern Alliance for five years.

(Safi) How much did the ISI contribute to the downfall of the Taliban government and the rise of the NATO after the 9/11 incident?

(Munir) Our relations with the Taliban ended after the 9/11 incident. After a new policy was implemented, Jalaluddin Haqqani had to vacate the residence in North Waziristan where he had been living since 1974. His madrassas were also sealed. Most of the Taliban leaders went to Balochistan, but three of them were believed to be in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. We launched raids against those three Taliban leaders in different areas whenever we received intelligence information. There was no policy of a double game. We did not support anyone after that.

(Safi) Some Afghan Taliban cadres have not only been surviving, but also giving a very tough time to the NATO and US forces. What role is being played by the Pakistanis, Pakistan’s religious parties, the Pakistani students living in madrassas, and the Pakistani jihadist organizations, to offer resistance to the Afghan Taliban?

(Munir) The Pakistani jihadist organizations provide them a //support system// when they cross the border and take refuge in Pakistan’s areas.

(Commercial Break)

(Safi) We shall have to go into the past to know the roles the religious parties and the seminaries of Pakistan played in the present resistance movement of Afghanistan. These religious seminaries have been imparting religious education for several decades, and they can be rightly termed the biggest NGO movement of the country. The base of relations and the cooperation with the Afghan Mujahidin were developed at the time of war against the Soviet Union when the United States, with the patronage of the Arab world and the Pakistani establishment, persuaded religious parties and religious organizations to support the Afghan Mujahidin.

(Former US President Reagan) Pakistan today stands in the vanguard of nations shouldering a great responsibility for mankind.

(Former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Haq) Pakistan’s continued commitment and objectives of the Islamic Conference are the fundamental postulates of its foreign policy.

(Former US National Security Advisor Berzenski, saying at the Torkham Border in 1980) We are aware of their deep belief in God and are confident that their struggle will succeed. Now that land over there is yours. You’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and because God is on your side.

(Safi) Pakistan’s religious leaders, for example Maulana Samiul Haq, used to say that they (Taliban) were his students, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam (JUI) and some other parties also supported them (Taliban). Some people say that the militant organizations of Pakistan were also supporting them.

(Yousafzai) I think there is no truth in these claims. In my view, the Taliban made their decision s on their own, but they (religious leaders) helped the Taliban in a way that they closed their //madrassas// (seminaries), whenever the Taliban needed manpower to launch any new attack or offensive. So, the students of the seminaries, both of Pakistani origin and Afghan origin, went to Afghanistan to support the Afghan Mujahidin. You have seen that they (Taliban) refused to obey the directives of the Pakistani Government on some occasions. So, I think, they were independent in many of their actions.

(Safi) Did the level of closeness (between the Taliban and the Pakistani establishment) reduce or increase after the 9/11 incident?

(Yousafzai) Their (Taliban) compulsions increased after their government was toppled in Afghanistan. Many Taliban leaders took refuge in Pakistan. So, they (Taliban leaders) were under the influence of Pakistan within the territory of Pakistan, but they expressed their own free will, whenever they got the chance to go to Afghanistan or to come closer to the //Durand Line//.

(Safi) Dr Ghairat Baheer, a leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, acknowledges the impacts various Islamic movements of Pakistan and of other parts of the world have had on the Afghan groups fighting against the former //Soviet Union//.

(Baheer in Pashto) The role and influence of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Ikhwanul Muslimeen were more than those of the students and teachers of the seminaries during their resistance against the former Soviet Union. However, there is no doubt that the teachers and students of Maulana Samiul Haq’s seminary among others played a key role in the formation of the Taliban movement and its government (in Afghanistan).

(Haji Sharaft, another leader of the Hezb-e-Islami, in Pashto) The Pakistani religious parties undoubtedly helped the Afghan Mujahidin in the war and offered every kind of help to the Afghan Mujahideen.

(Safi, showing a photograph of Maulana Haqqani) This person played a key role in the war against the former Soviet Union, and he is still a thorn in the flesh of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan. Maulana Haqqani was the right-hand man of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the minister for borders in the Afghan Government of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is said that the network of Maulana Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani is still playing a key role in the middle and eastern Afghanistan, apart from Kabul. Sirajuddin Haqqani writes Haqqani with his name, because he has studied at Madrassah Haqqania, situated in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province of Pakistan. It is said that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and several other top Taliban leaders studied at the same seminary (Madrassa Haqqania). The name of the seminary is atop the list of the seminaries that provided manpower to the Afghan Taliban. More than 3,500 students are studying in the seminary at present. Therefore, we went to Darul Uloom Haqqania to find out the truth. Students at the Darul Uloom Haqqania were busy playing different games after Asr (pre-sunset prayers) there and it was here that we met Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of the seminary.

(Haq) It is baseless to say that Pakistan or the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played any role against the former Soviet Union. I also reject the notion that the United States played a role in the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The Haqqani network enjoys a favorable reputation at present. Sirajuddin Haqqani is an Afghan, and he has no connection with Pakistan, except that he was a student of Darul Uloom Haqqania. He also served as a teacher at the seminary. He was a brilliant student. He went to Afghanistan to counter the former Soviet Union in the wake of the threat both for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He went to the Paktia province of Afghanistan.

(Safi) Did Taliban leader Mullah Omar also study at Darul Uloom Haqqania?

(Haq) He studied here for a few years, but did not complete his studies. He got involved in jihadi activities. He was with the group of Maulana Younis Khalis.

(Safi) Will you please tell me the names of other top Taliban leaders who studied at Darul Uloom Haqqania?

(Haq) Out of the 14 cabinet ministers of the Taliban government, as many as nine or ten studied at Darul Uloom Haqqania. They were Maulana Ahmed Jan and Maulana Abdul Qadeer among others.

(Safi) Did Darul Uloom Haqqania or the other seminaries of Pakistan play any role in the emergence of the Taliban movement or the formation of the Taliban government in Afghanistan?

(Haq) There was a basic role of ours…

(Safi) Is there any truth in the reports that the students from Pakistani seminaries fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan?

(Haq) The Afghan students of the seminaries went to Afghanistan. I have a letter by Taliban leader Mullah Omar, wherein he requested me that the Afghan students not be admitted in the Pakistani seminaries. So, the Pakistani students did not go there during that time.

(Commercial Break)

(Safi) Most of Pakistan’s religious and political personalities do not disclose the nature of their relations with the Afghan Taliban, but to know the facts, I visited the Karak City of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province. It is believed that the Pakistani Taliban are quite active in Darra (pass) Adamkhel area, situated on the Peshawar-Karak Road. The tunnel near the pass has made the journey to the southern districts of the province easy, but the militants have attacked the tunnel many times. Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz, former member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan, warmly welcomed me in his town. Aziz, to what extent did the Pakistani religious scholars, seminaries, and their students play their role in the formation and the strengthening of the Taliban government in Afghanistan?

(Aziz) People supported Mullah Omar when he took over as the leader of the Taliban movement. As far as the process of consultations with the Taliban is concerned, the Pakistani religious scholars and students joined them, and they (Pakistanis) were so close to the Afghan Taliban that it was difficult to distinguish them from the Afghans. Mullah Omar had the habit of consulting the Pakistani religious scholars in the hour of need. He would contact my father at any difficult time.

(Safi) Who were the other personalities other than your father?

(Aziz) I myself visited Afghanistan once or twice. The religious scholars from Karachi to Khyber once visited Afghanistan and a delegation of nearly 45 religious scholars led by Maulana Samiul Haq visited Afghanistan.

(Safi) Did the students of the Pakistani seminaries also contribute to the jihad in Afghanistan practically?

(Aziz) Yes, they took part in the jihad. Jihad is obligatory for Muslims like prayers and fasting. The former Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and the Afghan Mujahidin fought against the superpower. I believe that the United States is now an aggressor in Afghanistan, as the country has attacked the defenseless people of Afghanistan. The United States is an oppressor and the Muslims are fighting against the country.

(Safi) Have you taken part in a practical war?

(Aziz) I was a boy during the war against the former Soviet Union, but I participated in the war on different fronts. Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and Abdurab Rasool Sayaf were my commanders. I, with the help of the people of Karak, established camps and collected financial aid for the Afghan Mujahidin, when the United States attacked Afghanistan. We helped people in the Khost and Charasyab areas of Afghanistan.

(Safi) You are talking about the post 9/11 scenario.

(Aziz) Yes, I am talking about the circumstances that developed after the 9/11 incident. I provided financial aid, medicines, and blankets to the people of Afghanistan. We also delivered financial aid to Mullah Zaeef in Islamabad. These were my services.

(Description of Source: Karachi Geo News TV in Urdu — 24-hour satellite news TV channel owned by Pakistan’s Jang publishing group. Known for providing quick and detailed reports of events. Geo’s focus on reports from India is seen as part of its policy of promoting people-to-people contact and friendly relations with India.)