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2 Pakistan gains from Taliban
split By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - The Taliban are poised to launch
Ghazwatul Badr to seize control of Kabul. The name
of the offensive is a reference to the Battle of
Badr commanded by the Prophet Mohammed in the
Arabian Peninsula some 1,400 years ago.
The Battle of Badr was the key battle in
the early days of Islam and a turning point in
Mohammed's struggle with his opponents among the
Quraish tribe in Mecca. The battle has been passed
in Islamic history as a decisive victory
attributable to divine intervention and the genius
In this century's version of
the battle, more than 30,000 youths have been
trained in the Pakistani tribal areas of North and
South Waziristan as cannon fodder in a struggle
that the Taliban believe will be the key turning
point against foreign occupation forces and the
Taliban's opponents in Kabul.
On the eve
of the offensive, however, machinations within the
ranks of the resistance have opened divisions
among the field commanders. Plans to foment a mass
uprising across Afghanistan will go ahead, but it
could be that the offensive will have more than
one leader and several movements, under the brand
name of the Taliban.
Ghazwatul Badr Last year's spring
offensive in Afghanistan saw a strengthening and
regrouping of Taliban commanders, so much so that
the resistance was the most successful since the
Taliban were ousted in 2001.
Taliban see it, they are fighting against the
subjugation of the Afghan people by the infidel
armies of the West. As such, any Afghan who
supports the Western armies is considered an
infidel. This notion was promoted across the
country, and found considerable resonance in a
society with strong memories of the 10-year jihad
against the godless Soviets in the 1980s.
People have been urged to leave areas
controlled by North Atlantic Treaty
Organization-led (NATO) forces and resettle in
isolated communities. From here they are
encouraged to wage war against the infidels, which
includes Muslims sympathetic to foreigners.
After 2001, many small groups of Taliban
militants gathered in the tribal areas between
Pakistan and Afghanistan, and last year the
tribespeople of southwestern Afghanistan welcomed
them back into the heartlands. This saw the
emergence of strong local warlords. With the onset
of Ghazwatul Badr, the same phenomenon is likely
to happen in western Afghanistan, in the east and
in parts of the north.
offensive honed the command skills of Maulana
Jalaluddin Haqqani and his sons Sirajuddin and
Nasiruddin, as well as Mullah Dadullah and the
leader of the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan, Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar, and his commanders.
be the men, the Taliban believed, to expand the
gains made in southwestern Afghanistan last year
to other parts of the country, and ultimately to
Kabul. But it will not be as clear-cut as that.
A mass uprising With the spring
offensive of 2006, the Taliban gained rapid
support in southeastern and western Afghanistan
with various warlords and tribal elders. The
Taliban were no longer defined by their tunnel
vision - they took on a messianic role against the
destructive US war machine, notorious over the
years for its indiscriminate aerial bombings and
failure to deliver on promises for the
reconstruction and well-being of the country.
The fierce NATO response to the resurgent
Taliban led to the killing of hundreds of
non-combatant tribespeople, including women and
children. Tribal leaders had little or no moral
ground to restrain the mounting anger among people
to join in the retaliation against NATO.
This phenomenon helped the Taliban to
expand their operations from the southwestern
provinces of Zabul, Orzgan, Helmand and parts of
Kandahar to the western provinces of Herat, Farah,
Ghor and Baghdais, with the assistance of
non-Taliban warlords. Similarly, they gained a
foothold in the southeastern provinces of Kunar,
Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Gardez and Nangarhar.
It is from this platform that this year's
mass offensive will be launched.
the legendary mujahideen commander against the
Soviets, was appointed by Taliban leader Mullah
Omar as the deputy chief of the Taliban movement
and the all-powerful commander of last year's
The forces of resistance took
some time to make an impression against the war
machine of the US and its allies, especially in