The small town in Afghanistan, Khwaja Bahauddin, is a place which was named after the 17th in the chain of transmission of Naqshbandi order (starting with Prophet Mohammad) – one of the major tasawwuf tariqa (orders) of Islam – which is known for its “sober” and silent dhikr or remembrance/meditation of God. On September 9, 2001 however, it was anything but silent or sober.
An explosion occured in Khwaja Bahauddin and Ahmed Shah Massoud and Mohammed Asim Suhail were killed. Mohammad Fahim Dashty and Massoud Khalili were injured. And history of South Asia changed decisively.
“If they kill me, you should know they are coming.” Massoud, commander of Northern Alliance, told the Americans on a tour in Europe just before his assassination. Two days later, Al Qaeda operatives flew two planes into the World Trade Towers, one in Pentagon and another was brought down in Pennsylvania.
Ahmed Shah Massoud was a Shia and his Northern Alliance was encouraged by the US against the Soviets. When Taliban came into the picture, it came as an enemy of Masood and the Shia-Northern Alliance. Taliban was Pakistan’s direct creation.
Massoud knew that. So angry he was with Pakistan, that his men bombed Pakistani embassy in Kabul on July 10, 2000.  Pakistan was one of the three countries in the world to recognize Taliban. Its embassy was just next to the residence of Mullah Omar.
India’s Help to Ahmed Shah Massoud
In early 2001, India had completely joined US, Iran and Russia to support Massoud against the Taliban. Russia and US were unlikely bedfellows in helping someone who was created by one and has devastated another. But for Iran and India, it was a strategic decision. Iran is Shia. Taliban were hardcore Sunnis. Northern Alliance was their only solution to escape the madness of Taliban. India, on the other hand, knew that once Taliban succeeded, then the fight in Kashmir will become even tougher.
High-altitude warfare equipment, defence advisors, air force helicopter technicians, Indian army doctors and male nurses at a hospital in Farkhor close to Afghan-Tajik border were being provided directly by India.
Intelligence sources in Delhi said that while India, Russia and Iran were leading the anti-Taliban campaign on the ground, Washington was giving the Northern Alliance information and logistic support.
This principle of India’s strategic help to Northern Alliance was clearly articulated by Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh in October 2001 in an interview with PBS.
We have stood by the Northern Alliance and the government of Rabbani, and it should really be the effort of the international community now to strengthen the legitimate government of Afghanistan which is President Rabbani and the Northern Alliance and to give us whatever is required. They will deal with Taliban very adequately, I’m confident.
In the 60 long years, India has, in my personal view, lost only ONE war against Pakistan. And that was the War in Afghanistan. A war that nobody knew of and nobody even considered it one. But with the victory of Taliban, India lost the only way to fight the Jehadis being prepared by Pakistan against India in a ready training ground for high-stakes terrorism called Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s support of Taliban
The initial contacts with Mullah Omar were made by the Pakistani officials in late 1994, as their main guy, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was clearly not going to take over Afghanistan and who also had his own mind. By 1995, the ISI and security Pakistani establishment, which was hitherto backing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, put its weight behind the Sunni Taliban. Many ISI agents were soon attached to Taliban and provided operational and tactical support. One such guy was Amir Sultan Tarar, also known as Colonel Imam.
Tarar was the Consul General of Pakistan posted in Kandahar and then in Herat. He was the key advisor to Taliban and the one who arranged for arms and ammunition for them from Pakistan.
Meanwhile the Jehadi Madrasa factories in NWFP and Balochistan were busy creating fighters. In 1997, the products of these Jehadi factories were to be used by Pakistan for Taliban’s advatage in the fight in Mazar-e-Sharif, one of the holiest cities for Shias with a Shrine of Hazrat Ali. 3000 “Taliban soldiers” were massacred by the Shias led by Abdul Malik in 1997. The Madrasas across Balochistan and NWFP were closed so their wards could participate in the “Holy War”. One of the leaders of that battle from the Taliban’s side was Nek Muhammad Wazir. He was a Pashtun leader finally killed in June 2004 by US bombings.
Pakistan and Taliban was however not done. On August 8, 1998, a 6 day battle was fought and Taliban killed thousands of Shias to finally take over the city. Shia’s end in Afghanistan was thus complete. With Sunnis established in Afghanistan, immediately, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan officially recognized Taliban.
When Nek Mohammad died in 2004, he was replaced by Baitullah Mehsud, who was to become an important name later in Pakistan. In a ceremony attended by five leading Taliban commanders, including Mullah Dadullah, Baitullah was appointed Mullah Omar’s governor of the Mehsud area.
Pakistan and Taliban circa 2009
I would like to start with this video from PTV’s interview with Zaid Hamid. A self styled Defense Analyst. You would notice how eloquently Hamid goes on to talk against the Taliban – specially the Tehrik-e-Taliban and Baitullah Mehsud. He terms Mehsud as an agent of “Indian and Israeli Zionists”.
Right after the Mumbai attacks, however, Pakistani Army officials were busy calling Mehsud and Fazlullah as “Patriotic Pakistanis”. In first week of this month, April 2009, Newsweek came out with a report saying that Mehsud had strong ISI links which helped him escape attacks on him as he was tipped right before the bombings..
Mehsud is obviously the guy who is now targeting the Pakistan Army which tries to kill the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the Tribal region on the insistence of US.
So, those on the border are the ones that Mehsud is really worried about. And that is why he is targeting Pakistani Army and its civilians itself. Then, it would stand to reason that ordinary Pakistani would be backing the bombings in the FATA and Waziristan region.. right? WRONG. Pakistanis for some strange reason now believe that US is committing a big crime by bombing the Jehadis and militants in the FATA and Waziristan region. Of course, as the rhetoric goes – R&AW, CIA and Mossad are joining hands to “Bomb” the Pakistani region. Against whom? Baitullah Mehsud. Who is what? Yes, you got it right – an agent of “Indian and Israeli Zionists”.
Here we have an interesting situation – somehow the Americans, Israelis and Indians have a penchant for melodrama in their lives, so they fund one guy to kill Pak Army, and then they burn some more money to go and bomb the hell out of his people.
Where are Pakistanis in this? Well, they are patriotic, peace-loving, world citizens who just are perennial victims.. thank you very much!
Circle of Jehad
What started as a fight between Soviets and the US – two known enemies with professional armies and known headquarters was converted into a fight for US with a cloudy adversary by the extra-intelligent Ronald Reagan. Soviets and Americans knew who was where, who had what in the arsenal and also knew that bombing Miami would result in bombing of Leningrad. But now? Now, bombing of New York’s Manhattan (using planes) meant a mad rush to kill everyone in sight and no one responsible!
And from the Jehadi standpoint? You have Pakistan which supported and created Taliban for its own ends, while India supported Ahmed Shah Massoud to stave off Taliban. Taliban hosted Al Qaeda in the run up to 9-11 and then Pakistan hosted both, Taliban and Al Qaeda post 9-11. Taliban annointed Baitullah Mehsud. And Mehsud now, is against the Pakistani civilians and the Army.
Interesting circle. Right? Which these jokers like Zaid Hamid comment on. But wait, by the way, who is this Zaid Hamid exactly? He, it turns out was a close confidant and friend of Ahmed Shah Massoud! In his previous avatar, he was known as Zaid Zaman. He represented a UK based NGO Muslim Aid in Pakistan and Afghanistan and after he broke off with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani (who is supporting pro-Taliban in Af-Pak region and is credited to have introduced suicide bombing in the region), Zaid became friends with Ahmed Shah Massoud.
Interestingly, now, Zaid Zaman Hamid, who once ditched the forces loyal to Pakistan (Haqqani and Hekmatyar) and joined hands with the “enemy” of Pakistan – Massoud – is now the sine qua non of “patriotism” in Pakistan.
I am not sure about you, but if anyone in this entire circle of Jehad has the best chance of being an Indian agent, then Hamid is probably it! Quite simply the most intriguing situation, indeed!
Some more on Zaid Zaman Hamid: Muhammad Yusuf Ali Kazzab was a Pakistani who declared himself as a prophet and was murdered. Zaid Hamid was his follower. Here is the audio recording of the speech of Yousuf Kazzab and Zaid Zaman Hamid delivered in a “world assembly” held at “Bait e Raza” Lahore in February 1997. Yousuf announces Zaid Zaman(ZZ Hamid) as “Sahabi”. Zaid Zaman Hamid in response praises him.
2. Blast at Pakistan’s Kabul Embassy
3. India joins anti-Taliban coalition
4. INDIA’S VIEWS
5. Mazari Sharif
6. Army official calls Baitullah Mehsud, Fazlullah ‘patriots’
7. Baitullah Mehsud has links with ISI: report
8. Who is Zaid Hamid
9. Specific inputs also taken from the book “Frontline Pakistan” by Zahid Hussain.