|September 13, 2021||IANS - Kabul|
The Associated Press is reporting that the Taliban raised its white flag over the Afghani presidential palace Saturday--a day when the US and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks on the twin-towers in New York.
Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government hoisted the flag on in a low-key ceremony, AP reported citing Ahmadullah Muttaqi, multimedia branch chief of the Taliban's cultural commission.
He pointed out that the flag-raising marked the official start of the work of the new government. The new government got into work mode after the Taliban over-ran Afghanistan, and the capital, Kabul on August 15.
Afghanistan's first president to follow the 2001 collapse of the Taliban, Hamid Karzai, tweeted with a call for "peace and stability," hoping that the new caretaker Cabinet would mutate into an "inclusive government that can be the real face of the whole Afghanistan."
Unfortunately, the dominance of the criminal Haqqani empire at the centre of the new so-called "caretaker" government leaves little room for optimism about the formation of an inclusive government, which represents Afghanistan's non-Pashtun minorities. In fact, as Akhund raised the Taliban flag, a robust rebellion was raging in the Panjshir valley, the ground-zero of the Afghanistan's ethnic Tajik minority, with a powerful history of armed resistance.
Haqqani's power is symbolised by Sirajuddin Haqqani still holds a bounty of $10 million on his head for his indulgence in terrorism and much more. As India Narrative reported earlier, his description on the FBI website states that he has been known by at least 15 aliases and was thought to live in Pakistan while also maintaining close links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda through his own Haqqani network.
Khalifa, as Sirajuddin is known in his HQN group, is a serial hostage taker who is currently holding American contractor and former war veteran Mark Frerichs in Afghanistan right now. In fact, the CIA chief had met Mullah Baradar last month after the Taliban's takeover of Kabul for the release of the last American contractor Mark Frerichs who is under the "custody" of the Haqqani Network. In exchange for Frerichs the Haqqanis are seeking the release of Afghan drug lord Bashir Noorzai who is in American prison.
However, the power behind the Haqqani throne is the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's powerful spy agency.
It was ISI chief's Faiz Hameed's visit to Kabul last week, which gave the Haqqanis a lion's share in the Taliban's cabinet. Sirajuddin Haqqani's uncle Khalil Haqqani, who has a $ 5 million bounty, is also in the cabinet. There are at least six ministers in the newly formed Taliban government who are directly associated with the most dreaded UN designated terror organisation in Afghanistan.
According to experts, the Haqqanis are "war profiteers" who have a strong financial interest in the continuation of conflict, since this creates the conditions which allow them to run criminal activities from extortion to kidnapping to drug trafficking to money laundering, alongside legal activities in business sectors, including import-export, transport, real estate and construction in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf and beyond. The HQN enjoys the support of the Pakistani military and the ISI--the main bone of contention between Pakistan and the US. Ashley Jackson, co-director of Overseas Development.
Pakistan's involvement in running an Afghan extremist group can be traced to the 1971 war when Pakistan lost nearly half of its population and a sizable chunk of resources with the formation of Bangladesh.
The debacle in Bangladesh activated fears about a similar fate along the Durand line. In fact, since 1950, Afghanistan had launched incursions into Pakistan's Baluchistan province--an effort that flared into the 1970s.
With Mohammad Doud emerging as an assertive Afghan leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto earnestly began his Afghanistan project.
"In August 1973, Bhutto set up the Afghan working group within Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate. Despite a brief interregnum, Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq continued with this policy after he ousted Bhutto in a July 1977 coup. Fifty or so Afghan resistance groups were consolidated by the ISI into a smaller, more manageable number," writes C. Christine Fair, a Georgetown University Professor a Foreign Policy article.
The article pointed out that the ISI was asked to deepen links between the Pakistani and Afghan Islamist groups. "These efforts resulted in seven major Sunni Afghan Islamist militant groups, as well as several Shiite groups. By the time the Soviets had crossed the Amu Darya River into Afghanistan, Zia-ul-Haq's army and the ISI had already created the key Islamist groups that would become the cornerstone of the so-called anti-Soviet jihad."
According to the write-up, "the ISI nurtured, created, and supported the Taliban in their first incarnation; it returned to doing the same after the Taliban regime's fall in late 2001". The visit of Hameed, the ISI chief last Saturday is merely an extension of this well-worn policy.