داکتر عبدالله هیواد

Fighting a ghost war


The Americans and NATO is trying to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan not knowing or undermining basic historical facts relating to Afghanistan.

If we look at the second Anglo Afghan war and how it was won by Ghazi Mohammed Ayub Khan, it will give us an insight in to today’s situation. Or if we closely examine the defeat of Russians only over a decade ago, it will enhance our knowledge of how much Afghans changed where a war with outsiders are concerned. 

Sardar Mohammed Ayub Khan was in Heart when he started to form an army against the British. With 1500 soldiers mostly ill equipped with very basic of arms. By the time he reached Shindand district of Heart, he knew his army was too small to fight the might of the British India company with 110000 soldiers, all equipped with guns and Canons also with Afghan partners in Kandahar who had over 30000 soldiers waiting for Sardar Ayub Khan. 
He quickly realised this is a no win situation. Therefore, he has to introduce a war product that sells well among Afghans. 
In order to increase the number of warriors in his army to be able to defeat the British, he spread the word around, that, if anyone joins the war against the British, he will be called Ghazi and if he dies, he is Shaheed.

This new product sold so well that by the time he reached Maiwand district, his army outnumbered the British and the defeat is historical.

When Russian invaded Afghanistan the word Jihad sold so well that it caught world's attention and Russians were thrown out of Afghanistan in less than ten years. Keeping in mind that Russians invaded Afghanistan with over a 100,000 members of the Afghan communist party. 

Americans and NATO with no Afghan allays and a poor government with mostly corrupt ministers and parliamentarians who were jointly selected by Karzai, NATO and the Americans has no chance of wining this war.

When I say they are defeated and cant win this war, I have to have good reason to believe, and also I should be able to provide sensible reasons to analyse each issue closely to prove it;

Who are Taliban’s?
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Taliban’s are divided in to three sub-sections,
1. Committed Taliban to Al Qaida, Al Qaida is a terrorist organisation operating internationally with wide support in many Islamic countries. They formed their first party under the leadership of Osama Bin Laden with the help of ISI inter service intelligence in 1984 called Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) School of services. Their core cause is terrorism with no borders. Taliban’s committed to the cause of Al Qaida have the same ethics as the Al Qaida.

2. Economic Taliban, Economic Taliban’s is those who were fighting alongside Taliban for a wage until the war on terror in 2001, but with the formation of new government most of them returned to normal life. However, Lack of investment in the public sector and no sustainable development project, forced them to re-join Taliban ranks for a wage that the Afghan government are not able to pay. There are rumours that Taliban pays $300 per month to each foot soldier.

3. Unhappy Taliban, Unhappy Taliba n are those whose houses have been bombed in the past 7 years and their life destroyed by NATO, American, and ANA, be it intentionally or unintentionally. They are left with no option but to fight. They are not connected to those two groups above.

With segmenting Taliban in to three parts, there is no set leadership or agenda for war. Their success is disruption and raging fear. And their marketing tool is once again Jihad.
The only common issue between the three parts of the Taliban’s are fighting the infidel.

Lack of government presence in most southern, eastern and Western districts of Afghanistan has paved way for Taliban to regroup and reform itself. On individual basis, they are successful as they very well have been able to create that fear among people.
We must acknowledge the fact that 80 percent of Afghans dislike Taliban, yet people are tending to accept them. 

U.S.A/NATO and Afghan government is pursuing negotiations with Taliban; will it work?
Negotiating with Taliban seems like talking to air, because Al Qaida is a terrorist organisation that no government would dare negotiating any sort of deal with,
Economic and unhappy Taliban doesn’t have a set leadership who would lead any kind of negotiations. Therefore, making a deal with Taliban seems unlikely to happen at all.

ANA (Afghan National Army) 

From the formation of the Afghan National Army right from the outset, every Afghan had to go to the army to serve and this brought a sense of unity and responsibility also readiness in the event of war or conflict. People from all ethnic and tribal background had to serve the army and stay together.

With present Afghan Army working as full time employees, mostly those with previous background of being in one of the warring factions with no sense of patriotism is not working as well as the Afghan government wish it did.
A great number of the arm forces are on drugs also committed some kind of crime in the past or while serving in the Afghan national Army.
Some people are only in the army because they can’t find a job in the private sector. 

Fighting international cross border terrorism with a weak and untrustworthy army is impossible. Unless a sense of patriotism and a sense of responsibility with a common cause for the army are created, it will remain weak and unable to fight this war.


Police in Afghanistan was a force which disciplined and brought respect to law, today's police are copying Pakistani style corruption and are standing on the street stopping motorist for a few Afghani bribe. A good number of police especially in Kabul is a regular visitor of the Ex Russian cultural centre which is now a den to hundreds of drug addicts. To sustain their habits they have to stand on the street and take bribe. Prior to Atmar a photographer was made the minister of home=2 0affairs with no formal training in the police force or understanding of how police force should function. Atmar inherited the main police force structure from the previous minister. Atmar may not be corrupt but can he change thing when the whole police structure is made of corrupt and incompatible force? Why would people trust this government when police deputy minister is involved in supporting prostitution and no one can raise a voice against him? This is a no win situation with such a weak police.

Intelligence is the back bone of a government; it is the eyes and ear of a fighting force. Israel and Pakistan are said to have the best intelligence service in the world and we can see their success in fighting their enemy. The intelligence force we have in Afghanistan is unprofessional ill trained weak, who doesn’t kn ow for themselves what is happening in the fore front of terrorism. Can we the civilians depend on such intelligence service? I am of the belief that until a strong and capable intelligence service with cross border terrorism training is developed, army and the police will not make a significant progress in this war.

More foreign troops

21000 foreign troops were deployed in Afghanistan in 2001 after the collapse of Taliban’s, and now we have almost 100,000 well equipped foreign troops with over 70,000 ANA. Did such an increase bring better peace or stability in Afghanistan? One would think, with so much of international efforts in bringing peace in Afghanistan, situation should have been better with a better control on the war and tackling terrorism, however, it is noticed that the war has intensified dramatically. And it is ever increasing.

With 39 countries involved in the effort to bring peace in Afghanistan and diminish terrorism are failing to do so, and more troops means creating market for terrorist to have better chances of attacking foreign troops that is their core competency or selling point (fighting the infidels).

If international community has plans to finish the war in Afghanistan with increase in its forces and intensifying its efforts in the battle ground, then it is a dream that need to be re assessed. As Afghans are born warriors and these conflicts will never end. However, it is worth assessing that, reducing the fight and separati ng terrorists from afghan warriors are an option needs to be examined.
By creating employment and investing in development projects throughout Afghanistan (not only in one region and leaving the rest of the country to starve) they surely can reduce fighting.

Managing war or business, there is a need for a strategy first before starting to put resources in to action, unlike US/NATO who put resources seven years ago and now they are making a strategy. What Afghanistan need is a proper strategy to end this war on terror, not increase in the number of international troops or mentors as the US government thinks is the solution with the new strategy they made. By strategy, I mean a cohesive response to a challenge. A real strategy is neither a document nor a forecast but rather an overall approach based on a diagnosis of a challenge. The most important element of a strategy is a coherent viewpoint about the forces at work, not a plan

If international community wishes to help Afghanistan, the best way is to train over a thousand people in management and re-train them in to ethical issues. This way they could have real managers who would govern the country in the future. This way we will have real governance’s structure made. 
If a few real time millionaires are made in the process, no harm done, so let these managers be the next batches of bureaucrats too, this way they will invest wisely and also govern in accordance with international governance laws and Afghan ethics.

War lords of the yesteryears to be moved in to international criminal courts for prosecution and heavy investment to be made in economic development projects for Afghanistan to become self sustained in competing in the international commerce markets. Afghanistan should be able to support its economy and not be depended on international donations and aid.

Abdullah Haiwad (PhD)