We publish as a document, this contribution from the Pakistani section of the Fourth International (CORQI) on the situation in Afghanistan.
After 20 years of occupation and 2 trillion dollars, Afghanistan is right back where it started from: under Taliban control. In fact, whereas the Taliban never managed to gain control of all of Afghanistan previously, today it has control even in the strongholds of the Northern Alliance. Association with the US occupation has in fact left the Northern Alliance weaker than it was two decades ago.
If the objective of the invasion of Afghanistan was to catch and punish the perpetrators of 9/11, the occupation of Afghanistan could have easily ended a decade ago when Osama Bin Ladin was killed by the US military in Abbotabad, Pakistan. One plausible explanation for continuing the occupation for another ten years is that the occupation was geo-strategically important to control the underbelly of Russia and China. But then if that was the goal, why did the US cut its losses and withdraw now, and in such haste?
Try as one might, one is left absolutely flabbergasted to find any reasonable explanation for this occupation. All one can say is that it underscores the complete destructive nature of modern capitalist imperialism.
Those in the West who think that the Taliban represent some form of anti-imperialist national liberation movement are completely mistaken. The Taliban is composed of the same tribal and reactionary counter-revolutionary elements that were set in motion against the Saur Revolution.
Collectively called the Mujahideen they were in fact never a unified group. The Mujahideen was just a label given to seven different Jihadi organisations. These Mujahideen groups not only had certain religious and doctrinal differences but also were financially tied to different foreign and or neighbouring powers. That is what accounts for the civil war after the fall of Dr. Najeeb’s government.
Hence, the conflict between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance does not reflect in any sense the conflict between national liberation and imperialism. Or between progressive and reactionary forces. They are both cut from the same cloth. In the Doha agreement the Taliban and the US had come to the understanding that as long as the Taliban didn’t attack any vital US interests in the region, the US would withdraw from the country. In their first press conference since coming to power, the Taliban have stated that they are open to foreign and US investment in Afghanistan.
Another powerful factor behind the Taliban take over of Afghanistan is the way in which the Pakistan military perceives its security challenges. The Pak military has always been of the view that the only major and serious existential threat to Pakistan comes from neighbouring India. Since 1971, when East Pakistan became independent Bangladesh, that view has been strongly reinforced. Hence, since the very independence of Pakistan and especially since 1971, the Pakistan military has been positioning itself not only as the defender of Pakistan’s borders but even of its “ideological borders”. This overriding imperative has lead to what progressives refer to as a “security state” in Pakistan.
The Pakistan military has always considered Afghanistan an area of strategic depth. Since the 1970s, they have been meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan to bring about a regime that would be “friendly to Pakistan” so that in the event of the “inevitable” war with India, the military would have an area of strategic retreat. This is why Islamic radicals began to receive support from the Pakistan government long before the Saur Revolution. The relationship between the Pakistan military and Islamic radicals in Afghanistan stretches back half a century.
That is why the victory of the Taliban is seen in Islamabad as the victory of pro-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan: The “pro-Indian Norther Alliance” is defeated and the “pro-Pakistan Taliban” are victorious. For that reason alone, we cannot regard, and the world should not regard, the victory of the Taliban as the victory of any progressive national liberation movement. Taliban can, and most likely will, slip into the familiar role of regimes that are internally theocratic and reactionary and externally allied to the US (much like Saudi Arabia).
For the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, this change implies that our struggle for a progressive future is been dealt another major blow. The victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan has not only emboldened the religious parties of Pakistan, it has also given hope to the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan that has waged a decade long destructive conflict inside Pakistan that has cost approximately 80,000 lives and millions displaced in massive military operations in FATA and other northern areas.
In the long run, however, only the progressive forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan can defeat these reactionaries. No amount of foreign aid, assistance, occupation can or has contributed anything of any real significance in this uphill struggle. Quite the converse. Moreover, calls for the reoccupation of Afghanistan to ostensibly “save” the women and minorities are not only naive and misplaced but are ridiculous in the extreme. Enough damage has been done by such narratives that can only be regarded as imperialism in the guise of humanitarianism.
In conclusion, the image of desperate Afghan’s clinging to airplanes in the hopes of escaping the Taliban will forever be etched in the memories of the people of the region as the ignoble end of this occupation. And the way in which they dropped from the skies symbolises the false hope that capitalist imperialism always creates but betrays.
The future of Afghanistan and Pakistan can only be determined by the people of our respective countries. We hope for your solidarity in that struggle. But it is our struggle in which history is on our side and victory is inevitable.