Afghanistan Since 1919

Afghanistan Independence (1919): There was “the Great Game” between USSR and British for supremacy over Afghanistan but in 1919 Afghanistan got independence. Then after Afghanistan was made buffer zone in Britain and USSR conflict in 1919.

In 1953 Muhammad Daud, cousin of King Mohammed Zahir Shah (king since 1933), becomes Prime Minister. Daud begins to modernize Afghanistan rapidly with economic and military aid from the USSR. In 1964, giving way to US pressures, King Zahir Shah removes Daud as Prime Minister, and creates a “constitutional” monarchy.

In 1973, Daoud Khan leads a coup to overthrow the King, and installs himself as president. He opportunistically attempts to get aid from both the USSR and Western nations, to little avail. The nation’s political majority, composed of Socialists and religious radicals, oppose his policies.

In 1978, Daud attempts to imprison members of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) — in so doing, the Party rises up to fight back, and overthrow Daud. Noor Muhammad Taraki becomes president of the new Republic on 27 April 1978, and proclaims the nation “Communist”.

The Soviet Afghan War (1979-1989): Communist Govt. announces a sweeping revolutionary program, including land reform, the emancipation of women, and a campaign against illiteracy. Late in 1978 Islamic traditionalists and ethnic leaders who objected to rapid social change begin an armed revolt. By the summer of 1979, the rebels begin receiving massive military aid from the United States, in an effort to induce the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan. In September President was deposed and later assassinated, while the rebels had firm control over most of the countryside. Amin, his successor, tried vigorously to suppress the rebellion and resisted Soviet efforts to make him moderate his policies. The government’s position deteriorated, however, the Soviets became extremely worried about U.S. military involvement on their border, and on December 25, 1979, Soviet forces invaded. 34 muslim nations and UN opposed the USSR invasion in Afghanistan.

The Soviet withdrawal was agreed to in April 1988; the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan on February 15, 1989. Exact casualties of Afghanis are unknown.

In 1991, USSR ceased to exist and it broke into 15 independent nations.

From February 1989 the pro-Soviet government of Mohammad Najibullah continues to fight the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen on it’s own — the government receives no Soviet Aid, and the US shuts off all contact with their “Freedom Fighters”. After three years of battle, the fundamentalists finally win in April of 1992. The Mujahideen refuse, however, to allow any other ethnic tribe to control the nation, and fierce genocidal fighting breaks out among themselves — between the Pashtoon, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and Turkmen.

In October, 1994, the Taliban movement is created among former Mujahideen (primarily Pashtoon) with the support of Pakistan, winning their first territory of Kandahar. In August, 1995, the oil company Bridas (which is shortly thereafter bought up by British Petroleum) meets the Taliban government for the first time to discuss building an oil pipeline through the country.

Taliban rule in Afghanistan : From 1996 to 2001 Taliban took control over Afghanistan.

Indian Airlines Flight 814 commonly known as IC 814 was an Indian Airlines Airbus A300 en route from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India on Friday, 24 December 1999, when it was hijacked. Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group, was accused of the hijacking.

The aircraft was hijacked by terrorists shortly after it entered Indian airspace at about 17:30IST. Hijackers ordered the aircraft to be flown to several locations. After touching down in Amritsar, Lahore and Dubai, the hijackers finally forced the aircraft to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which at the time was controlled by the Taliban. The hijackers released 27 of 176 passengers in Dubai but fatally stabbed one and wounded several others.

At that time most of Afghanistan, including Kandahar where the plane landed, was under Taliban control, who resisted allowing the plane to land there. After eventually granting the plane landing rights, the Taliban still pressured the hijackers to release the hostages and give up on some of their demands. Taliban fighters surrounded the aircraft to prevent any Indian military intervention.
The motive for the hijacking appears to have been to secure the release of Islamist figures held in prison in India. The hostage crisis lasted for seven days and ended after India agreed to release three militants – Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikhand Maulana Masood Azhar.

26/11 Attack on World trade centre: The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,999 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks.

Four passenger airliners operated by two major U.S. passenger air carriers (United Airlines and American Airlines)—all of which departed from airports in the northeastern United States bound for California—were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed. Debris and the resulting fires caused a partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, was crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense) in Arlington County, Virginia, which led to a partial collapse of the building’s west side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was initially flown toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers thwarted the hijackers. 9/11 is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed, respectively.

WTC attack was a paradigm shift in American policy. Now there were no “good and bad talibans”. There were only “Talibans” who needs to be killed. No longer a distinction was made between “one man’s terrorist and other man’s freedom fighter.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States demanded that the Taliban turn the terrorists over to the USA for prosecution. The Taliban refused. It was intolerable to think that Al Qaeda could get away with it and still live there, free to commit more atrocities. Therefore, the USA—with the approval of the United Nations and with the assistance of its NATO allies—attacked Afghanistan and drove the Taliban from power, then captured or killed most of Al Qaeda. Bin Laden fled to Pakistan, where he was eventually killed by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan on 2 May 2011.

In 2001, Hamid Karzai appointed head of interim government but it was a weak government with plenty of problems in Afghanistan. Therefore UN Security Council sent International Security Assistance force(ISAF)  to Afghanistan.

In 2014, Ashraf Ghani came to power. In Dec 2014, ISAF transferred security duties to Afghan security forces. Around 10,000 US troops remain to advise, support to Afghan army and in counter terror operations.

Afghanistan is still facing several internal issues and multipronged attacks by groups like Taliban & ISIS. Taliban still controls very large parts of Afghanistan and insurgency & terrorist forces are still strong in the nation. The control of government is limited to urban areas & highways in reality.

India- Afghanistan Relations

India & Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical & cultural links. Since time immemorial, people of Afghanistan and India have interacted with each other through trade and commerce, peacefully coexisting on the basis of their shared cultural values and commonalities.

  • In 1999, India became one of the key supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
  • In 2005, India proposed Afghanistan’s membership in the SAARC.
  • Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award.
  • India has been favouring an Afghan led and Afghan-owned peace process.

 

India’s Contribution

 

  • India is the sixth largest donor to Afghanistan in diverse development projects – education, agriculture, infra
  • India has contributed close to $ 2 billion untied funds in infrastructure development in Afghanistan
  • Zaranj to Delaram road project for facilitating movement of goods and services to the Iranian border
  • 220kV DC transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul
  • Construction of Afghan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam) in Herat province
  • Construction of Afghan Parliament

 

Strategic Significance of Afghanistan 

 

  • Afghanistan is gateway to energy rich central Asia & situated at crossroads between South Asia & Middle East
  • Afghanistan has significant oil and gas reserves and has rich source of rare earth materials
  • Stable government in Kabul is essential to reduce terror activities across south Asia & in J & K
  • India was the first country Afghanistan chose to sign a strategic partnership agreement with, despite the U.S. and Pakistan keen on doing so
  • India donated three Mi-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan as part of the bilateral strategic partnership to counter the Taliban
  • The massive reconstruction plans for the country offer a lot of opportunities for Indian companies.
  • It has also signed the TAPI pipeline project that aims to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India
  • In the absence of transit route through Pakistan, India depends on other countries, including Iran, to send goods to Afghanistan even though it increases time and costs for Indian exporters.
  • Hence, Recently India and Afghanistan inaugurated a dedicated air freight corridor service. It will provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, greater access to markets in India.

India is also cooperating with Afghanistan and Iran for development of the Chahbahar Port which provides an alternative route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

By

Deepak Dutt Mamgain

M.Sc.(Maths), MBA

Ex Employee Min. of Science & Technology

 

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