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Epilogue, 1982-1994
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Epilogue, 1982-1994

The period from 1982 to the present was marked by the replacement in 1986 of Karmal by Najibullah, the withdrawal in 1989 of Soviet troops after the conclusion in 1988 of the Geneva Accords, and the replacement in 1992 of the Parchami regime by the Islamic state.

From 1982 to 1986, when Najibullah (Najib Allah) replaced Karmal, the situation in the country remained basically unchanged. During this period the Soviets followed first an “enclave strategy” and later a “scorched earth policy.” Under the former policy the Soviets undertook less ambitious campaigns, restricting themselves to the defense of military bases, military installations, key cities, major roads, and communications, avoiding as far as possible countrywide pacification campaigns. But throughout 1983 and 1984 repeated military operations across the country were undertaken, sometimes as large as the one in Panjsher involving between fifteen thousand and twenty thousand troops.[1] To cut off weapon supplies to the mujahideen, the Soviets littered the frontier provinces bordering Pakistan with mines. Described as “migratory genocide,” the Soviet campaigns were “massive reprisals against towns and villages harboring mujahideen.” The campaigns were undertaken “with a view to uprooting the local population, hurting the mujahideen and curtailing their mobility.”[2]

Still, the Soviets scored no success in pacifying the country; only during the winter months were they able to extend their defenses, push their perimeter outwards, and capture mujahideen bases and arms in the hills surrounding Kabul.[3] Beginning in 1985, though, the mujahideen were supplied with thick jackets, snow boots, and ski tents, which enabled them to remain in the field in large numbers during the winter months.[4] More important, they began to receive heavy equipment, such as bazookas and heavy machine guns;[5] they were also supplied some relatively primitive SAM-7 missiles.[6] Their old Lee Enfield rifles had already been replaced with Kalashnikovs. During this time, too, the Reagan administration raised the level of funding for weapons to the mujahideen from $280 million in 1985 to $470 million in 1986 and to $630 million in 1987.[7] From 1984 on, Chinese assistance and the flow of Saudi funds to the resistance also stabilized at a substantial scale.[8] “With the network of logistical supplies and coordination development through the seven-party alliance, the Afghan Resistance became a highly efficient force by 1986.”[9]

But the regime scored some successes among the city population by repairing mosques, promoting the Islamic Affairs Department to the status of ministry, increasing subsidies to religious persons, holding jirgas, promoting trade facilities with the Soviet Union, adopting local languages as the medium of instruction in primary schools, and undertaking publications in those languages. Nevertheless, even with these measures the Karmal regime remained a city regime.

With the rise in March 1985 of Mikhail Gorbachev as the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the scene was set for changes: in the Soviet Union by the inauguration of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic restructuring); in Afghanistan by the gradual disengagement of the Soviet Union; and in the world by the relaxation of tensions.

In Afghanistan the change was marked by the replacement in May 1986 of Karmal by Najibullah, first as general secretary of the PDPA and then as president of the Revolutionary Council. This replacement occurred after Gorbachev described the Soviet war in Afghanistan as a “bleeding wound.” The change reflected the Soviet policy of pulling out its troops after a settlement had been worked out.

As early as 1983 Yuri Andropov, general secretary of the Communist Party, had told Karmal that “he should not count on [an] indefinite and protracted stay of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan; that it was his obligation to expand the social base of his government by political means.”[10] But Andropov died shortly afterward, and during the brief reign of his successor, Konstantin Chernenko, the issue was not pursued, and “Karmal did not draw the required conclusion.”[11] In 1985 Gorbachev told Karmal that “we must think together” about the issue; Karmal, after his face “darkened,” replied, “If you leave now, you will have to send in a million soldiers next time.”[12] Karmal, who had brought the calamity of Soviet troops on the Afghans, found it impossible to “expand the social base of his government by political means.” Still, early in November 1985 he unveiled his so-called ten-point thesis to achieve, among other things, “conciliation” and “compromise.” He also showed willingness to include non-PDPA members in the State Council and to promote a mixed economy. But his “conciliation” proposal was addressed only to those who had not raised arms against the regime. At the time neither the Soviet Union nor Kabul was willing to expand the social base of the regime by including the Islamic groups. Instead, calling these groups “counterrevolutionaries,” they aimed at their destruction. Karmal wanted his Soviet comrades, out of their internationalist duty, to seal the border with Pakistan with an additional 500,000 soldiers; he would then approach the Islamic groups for negotiations.[13]. The Soviet Union was, of course, unwilling to embark on such a policy. Karmal therefore had to go, and Najibullah, who did not share his view, was promoted to his position.

But the Soviet leaders did not agree on how Najibullah should proceed to form a coalition government. Marshal S. F. Akhromenyev, chief of general staff, and G. M. Kornienko, a member of the committee on Afghanistan, argued that the PDPA should “forgo the major share of power in order to establish a coalition government.” “This government” they said, “had to represent the interest of various sections of Afghan society.” By contrast, Foreign Minister Edward A. Shevardnadze and V. A. Krutchkov, the chairman of the KGB, held “a conviction that even after the Soviet troops’ withdrawal the PDPA could retain…a determining and a ‘leading’ role in the new regime.”[14] Tilting toward the latter view, Gorbachev in December 1986 informed Najibullah of the Soviet leaders’ decision “to withdraw the troops within one and a half to two years.” He also “urged an intense pursuit of the national reconciliation policy,” emphasizing at the same time “the necessity to extend the reconciliation policy not only to include the conservative forces, but also those who had been fighting with arms against the authorities.”[15] But Shevardnadze, during a conversation with Najibullah, “emasculated” this proposal, telling him that half of the ministerial portfolios, and not the main ones, in the coalition government could be assigned to the opposition.[16] Najibullah, however, was given to understand that the president in the new order should be someone like the former King Mohammad Zahir, who could be acceptable to all sides, and that “the whole range of political forces of the country [was] to be represented in [a] loya jirga, which was scheduled to elect a President by the end of November [1987].”[17]

After these discussions two series of events dominated the scene: the intensification of military operations and the pursuit of a policy that the regime called “national reconciliation.” As R. M. Khan correctly notes, “Soviet military activity appeared to have intensified following the rise of Gorbachev and the appointment of General Mikhail Zaitsev as the new commander of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.”[18] According to a rumor circulated at the time, Gorbachev had given a span of one year to the military to suppress the resistance. If it failed, so the rumor went, he would then try to resolve the issue through diplomacy. Whatever the truth, for about a year after Gorbachev’s rise the Soviets carried out the severest operations they had ever undertaken in Afghanistan. In this series was the battle for the base of Zhawara near Khost in Paktia in April 1986, in which they and their Afghan allies lost thirteen helicopters and aircraft. Also, more than 100 soldiers of the regime were captured, and more than 1,500 either killed or wounded. The loss in the mujahideen camp exceeded 300. The Soviets occupied the base, but they retreated within hours of its destruction.[19] Incidental to these operations was the detonation of explosive devices inside Pakistan, killing or wounding hundreds of people. This was probably the work of KhAD agents.

But if the Soviets escalated the war, so did the United States and Pakistan. They heightened the defense capability of the mujahideen by providing them with the Stinger, a sophisticated shoulder-fired, antiaircraft missile which America had recently made operable. This was the most effective defensive weapon which the mujahideen received. At 3:00 p.m. on 25 September 1986, Engineer Abdul Ghaffar of the Islamic Party (Hekmatyar) successfully fired the first Stinger against a helicopter landing at the Jalalabad airfield. It became “a turning point of the campaign.”[20] From then on Stingers partly neutralized Soviet aerial offensives. According to the estimates of Pakistan’s Intelligence Service (ISI), “During the summer of 1987 the mujahideen hit an average of 1.5 aircraft of varied description every day.” By the end of 1987 the military situation had deteriorated to the extent that even Najibullah admitted that “80 percent of the countryside and 40 percent of towns were outside the control of his government.”[21]

On 15 January 1987, while inaugurating the policy of “national reconciliation,” Najibullah invited political groups for a dialogue about the formation of a coalition government. He also invited leaders of the Islamic groups, but in reply they reiterated their view: “the continuation of armed jehad until the unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops, the overthrow of the atheistic regime, and the establishment of an independent, free and Islamic Afghanistan.”[22] The former king Mohammad Zahir also rejected the call.

Even within the PDPA opposition was felt.[23] The followers of Karmal, who numbered more than the followers of Najibullah, set up a separate faction, SNMA (Organization for the National Liberation of Afghanistan). They held a rally and voiced their discontent, but they were dispersed. Their leaders were dismissed or demoted from government and party positions, and Karmal was sent to Moscow against his will. The pro-Taraki Khalqis, although seemingly on good terms with Najibullah, were, like the pro-Karmal Parchamis, unwilling to follow him for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, confident of the support of his Moscow mentors, Najibullah went on with the program of “national reconciliation,” trying to persuade the noncommitted individuals and groups to serve under him even before the Soviet troops had left.

The splinter group of the PDPA led by Zahir Ofuq reunited with it after years of separation. The Sitami factions of SAZA and SZA (formerly SAFRA) declared their support for the policy of “national reconciliation,” and their leaders joined the government. Led by Sufi Shina, a new faction, KAJA (Young Workers of Afghanistan), made up mainly of the disillusioned Parchamis and Khalqis, also broadly supported the policy of “national reconciliation.” Later, three separate factions emerged, representing the interests of peasants, religious groups, and the business community, all of which supported the new policy. Only leaders of the Afghan Millat who had recently been released from prison declined the offer of joining the government. Except for the latter, the factions were made up mainly of pro-Moscow leftists and opportunists whom KhAD had encouraged to organize with a view to creating a multiparty system. In addition, many prominent former bureaucrats outside political groupings, including community and tribal elders, joined Najibullah in his efforts to effect national reconciliation.

Najibullah’s accomplishments were more pronounced in his efforts to reform himself and the state he had inherited. He now claimed he was a Muslim, whereas following the April coup of 1978 the PDPA leaders had said they were the sons of Muslim fathers. An eloquent speaker in Pashto and Persian, he backed up his stand with passages from the Quran. On Fridays he prayed in the mosque of Pul-e-Khishti. An Islamic center was set up for research in Islamic studies, and the government spent still more lavishly on the ’ulama and religious centers.

The night curfew that had been imposed following the uprising in Kabul in 1980 was lifted. The regime began to release groups of prisoners in intervals; some time passed before most prisoners were released. Our group of professors was released in early 1987 before we had completed our terms of imprisonment. Peace commissions were set up and were granted authority in administrative and welfare affairs. I was invited to attend the National Peace Commission; had I done so, the rights that I had lost during my stay in prison would have been restored, but I declined. The National Front, led by Abdur Rahim Hatif, was authorized to play a major role in the implementation of the program of “national reconciliation.”

To change the state structure, on 30 November 1987 Najibullah convened a loya jirga composed of men and women selected by the authorities from among members of social organizations, the National Front, government officials, and members of the PDPA. The two-day session of the loya jirga was marred by violent incidents. While Najibullah was delivering his opening statement, four rockets launched from the hills of Paghman hit the area of the Polytechnic building where the jirga was held. Members of the jirga were alarmed, but Najibullah kept on reading his statement. The next day, General Asmat Muslim, commander of the Achakzay tribal militia, was barred from entering the hall with his armed guards; they clashed with the security men outside, in the course of which several men, including two senior officials, were killed or wounded. Muslim was responsible for keeping the road from Kandahar to Speen Boldak open.

Despite these difficulties, the loya jirga succeeded in its mission. It passed a new constitution and elected Najibullah president for seven years—not surprisingly, since he was the only candidate for the position. The constitution devised a presidential system with an elective bicameral parliament to which the executive was made accountable. The constitution declared “the sacred religion of Islam” the official religion, and it stated that the state power belongs to the people, who exercise it through their representatives. It guaranteed the democratic rights of the individual and made it legal to form “political parties,” a provision allowed for the first time in an Afghan constitution. It declared the society “multi-nationalities” and charged the state with pursuing the development of all “tribes and nationalities” to ensure equality.[24] To appease the nationalists, photos of Afghan heroes of the past were posted in the city. The word “democratic” was dropped from the name of the republic because of its communistic connotation;it was now called the Republic of Afghanistan. Later in 1990 the PDPA was renamed the Fatherland Party (Hizb-e-Watan), a party whose published aims claimed that it “fights for democracy based on a multi-party system” and loya jirga, as well as “national reconciliation whose contents it would develop on the basis of Islamic beliefs, patriotism, the chosen customs of the people, and the experience of practical politics.”[25]

Despite these changes, Afghans not connected with the party or the regime held that President Najibullah was so committed to the ideals of PDPA and so loyal to the Soviet Union that he would not transform. In particular, they distrusted the PDPA and KhAD. The latter, though now called WAD (Ministry of State Security), was dominated by the same Parchamis, who still called themselves “khadists, the true sons of comrade Dzerzhinsky,”[26] the bloodthirsty prophet of the leftist revolutionaries. The Afghans viewed the regime to be unviable and the “national reconciliation” policy a ploy, especially since the Soviet troops were still present; however, rumors were afloat that the troops would leave as soon as a coalition government was in place. But President Najibullah had started a move that even the Islamic groups could not ignore. They could not do so because the regime, among other measures, doubled its efforts at neutralizing the resistance commanders and building up militias.

As explained in chapter 10, through Premier Kishtmand the regime promoted in effect a policy of fragmentation by promising autonomy to localities, in particular in the north and to the Hazaras. Now President Najibullah, who also headed the Supreme Council for the Defense of the Fatherland, approached the commanders about running their territories in an autonomous manner with the assistance of the regime, provided that they refrained from fighting and negotiated.[27] Among the approximately four thousand commanders throughout the country,[28] a considerable number went along with the proposal; however, Mohammad Hassan Sharq, who headed the government as prime minister from 1988 to 1989 and who abrogated the special political arrangement of an autonomous nature that had been devised for northern Afghanistan, notes, “Until the end of my office no known commander submitted, nor any known refugee was willing to negotiate. If a known commander received a government emissary it was to tell him that they were unwilling to negotiate but willing to fight to the end.”[29]

On 10 February 1988 Yuli Vorontsov, the ace Soviet diplomat, told President Zia al-Haq in Islamabad that “the Soviet troops would be withdrawn, with or without national reconciliation and with or without the Geneva settlement.”[30] The Geneva talks that had been going on at intervals since 1982 under the supervision of the UN secretary general’s personal envoy, Diego Cordovez, were expedited. On 14 April 1988 the accords, known as the Geneva Accords, were signed by representatives of the governments of Pakistan and Kabul. The U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and the Soviet Union’s Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadze were present as the coguarantors of the accords. The Soviets undertook to withdraw their troops in nine months, completing it on 15 February 1989.

Since the basic parameters and structure of the agreements had been completed at a time when Moscow enjoyed a position of strength militarily, “The Geneva Accords accomplished little more than providing a respectable exit for the Soviet troops.”[31] The “respectable exit” and the nonexistence of a national government helped the Soviets avoid paying war indemnities. More to the point, the accords—from which the resistance leaders had been excluded—had no provision to stop the war. “Specifically, they failed to address the question of self-determination, an issue critical for any restoration of peace in the country.”[32] On the contrary, by accepting the principle of “positive symmetry,” whereby the coguarantors would provide weapons as they pleased to their respective Afghan sides, the accords in effect increased the chances of war and the destruction of an already battered Afghanistan.

The Soviet Union took full advantage of this situation by supplying abundant arms to Kabul and raising its fighting capability several times.[33] The Soviet Union, until its dissolution in December 1991, is believed to have continued its delivery of weapons to Kabul at the same pace. It did so with “a conviction that even after the Soviet troops’ withdrawal the PDPA could retain, if not the complete control of power, then a determining and a ‘leading’ role in the new regime.”[34] But this “conviction” was ill founded, and Mikhail Gorbachev knew it. In separate meetings in the Kremlin, Afghan Premier Mohammad Hassan Sharq, Minister of the Interior Sayyed Mohammad Gulabzoy, and Minister of Defense Shahnawaz Tanay had told Gorbachev and others that “the mujahideen and the people of Afghanistan would neither negotiate nor reconcile themselves with Dr. Najibullah.”[35]

Unlike the Soviet Union, the United States, having achieved its goal of forcing the withdrawal of Soviet troops,[36] gradually disengaged itself. To meet its goal, the United States even “allow[ed] the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan without losing face.”[37] Although as of 1990 the United States “appeared to be pushing for an understanding with the Soviets on an effective transitional arrangement that could lead to UN-supervised elections,”[38] in effect it left regional powers, in particular Pakistan, free to devise a government for Afghanistan.

But Pakistan, like the Soviet Union, had a view of its own on the subject that was well known until the death of President Zia al-Haq and General Akhtar Abdur Rahman in a mysterious plane crash in August 1988. Specifically, Pakistan wanted “an outright military victory and the establishment of an Islamic government in Kabul,” and this view was promoted in the ISI.[39] The man who fought hardest for this end was General Akhtar, who, as chief of ISI from 1979 to 1987, was second in command only to President Zia while the office he was heading “was considered all-powerful” in Pakistan and “the most effective intelligence agency in the third word.”[40] Akhtar opposed the alternative view put forward by Foreign Minister Sahibzada Ya’qub Khan. “Yakub Khan wanted to push the [Islamic] Alliance to take political initiatives and felt that it did not receive support from the ISI for this purpose.”[41] The same was true of Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, who “lacked control over the ISI setup and had little rapport with the Alliance leaders.”[42] President Zia al-Haq, who did not pursue “a single clear line of policy,” allowed “the hard-line leadership to stall on the Foreign Office efforts.”[43] That was why the ISI had allotted 67 to 73 percent of weapons it received from the donor countries to the four fundamentalist groups.[44] These groups effectively opposed the “broad-based” formula that Diego Cordovez proposed shortly after the Geneva Accords had been concluded. Thus, settlement of the issue was left to the sword. Most believed that after the withdrawal of the Soviet army the mujahideen would soon oust the Kabul regime from power. But like the Soviet conviction that its army would suppress the resistance within weeks or months, this conviction, too, proved simplistic.

As the withdrawal date (15 February 1989) approached, the Kabul regime rearranged its forces and evacuated the headquarters of the outlying province of Kunar. The mujahideen occupied it on 11 October 1988. They behaved not as liberators but as pillagers and set up a dual system of administration for the province, one run by men of the seven group, and the other by the followers of Jamil ur Rahman, leader of the Salaffiya group known as Wahhabi. The inhabitants of the plain fled. In late 1988, seventy-four officers and soldiers of the regime submitted to the border authorities of Pakistan in Torkham, but they were said to have delivered them to a commander of the Hizb-e-Islami of Khalis. Later they were found dead on the Afghan side of the border. Visiting the area in January 1989, I saw the remains of some of them. Also, in early January, when the mujahideen overran the military post of Shewa, some Arabs of the Salafiyya group slaughtered two officers of the post who had submitted and possessed as war booty sixteen women, while members of two Islamic groups possessed five women. The incidents began to shake the conviction about the mujahideen as saviors, especially when the regime publicized the Torkham incident in its mass media after it had reoccupied the region for a short while in late November. The jehad had begun to degenerate into a war for spoil and revenge.

In this atmosphere efforts were made to convene a shura to form an interim government to replace the Kabul regime after the Soviets left. However, the shura was restricted to the seven Peshawar-based Islamic Sunni groups, the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan’s Mujahideen (IUAM). It was a loose structure, and the leader of each of the seven groups became its spokesperson for three months. The IUAM also had a leadership council, composed of leading members of the groups. In June 1988 Engineer Ahmad Shah was chosen head of the interim government, but a more effective interim government was required. In January 1989 the ISI chief, General Hameed Gul, persuaded leaders of the IUAM in a joint meeting to set up such a government.[45]

But the IUAM leaders were disunited about the basis on which to set up the shura. Hekmatyar proposed that the shura be elected, but Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi called elections un-Islamic. Mohammad Yunus Khalis held that only the pious, the intelligent, and the learned were entitled to elect an amir. The suggestion that the council should be elected by the refugees was brushed aside, because in 1987 a survey of them had given a higher rating to the former king Mohammad Zahir than to the IUAM. The IUAM then devised a formula according to which each Islamic group, including the Tehran-based Shi’ite group of the Islamic Alliance Council (IAC), was to nominate sixty members to the shura. The IAC, however, held out for a hundred members. The IUAM increased the number to sixty-five, but no more. Mojaddidi, who was the spokesman of IUAM at the time, came out in favor of the IAC’s demand but backed away after he found that he was being isolated on the subject. The efforts of Iran’s diplomats, including Foreign Minister Akbar Velayati, who argued the IAC’s case with the government of Pakistan, bore no fruit, and the Tehran-based Shi’as were excluded from the shura.

The IUAM leaders also had to battle with tribal and community elders. More than eighty elders and mullas from various parts of Afghanistan, among them Azizullah Wasifi, Abdul Ahad Karzay, and Abdul Quddus, arrived in Peshawar and on 2 February 1989 held a rally there along with other Afghans; similar demonstrations were held in Quetta. In a communiqué the spokespersons for the Peshawar demonstrators stated, “The time has come to constitute a united leadership and a united government. Not a few leaders, but the whole of mujahid, muhajir [émigré], and Muslim people of Afghanistan have the right and the discretion to institute them.” The demonstrators suggested that a coalition government be formed with equal numbers of representatives from the mujahideen, the refugees, and the Kabul regime; this proposal was similar to the one-third formula which President Zia al-Haq had held until the previous January. Expressing support for the former king and denouncing the IUAM, the leaders of the rally reiterated the view that in the present circumstances only a loya jirga could achieve this goal. Some circulated the view, now widespread, that the Islamic groups were the creation of Pakistan. But as in 1980, so now too the latter reacted swiftly. While the police watched, followers of the Islamists disrupted the meeting and condemned the loya jirga. Hekmatyar said, “It was not our traditional system, but a deception of our nation by the tyrannical and absolutist governments,” and later stated, “Henceforth, without the mujahideen no one else can rule over Afghanistan.”[46] By this time the schism between the Islamic fundamentalists and secularists had widened, and a number of prominent figures from the latter group, including Aziz al-Rahman Ulfat, Jannat Khan Gharwal, and the activist philosopher Sayd Bahauddin Majruh, had been killed by terrorists. Among those killed later were two physicians, Sa’adat Shigaywal and Naseem Ludin. Fearful for their lives, others, including the author of this book, took refuge in the West. In Peshawar the controversy raged, and division surfaced everywhere. Community and tribal elders worked for the view that King Mohammad Zahir was the only person under whom the nation could unite and the war be ended. The fundamentalists, though, reiterated the conviction that during his rule the former king had allowed the communists to penetrate the state and society and that he had taken no part in the resistance. In fact, the controversy was part of the wider division between those who stood for a theocratic order in which they would steer the state and society and those who stood for a secular order governed by elected representatives.

On 10 February 1989 the shura, made up of 439 members from among the seven groups and a few smaller ones including the Unity Council of Hazarajat, met with Mohammadi as chairman and Sayyaf as spokesperson. With 420 members, the seven Sunni groups dominated the shura, but a rift occurred between the traditionalists and the fundamentalists. While the latter wished to ratify the existing interim government, the traditionalists wanted a new one. They opposed the interim government of Engineer Ahmad Shah because he was known to be a Wahhabi. At the time the dispute over the quota for the IAC had not been settled. The traditionalists made it known that they would boycott the shura if the fundamentalists persisted in their demand. For three days the shura was adjourned to give time for consultation. When it was reconvened on February 13, it opted for a new interim government with a president and a prime minister. To establish this new government, first a seventy-member commission and then a fourteen-member subcommission were set up to lay down electoral procedures. Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran in mediation and settlement, presided over both.

Inasmuch as many agents of the ISI were also present in the shura, the subcommission met secretly in an unknown place where it formulated electoral procedure. Each member of the shura was entitled to two votes, one for his own group and the other for the group of his choice. The position of the head of state was to go to the group that obtained the highest number of votes, and the position of the prime minister to the next in order. Each group was assigned two ministerial posts. On 23 February votes were cast and the result declared: 174 votes were cast for the National Liberation Front, led by Mojaddidi; 173 for the Islamic Union, led by Sayyaf; 139 for the Islamic Revolutionary Movement, led by Mohammadi; 126 for the Islamic Party led by Hekmatyar; 102 for the Islamic Party led by Khalis; 99 for the Jam’iyyat, led by Rabbani; and 86 for the National Islamic Front, led by Pir Gailani. Thus, Sibgatullah Mojaddidi became president and Abdur Rab Rasul Sayyaf prime minister of the Afghan Interim Government (AIG). The purpose of the state was declared to be the establishment of an Islamic order in accord with the Quran. One month after its inception the government was to be transferred into Afghanistan, and a year afterward it would obtain a vote of confidence from a shura to be devised.

The outcome surprised many observers, who had expected victory to go to the major groups, not the smaller ones such as the fundamentalist Islamic Union and the traditionalist National Liberation Front. The votes were, however, cast more for persons than groups. Although a strict and orthodox scholar, Sayyaf had the exceptional ability of simplifying complex issues and winning adherents. It was mainly this attribute that in 1980 won for him the leadership of the Islamic Union. Besides, Arabs were said to have won him votes by offering gratuities to members of the shura. Sayyaf was popular with Arabs, in particularly with the Wahhabis. By contrast, Mojaddidi, though mercurial, was a moderate traditionalist, not an Islamist; he also had a longer anticommunist and antiabsolutist stand. No one feared either him or his group. These attributes, and Pir Gailani’s decision not to seek a high position for himself, helped Mojaddidi stand with head high on that day among his peers in the shura. More than anything else, Mojaddidi’s victory was a response to the rigidity of the fundamentalists and a reflection of opposition to the ISI’s manipulation of the affairs of the resistance groups.

Despite Mojaddidi’s selection, the AIG was inherently weak: because nationalists, tribal elders, and the PDPA had been excluded, the new government rested on a narrow basis. The Sunni Afghans who stood for a theocratic order dominated it. The field commanders, who were more pragmatic than the personnel of the groups, were not part of it. They had even been underrepresented in the shura by the failure of each group to send, in accord with the quota formula, 50 percent of its members from among its commanders. More serious was the unwillingness of the constituent groups to subordinate their military structures to the AIG. In addition, like the groups the new government was dependent on the ISI for money and other support.

The AIG needed to establish itself inside Afghanistan as a prelude to overcoming the Kabul regime. For that purpose, on 6 March 1989, after the Soviet troops had left on time (15 February 1989), between five thousand and seven thousand mujahideen under the leadership of eight senior commanders advanced on the frontier city of Jalalabad, but without a coordinated plan of action.[47] After a speedy advance from the east, their advance was halted close to the city by the defenders, who were better armed and who were, moreover, in commanding positions. They had either to defend with determination or face slaughter, as the Torkham tragedy had warned them. Besides, from Kabul “over 400 Scud missiles thumped down among the hills around Jalalabad during the siege,” which lasted for four months.[48] After having sustained more than three thousand casualties, the mujahideen lifted the siege; thus, the mujahideen failed in their first frontal attack in a conventional war, and the AIG failed in its bid to find a seat inside Afghanistan. The “catastrophe” of Jalalabad raised the morale of the regime’s army, which had warded off the assault without the support of the Soviet army. While the regime rewarded Manokay Mangal, the commander of Jalalabad, for his successful defense, Pakistan replaced the ISI director, General Hameed Gul, with Shamsur Rahman Kallu, a general whom President Zia had earlier pensioned off.

More serious for AIG was the unwillingness of Pakistan and the United States to officially recognize it. Not long afterward the Islamic Party boycotted the AIG when Hekmatyar resigned as foreign minister. His resignation showed that the existing rivalry between the two major constituent groups of AIG—the Jam’iyyat and the Islamic Party—had turned into a vendetta. The feuding intensified after Sayyed Jamal, a commander of the latter group, ambushed and killed in the gorge of Farkhar in Takhar Province thirty-six men of the Jam’iyyat, including seven of its commanders who were close to Ahmad Shah Mas’ud, the commander of Jam’iyyat and the head of its special unit, the Supervisory Council. Subsequently, Sayyed Jamal and three other commanders were caught and in December 1989 hanged before the public by court order.[49] All this happened after Takhar had been nearly completely liberated and divided between the two groups, and “a truce had been arranged and sealed by the reading aloud to each other of the Commanders [Ahmad Shah Mas’ud, and Sayyed Jamal] of passages from the Holy Koran.”[50] The event further weakened the AIG, widened the schism between the Jam’iyyat and the Islamic Party, and turned Hekmatyar and Mas’ud into undeclared enemies. It was rumored that Sayyed Jamal had acted on Hekmatyar’s instructions. The episode showed that taking revenge is a practice of ambitious Afghan politicians. Thereafter the AIG became ineffective, and Hekmatyar concentrated on subverting the Kabul regime from within.

As noted in chapter 2, in late 1979 Hekmatyar had reached an agreement with the Khalqi leader, Hafizullah Amin, to share power with him in a coalition government. Now that the Soviet forces were out, Hekmatyar began to persuade the Khalqis to work for the downfall of President Najibullah. At that time the Khalqis had decided to win the trust of the people and for that purpose were prepared to make sacrifices[51]—hence their cooperation with Hekmatyar. However, the Khalqis were unable to escape the watchful eyes of the KhAD agents, who arrested many of their military officers for attempting a coup in December 1989.[52]

While Gulabzoy, the self-styled leader of the Khalqis, served as ambassador in Moscow, the Khalqi minister of defense, General Shahnawaz Tanay, showed signs of rebellion; but before he could strike, the Soviet deputy minister of foreign affairs, Yuli Vorontsov, persuaded him to accept his mediation. Vorontsov, who also served as the Soviet ambassador in Kabul, assured him that Najibullah would meet his demands: that is, he would release all Khalqi prisoners and subordinate all militias to the Ministry of Defense. President Najibullah had made the militias part of his own office, which he had lately expanded. Vorontsov and the Soviet advisers were trying apparently to reconcile the Parcham and Khalq factions, but they were in reality working for clashes between them: hence the delaying tactics of President Najibullah in meeting the demands.[53] The outcome was Tanay’s coup effort on 6 March 1990, the fifth since the withdrawal of the Soviet army. Tanay was still unprepared for it, but President Najibullah forced him to embark on it prematurely. After a one-day clash in which parts of Kabul were destroyed and scores of people killed and wounded, Tanay and a number of senior officers flew to Pakistan. There, in separate statements Tanay and Hekmatyar declared that the Islamic Party and the Khalqis had made a coalition to oust President Najibullah, whom they called a Soviet man.

A coalition between the pro-Tanay Khalqis and the Islamic Party, who were polar opposites, bewildered observers. Many senior members of the Islamic Party resigned in protest, and leaders of other Islamic groups ridiculed the idea of uniting with the Khalqis to oust the Parchamis. They saw no difference between Najibullah and Tanay. Hekmatyar had never been so isolated by his peers.[54] Some believed that the coalition had been made under ethnic impulse, but this view overlooks the fact that President Najibullah was also a Pashtun and, like Tanay, came from the same province of Paktia. The core consideration of the alignment was for its designers to snatch state power from President Najibullah. In the context of Parcham-Khalq rivalry after the Soviet army had departed, Tanay represented the ambition of the Khalqis to regain the leading position they had lost.

In Kabul the regime rounded up three thousand Khalqis in the military and civilian departments. “The incident changed the balance of power [in the army] in favor of the followers of Karmal and the people of the north.”[55] Instructed by the Soviets, the Kabul regime concentrated on building up tribal militias, especially in provinces bordering the Soviet Union. “After the clearance from the army of the Khalqis for being pro-Tanay, the tribal commanders of the provinces of Herat and the north were armed to the teeth and drowned in money.”[56] Among the militia commanders was Abdur Rashid Dostum, whom the regime groomed to build up his Jawzjan Uzbek militias, known for their looting as gilam jam (total pillagers). Numbering about forty thousand, they were used as storm troopers against the enemies of the regime.

President Najibullah was, however, unable to enjoy the fruits of victory for long. His troubles resurfaced the next year. On 31 March 1991 the city and garrison of Khost in Paktia, and on 21 June the garrison of Khoja Ghar in Takhar, fell to the mujahideen. These losses were in addition to many others the regime had already sustained. But in Khost and Khoja Ghar it lost about eight thousand soldiers and huge quantities of military hardware. It was, however, still receiving weapons, foodstuffs, and fuel from the Soviet Union worth between $250 and $300 million a month, an assistance that helped it remain in place. But this lifeline was to be cut: on 13 September 1991, following the failed coup attempt by hard-liners in Moscow in August 1991, Soviet Foreign Minister Boris Pankin and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker agreed that effective the beginning of the new year, their countries would cease to deliver “lethal materials and supplies” to the warring parties in Afghanistan.[57] More serious, the regime lost its patron when, in December 1991, the Soviet Union broke up into fifteen constituent republics. The new Russian Republic, headed by Boris Yeltsin, was unwilling to help the Kabul regime. Although by then President Najibullah had extensively reformed the government in line with the new liberal constitution and given high state positions to many prominent Afghans outside the PDPA, he had still failed to persuade any leader of the armed Islamic groups, as well as the former king, to negotiate with him.[58] Even though his patron was now gone, Najibullah’s record as KhAD’s boss and a Soviet surrogate was the stumbling block.

Among the nearly one hundred thousand Afghans living in the West, those who were active in the issue put forward agendas for the convening of a loya jirga and the institution of an interim government to be made up of nonaffiliated technocrats, statesmen, and others without the participation of leaders of the Islamic groups or the PDPA in the transitional period. For this purpose, some had in 1990 set up an association, the Movement for a Representative Government in Afghanistan. But they all failed to develop a common front to work for this scheme. They stood behind the “broad-based” plan which the United Nations had devised for Afghanistan. In November 1989 the United Nations General Assembly had instructed Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar to work for the realization of “a comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan.” On 21 May 1991 Perez de Cuellar put forward a plan that called for “an intra-Afghan dialogue” to work for “a broad-based government” in a “transition period” before a national government could be set up through “free and fair elections.”[59] The plan required consultation with and the concurrence of the principal sides in Afghan politics. The secretary general commissioned Benon Sevan as his special envoy for this purpose.

Unlike the “broad-based” formula that Diego Cordovez had put forward in the summer of 1988, this plan came out in a more favorable climate. The breakup of the Soviet Union and the opening of Central Asia had made Afghanistan once again significant in linking the latter region with South Asia. Hence, Pakistan was interested in a stable Afghanistan primarily for economic reasons, hoping to reach through it to Central Asia.[60] On 27 January 1992, after the ISI’s reservations had been overcome, the foreign minister of Pakistan announced that his government had decided “to support the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to convene an assembly of Afghan leaders to decide on an interim government.”[61] Before its dissolution, even the Soviet Union had, in a joint communiqué with a delegation from the major parties of the Afghan resistance, agreed on the need to “pass all power in Afghanistan to an Islamic interim government.”[62] Similarly, the United States softened its stand on the PDPA: as early as February 1990 Secretary of State James Baker had announced that “it would not be a precondition that Mr. Najibullah step down in advance of beginning discussions on a political settlement or transitional government.”[63]

Nearly all the Afghan power groups came out gradually in favor of the plan. Hekmatyar, who initially called it “complicated, ambiguous and impractical,” modified his position in early April 1992, “swinging behind the United Nations plan and warning that any delay in accepting it would have serious consequences.”[64] A gathering of more than five hundred commanders in Paktia in early February 1992 supported the proposal in principle, stating that if the plan, after clarification, was “not against the expectations of our jehad, and national interest and results in the establishment of Islamic government, it will not be opposed.”[65] While Sayyaf rejected the plan, the three traditionalist Islamic groups and the former king endorsed it in categorical terms. Echoing the voice of the Jam’iyyat, Commander Ahmad Shah Mas’ud accepted the plan but stated that “as long as Najib is in power or has a share of power, in one form or another, UN efforts will not succeed.”[66] Thus, the prospects for the plan seemed good. At the urging of Benon Sevan, on 18 March 1992 President Najibullah, who was the first to support the plan, declared that he was ready to step down from office and cooperate in the transfer of power to a commission of nonaffiliated Afghans. By then Sevan, who had met with all the parties concerned, had arranged for the transfer of power on 28 April 1992. First a fifteen-member commission composed of nonaffiliated persons would transfer power to itself; after forty-five days from that date it would, under the supervision of the United Nations, convene either in Geneva or Ankara a 150-member jirga of the mujahideen, commanders, and influential Afghans to set up an interim government.[67] But before the plan was set in motion, an alignment known as the Coalition of the North (Ittilaf-e-Shamal) emerged, and it undid what Sevan had accomplished.

When the Coalition of the North (CN) was established is unknown, but it became active in March 1992 in Mazar after Abdur Rashid Dostum, commander of the Uzbek militias, rebelled.[68] He did so because Kabul could no longer grant him money and weapons. President Najibullah dispatched a force by air under General Mohammad Nabi Azimi, deputy minister of defense, to silence the rebellion, but Azimi secretly joined Dostum instead. More serious, on 22 March Ahmad Shah Mas’ud, Dostum, Azad Beg Khan, Abdul Ali Mazari, and Azimi decided in a meeting to overthrow President Najibullah and set up a new government with Mas’ud as the head of state, Mazari as prime minister, and Dostum as minister of defense. Mazari was head of the Islamic Unity Party of the Tehran-based Afghan Shi’as; Azad Beg Khan was an Uzbek émigré from Uzbekistan whose agenda was to work for the unity of all Uzbeks. Sayyed Ja’far Nadiri, commander of the Sayyed-e-Kayan militias and spiritual leader of the Isma’ili Shi’as of Kayan, also joined the CN. Dostum claimed that he had headed the National and Islamic Movement ever since he entered the service of the regime, and now he joined the Karmal faction against his patron. Babrak Karmal, who had returned home before the unsuccessful Moscow coup of August 1991, schemed behind the scene, while his followers in the army and the PDPA put his plans into motion. But the CN was made under ethnic impulse, as none among those who devised it spoke Pashto. It originated from the regime’s “nationalities” policy and reflected the “national oppression” which Tahir Badakhshi had advanced (see chapters 3 and 10).

At 2:00 p.m. on 14 April 1992, the militias of Dostum, which had been brought to Kabul by air, took positions in the city. Surprised, President Najibullah, in a hastily convened session of the Supreme Council of Defense, asked for an explanation. Azimi and other Parchami leaders told him that the militias had been brought to protect Kabul against the threats posed by Hekmatyar, who had concentrated his men at the city’s southern limits. They also asked Najibullah to announce this on the mass media and apologize to the nation for having invited the Soviet army in 1979. Giving the impression that he would do so, Najibullah instead went straight to the headquarters of the United Nations; from there he asked Benon Sevan, who was in Islamabad at the time, to come immediately to Kabul. After Sevan arrived, Najibullah arranged to fly with him abroad, but Dostum’s militia controlled the airport and refused to let him go. He escaped death in the coup, but his chief of WAD (the former KhAD) was killed. Najibullah took asylum in the headquarters of the United Nations, where he still remains (June 1994). Azimi declared him “a national traitor,” and Abdur Rahim Hatif, the first vice-president, took his place. The event opened a Pandora’s box, which, among other things, killed the United Nations plan, which Sevan had brought to the threshold of success.

Kabul was no longer immune to hostile armed groups. On 16 April Foreign Minister Abdul Wakeel, an architect of the coup, met Mas’ud in Parwan; afterward Mas’ud’s men, who had already occupied the Bagram military base and the nearby town of Charikar, took positions in the northern part of the city and in some military installations. The Parchami officers turned over the arsenals to them, to the men of Dostum, and, to a lesser degree, to those of Mazari. Because the lion’s share went to Mas’ud, he surpassed his rivals in modern weapons. The Parchamis did so with the understanding that with Mas’ud they would be safe. Hekmatyar’s men had entered Kabul from the south, and on 20 April the Khalqis and the pro-Najibullah Parchamis helped them occupy the building of the Ministry of the Interior. On 22 April Vice-President Mohammad Rafi’ met Hekmatyar in Logar, afterward stating, “I obtained his agreement with regard to the transfer of power to the mujahideen.” By 24 April nearly twenty thousand armed mujahideen had entered Kabul under the cover of darkness. The situation in Kabul became explosive, and as Benon Sevan said, “Kabul belonged to every one, but no one controlled it.”[69]

On 23 April, after cautioning heads of the Afghan factions against armed clashes, Benon Sevan informed Premier Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan of the dangerous situation in Afghanistan. On the next evening (24 April) Premier Sharif summoned heads of the Islamic groups to the official Governor’s House in Peshawar. Only Hekmatyar refused to attend, saying that “his presence was needed inside Afghanistan.” Qutbuddin Helal represented him in the meeting but soon left because of disagreements principally over the assignment of the Ministry of Defense in the interim government to the Jam’iyyat, that is, Commander Ahmad Shah Mas’ud. Soon a formula was devised for an “interim government of the Islamic state of Afghanistan.” A fifty-one-member commission, headed by Sibgatullah Mojaddidi, was to transfer power to itself from the Kabul regime. Mojaddidi was to represent the state as its president for two months, after which time he was to hand it over to Burhanuddin Rabbani. The latter was to hold the office for four months; a shura was then to devise a new interim government, which would remain in power for two years. The post of prime minister was assigned to the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar and ministerial portfolios to other Islamic groups, but not to their leaders. The latter constituted the leadership council (shura-e-qiyadi), which Rabbani was to preside over for four months. The arrangements came to be known as the Peshawar Accords.

The Peshawar Accords were agreed on in a meeting whose non-Afghan participants outnumbered their Afghan counterparts, although Afghan self-rule was the subject for decision.[70] Some of these foreign dignitaries had, during the course of resistance, granted the Afghan leaders weapons, logistics, and millions of dollars in cash, thus making them susceptible to their influence. As compelling evidence of this influence, all except for Hekmatyar accepted the summons to an official headquarters of a foreign government and agreed to accords initiated by its premier. Setting aside the foreign pedigree of the Accords, they were unrealistic. Even some Afghan participants called them “impracticable,” “hastily drawn and monopolistic,” and not devised “in line with the will of the [Afghan] nation.” However, these critics lacked the courage to stand by their views.[71] The accords were drawn to meet the requirements of Pakistan with respect to the new Central Asian republics. That was why Pakistan took their wishes into account in the accords. For “Pakistan has been told in unequivocal terms that its support of the establishment of an extreme right-wing government in Afghanistan would impede friendly relations with Central Asia”[72]—hence the virtual dismissal of Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party, the preponderance of the Jam’iyyat, and the assignment of the key post of defense minister to Ahmad Shah Mas’ud before someone had been assigned the post of prime minister. Besisdes, either in collusion with the CN or by themselves, the framers of the accords devised a government of minorities to make it amenable to the interests of its eastern neighbor.

Abdullah Shiniwari even goes so far as to hold that, through a “grand conspiracy agrainst Afghanistan,” foreigners “forced a[n] alliance of the minorities and the Communists to trigger an internecine war between the majority Pashtuns and the minority represented by Ahmad Shah Mas’ud.” Shiniwari also maintains that these foreigners schemed to embroil the Afghans among themselves with a view to exhuasting the huge stockpiles of the Scud, Oregon, Luna-I, and Luna-II missiles, as well as the huge stockpiles of conventional weapons Afghanistan had acquired during Najibullah’s rule—weapons that not many countries in the region possessed.[73] Indeed, the external influence was considered so important that the AIG, which a shura had elected, was discarded, and the setting up of another AIG by another shura or by heads of the Islamic groups themselves was not attempted; and, of course, other political forces outside the Islamic Sunni groups should have been consulted but were not. The Peshawar Accords showed that the Afghans had now more than one “Soviet Union” to deal with, and that, like Big Brothers in Islamic garb, the new Soviet Unions were bent on patronizing them as well.

On 28 April 1992 / 8 Saur 1371 Sibgatullah Mojaddidi arrived by road in Kabul and formally received power from a vice-president of the defunct regime in the presence of Afghan dignitaries and foreign diplomats. As president of the Islamic state and the Jehad Council (the Commission of the Peshawar Accords), Mojaddidi appointed ministers and other senior officials to the departments which the previous regime had set up. Among Mojaddidi’s first acts was to declare a general amnesty. Mojaddidi had no prime minister; Ahmad Shah Mas’ud, the minister of defense and chairman of the security commission, acted as the second in command. After 14 April, when Mas’ud had approached Kabul more closely, some felt that he might advance on it, but he halted and called on the leaders of the Islamic groups to set up an Islamic government in unison. He also said that “he [did] not wish a position for himself, and that, as a soldier of Islam, he was ready to serve Islam and the people of Afghanistan.” He had apparently changed his mind and cooperated in the implementation of the accords.[74] Soon more than twenty governments officially recognized the new government, and Benon Sevan promised UN assistance provided that security was maintained. Premier Sharif of Pakistan paid a brief visit to Mojaddidi, granting him $10 million and promising to provide foodstuffs; the Islamic Republic of Iran followed suit. These measures, and the fact that the people of Kabul accorded Mojaddidi and his entourage a joyous welcome, made the government look legitimate. Indeed, the Kabulis, who were overwhelmingly anti-Parchami, accepted the government, assuming that it would provide essential goods, restore basic services, and maintain law and order. But it failed to fulfill these expectations. From the beginning, problems emanating from group politics, personal ambitions, the desire to loot, and ethnic and religious prejudices paralyzed this Peshawar-made importation.

It soon became apparent that the Leadership Council (LC), of which Mojaddidi was also a member, was the chief decision-making body. In line with the Peshawar Accords, Burhanuddin Rabbani, as head of the council, was to activate it after Mojaddidi’s term had ended, but he did so only a week after the advent of the new government. A semiofficial journal wrote, “The opportunists, instead of observing the Peshawar Accords,…started opposing the president of the state whom they themselves had elected.”[75] The journal also stated that “the Leadership Council…by issuing contradictory decrees surpassed all, even the president.”[76] This complaint was made after the LC abolished the Ministry for State Security; Mojaddidi had earlier appointed General Yahya Naoroz, a veteran mujahid military officer, to head it. Similarly, General Mohammad Rahim Wardak, also a professional mujahid officer whom Mojaddidi had appointed chief of staff, was demoted and the office given to its former Parchami holder, General Asif Delawar. This switch was made because Defense Minister Mas’ud believed that “all those generals and militias who helped in the overthrow of the Najib regime should be praised rather than abused.”[77] Thus hamstrung, Mojaddidi was unable to perform his real task, that is, to transfer power from officials of the defunct regime.

The first few decrees issued by the LC indicate the features of the new Islamic state. It declared Islamic law (shari’a), to be the law of the land. Among the existing laws, those considered to be contrary to Islamic law were declared null and void. The LC confirmed the general amnesty which Mojaddidi had already declared, but only as far as it concerned the right of society, not of private individuals. Meanwhile, it decreed that the state should set up a special court “against traitors and transgressors and for their trial and for maintenance of general security.” This court was, however, directed against violators of laws, not the former communists. Nevertheless, the former PDPA was declared illegal and its property confiscated.[78] Later, when Rabbani had succeeded Mojaddidi, the court ordered three men to be hanged, and the order was publicly carried out. Mohammad Siddiq Chakari, the minister of information and culture, proclaimed, “Our people have no need for music”; in line with this attitude, cinemas were closed. Alcoholic drinks were banned, and the liquor stock of the government-run Ariana Hotel was burned. The LC declared that “all officials and workers of Government and private organizations shall pray collectively at fixed times.” It also directed the Ministry of Information and Culture “to collect all anti-religion books from libraries and other places and keep them in a sealed place.” A commission was set up “for Islamic preaching and publicity,” and women were instructed “to cover their heads, legs, and arms”—that is, to observe the law regarding the Islamic veil.[79] Presumably this order was not fully enforced: in September 1993 the Supreme Court issued a fatwa complaining that “women as before work in schools as well as radio and television, and wander about in the streets unveiled.” Holding that the “admixture of women with men in offices, cities and [their] learning and teaching in modern schools are unlawful, and are an imitation of the West, and of atheistic orders,” the fatwa forbade such mingling. The fatwa also demanded that the government “immediately enforce all the commands of Allah, especially that concerning the veil, and drive women out of offices, and close schools for girls.”[80]

The decrees were not fully implemented, since shortly afterward Kabul was divided among the former mujahid groups and the militias, whose overriding concern became short-term personal and group gains instead of those of society. The government represented the country, but it was unable to extend direct rule over it. After Kabul fell, all of the garrisons and provincial capitals submitted one after the other with the cooperation of the military and the civilians of the defunct regime. More provincial capitals submitted to Mohammadi’s Islamic Revolutionary Movement than any other single Islamic group. In Herat the well-known commander Mohammad Isma’il predominated; he soon disarmed other groups, expelled the militias from Herat, and maintained law and order throughout the province. Also, as the guardian of an important frontier province, he showed vigilance about the intrigues of Iran. (Isma’il Khan is now more popular and effective in Herat than any other governor is in his own province.)

Dostum dominated the northwest provinces around Mazar. But as parts of many of these provinces also were in the hands of various Islamic groups, and because Dostum, as the commander of the Uzbek militias during the resistance period, had fought the mujahideen, the potential for clashes there was great. In the major provinces of Kandahar, Ningrahar, and Ghazni, local notables and Islamic groups set up joint councils. Gul Agha Sherzoy, Abdul Qadeer, and Qari Baba headed these councils, respectively. Essentially, each maintained peace in its region, and the country remained quiet. Kabul maintained educational, financial, and other links with these local governments, each of which began to assert its authority over its own domain in its own fashion with empty coffers and small income but abundant weapons. Kabul also sent them money when it received it from Moscow, where it was still printed. But to establish real authority over the provinces, Kabul needed an effective government, a steady source of income, and international help. Before it could procure these, the government had to assert its authority over the city itself, which had been the bone of contention among the armed groups almost from the start.

In the confusion that followed the fall of the regime, eleven armed groups entered Kabul and its immediate environs.[81] These included the seven Peshawar-based groups; the Islamic Movement, led by Shaykh Asif Muhsini; the Islamic Unity, led by Abdul Ali Mazari; and two militia groups, the Jawzjan militia led by Abdur Rashid Dostum, and the Kayan militia led by Sayyed Ja’far Madiri. Khair Khana and the central part up to Dehmazang were controlled by the Jam’iyyat and the Supervisory Council; from the International Airport up to Bala Hissar was the domain of the Jawzjan militia; the eastern and southern parts were dominated by the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar; the western part (Karta-e-Char, Meer Wais Maidan, and beyond) was controlled by the Islamic Unity; and Khushal Maina and beyond were the fiefdom of the Islamic Union, led by Sayyaf. Each group hoisted its own flag in the area under its control; Arabs, Punjabis, and Iranians wandered about with their Afghan groups inside their own domains.[82] As an observer writes, “Neither the state nor any group is able to guarantee security. This is because none has the power to order anyone beyond its own domain.”[83]

The major groups were responsible for guaranteeing peace and promoting the effectiveness of the government, but instead of cooperating with the government, they fought among themselves with an intensity that Kabul had never seen before. Within days of their arrival the three groups of the CN—that is, the Supervisory Council, the Jawzjan militia, and the Islamic Unity—had ejected the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar from the city and forced it to retreat to Tangi-e-Waghjan in Logar. Shortly afterward the Islamic Unity and the Islamic Union fought each other in and around Mier Wais Maidan in the western part of the city. During this fighting the Hazara Islamists of the Islamic Unity captured, tortured, and slaughtered innocent Pashtuns, while the Pashtun followers of the Islamic Union did the same to the ordinary Hazaras. The victims were tortured singly and in groups in newer, more brutal ways. Nearly two weeks later the Supervisory Council and the Islamic Union fought the Islamic Unity in Chindawal and Khushal Maina, from which the latter was forced to retreat. In this round of fighting ordinary Panjsheris and Hazaras were the main victims. They were treated as brutally as the others already had been. A few weeks later the Islamic Party of Hekmatyar, the Supervisory Council, and the Jam’iyyat fought each other. While the Islamic Party launched rockets on the positions of its opponents in the city, the Supervisory Council and the Jam’iyyat bombed the Islamic Party’s positions in Char Asia and Bagrami. Afterward the Jam’iyyat and the Jawzjan militia fought in the old Macroriyan district, from which the former was ejected and the area looted.

In the majority of cases fighting began when the armed men of one group incited the men of another and then their respective leaders stood by their own men. The rich city was too tempting for warriors to be restrained. They went about looting property, raping women, and kidnapping persons for money. State property, including government offices, was thoroughly looted. “From the beginning of their entry into Kabul these forces [armed groups] took to their headquarters in Panjsher, Char Asia, Paghman and Jawzjan whatever they could lay hands on including light and heavy weapons, war materials and public properties.”[84] The Islamic Unity did the same. The groups treated Kabul as if it was the capital city of the land of war (dar al-harb). This thievery set the warriors at loggerheads against each other. The CN fought the Islamic Party because Hekmatyar demanded that the Jawzjan militia should leave Kabul and that the Parchamis should be cleared from the government. After the ejection of the Islamic Party from the city, the CN members fought each other. The temptation noted earlier inclined them to do so. The men of the former KhAD, in the guise of mujahideen, also played a role in creating anarchy. But the underlying cause of all of this turmoil was the disintegration of the standing army of the former regime. The government lacked the power, the means, especially monetary, and the vision to integrate the warriors of the groups into a national army. The CN became irrelevant, and a new group alignment began to emerge. The association of the Jam’iyyat with the Islamic Union estranged it from its allies, especially the Islamic Unity. More serious, the latter’s unacceptable demand for a share of 25 percent of the seats in the government caused clashes.

Outmaneuvered by Rabbani and handicapped by Mas’ud, Mojaddidi looked to Dostum and the Islamic Unity as his allies. He promoted the former to the position of senior general and great mujahid when he visited him in his stronghold in Mazar in late May. With one stroke Mojaddidi transformed the mercenary of yesterday into a hero. Mojaddidi also accorded a few seats in the Jehad Council to the representatives of Dostum and of the Islamic Unity. He also offered a few ministerial posts to the latter. As a spiritual leader more at home with followers than with bureaucrats and the intricacies of governmental affairs, Mojaddidi often met with notables and promoted the idea of convening a loya jirga, hoping thereby to extend his term. However, even on 26 June—that is, before his term formally ended—he was refused entry to his office. On 28 June 1992 Burhanuddin Rabbani succeeded him.[85]

When Rabbani took over, the foundation of the Islamic state had been laid down. He tried to broaden and solidify it. He persuaded Hekmatyar to let a member of his party become prime minister, as the Peshawar Accords stipulated; thus, Abdul Sabur Farid became the first prime minister of the Islamic state. He remained in office, however, for only a few months. Efforts were also made to broaden the basis on which the army was to be built. Four persons of various mujahid and ethnic groups, including General Dostum, were named deputies to the minister of defense; however, Dostum declined the offer. General Mohammad Rahim Wardak, member of the National Islamic Front, was again given the post of chief of staff after General Asif Delawar, the Parchami chief of staff, had narrowly escaped death in a terroristic attack. General Wardak tried to make the army professional, but the meager financial resources and the outstanding political issues were virtually insurmountable obstacles. The issues were the presence in Kabul of the Jawzjan militia and in the army of the Parchami officers, with whose cooperation Defense Minister Mas’ud had advanced on Kabul and expelled from it the forces of the Islamic Party. President Rabbani officially recognized the Islamic and National Movement headed by Dostum. The latter had stated that the movement, “in solidarity with the Supervisory Council and the Islamic Unity, had played a decisive role in the conquest of Kabul and the institution of the Islamic state.”[86] In a meeting with Hekmatyar on 25 May 1992, Mas’ud had agreed to dismiss the militia in return for Hekmatyar’s willingness to dismiss the Khalqis and cooperate with the government; however, he not only did not do so but even let Dostum increase the size of his militia, explaining that the militia had been integrated into the army. Hekmatyar, though, was adamant, arguing that the presence of Jawzjan militia in Kabul and of Parchami officers and officials in the army and the Ministry of National Security constituted a danger to the Islamic Party and was unpopular with the people.[87] In an undated statement the Islamic Party demanded that the communist army contingents be disbanded, the militias withdrawn, and the security of the city made the responsibility of the LC; otherwise, the Islamic Party would have no alternative but to fight. The scene was thus set for conflicts between the two sides. The Islamic Unity and the Islamic Union also sporadically clashed with each other in the western parts of Kabul. Other Islamic groups stayed away from the conflict.

The main features of the conflict were rocket attacks by the Islamic Party and aerial bombardment by the Islamic state and its allies. Rockets were aimed at the military installations and centers, but since they were guided imprecisely, they also hit civilian centers and men, women, and children. Likewise, since men of the Islamic Party had penetrated into the eastern and southern parts of the city, the men of the Islamic state also bombed and shelled these areas. The positions of the Islamic Party in Char Asia, Logar, Bagrami, and Shewaki were likewise bombed. Whatever the exact tale of who did what and to whom, the result was the further destruction of Kabul, the death and wounding of its residents by the thousands, and their displacement by the hundreds of thousands; Kabul had not experienced such a calamity before in a struggle for political ascendancy among rival Afghans. The conflict continued off and on, and in the intervals that followed the Kabulis came out from inside their shelters, haggling in crowded bazaars and open-air markets for foodstuffs and other necessities which, though available, were expensive.

At the end of his four-month term Rabbani was unable to arrange for an elected shura to set up a new government, as the Peshawar Accords had stipulated; thus, he persuaded the LC to extend his term for one and a half months (until 12 December 1992), despite the fact that the accords prohibited extension. On 29 December, when he was not legally the head of state, Rabbani summoned a thirteen-hundred-member council of resolution and settlement (shura-e-ahl-e-hal wa ’aqd). Under the conditions of war the convening of such an assembly seemed impressive, but most of its members had been won by money. Most leaders of the Islamic groups, including Dostum, boycotted it. Rabbani was the only candidate for president, and the shura elected him for the position for two years by 737 votes in favor, with 380 abstentions; 60 members walked out in protest. The boycotts, the rigging, and the novelty made the shura controversial, incredible, and ineffective.[88] The sporadic war of rockets and bombs continued; in February 1993 the worst round of it took place in Afshar and other neighborhoods in Kabul between the Supervisory Council and the Islamic Union on the one hand and the Islamic Unity on the other. Hundreds of civilians were wounded, taken prisoner, or killed. Among them, eighty abducted women were said to have been offered for sale.[89] As a consequence, the animosity of the Shi’ite followers of Islamic Unity toward the followers of the Islamic Union, known as Wahhabis, and toward the Panjsheris, became still more intense.

Until now Commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, head of the council of commanders, and Shaykh Asif Muhsini, head of the Islamic Movement, had tried to reconcile the two sides, but except for occasional short-term truces, nothing had come of their efforts. Now Qazi Hussain Ahmad, leader of the Jama’at-e-Islami of Pakistan, and General Hameed Gul, the former chief of the ISI, who dreamed of “turning Afghanistan into the base for Islamic revivalism,”[90] separately tried to do the same. The outcome was the Islamabad Accords, concluded on 7 March 1993 by the leaders of eight Islamic groups, including the Islamic Unity and the Islamic Movement; the new accords were signed in the residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with representatives of the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia also present. Mohammad Yunus Khalis and General Dostum were conspicuous by their absence. The Islamabad Accords spelled out in detail the jurisdictions of the offices of president and prime minister and laid down procedures for the formation of the future government through an elected shura. In consultation with the president and leaders of the mujahid parties, the prime minister was to form a ministerial cabinet. The accords shortened President Rabbani’s present term of office from two to one and a half years and assigned the post of prime minister to Hekmatyar or anyone else from his party.

The Islamabad Accords were an improvement on the Peshawar Accords. My evaluation of the latter accords, therefore, applies broadly to the former.[91] Here it is sufficient to note that by shortening the term of the president the Islamabad forum showed that it was above the council of settlement and resolution. Even the leaders of the groups tacitly admitted this by attending the forum. Otherwise, they would have boycotted a forum that was scheduled to deliberate on an issue which was the exclusive prerogative of the people of Afghanistan. In particular, if the council of settlement and resolution was legitimate, President Rabbani should have refrained from taking part in the forum, let alone accepting its decisions.

To honor the new accords, the leaders paid visits to the president of Iran and the king of Saudi Arabia; in the Ka’ba (the House of Allah) they renewed their pledges to abide by the accords. Nevertheless, they took their pledges lightly. Back home President Rabbani and Hekmatyar disagreed on the ministerial cabinet. While Rabbani wanted Mas’ud as the minister of defense, Hekmatyar, as prime minister-designate, did not. The war dragged on.

To iron out the differences, leaders and representatives of the eight Islamic groups assembled on 30 April 1993 in the city of Jalalabad under the supervision of the Ningrahar shura and Governor Abdul Qadeer. After long negotiations, on 20 May they concluded an agreement known as the Jalalabad Accords. Among other things, these accords agreed on the implementation of the Islamabad Accords; the formation of a supreme council to be composed of leaders of the Islamic groups, commanders, the ’ulama, and others; the implementation of a cease-fire; the deliverance by the groups of their heavy weapons to the Ministry of Defense; the setting up of a national and Islamic army; and the formation of a commission composed of two commanders from each province to select in the course of two months the ministers of defense and home affairs. Until then Rabbani was to head a commission for the Ministry of Defense and Hekmatyar a commission for the Ministry of Home Affairs.[92]

The immediate outcome of the Jalalabad Accords was the official resignation of Defense Minister Mas’ud. This was a significant change: Rabbani wanted the ministry under him, but Hekmatyar wanted it to go to an unaffiliated person who had not taken part in the fighting. Mas’ud took his headquarters and the heavy weapons to Jabalus Siraj in Parwan just north of Kabul. Although Mas’ud had no official position, he “still control[led] the government forces of some 20,000 men who patrol[led] the capital’s streets.”[93] This situation made Hekmatyar wary of entering Kabul, just as Mas’ud had felt insecure about going to Jalalabad to take part in the meeting. Both distrusted each other to a degree that made accommodation between them impossible. Thus, the other clauses of the accords could not be implemented, although some steps were taken. The Jalalabad Accords were orchestrated partly to silence the general outcry that accused the leaders of being overly malleable under foreign influence, as the Peshawar and Islamabad accords had demonstrated. “Every day thousands of people held rallies in front of the Ningrahar Palace where the meetings were held, and vehemently denounced the leaders. They also shouted that these pseudo-leaders including Mas’ud and Dostum (who were not there), should be killed…so that the nation is freed from them.”[94] To calm the mobs, the hosts did not let diplomats and foreign journalists visit the participants and created hope among Afghans by giving out that the leaders had been warned of being “imprisoned” unless they came out with a settlement.

In mid-June 1993 Hekmatyar and his cabinet were sworn in by President Rabbani in Paghman, which was under the control of Sayyaf. As noted, since Hekmatyar felt insecure in Kabul, he kept his office in Darul Aman and chaired cabinet meetings in his stronghold in Char Asia just south of Kabul. But his ministers were unable to commute freely, and once they were abducted near Pul-e-Charkhi when they were on their way to hold a cabinet meeting. This was hardly an effective way of governing. Hekmatyar and Mas’ud then took long-term views of their positions and looked for alternatives. The immediate result was a lull in the fighting. For months Kabul and the areas under the influence of the Islamic Party remained relatively free of rockets, siege, and bombing. Some embassies were reopened in Kabul, and about a million refugees from Pakistan returned. In November, though, the alternative policy of Mas’ud became known; as before, it was military.

On 1 November 1993 Mas’ud attacked the positions of the Islamic Party in the valley of Tagab about forty miles northeast of Kabul. From Tagab, Mas’ud intended to grab Sarobi, a region linking the strongholds of the Islamic Party east of Kabul. Situated on the road between Kabul and Jalalabad and supplying hydroelectric power to Kabul, Sarobi was an important region. Had he taken it, Mas’ud would have split the domains of the Islamic Party and weakened it. But he failed in his design. Tagab changed hands about ten times between the contenders before one of them dominated one part of it and the other dominated the rest. The local Safay Pashtuns refrained from taking sides. About forty-five hundred men, among them a few hundred Arabs and Punjabis, fought on the side of the Islamic Party, led by Commander Zardad Khan under the supervision of Hekmatyar. By contrast, Mas’ud’s men, who were fewer, fought with less determination, but the Parchami pilots on his side wreaked havoc by bombing the positions of the Islamic Party in Tagab, Sarobi, Lataband, and Laghman. General Dostum took a neutral position.[95] In this round of fighting about eight hundred were killed and fifteen hundred injured.[96] Subsequently, Mas’ud’s men were driven out from Tagab altogether.

On Saturday, 1 January 1994, Mas’ud’s opponents struck in what came to be the fiercest round of fighting after the establishment of the Islamic state. After the Supervisory Council clashed with the forces of the Islamic and National Movement led by General Dostum in Mazar on 31 December 1993, Dostum’s tanks and artillery units in Kabul advanced on the airport, the radio and television stations, and the presidential palace at 5:00 a.m. on 1 January 1994 under the command of General Raofi. Rabbani’s forces retreated but soon recovered part of the airport after Sayyaf, leader of the Islamic Union, supported them with his warriors. While Rabbani’s warplanes, stationed at the Bagram airport, bombed the strongholds of Dostum in Tapa-e-Maranjan, Bala Hissar, and the airport, Dostum’s planes from Mazar started bombing the presidential palace, the Ministry of Defense, the radio and television stations, and other places considered to be militarily significant. At the same time, rockets hit the city from many directions. On 3 January 1994 rockets and shells rained on the city “at the rate of about six or seven a minute for much of the day.”[97] During the first few days the fighting was so severe that people could not come out of their homes, and many injured persons died because they could not be transferred to hospitals. The dead were buried inside homes or in places nearby. According to an observer “alone during the first day of the fighting perhaps about 2,000 civilians had died.”[98] “A survey of the city’s hospitals put the number of casualties admitted in the 36 hours since the start of the battle at more than 670.”[99] Throughout the month of January fighting was intense. By 21 January, 9,593 casualties had been admitted to the ten functioning hospitals, with an estimated 700 to 800 killed.[100] After the outset, the warriors of the Islamic Party penetrated as far as Jada-e-Maiwand in the central part of the city, but the assailants failed to overthrow Rabbani. After January the war gradually slackened. Probably about 12,000 recruits of the so-called state are now in positions to the left side of the Kabul River dividing the city. “But the warriors of no group wish to endanger their lives. On the other hand, no side is willing to accept the advance of the other. That is why each side pressures the other by rockets and bombs. The armed recruittees and their commanders prefer their own interests to those of the warlords. In addition to the huge allowances they receive, the warriors and their commanders sell war supplies and private and public properties. They make themselves increasingly prosperous.”[101]

As of this writing (20 June 1994) the bombing, rocketing, and shelling have continued on an intermittent basis. The part of the city that Rabbani’s forces control is under siege, although not for essential foodstuffs. The Rabbani government has ceased functioning, as it has no offices and no employees. Four groups—the Islamic Party, Islamic Unity, the National and Islamic Movement, and the Islamic Liberation Front—have come out against Rabbani. They have made a coalition and set up a coordination council that has asked him as well as Hekmatyar to resign and transfer power immediately to an interim government to be set up by all of the forces (that is, the Islamic groups). The council also states that leaders of the groups should not take part in the interim government, and that the latter, in consultation with a shura, should prepare the ground for general elections.[102] Rabbani, by contrast, states that he is ready to transfer power but only to a representative shura (shura-e-mumassil) to be convened by a nongovernment commission under the supervision either of the United Nations or the Conference of Islamic States.[103] Under this proposal, Rabbani would remain in his position until the representative shura has been convened, an arrangement which would take considerable time; thus, his opponents are unwilling to accept his offer. In their view this is a ploy by which he intends to extend his rule, as he had done before, when he extended his term of office until 12 December 1992. His opponents suspect that now, too, he wants to prolong his term until 29 December 1994, whereas the Islamabad Accords had stipulated that he should step down on 28 June 1994. They therefore distrust him as well as Mas’ud, and the latter two distrust Hekmatyar. The distrust is indeed the crux of the crisis. Hekmatyar and others are adamant in their demands, the more so because now Khalis, Mohammadi, Pir Gailani, and Muhsini have also for the first time abandoned Rabbani and Mas’ud because of their delaying tactics. Only Sayyaf has remained in alliance with them.

The distrust is also evident from the nature of the coalition itself. The core of the coalition consists of the groups of Hekmatyar and Dostum, whose warriors fight against Rabbani’s forces; other groups support Hekmatyar and Dostum morally and diplomatically. The coalition is fundamentally negative, having arisen from opposition to Rabbani and Mas’ud rather than from an affirmative program of action. It originated in the Islamic state, and specifically in the policies established by Rabbani, first as head of the LC and later as head of state, and by Mas’ud as the all-powerful figure in the state. As I have already described, although Mojaddidi was the head of state, Rabbani and Mas’ud administered it. Since he headed a small group and lacked the support of leaders of other groups, Mojaddidi could not do much vis-à-vis Mas’ud and Rabbani. As a counterpoise to them, Mojaddidi raised the moral and military stature of Dostum. Mojaddidi left the office a frustrated man, alienated by the machinations of Rabbani and Mas’ud.

President Rabbani’s efforts at extending his terms of office, his reliance on the shura of resolution and settlement, and his equivocations have raised questions about his integrity. Mas’ud’s refusal to enlist the cooperation of Commanders Haqqani and Abdul Haq and Generals Yahya Naoroz, Rahim Wardak, Abdur Rauf Safay, and Rahmatullah Safay in maintaining peace made clear his intentions, which were to monopolize power in the pursuit of a private agenda. He proved himself “unwilling to ease his grip on power,”[104] preferring instead to perpetuate the “Tajik-dominated government in Kabul.”[105] Part of this agenda involved blocking the entry of Prime Minister Hekmatyar into Kabul (here, though, other considerations also played a role). The successful blockage discredited Hekmatyar. Mas’ud also alienated his erstwhile ally, General Dostum, by refusing to give him his share of the billions of afghanis he received from Moscow and with which he tried to win influential commanders. Dostum, who had played the key role in ousting the communist regime and who later protected Mojaddidi and Rabbani against Hekmatyar, felt betrayed.[106] More serious was Mas’ud’s “ambitious bid to wrest control of certain areas [in Kunduz, Hairatan, and Mazar] in the northern part of the country and his refusal to reach a settlement with Dostum.”[107]

The repercussions of Mas’ud’s activities in the north were felt in Central Asia as well. Because of his successful role in the resistance and the overthrow of the Kabul regime, Mas’ud was looked on there as a leader capable of unifying all Tajiks in a “greater Tajikistan.”[108] Although only a dream, the idea troubled President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan because a “greater Tajikistan” would mean destabilization in the region and the disruption of the existing borders. Since a million Tajiks live in Uzbekistan and a similar number of Uzbeks live in Tajikistan, and since the two countries have had ethnic problems between themselves, President Karimov became still firmer in his conviction in the sanctity of the existing borders and took measures aimed at curbing disrupting activities.[109] Among the measures was Uzbekistan’s backing of Dostum, who was supported in his stand against the Islamic radicals in creating troubles in Central Asia.[110] It is unknown whether Uzbekistan has advised Dostum to join with Hekmatyar, but Rabbani and his spokesman have alleged that “we found Uzbekistan participating in the confrontations”[111] to overthrow the state.[112]

Let us turn now to the internal aspect of the coalition. Many of Dostum’s officers, especially the Khalqis, pressured him to draw closer to Hekmatyar. Similarly, Hekmatyar’s commanders in the north urged him to join forces with Dostum. Sibgatullah Mojaddidi had been a major influence in effecting the coalition.[113] The pressure explains why, in forging the alliance with Dostum, Hekmatyar did not face a revolt from his colleagues as he did in 1990 when he made a similar deal with the Khalqis. The alliance, however, was a political expedient born out of opposition to a common enemy rather than of unity in a cause. For its builders the overriding concern was power politics, not ethnic, sectarian, or ideological politics. Since they had until then played out conflicting policies among themselves, they could not do otherwise. By making the alliance, Hekmatyar came out of isolation and instead isolated his archrival, a significant achievement considering the fact that Mojaddidi was against him and that Mazari and Dostum were Mas’ud’s allies. Dostum’s apparent change of views made the alliance easier. Whereas before Dostum stood for federalism, which many thought might endanger the integrity of the country, he now said, “I am for a prosperous and non-federal Afghanistan complete with its boundaries, and willing to serve it as a soldier of the minority.” As before, he still stood for equal rights for minorities.[114] Dostum and some of his nearest relatives are related to Pashtuns by marriage (indeed, his wife is a Popalzay Pashtun), and this fact might have influenced him to change his views. His participation in the alliance showed that, like his counterparts, he was also concerned with national rather than provincial politics. At one time widely considered to be an unscrupulous militia commander, Dostum probably has transformed; but his warriors in recent fighting in Qunduz have treated the innocent civilians as brutually as before, for which they were called gilam jam. An alliance with such people is nothing but politics without morality. But ever since the fall of the monarchy, politics without morality has been the profession of all the ideologically committed groups in Afghanistan. That is why Commander Rahmatulla Safay holds that the “activities of Dostum as well as Mas’ud in the region are pregnant with danger.”[115] Indeed, by resorting to violence as a means of resolving the crisis, leaders of the coalition as well as their opponents did not help Afghanistan “to prosper.” On the contrary, the war policy of the leaders of the coalition destroyed Kabul, as did the impracticable agenda and the belligerency of their opponents. Originally the destruction was the dream of General Akhtar Abdur Rahman of the ISI, who had proclaimed that “Kabul must burn.”[116] But he had uttered those words when Kabul was in the grip of the Russians; now leaders of the Islamic groups and their warriors made his dream come true when they themselves controlled it.

Kabul has indeed suffered widespread destruction. The modern parts of the city—Macroriyan, Wazir Akbar Khan Maina, the city center, Sher Shah Maina, Mier Wais Maidan, Khushal Maina—have been largely destroyed, and the rest partly. While the northern part of the city, that is, Khair Khana, has suffered the least, the eastern parts lie in total ruin. Factories, workshops, stores, and shops have been looted and destroyed. Now vendors offer the necessities of life for sale in mobile stalls. The city has no running water, no public transport, no electricity, no postal service. Educational institutes, including Kabul University and Polytechnic, are closed, and professors and teachers have either fled to the provinces or abroad, mainly to Pakistan. Those who have remained sell produce to make a living. Thus, after the former professors were sent back to Kabul to govern, the incumbent professors and the students were not allowed to teach and learn. Instead, armed men were let loose on the university campus, where they destroyed, killed, and burned. Most public and private libraries, including mine, have been looted, and their contents burned or sold in Pakistan. Hit by a rocket (or rockets), Kabul Museum caught fire, and its countless artifacts, some of which were the unique relics of remote ages, have been destroyed, looted, or smuggled out of the country. The whereabouts of the golden artifacts of Tilla Tapa, the fascinating crown of the Kabul Museum’s rich contents, are unknown. Of about three million inhabitants who lived in Kabul before 1992, how many still breathe there no one knows for sure. Thousands of homeless families now live in public buildings, mosques, and schools. A larger number have found accommmodation with relatives and friends. Probably about 50 percent of the population has fled to the countryside whence they or their fathers had come.[117] Even Khalqis and Parchamis who had been expelled from the countryside and who had no known criminal record have gone to the places of their birth, and there relatives and villagers have accepted them back. About two hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Kabul have escaped to Jalalabad and Peshawar. In Jalalabad they live in tents provided by the United Nations in the nearby desert of Sarshahi amidst snakes, scorpions, and insects. In Peshawar the destitute women among them beg and prostitute themselves for subsistence. Those killed since April 1992 are said to number ten thousand, but the actual number is many times higher, as this figure is based only on hospital reports. Uncounted numbers of people have been injured. Many families have been split, and their members’ separate destinies have taken them to different places, where they do not know each other’s whereabouts.[118] The people who live in Kabul now are those who either do not want to leave, come what may, or those who are without the means to do so. All this was allowed to happen to a people who were the first to rise en masse against the Soviet occupiers and their puppets, as has been described.

Afghanistan will long feel the effects of the destruction of Kabul as the nation’s main political, industrial, commercial, administrative, and cultural center—the place where people from all over the country had mingled and begun the move earlier in the century toward detribalization, secularization, national solidarity, and modern ways of life. For the moment, as one observer states, “Nowhere in Kabul is life safe; everyone is afraid of everyone else.”[119] There are reasons for this state of mind. A woman was forced to give birth on a street. Female inmates of a mental asylum (mrastun) were repeatedly raped. To protect her honor, Miss Naheeda gave her life, when, chased by the sex maniacs of an armed band, she threw herself from the sixth floor of her apartment in the sixteenth block in the Macroriyan district. In early November 1993, by the order of a commander, no fewer than fourteen men were thrown from the second floor of a mosque in the Qarabagh district for not praying. Two of them died on the spot. Political terrorism, the kidnapping of wealthy persons for money and of women for sexual abuse, and burglary are now features of life in Kabul. The warriors of the Islamic groups, especially the warriors of Dostum, have commited all these acts. An analyst notes, “Since there is no effective legal authority in the country, those who possess guns, money, and fighters call the shots.”[120]

As described, in the resistance period rural Afghanistan was severely damaged, the agricultural system disrupted, and millions of mines placed throughout the land, while more than five million Afghans fled abroad. Conversely, in this period the city of Kabul swelled;when the Islamic state was set up there, it was the dwelling place for about three million people. The destruction that it has suffered since then is bound to adversely affect the future of Afghanistan as an independent nation-state. But the subject is here considered from the human perspective. So here are some speculations as to why this happened and whither Afghanistan is now bound.

The immediate cause of the destruction was the entry into Kabul of more than twenty thousand armed men belonging to eleven groups, some of which totally opposed each other. These men entered the city even before the new government had taken its seat there, while the former regime lay prostrate. The groups clashed almost immediately. After the expulsion of the Islamic Party from the city, intergroup clashes ceased for a while, but the militias as well as the Islamic warriors engaged in looting, burglary, kidnapping, and rape. The jehad had changed them, making them unsuited to ordinary life. They had led lives of deprivation. The Islamic warriors “lived on stale bread and tea. They slept on stones in the mountains. And they drove the Soviets out.”[121] Besides, they as well as the militias were used to destroying and killing. Thus, they could not be restrained, especially when the rich city lay helpless before their eyes. The Islamic Party alone exhibited restraint; others—that is, the militias of Dostum, the Supervisory Council, the Islamic Unity, and the Islamic Union—played havoc with the helpless people of Kabul. But each of these five groups had its share in the destructionof the city and the killing and displacement of hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants. I know of no other groups of people in history who have, in the course of their struggle for power, destroyed the capital city of their own country the way these groups have. Evidently, their leaders cared more for securing state power than for their city and its inhabitants. Had it not been so, once the Soviet invaders had been expelled and the regime of their puppets overthrown, they should have opted for a modus vivendi at least among themselves. After the destruction they had wrought by their policies they should have given up politics, as men and women who respect moral values would. They would then have immortalized the heroism which they had shown in frustrating the designs of a superpower on their country. But it was not to be.

Much depended on Ahmad Shah Mas’ud as the key military figure in the new state, but in the complicated environment of Kabul this internationally known commander of the resistance period found himself embroiled with conflicting groups and interests; thus taxed, he failed to establish law and order. Consequently, the Islamic government failed to bring peace to the city. The government failed because it failed to restrain the unruly armed bands in the first place. It failed because, strictly speaking, it was not a government: it was actually a commission established principally by foreigners, to transfer power in the course of two months, a short period for such a difficult task. It failed because the groups constituting it did not cooperate with it. They could not even restrain their own warriors. The Islamic state thus failed in its early critical stage.

The failure was the result primarily of the absence of an alternative government, which should have been set up during the resistance period. Of course, leaders of the Afghan jehad groups were divided on this issue for various reasons; as a leader of one faction said, “[The leadership] of every group tries to grab power by force, and then use it as it pleases.”[122] However, the host government of Pakistan did not seriously work toward establishing an alternative government, particularly at a time when the Soviet Union had disappeared and the situation seemed ripe for the setting up of such a government. At no time did Pakistan exert influence on Afghan leaders to work for an alternative national government. On the contrary, it discouraged Afghan nationalists, royalists, and community and tribal elders when they worked for such a government. Pakistan instead concentrated on the Sunni Islamic groups, and even then it pursued a policy of favoritism by distributing among them weapons, logistics, and cash that it received from donor countries. The absence of an alternative national government to replace the crumbling regime, one strong enough to ensure order and security in the initial critical stage, was the underlying cause of the destruction of the city and of the momentous failure of the Islamic state.

The destruction and the failure can properly be understood when the scene where it was played out is considered. By 1992 Kabul had assumed the features of a cosmopolitan city whose three million inhabitants had adopted different lifestyles and held various ideologies and beliefs. Although the secular rule of the communists, especially the relatively lax rule of Najibullah, had in theory followed a policy of conformity, it had in fact encouraged this trend toward diversity. Kabul was largely a modern city with liberated women working side by side with men. Females outnumbered males in Kabul. It differed in many respects from the tradition-bound countryside. The latter was medieval in features, and the difference between the two, the result of uneven development, became still sharper during the resistance period. Kabul had been run by urban and urbanized persons, most of whom were communists, while the countryside was in the grip of the Islamic groups whose leaders opposed secularism and imposed the puritanical ways of Islam in their domains. The two had become worlds apart. The warriors entered Kabul as the Germanic warriors had entered Rome. They treated the Kabulis as if they were beings from a different planet, an attitude that led to the destruction of Kabul.

Whither Afghanistan is a subject of speculation for futurologists. However, I wish to venture a few words about it, even though the subject is yet to become history, my particular field. To expect Afghanistan to be a country with a government constituted by the participation of its own citizens, capable of extending its rule throughout the land and conducting its domestic and foreign policy independently remains a dream for the present. The changed correlation of forces of society, the absence of a national government, the disjointedness of the country, the bickering among the contenders for power, foreign interference in Afghan affairs—all these militate against the reemergence of an independent nation-state. The educated and bureaucratic middle class, many of whose members have fled abroad, has become insignificant. The secular-minded community and tribal elders likewise have been weakened. “In present-day Afghanistan the groups of clergy, community elders, intelligentsia, and the military cannot be seen.”[123] The laity, the commanders, and the Islamic fundamentalist groups—or, to put it differently, bearded men, veiled women, and armed warriors—now constitute the principal characters of Afghan society.

In particular, the young generation has changed. The fifteen years of war “have almost totally changed the culture of the Afghans under the age of thirty, who [now] know nothing but war, its ravages, and the power of the gun.” With no education and no career to pursue, the Kabul youth are, like mercenaries, sitting idly in military posts “addicted to hashish (chars), heroine, homosexuality, sadism, and other kinds of moral degredation.”[124] Also, as a result of the prevailing anarchy in Kabul, the value the Afghans cherish most has been hurt beyond imagination: Because the gilam jam have injured people’s dignity and honor, adults wish not to have new babies, and when they want them they pray God to give them ugly ones. Women hate themselves for being attractive.[125] Most provincial officials are illiterate. After the advent of the Islamic state, unprofessional and illiterate persons in the Samangan province headed all departments except the judiciary department, which was headed by a professional one. Even the head of the education department was illiterate.[126] As commanders of the resistance period,they distributed the posts among themselves on the strength of the sword.

The economic deterioration is still more phenomenal. The extremely low rate of productivity and the super rate of inflation (in 1977 one U.S. dollar equalled 35 afghanis; in 1992 the ratio was 1 to 1,200; now it is 1 to 3,000) are hurting all. Those who can grab feel free to do so. “Because of the absence of the central government, commanders, heads of political parties, and tribal elders [of the frontiers areas], backed up by external powers, derive abundant incomes from opium, custom dues, smuggling, and the theft of natural resources.”[127]

The commanders and the heads of the groups are now the main actors in Afghan politics. But since they follow conflicting and unattainable goals, and since they are prone to following foreign advice, their politics is anything but compromise. They agree to disagree; when persuaded by others, they may agree on a formula, but then they soon undo it. Besides, as opposition leaders they have all along pursued policies the essence of which was to contradict, defeat, and destroy in order to dominate. With these policies they succeeded over the communists and the Soviet invaders, but it is unlikely they will triumph over each other. None is strong enough by itself to come out on top. Likewise, personal ambitions, the Islamism of some, and the ethnic nationalism and religious sectarianism of others have put them at loggerheads not only with each other but also with the bulk of Afghans. In this they resemble the communists, whose revolutionary ideology turned them into intolerant creatures. As ideological politics failed the latter, it may also frustrate the former. The politics of coalitionism is a sign of this trend. It may be the beginning of a new culture of pluralistic politics. The trend can be understood when it is borne in mind that Afghanistan had no theocratic order in the past, to say nothing of radical Islamism, which is only a new current. Also, Afghanistan’s political structure, although far from perfect, was not exclusive to a particular ethnic group. On the contrary, in modern Afghanistan an ethnic dynasty ruled principally with the help of persons drawn from various ethnic groups. In fact, as mentioned in the introduction, because of the extensive practice of intergroup marriages, the spread of bilingualism, the recent emphasis on Islamic values, and the introduction of communistic values, ethnicity has lost much of its traditional sharpness, although it is still a dominant force.

The present armed groups are still strong, deriving strength from their organizations, the vast arsenal of modern weapons at their disposal, and the backing of their foreign patrons. But their manpower has thinned, as noted. Many of those who now fight for them are mercenaries, some even foreign mercenaries. The continuation of war politics is bound to weaken the groups further, discredit them further with their compatriots, and make them still more receptive to their foreign patrons. Already they have become unpopular. For “during their time Afghanistan has been looted more than when the British and the Soviets had occupied it. Besides, these armed groups have injured the dignity and honor of a nation.”[128] It is a proof of their unpopularity that even “though it is shameful people everywhere long for the days of Najibullah and Russia.”[129] The people have become so tired of the war that they now hate even iron. Still, the armed groups remain adamant in their stands, and this rigidity is likely to perpetuate the crisis. The reverend Mawlawi of Tarakhel even holds that “as long as they [the leaders of the groups] are on the scene, the Afghan crisis will not be resolved.”[130] The danger to Afghanistan’s national sovereignty lies here, and it is real in view of its encirclement by self-serving neighbors.

Still, all this is not cause for despair. Afghanistan has experienced many critical periods in the past. The nineteenth century witnessed the transition of rule from the Sadozay to the Mohammadzay dynasty, as well as the two Anglo-Afghan wars. Although each crisis lasted a long time, in every case Afghanistan finally emerged as a nation-state. In the present crisis, if wars abound, so do peace efforts. Because of widespread opposition to the war and to foreign interference, this peace movement is gaining momentum. Even the ill-disposed neighbors approach the Afghan problem in the name of peace, whatever their real intentions. Although they still promote their intentions through their Afghan surrogates, their intelligence services know well the maxim: “You can hire an Afghan but you cannot buy him.” So far the efforts of these neighbors have been aimed at setting up an Afghan government amenable to them. The multiplicity of neighbors hinders efforts to monopolize the Afghan issue and tends to promote the state of equilibrium among them that is likely to ensure Afghan statehood. This in part explains why, despite the prolongation of the crisis and the schemes of the Russians with respect to northern Afghanistan, no group has emerged to advocate separatism. The rise of such a movement, particularly if incited by outsiders, is likely to become more menacing to the integrity of Afghanistan’s major Muslim neighbors. A stable, independent, nonaligned, and friendly Afghanistan is to their advantage. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan has become once again the most important link between South and Central Asia. It and Pakistan have become as interdependent as they were in pre-Soviet times. Now, as much as Afghanistan needs Pakistan to reach the sea and the world beyond it, the latter needs the former to have access to Central Asia and Russia. These considerations and the fact that despite the recent odds the Afghans have remained loyal to their fatherland are signs that anation-state is going to be instituted in Afghanistan. Most important, unlike the nineteenth century, the current era is marked by the presence of the United Nations. This organization has been especially concerned with the territorial integrity, national sovereignty, and nonaligned status of Afghanistan from the time the Soviet Union invaded it.

The United Nations for the third time has addressed the Afghan problem, or what Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has called this “human tragedy.” On the recommendation of the General Assembly, on 11 February 1994 he commissioned Mehmoud Mestiri as his special envoy “to canvas a broad spectrum of Afghanistan’s leaders to solicit their views on how the UN can best assist Afghanistan in facilitating national rapprochement and reconstruction.” Mestiri has concluded the first phase of his mission, and the United Nations is now expected to adopt measures to help Afghans end the tragedy. Mestiri met Afghan leaders in Quetta, Peshawar, Kandahar, Khost, Mazar, Herat, and Bamian, where they expressed support for the UN efforts. In Peshawar, Kandahar, and Quetta, they held rallies for this purpose and also spoke out against the war and its perpetrators, for a loya jirga, and for the former king Mohammad Zahir. Undoubtedly, these rallies reflected the sentiments of the greatest number of Afghans. Mestiri was so impressed by this sentiment that in a rally in Peshawar he said, “We hear there is war in Kabul. Let them make war; we will make peace.” Ambassador Mestiri has made an optimistic statement the like of which his predecessors, Diego Cordovez and Benon Sevan had not made. It seems that this time the United Nations or, more correctly, Boutros-Ghali and Mestiri, are serious about helping the Afghans to cut their Gordian knot.

Supporters have also urged the former king to come out of Rome. Mohammad Aziz Na’eem, his son-in-law and nephew of the former president Mohammad Daoud, has summed up the sentiment well: “The time has come for the former king to put forward his platform and personally supervise its implementation to its logical conclusion.” Na’eem adds that this end cannot be achieved by the mere issuance of messages.[131] The former king has issued statements suggesting that an interim government be set up by an emergency loya jirga under the supervision of the United Nations. This delaying policy has led to speculation, as these words from Rahimullah Yusufzai indicate. “The former king is keen on winning the support of Western powers, led by the United States as well as Russia, before making up his mind whether or not to play a role in forming a broad-based government in Afghanistan. He is seeking guarantees of their support to be channeled through the United Nations not only to ensure his personal safety but also to sustain his government in power in the face of threats by some of the radical Islamist elements.”[132] If so, the former king is waiting for a political miracle.

It is doubtful whether the United States and other major powers will effectively back the UN plan. Robert Oakley, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan who was also concerned with Afghan affairs, holds that “the political future of Afghanistan is no longer of interest to the U.S.”[133] This may or may not be the official line, but since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the U.S. administrations have shown no evidence to the contrary. The United States and other powers have even forgotten about the part that Afghanistan played in the dissolution of the “evil empire” and the end of the cold war, events that made it possible for world governments to improve their economies for the first time in four decades.[134] Their Afghanologists as well as men and women of the mass media have turned their backs on Afghanistan. They all have left a former friendly people in their vulnerable moment to the mercy of their scheming neighbors. Feeling betrayed, the disillusioned Afghans have become bitter about them, particularly about the U.S. administrations, whereas during the resistance they lauded them for their support.

The neglect is bound to endanger the lives of the innocent people of the world, especially those of the United States. Since the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan has become connected to drug trafficking and the training of terrorists. Because of the absence of a central government and the openness of its borders, “thousands of Islamic radicals, outcasts, visionaries and gunmen from some 40 countries have come to Afghanistan to learn the lessons of jehad,…to train for armed insurrection, to bring the struggle back home.”[135] Also, Afghanistan is now the source of “roughly a third of the heroin reaching the United States.”[136] Afghan farmers have long grown opium poppies, which require only small landholdings and offer high monetary returns; the absence of suitable substitute crops and the lack of other sources of livelihood have also led farmers to the cultivation of poppies. Now, though, these traditional compulsions have been exacerbated by the presence of millions of mines in the country, which has greatly reduced the amount of arable land and thereby forced Afghan farmers to grow more opium poppies than at any time before; the opium is then sold to dealers who process it into hard drugs for sale abroad.

Thus, the legacy of the Soviet war and the Western response to it is not only a ravaged Afghanistan without a functioning national government but also a culture of guns, drugs, and terrorism that is as poisonous to others as it is to Afghans. The world governments have a moral responsibility to the Afghans, and it is now time for them to assist in transforming the poisonous culture into a healthy one by permitting the Afghans to institute a national government. They can do so if regional powers are persuaded to keep their hands off Afghan affairs. Specifically, if world governments discourage Russia from printing unsupported banknotes for Kabul and encourage Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan to cease supporting their Afghan surrogates illegally, before long the war in Afghanistan likely will end. The Afghans then will be able to set up a government for themselves in accordance with their conventions, preferably under UN supervision. By helping to establish such a government, the world governments, among other things, would secure millions of men and women throughout the world from the dangers of the poisonous culture. “A lawful, massive and coordinated law enforcement response” to the culture, as FBI Director Louis Freeh, has suggested in another context,[137] will be possible only when Afghanistan has a stable, broad-based government. Conversely, the continued absence of an actual government will allow the poisonous culture to flourish more rankly. In the end, the problem may grow too great to ignore. Then, as Commander Abdul Haq predicts, “Maybe one day they will have to send hundreds of thousands of troops to deal with that. And if they step in they will be stuck. We have a British grave[yard] in Afghanistan. We have a Soviet grave[yard]. And then we will have an American grave[yard].”[138]


1. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 86-87. [BACK]

2. Ibid., 84-86. [BACK]

3. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 154. [BACK]

4. Ibid. [BACK]

5. Ibid. [BACK]

6. Saikal and Miley, Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan, 16. [BACK]

7. McClintock, Instruments of Statecraft, 32. [BACK]

8. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 88. [BACK]

9. Ibid., 89. [BACK]

10. Kornienko, “Afghan Endeavor,” 10. [BACK]

11. Ibid. [BACK]

12. Najibullah, quoted in Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 178. [BACK]

13. “A.” Personal communication, Kabul, 1987. [BACK]

14. Kornienko, “Afghan Endeavor,” 11. [BACK]

15. Ibid., 12. [BACK]

16. Ibid. [BACK]

17. Ibid., 13. [BACK]

18. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 89. [BACK]

19. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 166-73. [BACK]

20. Ibid., 174-79. [BACK]

21. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 89, 90. [BACK]

22. Kakar, Geneva Compromise on Afghanistan, 138; Kakar, Afghans in the Spring of 1987, 13. [BACK]

23. Kakar, “Afghanistan on the Eve of Soviet Withdrawal.” [BACK]

24. To effect equality among Afghan ethnic groups, Kishtmand, a politburo member of PDPA, wrote that the state was to carve out “autonomous administrative units” on the basis of “national characteristics” within a “federal structure.” “The Constitution and the National Problem in the Republic of Afghanistan,” The Truth about the Saur Revolution (PDPA newspaper), 9 Qaus 1367 (30 November 1987), page unknown. Kishtmand’s view was a replica of the Soviet model, which is impracticable in Afghanistan because of its highly mixed population. [BACK]

25. Resolution of the Second Congress of the Party, Aims of the Fatherland Party (Maramnama-e-hizb-e-watan), Kabul, 1990. [BACK]

26. Sharq, Memoirs, 282. [BACK]

27. Ibid., 256. [BACK]

28. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 42. [BACK]

29. Sharq, Memoirs, 272. [BACK]

30. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 255. [BACK]

31. Ibid., 285, 294. [BACK]

32. Rais, “Afghanistan and Regional Security,” 82. [BACK]

33. The departing Soviet army handed over all of its heavy weapons and food supplies to the Kabul regime; in addition, it is believed that during the six months of 1989 the Soviets delivered $1.5 billion worth of weapons, including five hundred Scud surface-to-surface missiles. Every day from fifteen to eighty huge planes would bring weapons of all kinds to Kabul. Sharq, Memoirs, 292; Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 227; Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 297. “Moreover in significant areas of military advice and intelligence support Moscow’s direct invlovement in Afghanistan’s internal affairs did not end with the formal withdrawal of Soviet troops”; Rais, “Afghanistan and Regional Security,” 82. [BACK]

34. Kornienko, “Afghan Endeavor,” 11. [BACK]

35. Sharq, Memoirs, 260, 257. [BACK]

36. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 296. [BACK]

37. Kornienko, “Afghan Endeavor,” 14; Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 234. [BACK]

38. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 297. [BACK]

39. According to the CIA, General Akhtar of the ISI promoted the idea of outright military victory for Afghan Islamists. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 234. [BACK]

40. Ibid., 1, 22, 234. [BACK]

41. Khan, Untying the Afghan Knot, 200. [BACK]

42. Ibid., 201. [BACK]

43. Ibid. [BACK]

44. In 1987 the following broad percentages were allowed to the Islamic groups: to Hekmatyar, 18-20 percent; to Rabbani, 18-19 percent; to Sayyaf 17-18 percent; to Khalis, 13-15 percent; to Mohammadi, 13-15 percent; to Gailani, 10-11 percent; and to Mojaddidi, 3-5 percent. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 105. [BACK]

45. Kakar, “Afghanistan on the Eve of Soviet Withdrawal.” The information on the shura held in February 1989 are drawn from this source. I lived in Peshawar at the time. I am grateful to Mohammad Qasim Laghmani for giving me valuable information and some documents on the shura. Laghmani was a member of the commissions of the shura that laid down electoral procedures for it. See also Khalilzad, Prospects for Afghan Interim Government; Maley and Saikal, Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan. [BACK]

46. Quoted in Shahadat, Newspaper of the Islamic Party (Peshawar), 2 Sunbula 1367/1988, 1. [BACK]

47. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 226-32. [BACK]

48. Ibid., 230. [BACK]

49. Ibid., 129, 231. [BACK]

50. Ibid., 129. [BACK]

51. Sharq, Memoirs, 301. [BACK]

52. Ibid. Kakar, “Failed Coup,”112. [BACK]

53. Sharq, Memoirs, 301. [BACK]

54. Kakar, “Failed Coup,” 113. [BACK]

55. Bisharat, “Stormy Developments,” 12. [BACK]

56. Sharq, Memoirs, 302. [BACK]

57. Maley and Saikal, Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan, 27. [BACK]

58. Ibid., 28. [BACK]

59. Ibid., 24. [BACK]

60. Kakar, “Central Asia.” [BACK]

61. Maley and Saikal, Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan, 27. [BACK]

62. Ibid., 26. [BACK]

63. Ibid. [BACK]

64. Ibid. [BACK]

65. Ibid. [BACK]

66. Ibid. [BACK]

67. Kakar, “The Policy of Intrigues,” 12. [BACK]

68. Kakar, “The Policy of Intrigues,” 12; Yusufzai, “Dostum.” [BACK]

69. Kakar, “The Policy of Intrigues,” 17. [BACK]

70. Along with Nawaz Sharif, other foreign dignitaries who participated in the Peshawar meeting were the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province; Siddiq Kanju, minister of state without portfolio; General Asif Nawaz, Pakistan’s chief of staff; General Javid Nassir, chief of the ISI; Mehr Mosawi, Iran’s roving ambassador; the ambassdors of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Islamabad; Turkey al Faisal, chief of the intelligence service of Saudi Arabia; and Benon Sevan. After Helal, Hekmatyar’s representative, walked out of the meeting, the Afghan leaders present were Khalis, Sayyaf, Mohammadi, Rabbani, Gailani, and Mojaddidi. [BACK]

71. Kakar, “The Success of the Failed Babrak Karmal,” Mujahid Wolas (newspaper), June 1992, 4. [BACK]

72. Rais, “Afghanistan and Regional Security,” 82. [BACK]

73. A. Shinwari, “Afghanistan—two years of mujahideen’s rule,” Afghanistan Forum, July 1994, 7. The article first appeared in The Frontier Posts, 10 May 1994. Marwat even holds that not only the Peshawar Accords but “all accords proved to be the license given by vested interests to the mujahideen leaders for killing and [destroying] their own people and country.” F. R. Marwat, “Waiting for the U.N.,” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, July-August 1994, 48. [BACK]

74. Kakar, “Success of Babrak Karmal,” 2. [BACK]

75. Anonymous, “From Peshawar to Kabul,” Rastgoyan, Journal of the National Salvation Front 4, no. 4 (1992): 3. [BACK]

76. Ibid. [BACK]

77. S. M. Maiwand, The Maiwand Trust (New Delhi), 10 May 1992, 4. I have drawn throughout on this informative and trustworthy weekly newsletter for the Mojaddidi period. [BACK]

78. Ibid. [BACK]

79. Maiwand Trust, 17 May 1992, 6. [BACK]

80. Supreme Court of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, “Fatwa on Veil,” Kabul, 1993, 36. [BACK]

81. BEBT, “Note on Events in Kabul” (in Pashto), December 1993. A manuscript by an insider, 7, 8. [BACK]

82. Maiwand Trust, 17 May 1992, 5. [BACK]

83. BEBT, “Note on Events in Kabul,” 8. [BACK]

84. H. Azizi, “Guardianship or Looting of a City?” Afghanistan [Journal] (Peshawar), April 1994, 66. [BACK]

85. For details, see S. Kh. Hashemyan, “The End of Two Months of Blood, and the Start of Four Months of Troubles,” Afghanistan Mirror, special bulletin, 29 June 1992. [BACK]

86. A. R. Dostum, statement in the Constituent Assembly of the National and Islamic Movement, Mazar, 31 May 1992, 2. [BACK]

87. Bisharat, “Stormy Developments,” 10. For a list of senior Parchami officers in the army of the Islamic State, see Peace (monthly newspaper), December 1993, 4. [BACK]

88. Interview with Mawlawi M. Zarif, Mujahid Wolas (newspaper), November-December 1993, 1. [BACK]

89. Ermacora, “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” 32. [BACK]

90. Rashid, “Green Revolutionary,” 19. [BACK]

91. For comments on the Islamabad Accords, see Kakar, “Time for Choice,” 2-9. [BACK]

92. For details, see Gh. Parwani, “The Jalalabad Accords,” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, May 1993, 7; “New Peace Accords Concluded in Jalalabad,” Afghanistan Forum, July 1993, 6. [BACK]

93. “Strange Calm in Kabul,” Afghanistan Forum, November 1993, 10. [BACK]

94. M. K. Momand, “My Observations,” Sabawoon [Journal] (California), July 1994, 21. In a letter sent in January 1994 from Kabul the writer states: “To the people of Kabul there no longer exists either a lion [Mas’ud] or an amiror a hero. They are all thieves and violators of people’s honor and property. Mas’ud’s men are illiterate Panjsheri youth who do not even know how to pray and observe the commands of Islam. They know nothing else but to engage in homosexuality and make the boys and girls dance for them. They steal people’s property and kidnap their children. Hekmatyar’s men, who are older than Mas’ud’s men, respect people’s honor, but their rockets have destroyed much of Kabul. In fact, their rockets and the aircraft and bombs of Mas’ud have ravaged Kabul. Dostum’s men are all addicted to hashish (chars); they are all homosexuals, burglars, and criminals. Even their officers cannot control them. Just like Mas’ud’s men, they also do as they please.” Qari Abdullah in Peace (monthly newspaper), 15 March 1994, 4. [BACK]

95. A. Safi, former member of parliament from Tagab, personal comunication, December 1993. In the Tagab round of fighting Mas’ud paid 100,000 afghanis, and Hekmatyar paid from 1,200 to 2,000 Pakistani rupees a month to each of their recruits. One rupee equalled 95 afghanis. Mas’ud had advantages over his rivals in money matters. According to a commander of Mas’ud, “I would spend 20 million afghanis on each of the military posts per week.” Also, according to him, “once, shortly after 20 billion afghanis had arrived from Moscow, these were all taken out of the bank for military purposes.” Anonymous, [tb“Why and How the War in Kabul Started,” Afghanistan Journal, April 1994, 10. [BACK]

96. D. Sahari, “Afghanistan and the Islamic World,” Mujahid Wolas (newspaper), January-February 1994, 2. [BACK]

97. Afghanistan Forum, January 1994, 7. [BACK]

98. “Why and How the War Started,” 72. [BACK]

99. Ibid. [BACK]

100. Afghanistan Forum, March 1994, 13. [BACK]

101. “Why and How the War Started,” 72. [BACK]

102. Interview with Hekmatyar, Shafaq (newspaper), May 1994, 3. For details see A. H. Ahady, “An Evaluation of the Four Main Peace Plans for Afghanistan,” Afghan Millat (newspaper), Peshawar (21 July 1994). [BACK]

103. Statement by Rabbani, Jam’iyyat (newspaper), May 1994, 3. [BACK]

104. S. Coll, “The Agony of Victory,” Afghanistan Forum, March 1994, 16. [BACK]

105. Z. Abbas, “The Battle for Kabul”, Afghanistan Forum, May 1994, 9. According to S. Mojaddidi, “Mas’ud has gathered around him a number of companions who hold that the Pashtuns have ruled over us for years, and now it was time we ruled over them”; Shafaq (newspaper), May 1994, 3. [BACK]

106. Abbas, “Battle for Kabul,” Afghanistan Forum, 9. [BACK]

107. Ibid. In particular, the loss in November 1993 to Dostum of the Sher Khan Post on the Oxus at the instigation of Mas’ud by a commander of the Islamic Union became the last straw in the coalition between Dostum and Mas’ud. See “Why and How the War Started,” 9. [BACK]

108. B. Rumer and E. Rumer, “Who Will Stop the Next Yugoslavia?” World Monitor, November 1992, 38; Malik, “Contemporary South and Central Asian Politics,” Asian Survey, October 1992, 901. Masu’d, who “dreams of a pan-Tajik constituency for himself,” is backing Tajik rebels against the Moscow-installed government in Doshanbay, the capital of Tajikistan. A. Rashid, “Battle for the North,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 31 March 1994, 23. [BACK]

109. Anonymous, “Central Asia: The Silk Road Catches Fire,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 26 December 1992, 45, 46. [BACK]

110. D. Sahari, “Afghanistan and the Islamic World,” Mujahid Wolas (newspaper), no. 11-12 (January-February 1994), 2. [BACK]

111. Interview with Rabbani, Afghanistan Forum, March 1994, 26. [BACK]

112. In Kabul an official spokesman claimed, “We have clear-cut evidence about direct interference by Uzbekistan in the Kabul fighting”; ibid., 20. [BACK]

113. A. R. Safi, former member of parliament from Shiberghan, personal communication, February 1994. [BACK]

114. Ibid. [BACK]

115. “Message to the Kunduz Commanders,” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 4 May 1994, 1. [BACK]

116. Yousaf and Adkin, Bear Trap, 142. [BACK]

117. N. Majruh, personal communication, June 1994. [BACK]

118. Interview with Q. M. A. Wiqad, Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 30 March 1994, 8. [BACK]

119. BEBT, “Note on Events in Kabul,” 9. [BACK]

120. R. Yusufzai, International News (Peshawar), 3 November 1993, 21. [BACK]

121. T. Weiner, “Blowback from the Afghan Battlefield,” New York Times Magazine, 13 March 1994, 53. [BACK]

122. Interview with Q. M. A. Wiqad, Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 30 March 94, 8. [BACK]

123. Sahari, “Afghanistan and the Islamic World,” 2. [BACK]

124. S. Yarzay, “Problems and Fighting in Kabul,” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 20 July 1994, 6; Z. Durani, “What is Going on in Kabul?” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 2 August 1994, 7. [BACK]

125. Momand, “My Observations,” 21. [BACK]

126. M. Shindanday, “The Tyrannized and Powerless Afghans,” Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 20 July 1994, 6. [BACK]

127. Sahari, “Afghanistan and the Islamic World,” 2. “From the city of Mazar to the frontier post in Torkham the Islamic groups have set up customs posts (pataks). In each of these posts each group levies tolls on a loaded truck, ranging from twenty thousand to over a million afghanis. Because of insecurity trucks now go in caravans as the caravans of men, camels, and horses went in the Middle Ages. It now takes about twenty days for a caravan to reach Torkham from Mazar, whereas before the communist coup in 1978 it took only a day for a truck to make the journey. From Mahipar, east of Kabul, to Torkham twenty-eight such posts are in place. This part, which is the worst, is called the Looting Highway (Shahrah-e-Choor). A man who had made the journey from Mazar to Torkham with a caravan has been quoted as saying ‘The situation of the highway from the hydroelectric dam of Mahipar to Sarobi is totally disappointing. In each bend of the road one and even two customs posts operate. In these posts rusty, ruthless, and tyrannical men, seen often with wild and long hair and beards, have come together. To them it is useless to plead and implore. Instead of God, the Prophet, the Quran, and the love of parents they recognize money. For them it is ordinary to curse, insult, and beat a passenger and bring down his belongings and food. An ordinary man of them can stop a truck and even a caravan with impunity for days and beat a passenger whom he dislikes to the limit of death. Most of these posts belong to major groups.’ Some among them are, of course, pious, but the majority are such as described. It is because of the heavy tolls that in Kabul a sack of wheat flour [70 kilograms] is sold for one hundred thousand afghanis, a staggering amount. The pious muslims now say that Doomsday is near.” Shahbaz, “Mazar-e-Sharif—Torkham,” Writers Union of Free Afghanistan, 7 September 1994, 6. [BACK]

128. “Interview with the Mawlawi of Tarakhel,” Afghanistan (Journal), April 1994, 41. The bickering among the Islamic groups is harming Afghanistan. Internally, it acts as a divisive force, subverting the process of reunification and reconstruction. Abroad, it is looked on as a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, intolerance, and radicalism. This is why Afghanistan has plummeted from a global flash point to a local affair. From a major catalyst that initiated the disintegration of the Soviet Union, it has developed into a “self-destructive inter-Afghan affair, threatening to split Afghanistan.” Marwat, “Waiting for the U.N.,” 48. [BACK]

129. Momand, “My Observations,” 24. [BACK]

130. Quoted in Sahari, “Afghanistan and the Islamic World,” 2. [BACK]

131. Statement by M. A. Nae’em, Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, 24 April 1994, 2. [BACK]

132. R. Yusufzai, “Zahir Shah Option Resurfaces in Search for Afghan Peace,” The Breeze of Freedom (journal), no. 4 (Mar.-Apr. 1994): 38. [BACK]

133. H. Naweed, interview with R. Oakley, Writers’ Union of Free Afghanistan, nos. 22-23 (8 June 1994), 7. [BACK]

134. N. M. Kamrany, personal communication, June 1994. Kamrany is a professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. [BACK]

135. Weiner, “Blowback,” 53. [BACK]

136. Ibid. According to a U.S. satellite survey, 19,470 hectares were cultivated in poppies during the 1991-92 season in Afghanistan. The Breeze of Freedom (journal), no. 4 (Mar.-Apr. 1994): 63. [BACK]

137. Quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune, 5 July 1994, A12. [BACK]

138. Quoted in Weiner, “Blowback,” 53. [BACK]

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