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Epilogue, 1982-1994
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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]

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