Many people consider religious extremism to be merely a spontaneous response to drone strikes and Nato occupation of Afghanistan. The reality is very different. In fact, the CIA and the ISI deliberately planted religious extremism to fight communism during the Cold War. The truth is that the CIA and the ISI are responsible for the death and destruction we see in Pakistan today.
In April 1978, a socialist revolution lead by the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) swept over the country. The revolutionary government enacted the following reforms:
1. Decree number 6 in 1978 dealt with the issue of peasant debt. The PDPA ended the Gerow system and declared that peasants need not make any further interest payments on all lands mortgaged before 1974;
2. Landless peasants and labourers (all those owning less than five acres of land) were totally exempted from repayment of any debt. This act benefited an estimated 81 per cent of the peasantry;
3. On October 17, 1978, the PDPA declared Decree number 7 pertaining to marriage laws. A minimum age of 16 for girls and 18 for boys was declared and consent of both partners in a marriage was made mandatory. Furthermore, a restriction of 300 Afghanis was placed on mahr (bride-price). These laws curtailed the practice of women being treated as commodities;
4. In January 1979, the PDPA declared and began to enforce a land ceiling of 15 acres. This dispossessed no more than 400 families but redistributed half the arable land of the country. One could see the enormous monopoly of power of the feudal lords being shattered by the revolution;
5. Decree number 8 abolished the system of mirab (a water manager who was a feudal lord) and water management was placed under the control of peasant committees;
6. A literacy campaign was set up to create universal literacy in 10 years. Education was made universal, compulsory and free for all women and men. The syllabus was modernised and student brigades were sent in thousands to villages to educate people there. The National Agency for the Campaign Against Illiteracy educated 6,000 army men in the first six months.
This revolution challenged the interests of tribal heads and landlords. To defend their property, these classes raised the slogan that ‘Islam was in danger’. In fact, Islam was in no danger at all. Only tribalism and feudalism were in danger. However, this slogan became the rallying cry for a counter-revolution.
The CIA began supporting this counter-revolution and on July 3, 1979, former US president Jimmy Carter began Operation Cyclone, which went on to become the largest operation in the history of the CIA. Moreover, this CIA intervention began six months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. In fact, it can be argued that the Soviet intervention was a response to the CIA’s plans of aggression against the revolutionary government of Afghanistan. Zbegnew Brezinski, who at the time was the national security advisor to President Carter, openly accepted that US intervention began with the explicit objective of provoking a Soviet retaliation in order to trap the Soviet Union in an Afghan war. Brzezinski stated: “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion, this was going to induce Soviet military intervention… That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap… The day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War” (Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998).
Declassified documents of the CIA today prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the United States of America intervened first in Afghanistan, attempted to topple the revolutionary government and deliberately provoked war and counter-revolution in the region.
(To be continued)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.