Dehshatgardi Murdabad!

Published: October 20, 2011
The writer is assistant professor of political science at LUMS and has a band called Laal

The writer is assistant professor of political science at LUMS and has a band called Laal

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.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:09PM

    And the point is? That Pakistan should have “rolled over” and be sandwiched between a communist government with designs to expand and an enemy india?

    Or has the writer forgotten that 123 Nations in the UN supported Pakistan, and those opposing it were communists as well as India?

    And the Afghan Jihad was widely supported amongst the people, the approval never dropped below the minimum 64%. Fact is, that these communists turned secular pseudo-intellectuals are myopic, and don’t think straight. Their perverse agenda has, and will always be, rejected by the masses. Those who welcomed USSR and said Asia is red, then realized that Asia wasn’t red, but green, and that hatred and animosity of theirs due to the defeat of USSR exists till today.

    Secularists should get a life. And some intellect as well!


  • I for Infidel
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:19PM

    Alas, there is nothing in it for our Ghairat Birgade, who then were having a honey moon with Americans.


  • John B
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:37PM

    So far what is said about US is true. But the author has forgotten one important event of history-oil embargo

    Religious extremism( not with suicide bombs) started in 1920s as a rallying cry against British empire when Ottoman empire was dismantled. Perfect scenario for unification of masses-Text book Jihad.

    Equating present day religious extremism of PAK to US and Zia is denying the very fact of the spirit that gave birth to PAK, a rallying cry of PML at that time.

    Why did PAK became a proxy for US in US-USSR conflict in Afghanistan.? Recommend

  • Cynical
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:50PM


    A real eye-opener. Waiting for the next instalment.


  • antanu g
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:54PM

    unfortunately…US is now treated as holiest state in India…just because it is battering Pak. Who knows…next in line is India. US can not tolerate any nation to challenge it…economically or militrily.


  • Salahudin Safdar
    Oct 20, 2011 - 10:56PM

    Taimur! Is this the document you presented in Labor Party Pakistan office a few days ago. Asking you to save time and energies required to read the long piece.


  • faraz
    Oct 20, 2011 - 11:04PM

    Our elites skillfully use religious ideologies, anti-India nationalism, militarism, conspiracy theories, pan Islamism and citadel of Islam rhetoric to divert the attention of the masses from the real issues of socioeconomic welfare and development.


  • Oct 20, 2011 - 11:05PM

    Interesting read on Cold War realities, though the local Afghanistan, and Pakistan Afghanistan dynamics of the time was quite more complicated, with the Soviet intervention making things worse, hence the constant stream of refugees. Look forward to the continuation.


  • Oct 20, 2011 - 11:07PM

    Rehashing past,will not undo the harm,it can make us learn our right historical lesson and not commit the same blunder.Today Pakistan is at the fork on the road,you have opportunity to take the right road and make complete break with failed policy,I trust you Pakistani will not compound your mistakes,it is hard to be alturuistic,and make right chioces,man are greedy,destructive and self centered,hope you guys listen to better Angeles of your Nature,will you?,I shall always hope so.Allah gives you better sense and guide you,but remember God helps those who help themselves first.


  • M Ali Khan
    Oct 20, 2011 - 11:17PM

    The trouble began even before the leftist takeover of Afghanistan. During Bhutto’s era, Rabbani and Hekmatyar et al. were given refuge and support in Pakistan who saw the rise of the Afghan Jamat Islami as a way of getting Pakistan strategic depth inside a country that we were paranoid about being pro-India because of their refusal to accept the Durand Line.


  • Talha
    Oct 20, 2011 - 11:37PM

    Hazrat Zia sahab and his band of Islamists like Hamid Gul were key instruments in all this.

    Jamaat-e-Islami and the likes spearheaded the poisoning of this society.


  • fee fee the bird,
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:09AM

    So 9/11 is also inside job…


  • Che
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:11AM

    One thing pricks me,why our leaders can’t anticipate but always cry over spilt milk. It would be better to learn something from history,yeah i dare to say, that even getting some.lessons will suffice for steering our nation out of the present mess. And thanks to Taimur for unfolding another becoming-fool-story at the hands of our shrewd and cunning ally.


  • Hassan Siddique
    Oct 21, 2011 - 12:45AM

    Mr Taimoor first kindly tell us why Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with full force, and if communism was the last ray of hope for the Afghans then why Afghan people stood for it?Recommend

  • Doctor
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:49AM

    @ Abdul Rehman Gilani – Gilani Saab – you are wrong everywhere you post. All you see is hatred for everyone. The fact that you are a sycophant for the Deep State is obvious everywhere.

    If you don’t remember, most Afghans supported the government prior to the over incursion of the USSR. That doesn’t mean the government was perfect by any means but supporting a war against outsiders is very different from supporting the Taliban.

    Afghans were happy to be rid of the USSR but hated the Taliban overall. Get real. Grow a brain.


  • Mj
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:07AM

    I had previously read about Mossadegh but had no idea that situation in Afghanistan was so much similar to it. I cannot comprehend how radically different this region might have been had some powers not meddled in the affairs of Iran and Afghanistan. Now the Islamist ideology has permeated deep into social fabric and will perhaps take decades to undo; sooner in Iran compared to Afghanistan and Pakistan.


  • N
    Oct 21, 2011 - 4:48AM

    Good to blame the CIA for the mess we are in.
    The seeds of religious state were laid AA soon as we were founded. Our civilian and military leaders are responsible for the extremism yesterday, today and future.
    Who passed the 1950’s objectives resolution?
    Who gave power to the mosque brigade in the 60’s?
    Who institutionalized bigotry in the constitution by disallowing non-Muslims from high office?
    Who used religion to subjugate the Bengali Muslims and Hindus?
    Who willingly invited the USA to killing fields of Afghanistan?
    Who nurtured and exported “strategic assets” to India, Afghanistan and the world?


  • Cautious
    Oct 21, 2011 - 5:40AM

    When is Pakistan finally going to wake up and look at the Afghan/Soviet conflict without all the anti American distortion? The reality is that Pakistani leaders without any encouragement from anyone decided they could not tolerate the Soviet Union (India’s biggest ally) on their Western border – especially when the Soviets made no bones about their desire to have a warm water port (the closest happened to be in Balochistan.
    It’s not the fault of the USA that after the war Pakistan encouraged the Jihadis to stay on and pointed them at India via Kashmir — that’s a bed you made and you now find that bed is uncomfortable — TOUGH!


  • Feroz
    Oct 21, 2011 - 6:11AM

    None of us know the real facts but if true this is an excellent analysis. First the ISI and CIA dug a grave for the Soviets who were trapped but now the grave is big enough to take in both the US and Pakistan. The hapless Afghans are sadly trying to extricate themselves from it since 1980. The ISI tried to be cleverer than all and the results are obvious to all but the blind. The inference to be drawn is — do not bother what other people and countries are doing, focus solely in empowering ones own people.


  • No Nonsense
    Oct 21, 2011 - 7:42AM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:
    Did India and the communist governments “oppose” Pakistan’s entry into the UN? If that is what you mean please check fact again. you will find Afghanistan as the only naysayer. Could USSR oppose Pakistan and then be the first to invite the Pak prime minister for a visit?


  • BruteForce
    Oct 21, 2011 - 8:16AM

    “Islam is in Danger”. Where have we heard this lie before?

    Isn’t it ironic that this canard has been the reason for the deaths of hundreds of people, mainly Muslims; that this has led to the weakening of the Muslim populace in the Sub Continent, and pushed them into the dark tunnel of radicalization and violence?

    Jinnah and his league used this cry to stir up a secular nation, threatening civil war and communalize it and divided the Muslims of the Sub Continent. Later on US used the same cry to achieve their own selfish means.

    What is interesting is in both cases the people came under the influence of this lie, even though it was never the case.

    Selfish interests are a danger to Islam; Muslims are a danger to islam. No one else.Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Oct 21, 2011 - 8:50AM

    Excellent article. By the way the soviets did not invade Afghanistan; in fact the PDP government in Afghanistan “invited” the soviet army to help them quell the CIA funded Islamic insurgency. The military government in Pakistan looked on in horror when they realised that Pakistan would be surrounded by India on one side and its ally, USSR on the other side. Hence, the whole propaganda about the USSR trying to get access to a warm water port.


  • faraz
    Oct 21, 2011 - 9:29AM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani

    So we could have supported Afghans only instead of indoctrinating our own youth and opening our borders to every deranged fanatic from all over the world. Iran’s army was deployed against Iraq; but they didn’t beg CIA for help. Despite have rich oil fields and access to Persian Gulf, Iran did nothing to counter that imaginary threat. After being declared the global hub of terrorism and 40,000 deaths at the hands of children of Zia, the secularists stand vindicated.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Oct 21, 2011 - 11:02AM

    @No Nonsense:

    Lets stick to the Afghan Jihad and not with Pakistan’s entry, and by the way, whats the link? Pakistan’s entry happened 30 years earlier than the Afghan Jihad! Your the one speaking nonsense!


    Dont go out handing “prescriptions” that everyone who doesnt agree with the liberals is a terrorist. And who gave you the right to issue a “fatwaa” declaring me wrong?! Doctor, have an MRI scan and check if some parts of the brain responsible for intelligence remain or have they become damaged due to “indoctrination”!

    Fact is this, that no one here has answered that what should have we done? Stay mum and be sandwiched? NO. It was time for action, and Zia did the right thing, sure he was a dictator, but that does not prove the Afghan Jihad to be wrong.


  • adam
    Oct 21, 2011 - 11:04AM

    I really surprise to see that those who have only touched the one leg or trunk of a giant elephant commenting here like they are the one who have seen it all. Dear all blank heads and clear heads, don’t be part of problem, come with positive attitudes, it matter for major peace all over the world. Those who created all the mess, will not be able to continue it for long, if individual people are not selling their bodies, faith and friends for money.


  • Sajid
    Oct 21, 2011 - 11:17AM

    @ Abdul Rehman Gillani,

    Find this guy named Ali Tanoli, have a cup of tea with him. You may well fall in love with him.


  • waqqas iftikhar
    Oct 21, 2011 - 11:22AM

    @Gilani, you talk a lot about intellect, if you had any, you’d realize that the point was to enunciate that the ‘naara-e-islam’ was misused for the personal gain of feudal tribal lords of afghanistan, just like ‘islam is in danger’ was a rallying cry throughout the 80s and 90s to lure young pakistanis to their inglorious deaths in afghanistan and kashmir…amongst other places..


  • Rana Athar Javed
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:08PM

    Mr. Taimur’s article states some facts, But, It lacks a real analysis of the current issues. What is causing this wave of radicalization is crucial to understand the complexity of our socioeconomic problems. Anger management is required from top to bottom, and one should not fall into the trap of “revenge” against the strong International players. We will just ruin our country, lose territory and lose the most vital human resource, namely; the Pakistani youth. Today, no one should just remind the readers about the declassified documents of the CIA & what it said 30-35 years ago. Does it really matter? We like to believe in CIA (s), but not in Pakistani institutions, a dilemma that would fracture the remaining national character of Pakistaniat. One immediate solution is that our youth needs likeminded leadership and a thoughtful strategy to implement a tolerant/unbiased system of belief, so every Pakistani serves the collective cause of stability, just alleging one’s own security/political entities won’t get us anywhere. The time to change the old guards is appraoching, but it must not be done at the cost of Pakistan’s decades old friends in international politics.


  • Rana Athar Javed
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:26PM

    Mr. Taimur’s article states some facts, But, It lacks a real analysis of the current issues. What is causing this wave of radicalization is crucial to understand and, ultimately avoid break-up of another regional power. Most important, we have to avoid dilemma of extremism that would fracture the remaining national character of Pakistaniat. One immediate solution is that our youth needs likeminded leadership and a thoughtful strategy to implement a tolerant/unbiased system of belief, so every Pakistani serves the collective cause of stability, just alleging one’s own security/political entities won’t get us anywhere.


  • Chacha
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:42PM

    So CIA wanted this operation. The Soviets were doing the right thing which is land reforms etc. And who did Pakistan choose to go with – the CIA who encouraged jihadis or the state which was helping the people.

    Pakistan made this choice but never gets the blame for it.

    Reality is that Pakistan was never an egalitarian state as seen by the number of fuedal lords who dominate parliment (e.g the foriegn minister). With communism at its door step it forged a faustian pact with the CIA and now is reaping what it had sown.


  • Lobster
    Oct 21, 2011 - 2:57PM

    “The truth is that the CIA and the ISI are responsible for the death and destruction we see in Pakistan today”
    Totally correct!
    We can’t control CIA, but at least we can stop ISI from continuing on this path. Pathetic organisation doesn’t want to learn from history and repeating again this in Balochistan


  • Ghazala
    Oct 21, 2011 - 3:49PM

    Very interesting revelations! Looking forward to the next instalment.


  • Chacha
    Oct 21, 2011 - 4:52PM

    @waqqas iftikhar: Waqqas – Islam has always been potrayed by its political leaders (and its modern day maulanas) to be in danger. It has always been an effective political strategy to develop a seige mentality (“the foriegn hand”) and all countries do it (even Hindu India). However in Islams case, muslims where thier religion up thier sleeve and catch fire on the slightest provocations – so the strategy of maintaining the seige works.


  • Lobe
    Oct 21, 2011 - 6:21PM

    Why blame the CIA alone in fact it was Zia who was more interested in this madness no surprises here, he needed legitimacy for his illegitimate government. If wanted Pakistan could have washed its hands of this matter completely but the generals thought otherwise.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 21, 2011 - 6:57PM

    @ Sajid
    I love u and i love human being with respect and intrest.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Oct 21, 2011 - 8:09PM

    C I A (care international amos) so i think every body got it.


  • Aq
    Oct 21, 2011 - 8:23PM

    We should also talk about the role of Saudis and their supporter jamaat islami ,jamaat ahlehadith in radicalizing our society and our peaceful religion. Saudis and other Arabs have funded heavily in promoting hatred,intolerance and extremism in our society. Jamaat Islami? Create so much noice against dictators but keeps mum on atrocities of Saudis and other so called Islamic despots.


  • Oct 22, 2011 - 2:58PM

    This is a pretty simplistic reading and demonstration of history. Are you forgetting the shoot outs, coups and counter coups by one faction of Afghan Communists against another? Are you forgetting how they slaughtered each other, and invited the Soviets in, who’s idea of counter insurgency was basically an attempted genocide that drove 3 million refugees into Pakistan?

    All lofty aims, but how about not having one Afghan faction shooting their rival factions as well?


  • Raja Islam
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:39PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:
    Maybe Asia is green, but what did it get you; hate, murders, terrorist attacks, poverty and ignorance.


  • Raja Islam
    Oct 27, 2011 - 11:44PM

    You forget that Afghanistan is an ignorant tribal society. The warring factions have nothing to do with communism or Islam. It is all about power and wealth.


  • Jawad-Ul-Hassan
    Oct 28, 2011 - 7:01AM

    interesting…it wass the decision of the people…as PDPA have the power at that time…moral less intervention by the big powers..


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