Afghanistan Needs Peace, Sovereignty & Development (Part IV)

In 2002, the government of the former Taliban was replaced by the government of the ‘Northern Alliance’, who had assisted the US-UK-led NATO military in attacking and deposing the Taliban. The ‘Northern Alliance‘ included former Mujahideen Warlords regrouping to form a government under Afghan Presidents, either US citizens or holding dual citizenship of both Afghanistan and the United States. Under this leadership of the Northern Alliance, Afghanistan descended into a NARCO state, with its political and economic activity financed largely by the NARCO trade. US military contractors and other US agencies and NGOs siphoned off most of the more than two trillion financial allocations for this war and occupation, for which the US-UK and NATO governments are accountable to their citizens and soldiers used as cannon fodder.

Afghanistan presently contributes almost 80% of the International trade in narcotics, the third-largest commodity traded in the International market. This narcotics trade is a serious threat to all countries bordering Afghanistan and the neighboring countries, with youth as far away as in Punjab in India affected, apart from gangs smuggling narcotics with the complicity of some political parties, creating a vast criminal network because of this illegal drug trade which spawns in conterminous countries.

Twenty years have passed since the Taliban were bombed out and dispersed. There are still a few old leaders, as well as new leadership and new recruits. In the years that the old Taliban was disowned officially by Pakistan, the Taliban leaders sought asylum and support from other countries in the region including in some of the Gulf States after becoming fugitives. The leadership of the Taliban who survived -considered a liability in Pakistan – made overtures to countries in the region like Iran, where hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees were living and working, promising atonement for the killing of 11 Iranian diplomats and a journalist from the Iranian Press Agency (IRNA) at the Mazaar-e-sharif Iranian Consulate in 1998, and for the killings of Shia Hazaras and Dari speaking Turkmen, Uzbek and Tajik minorities. It is equally true that the former Taliban and the warlords of the minority militias affiliated with the former Mujahideen and the Northern Alliance killed each others’ fighters and civilians in continuous internecine warfare. Iran a few years later, in a pragmatic move, received representatives of the Taliban for negotiations in its national interests, as Iran faced terrorist attacks, assassinations of its scientists, and an existential threat from “Israel”, supported by US–UK led occupation forces occupying the region from the Middle East to Pakistan. In 2015, late Iranian General Soleimani, an outstanding military strategist, commenced discussions with the Taliban, who had regrouped this time round to liberate Afghanistan from US-UK NATO-led foreign occupation.

Whether the Taliban were regrouping and emerging, 20 years after, they were bombed out from Afghanistan by US-led NATO forces assisted by Pakistan. They have finally learned bitter lessons of the nature of this alliance. Along with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and a few of the Emirates, they had been temporarily placed in power from 1996 -2001, but ousting them in the aftermath of war remains to be seen. Has hindsight given them the understanding that this was not a war on the PDP government or the former USSR? It was a war waged by Imperialist forces on their own nation and people, to capture a strategic region and its resources. Only with this realization can a new chapter begin, by the Taliban accepting that they were once a part of the endless ‘war of terror’ waged on  Afghan children, on women and men, transformed by the US-UK NATO occupation and the desperate conditions imposed on their country, into pathetic drug addicts and international refugees.

Afghanistan’s mineral resources, cultural and other treasures were seized during the US-UK led NATO occupation, as in Iraq and in parts of Syria; their archeological heritage sites, the famous Afghan museum in Kabul, and the Bamiyan Buddhas, a legacy of the region’s connection to the Indian Kingdom of the  Buddhist Emperor Ashoka, a world heritage site, were destroyed on the instruction of foreign powers. Wahhabism does not spare great archeological heritage or spiritual mausoleums, not even of the Prophet of Islam (peace be unto him), not even in Saudi Arabia.

Former President Ghani, as it is reported, fled to Doha abandoning his government, along with loot amounting to approximately 169 million dollars. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan denied his entry, with five million dollars which could not be taken along, dumped on the tarmac of the airport as per reports of his bodyguards. The treasury of Afghanistan has been emptied. The United States has frozen financial reserves of Afghanistan totaling 9 billion held in US Banks. No one knows where the trillions spent on the war vanished. Catherine Austin Fitts, an authoritative financial analyst, and expert, former Assistant Secretary of Housing of the United States, has referred to a black and secret budget of Washington DC and invited attention to more than 30 trillion missing from the accounts of the Pentagon. Julian Assange, an outstanding and courageous journalist, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, held by the British and the US governments in cooperation, at Belmarsh prison, without any trial or conviction for any offense, merely for exposing war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, had this to say on the basis of thousands of documents on the overt and covert war in Afghanistan: “The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe, and back into the hands of a Transnational Security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war”. The war in Afghanistan and the other endless wars waged in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, in the Continent of Africa among other regions, appear to be a vast criminal enterprise of the political elite of the United States, UK, and NATO governments including the G7, facing an unprecedented economic crisis in their heartlands.

US, UK, and NATO armament and security companies among others, and military contractors and NGOs were permitted to loot countries occupied and the US-UK NATO taxpayers. The narrative is the same in countries invaded and occupied, looting financial reserves, resources, gold, and national budgets. Syrian oil was stolen for almost a decade, by ISIS, Daesh, ISIL, US-UK led NATO war on Syria, assisted by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and some of the Emirates. Iran’s financial and trading accounts in Western Banks were frozen. Iran was not paid for oil already exported to Japan and South Korea among other countries on the diktat of the United States. Trading with Iran was prohibited, the US exerted pressure on several governments, including India, which succumbed. The people of Iran who were impacted by sanctions, suffered grievously, with rampant inflation and declining economic opportunities, deprived of essential medical and other supplies, even during the pandemic.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that Afghanistan under the pretext of smoking out the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, a CIA, MI6, ISI, and Saudi Intelligence asset, was by design converted into the largest experimental battleground for the testing of weapon systems, manufactured by the best and brightest US Armament Corporations, among them, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics. These armament corporations, along with US military contractors and security agencies and banks and financial institutions laundering profits of the trade-in narcotics, are the real winners of the war. From Bunker Busters to Daisy Cutters, to Cluster bombs, to nuclear munitions such as Depleted Uranium weaponry, a range of weapons were deliberately and intentionally tested in Afghanistan. As a direct consequence, future generations of Afghans exposed to this weaponry, including in the womb, have been mutilated as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and  Lebanon. Those suddenly concerned about the fate of the women of Afghanistan must ask themselves, where were they when hundreds of thousands of infants of Afghan women were born with the most serious physical deformities inflicted by Depleted Uranium weaponry. Scientific reports and field studies presented evidence given by Scientists including by physicists and academics before us, the ‘International War Crimes Tribunal on Afghanistan’ convened by Japanese jurists and lawyers, at Tokyo in 2003-2004, on the war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including  the use of Depleted Uranium weaponry and other weapons systems prohibited by International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions, proved beyond any doubt that these weapon systems  targeting  the civilian population, were genocidal; and that DU weaponry was genocidal and ‘omnicidal.’

The infants exposed in the womb to Depleted Uranium weaponry, born with serious deformities, did not and could not survive. The contamination of DU weaponry lasts for millions of years. Simple Afghan families celebrating weddings or festivals were bombed. Is it surprising that the rates of suicides among US Veterans on the frontlines in successive wars, is more than those killed in battle? What have they seen?

Niloufer Bhagwat: Vice President of the Indian Association of Lawyers and Vice President of the Confederation of Lawyers for Asia and Africa.