Pakistan And Afghanistan Essay

1552 words - 7 pages

From the 1980’s onwards, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been at the forefront of numerous socio-political events germane to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The multifarious factors involved form a perplexing web of competing narratives that resist straightforward explanation. This essay will delve into the milieu, seeking alternative theories to construct a cogent thesis for the growth of fundamentalism. In doing so, it will examine the Islamisation policies of Pakistan’s Zia-ul-Haq administration and its congruence with United States interests at the time. Particular focus will be given to the Afghanistan – Pakistan dyad and how the recent return of international forces perpetuates the ...view middle of the document...

Consequently, Pakistan was propelled to the front-line of the ideological fissure, nurturing the nascent mujahedeen against the atheistic communists (Mohan 2004: 120). Soviet resistance was depicted as a jihad for Pakistan and the entire Muslim world (Hilali 2005: 83). Supported by US and Saudi funds, an intricate network was established and managed by Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence and the US Central Intelligence Agency. The largest covert operation in modern history, it recruited Arab volunteers for the mujahedeen, facilitated supplies and spawned a new radical Islamic movement (Z Hussain 2008: 15). In consonance with Zia’s Islamisation programme, it also ushered radicals and their fundamentalist ideology into the Pakistani state apparatus (Nasr 1993: 268). Moreover, as the mujahedeen were divided into disparate groups, the ISI favoured those aligned closest to Pakistani political and strategic goals (Rubin 2002: 197). The United States evinced a similarly cynical policy, favouring Islamic fundamentalists over nationalist groups (Cappelli 2005: 720). CIA briefing documents indicate no planning for a post-Soviet Afghanistan, even as it continued to fund radicals such as Hekmatyar well after the Soviet withdrawal (Weiner 2007: 420-422). Hence, policy myopia and a maladroit response to the Soviet withdrawal proved paramount in fomenting Islamic fundamentalism in the region.

A deeply traditional society, Afghanistan was confronted with the combined force of the Soviet invasion and a US sponsored insurgency. From its small communist nucleus in the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, the Soviets used unrestrained coercion in imposing drastic social and land reforms (Sidky 2007: 857). Further, the enforced erosion of traditional sources and forms of authority, combined with the enveloping social entropy increased support for the Islamist opposition (Halliday and Tanin 1998: 1362). A significant portion of this support can be attributed to the mujahedeen’s utilisation of traditional affiliations and thence their reassertion of atavistic ethnic and regional identities (Newell 1989: 1092). Particularly toward the end of the Soviet occupation, foreign patronage reinforced the political and military positions of many groups, advancing warlordism across Afghanistan (Weinstein 2006: 343). Although the Geneva Accords of 1988 heralded a Soviet withdrawal, peace and reconstruction did not follow as the settlement failed to provide a transition toward a legitimate Afghan government (Saikal and Maley 1989: 2). Thus, with much of the intelligentsia killed or abroad, the departure of the Kabul regime represented the defeat of the state of Afghanistan (Vogelsang 2008: 322).

With Afghanistan bequeathed to warlords and radicals, the Salifi inspired Taliban arose out of the pernicious chaos of the 1990’s to assume pre-eminence. Considered a direct product of Zia’s madrasa system (Rais 1999: 4), the Taliban were nevertheless...

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