Tuesday, December 12, 2006
At night, NATO forces confined to a base near Kandahar fire their guns into the sky, while the Taliban, bunkered in a village just a few kilometers away, watch - and wait. The two sides no longer engage each other. But as Taliban commander Qari Hazrat tells Syed Saleem Shahzad, this is all part of the plan.
A Good Article
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
"KARACHI - In the plains of southwestern Afghanistan, confident Taliban move around openly with their weaponry, to the frustration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who can see them, but seem helpless in containing them.
Indeed, foreign troops are mostly held hostage in their bases, and their alternatives are stark: conduct aerial bombings in which civilians would surely be heavy casualties, or pull out.
The mood on the ground in Afghanistan is that the latter option will prevail....
Khuda-i-Rahim is a veteran commander. He lost a leg, both arms and some sight in a bomb explosion in Kandahar while fighting against Russian troops. He spent some time in the US in the 1980s and now lives in Baghran in the northernmost district of Helmand province.
"They [Americans] hear the sound of a single bullet fired in the air and they do not dare to go to the place where the bullet was fired. The Russians stayed in Afghanistan for 11 years because of their conviction, but against the determination of the Afghan resistance they finally withdrew. I don't see a chance that once there is a national uprising like the one against the Russians, the Americans will stay for a few months," said Khuda-i-Rahim.
The current Afghan insurgency is widely viewed as a highly ideologically motivated movement along the lines of al-Qaeda and similar to the Taliban uprising of the mid-1990s in which fanatical madrassa-educated youths seized power.
Certainly, the present Afghan resistance against foreign troops and the administration of President Hamid Karzai is undoubtedly led by Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Islam is unquestionably the binding force. Nevertheless, at ground level the field command is in the hands of seasoned commanders who fought against the Soviets and who are driven more by Afghan traditions than by ideology.
The Afghan battle strategy has always been based on preserving strength by appearing to give way to the enemy by letting them parade through the country in search operations that only upset the population.
For the invaders, this is exhausting and brings small results. The resistance, meanwhile, is everywhere, watching and waiting like vultures, ready to swoop.