Afghanistan Needs Peace, Sovereignty & Development (PART V)
The Sovereign right of Afghanistan to determine its political future and path of economic development.
The war against the Afghan people was waged for almost 45 years, nearly half a century, camouflaged until the political capitulation of the former USSR in 1990, as a war to keep the Afghan nation and the region safe from socialism, and from the alleged ‘evil influence’ of the USSR, a Socialist State with close ties to the Afghan nation from 1919, which had not exported any revolution to Afghanistan. The Saur Revolution in Afghanistan was not planned by the PDP in advance of events. The murder of a prominent left leader, Mir Akbar Khyber of the Parcham faction of the PDP, allegedly by the government, in circumstances which are still shrouded in mystery, led to the apprehension of a massacre by both the Khalq and Parcham parties. This event led officers of the armed forces owing allegiance to the Khalq faction to revolt in 1977, followed by an uprising rebellion, during which the cadres of both factions the People’s Democratic Party - mobilized wider support for what was called the ‘Saur Revolution‘, widely welcomed in Afghanistan, leading to the formation of a government of the People’s Democratic Party in 1977.
The former USSR extended military assistance to the country in 1979, after considerable hesitation, on frequent requests made by the PDP government from 1978 onwards, invoking the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation signed with the PDP government, even as the government was facing a state of siege from terrorist attacks and sabotage from across all of its international frontiers (except its borders with the USSR), having adopted a different political system from that of its neighbors.
Soviet military forces deployed in Afghanistan under the Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. The withdrawal was peaceful. There was no alleged military defeat of the USSR by the Mujahidin. The PDP government in Afghanistan survived on its own strength without Soviet military assistance, in a wider coalition formed with other nationalist Afghan parties, defeating the combined forces of the Mujahidin, including al-Qaeda fighters at Jalalabad, despite the support the Mujahidin received from Pakistan’s paramilitary, military and the Intelligence Agencies of the US, UK, and Saudi Arabia. The PDP President Najibullah who had replaced President Babrak Karmal in 1986, stepped down peacefully and voluntarily under a UN Plan of 1991-1992, only after an economic blockade was imposed on Afghanistan from all its international borders, after former President Gorbachev of the USSR, in an agreement and tacit understanding with the USA, UK, and Germany who dismantled the USSR to make way for a new world order and despite a democratic referendum held in 1991 in which the people of the majority of the Republics, including Ukraine, voted to continue as Republics of the USSR. The overwhelming voter turnout in the referendum was 80% and 75% of the people voting in the referendum in favor of the former USSR. This election was discarded by President Gorbachev and President Yeltsin, regarded as great ‘democrats‘ by their US, UK, and European patrons. People of the Baltic Republics of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, and Georgia of the former USSR were not permitted to participate in the referendum.
Both Presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin of the Russian Federation unilaterally ended collective and security agreements, including trade agreements with former socialist states of Eastern Europe, and other socialist states economically dependent on trade with the former USSR. Only Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea continued as Socialist states, in conditions of extreme economic hardship, in particular the two latter conditions. The Russian economy was thereafter monitored by foreign economic advisers as was its Central Bank and faced a forced demolition. With the assistance of US economic advisers, Russia‘s economy was criminalized by oligarchies looting most of its state and public companies and factories including its natural resources, in a transition from Socialism to Capitalism, with continuous capital flight from Russia and the former USSR Republics to Europe and America. The economy collapsed and the flight of skilled manpower followed. The Russian people were pauperized losing all their savings in the de-monetization of the currency among other such measures introduced to steal the savings of the Russian and former Soviet citizens to bail out western economies.
In such circumstances, President Najibullah’s government, despite the support of the Afghan army, efficiently trained by the Soviet military, could not withstand the trade blockade from all its international frontiers, as Afghanistan is a landlocked state. The PDP government stepped down in 1992 under a UN plan, to facilitate the restoration of trade to Afghanistan, without which the people of Afghanistan could not survive.
Ironically, the United States which was continuously targeting the former USSR as a communist society, an ‘Evil Empire’ except for a short period during the Second World War; has extended in the 1970s the status to the People’s Republic of China, transforming Beijing into a major manufacturing base for Transnational Companies from the USA and Europe; to derive arbitrage from cheaper and more disciplined Chinese labor; fewer restrictions on environment pollution and generous repatriation of profits from China, more than what was permitted by most countries at the relevant time. These measures were serving the interests of the US, UK, and European Corporations and Banks. When The USA announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan, after negotiations at Doha, the People’s Republic of China became now the world’s pre-eminent industrial and mercantile power, financially wooed by most governments, including all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, who once opposed the mildly Socialist government of the PDP and its alliance with the former USSR. China‘s leaders are rightly unapologetic about their commitment to a socialist society with Chinese characteristics, as every nation’s people have a sovereign right to determine their own path of economic development.
There was no military intervention in Britain by the US and European powers while Prime Minister Clement Attlee implemented an extensive program of nationalization proposed by Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh Labor MP and Minister in the Labor party government, nationalizing, health, coal, transport among other vital sectors. There was no invasion of Sweden implementing a Socialist Social Democratic welfare program under Olaf Palme; or of Germany under Willy Brandt, with the Social Democratic party in power. Neither was a European military invasion directed against Franklin Roosevelt implementing the New Deal program under the direct pressure of hundreds of thousands of US citizens then affiliated to Socialist and Communist Trade Unions in the USA; which was a massive Public works and Social Security program to lift the US out of the Great Depression; though Roosevelt’s policies were clearly against the capitalist traditions of the free market of the United States, and would be the envy of any socialist country.
Was the alliance of Afghanistan with the former USSR an international crime? The United States and the UK allied with the former USSR in the Second World War, faced with the economic and military ascendancy of Germany and Japan, threatening their Empire and economic interests, with fascists and militarists in occupation of countries of Europe and Asia. Governments of European countries liberated from Nazi occupation by the ‘Red Army’ of the former USSR have developed collective historical amnesia about these events.
As members of the International Commission of Democratic Lawyers from three continents including Europe, headed by former Algerian Minister of Justice Amar Bentoumi, on the crisis in Afghanistan and Soviet troop assistance; the Commission, which was accepted by both governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, was informed at Kabul by then-President Babrak Karmal of the PDP government whom the Commission officially interviewed, that there were no terrorists in Afghanistan, except those trained by the Intelligence Agencies of the US–UK led NATO, led military alliance on the AfPak border, in covert conspiracy with General Zia Ul Haq, the military dictator of Pakistan, with a few acts of sabotage taking place by militants from across the Wakhan corridor with China and other International borders, except with the former Soviet Union. President Karmal emphasized that there were few political prisoners and relations with the clergy were normalized. The Commission interacted with members of the Afghan clergy and visited the Pull-e-Charki prison on the outskirts of Kabul to meet political prisoners.
Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan was denied by General Zia ul Haq in his interview with the Commission at Islamabad in March 1980. The Commission visited Peshawar in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan ( now Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa) and extensive areas in the Northwest Frontier province where Afghan refugees were based, the Khyber Pass and the Torkham border of Pakistan with Afghanistan. The on the ground situation, with training camps on the AfPak border and leaders of all the Mujahidin militias in Pakistan, visibly conducting the propaganda war from Peshawar and Islamabad against the PDP government, did not support the denials of General Zia ul Haq. There were more political prisoners in Afghanistan during the regimes of the ‘Mujahidin’ (1992-1996), the former Taliban (1996-2001), and the Northern alliance (2002-2021), than during the PDP government from 1977-1978, 1980 -1991, excluding 1978 -1979 the short period of one year, when Haffizulah Amin controlled the PDP.
With this backdrop, for any country to call for the retention of US-led NATO forces or paramilitary or military forces of its allies in Afghanistan is wholly unacceptable. The only questions which are now relevant and urgent are: will the Taliban restore peace, sovereignty, and justice to the Afghan people and nation? Will the rights of minorities be upheld and the rights of women to education, employment, and public office be restored in keeping with the Quranic injunctions pronounced 14 centuries ago: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female –you are equal to one another.” ( Surah Ale Imran –The Family of Imran 3:195 ) and the mandate of the Quran: “The believers men and women, are helpers, supporters, friends, and protectors of one another.” (Surah At Tawbah –The Repentance, Quran, 9:17)? Will Afghanistan cease to be a NARCO state? Will an inclusive government representative of the entire Afghan people be formed, including Shia Hazaras, Turkmen, Uzbek, and Tajik minorities among others? Will this political leadership ensure the inclusive and just economic development of the Afghan people, impoverished by years of civil strife, by the policies of mercenary, corrupt, and comprador feudal leadership of past governments, landlords, money lenders, warlords and drug lords, collaborators of the US–UK led NATO occupation and its allies, who have held the Afghan people hostage for almost half a century?
There are lessons of this tragedy of Afghanistan, for governments of the elite in South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia, eager to ally with the West and cooperate with CIA, MI6, Mossad, and other NATO Intelligence agencies. Empires and former Colonial powers do not build countries or economies, they loot countries either by war or other financial means or even without war; governments, political parties, and intelligence agencies they prop up and support; terrorist militias and members of political parties they train, are all dispensable in their own turn. This is the ‘Realpolitik’ of Imperialism.