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Taliban’s comeback: An inner perspective

Khalid Mehmood, a (retd) Squadron Leader gives a unique perspective on the Taliban's thought process when they took over Kabul, therefore, declaring their rule in Afghanistan. He further explains the Taliban's point of view with examples from past events and the lessons they have learned.

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The whole world is stunned at the classic display of shock and awe tactics by us in the past few weeks. The unprecedented pace of the fall of Kabul is reminiscent of the Blitzkrieg. The striking way the Afghan forces crumbled like a house of cards has few parallels in the history of modern warfare. To be honest, we ourselves were not anticipating such a cakewalk to Kabul. If the term ‘Godspeed’ begged an explanation by demonstration, this was it. 

The world needs to re-focus its myopic vision and realize that the Taliban of the ’90s were a totally different breed and creed. We have come a long way ever since. It’s high time to do away with the stereotype image of the Taliban as a bunch of firebrand Mullahs, with turbans on their heads and guns in their hands, always trigger happy and ready to shoot at sight. In the two decades hence, we have gone tech and net savvy and are no longer stuck merely in our tribal feuds.

Read more: Conditional recognition or none at all : Macron talks with Taliban

Lessons from the past 

We have learned to read and write and now keenly follow what’s going around in the world. We are no longer oblivious to the geopolitical implications of what’s happening across our borders. We are keeping a close eye on the regional re-alignments taking place in the Middle East and Asia.

On the military side, we’ve learned to think, collect, and analyze intelligence and understand the enemy better. How else could we have caused the ANA to melt like a bowl of ice cream under the sun? We are now effectively using psychological operations as a potent weapon of war. We know that seventy percent of the people in our country now have access to a smartphone and an internet connection.

We recorded videos of the surrender by the ANA troops and put them in mass-circulation through social media. Any ANA soldier opening his WhatsApp/Facebook account would be bombarded with little other than shots of the ANA troops surrendering in masses. It worked. We broke their will to fight, and they withered away like fallen autumn leaves in a gentle wind.

We now have our own dedicated commando units (special forces) and trained snipers. These are elements that were not available to our previous generation. Also, we are now adept at making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using little other than wires, tapes, and other household junk.

Read more: China asks US: You must ‘positively guide’ Taliban!

The ill-timed and pre-mature announcement of the date of troops withdrawal by the Biden administration worked in our favor like a double-edged sword. Since its inception, the ANA had always worked as an underdog to the US/NATO forces. As they had never fought unaided, unguided, and undirected, the impending loss of backup and support caused a lot of stress and anxiety amongst their ranks, pushing their already low morale down to its lowest ebb but for us, the news served as a huge morale booster.

Why did the ANA give up the fight for Kabul?

Cognizant that victory was within sight, we charged ahead, armed with renewed vigor and fervor. Each passing day and each step forward, augmented our resolve and boosted our morale further. For us, each surrendering ANA soldier meant one less to fight. The war booty of their arms and ammunition added to our much-needed and dwindling stocks, serving as a blessing in disguise. 

These were the tangibles. Now let’s talk about the intangibles. The ANA and the Allied soldiers fought us because they were being paid for it; they had no other motive. We fought them since we considered it as our social, moral, and religious duty to fight for the defense of our ancestral homeland and the safety and security of our families. Quite naturally, this created a marked disparity in the motivational level of the two sides which tilted the game in our favor in a big way.

We knew that we were fighting for a just cause; they knew that they were fighting in aid of an unjust military occupation. We firmly believe that despite overwhelming numerical and technological superiority, they lost, and we won because they were backed by a superpower, we were supported by Allah. They had the odds on their side; we had the gods on ours.

Read more: Pakistan pushes Taliban to stabilize Afghanistan

A brief peek into few relevant events of Islamic history

1. The battle of Badr was the first major battle fought between the Muslims and the Quraish of Makkah. The Muslim army consisting of 313 ill-equipped and underfed men, just two horses, and seventy camels were up against a thousand strong Quraish army with a hundred horses and many camels. After a tough battle, with losses on both sides, the Muslims emerged as the decisive victors.

2. The conquest of Makkah happened some six years after Badr. The Muslim army advanced on Makkah and facing no resistance, without any bloodshed, marched on to conquer the city. Upon entering Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) announced a general amnesty for everyone. Neither was a soul harmed nor was anyone’s property looted.

Though we consider our efforts too humble to merit comparison with such great events, nonetheless, a curious historian would certainly find that some similarities certainly do exist between those two historic events and our victory and the subsequent conquest of Kabul.

We firmly believe that just as the Muslim victory in Badr wouldn’t have been possible without divine help, we would never have been able to defeat the combined US/NATO forces and the ANA without Allah’s help. We are thankful to Allah for His help and support. When Allah was so kind to help us against all odds, we felt duty-bound to replicate the fall of Kabul with the conquest of Makkah. That is why, we have strictly prohibited any kind of loot, plunder, and retribution against anyone who sided with our enemies.

We could have very conveniently closed Kabul airport, barricaded the city, and conducted a house-to-house search for our enemies and their cronies but we decided against it. Why? Because Islam teaches us that it is better to forgive rather than to seek vengeance.

Read more: Triumph of the Afghan Taliban: a double-barreled gun for China- Pakistan?

Our request to the world at large is: We are a peace-loving people; we are not terrorists. We had to take up the guns to protect our lives, land, honor, family, and dignity. We had nothing to do with the WTC attacks on 9/11. We have never been a threat to the USA, Europe, and their citizens. We want to live in peace just like everyone else. Please desist in the future from trying to occupy our lands, curtail our liberties and threaten our freedom for no reason. For if you do, we would be forced to fight back.

May Allah bless you.

The writer is a (retired) Squadron Leader. He is a pilot by profession the author of a published novel called “Neither a just war nor just a war”. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.