Afghanistan Between 1978 and 1990 Part III

By | December 16, 2021

The second political orientation, also made up of various camps, referred to the same intellectual and rationalist principles and appealed to the tradition of the Prophet and the Šarya (Islamic law), denying much of the tradition that had emerged from history. Religion tended to be ideologized (hence the use of the term Islam), emphasizing the equality of the umma, the original Muslim community. In fact, they denied both the parallel Islam of the brotherhoods and that of the traditional mullahs and of course the Pashtunwali considered heterodox and the jirga of the tribal “ white beards ”. The Islamists were close to, but also competitive, with the Marxist-Leninists.

The best-known exponent was G. Hekmatyar, president (amir) and co-founder of Hezb-i-Islāmī, the Party of Islam, already in prison under King Zahir Shah. On decidedly anti-monarchical positions, it was more a movement of cadres than of population; he was considered the most extremist of the Fundamentalists. The party was strongly supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Pakistani military.

The most popular movement widespread and militarily a little throughout the country, but especially in the North and North-West, was that of Jamiati-Islāmī ye Afghānistān (“Islamic Association”). Its leader was B. Rabbani, educated at the famous Islamic university of Al Azhar in Cairo. Detaching himself from the Hekmatyar movement in 1979 was the combative (and fighter) M. Yunus Khales; while another fundamentalist leader, Afghanistan Sayyaf, enjoyed strong international diplomatic and economic support. After long discussions, the three moderate parties and the four Islamists met in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 16, 1985, to reaffirm their united position against the Soviet invasion, forming the Islamic Alliance, Ittehād-i-Islāmī-i-Mujahidīn-i-Afghānistān. The president of the Alliance was chosen in turn from among the leaders of the individual groupings. The most bitter political confrontation between the two orientations was centered on the figure and role of King Zahir Shah exiled in Rome since 1973. The Moderates believed him to be the one who could still unify the country, respecting the traditional rules of the Afghan game: weak central power with a balance of strong peripheral power. The Fundamentalists stressed the need for an Islamic republic and condemned the historical work of the monarchy towards the USSR. For Afghanistan 2017, please check

Under the aegis of Khomeini’s Iran, but with a certainly more moderate attitude and with strong local relevance (Hazara), another Shiite alliance of eight was created, based in Meshed, Iran. The main leaders appeared to be S. Muhsini of Kandahar and the ayatollah S. Ali Behesti. Thanks to the Tsongas Resolution of the American Senate of 4 October 1984 and the decisions of the government of President Reagan in 1986, military aid to the Mujahideen materialized with the sending of the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, whose intervention managed to prevent Soviet aviation and to the airborne troops to strike the bases and villages. Armaments continued to be filtered by Pakistani security services, the), which favored the Islamists and in particular the Hekmatyar group. The government of Zia-ul-Haq somehow benefited from the presence of the Mujahideen, but at the same time controlled them to avoid a violent reaction from the USSR. The war came to a standstill: the Soviet troops controlled only 20% of the territory, but all the provincial capitals and the connecting roads.

The appointment of M. Gorbachev to the political top of the USSR in March 1985 brought about a substantial change of strategy. Soviet public opinion, and especially intellectuals, began to make their voices heard in a more open political climate.

The situation seemed to come out of stalemate with the stipulation, on April 14, 1988, of the Geneva agreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan (with the endorsement of the USSR and the USA), from which the Mujahidīn who refused the agreements were excluded. Pressure was exerted on Pakistan with attacks and explosions. A one-year deadline was set for the withdrawal of Soviet troops, guarantors of the United Nations.

Najibullah, former head of the Khad, has been in charge of the country since May 1986. With his government, the policy of openness to Islam and to the various components of the country continues and develops; the Jabha-i-Milli Padar Watan (National Patriotic Front) should bring together non-politically engaged social and religious personalities. With the Constitution of November 30, 1987, Islam was proclaimed the religion of the author, and it was established that the state “must develop understanding, friendship and egalitarian cooperation between different nationalities and tribes”. Linguistic maps became primary ideological factors and the model appeared to be that of the Soviet Republics. Contacts were made with King Zahir Shah in Rome to find the endorsement of the new national policy, with the result of discrediting him in the eyes of the resistance, weakening the pro-monarchist parties.

Afghanistan Between 1978 and 1990 Part III