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Twitter gaffe exposes Taliban’s spokesman location, but Kabul’s silence odd enough

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Opinion by Qais Daudzai and Ahmad Siyar Sirat

Taliban stands for plural form of Taliban which means the one who seek knowledge especially religious scholarship.  But yet there is another Taliban group as well, which denotes militant struggle and façade. The latter group was formed to fight the North Alliance led by late Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in 1990s. The engineers of this militant Taliban groups are believed to be the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as the one wanted to contain the iron curtain of the then USSR, the second one wanted to stem Iran’s influence in the region, and the third one wanted to curb Pashtun irredentism and nationalism. Now that some of the engineers have withheld their support to this group therefore the Taliban heavily rely on narcotics, extortion, forced taxis and kidnaps for ransom are the some of the things that put their share in their economic resources. Technically it means they have been fighting a sacred war with evil money.

There is yet another irony as well as poppy cultivation was strictly banned in their era while the same Taliban group has been behind its cultivation. Now the US is here in the region to reverse the side effects of its Armageddon against the communism, which is why Washington doesn’t support the Taliban rather contrarily it has been busy in fight against them. Saudi Arabia has shifted its focus from Afghanistan to the Middle East for vicinity factor and Iran has been making deep inroads there. It means there is only one force behind the Taliban’s movement, and that very force definitely is Pakistan.  This group’s plans are being organized and directed by the intelligence agency of Pakistan. The Taliban were and are against any kind of improvement in Afghan society and as well as they oppose education for boys and girls.

After the Northern Alliance in alliance with the United States toppled the Taliban’s so-called regime in 2001, this group was almost vanished and had no power to fight against the Afghan government. But in 2005 it changed its tactics of war and started suicide bombings, a thing which is very much inhuman. The first suicide bombing occurred in Kabul, back in 2004 which led to civilian casualties. It took those three years to unleash fear in Kabul and reorganizing itself to show its back-fighting power. However, it took them nine years to be tech-savvy as they unleashed social media warfare in 2010. Though, during their own very regime, they were highly intolerant towards media such as televisions and music players.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the masked spokesman for the Taliban, has been really much active on social media and as well as commenting on matters related to Taliban’s attacks. Earlier he used local languages for his tweets on his twitter account, however his first English tweet was in 2011 when he informed of a blast targeting the Afghan and foreign troops in Farah province of Afghanistan.

On Oct. 4, Zabihullah Mujahid posted several tweets but accidentally his social network’s geo-location was on. Until that day, there was a thick smokescreen about his whereabouts as media used to quote him from unknown locations. However, his Twitter account did a greater job and made his location public because of just a minor gaffe. His account indicated that he was surprisingly not posting from somewhere in Afghanistan but from Sindh—Pakistan’s province.

Twitter users made the gaffe public shortly after Mujahid’s location was shown in the social media, but what is worth lamenting is the lukewarm response of the Afghan government.

But Mujahid quickly rejected the allegations and termed it as an enemy plot, and said he was definitely in Afghanistan. He tweeted: “My Twitter account has been manipulated as part of weaker effort of enemy’s plot. They showed that I am based in Sindh of Pakistan, however I call this attempt very much fake and a shameful act.”

“Now the enemy’s fake act has been exposed, and with full confidence, I can say that I am in my own country.”

Here pops up several questions. If Mujahid says that he is in his own country and calls Afghanistan his home country, then why is this notorious group hell-bent on killing Afghan civilians? Why they kill Afghan children and women, and why they are filled with vengeance against Afghans. For them Afghan blood is cheaper than water, which is why they never hesitate to spill it. Their very war is totally directionless and misguided as they have not been fighting to drive foreign forces out from Afghanistan, but they are the very cause of their presence on Afghan soil. Moreover, they have been seriously violating the regulations of the war set by religion. Under religious codes, Muslims warriors cannot wage war on women, elderly, children, and those youngsters who don’t stand in the army of the other side—(non-Muslims). However, under their own brand of Sharia they have been killing women, elderly, children and those who are not part of the government and foreign forces. They decimate civilians. Despite that the claim to be human, Afghans and claim to be in Afghanistan—not somewhere a second country, that doesn’t allow any vista of development in this country. It’s because of this evil game that Afghanistan has been turned into a field of experiencing modern weapons.

Another question is that why does the Afghan government take such issues this much easy and why it believes and trusts on rejection of such allegations that the Taliban spokesman says that it was an enemy plot and…?

According to Twitter, location services are usually turned off by default and one will need to opt-in to use it. Twitter furthermore urges its users to be careful about sharing their locations. There may be some updates where you want to keep your location private, the company recommends in its FAQs.

Therefore, why the Afghan government remained silent in this regard and why it did not take any quick step to ask Islamabad to make crackdown on Afghan rebels, but currently on hide in Pakistan. Islamabad had been denying the presence of Osama bin Laden on its soil but what the US did in Abbotabad is a history now. Kabul should have asked the US and international community to press Islamabad on making a crackdown on Afghan rebels, using all kinds of facilities there. It was a good opportunity to unmask the covert nexus of Pakistan and Taliban. But Kabul lost it. The Afghan government could have had many things to say in this regard to the international community and the United Nations, but no, it remained silent.

The Afghan government should have taken the issue seriously and should have asked Islamabad to arrest the Taliban’s spokesperson, who is always thumping his chest for almost all the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.  The twitter by disclosing the location of Mujahid showed that the social networking site was smarter than spy agencies of the two countries, which could not spot the location of Mujahid out over the past decade.  However, as the former President Hamid Karzai had once said that there isn’t one Mujahid, there are five or six Zabihullah Mujahids. If the government had acted on time one of the six or five Mujahids would have been behind bars by now. But the problem again is Pakistan’s covert support to Afghan militants. If Pakistan’s security agencies could arrest Mullah Ghani Baradar from Sindh’s capital city Karachi via call trace, why it cannot arrest Mujahid on location trace? But why Islamabad should do it when Kabul didn’t say even a single word on this matter?

If one watch TV channels lots of TV ads are telecasted in five or ten minutes intervals aimed at encouraging the Taliban to quit insurgency, and during these TV and radio ads, the Taliban are called the misled brothers, the disgruntled brothers but it’s worth reminding to the Afghan government that they cannot be brothers. They are not deceived by anyone rather they themselves want to be deceived and they opt to fight the government under their own sweet will. It is an urgent need to target their sanctuaries and training centers of these insurgents on the other side of the Durand Line and it is the only option to do because as long as Kabul call the Taliban ‘the misled brothers’ and the ‘disgruntled brothers’, they will keep ramping their attacks up on Afghan and foreign forces where more Afghans will be killed. Enough is enough and the Afghan government should change its way of thinking and the way of acting against the Taliban and their supporters. By impending this idea, we will soon witness lasting peace in Afghanistan but given that the government and the international community remains silent, this country will bleed for decades. They will be killing and we will be burying.

After 13 years, now the National Directorate of Security should have been capable of spotting the hideouts and safe havens of Taliban leaders in Pakistan; hunt them there in their host country and keep informing the Afghan government about the locations of Afghan rebels. It would have made the government job easy to build pressure on Pakistan and winning the confidence and support of international community against Islamabad. Pakistan, on many occasions has asked for substantial evidences, a thing which has been going in Islamabad’s favor so far.  Killing insurgents in clearance operations could never be counted as an achievement as physically eliminating Taliban is near to impossibility. If the government is really willing to root out militancy in Afghanistan they should act against leaders of terrorist groups in Pakistan.