FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Taliban Prisoners on Bin Laden

by Patrick Cockburn The Independent In The Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan

Jawid smiles nervously as he recounts his escape from a Taliban jail and his flight across the front line to safety in territory held by the Afghan opposition.

A taxi driver in Kabul, Jawid, 21, was arrested two weeks ago at a Taliban checkpoint in the city. His crime, he says, was being a Tajik, a minority that makes up a quarter of Afghanistan’s population. Possibly he was caught up in a Taliban sweep to find men avoiding military service.

He spent 10 days in Kabul’s notorious Day Mazang prison, where his salvation may have been the overcrowding, as well as the Taliban’s determination that prisoners should fulfil their religious obligations.

Early every morning they were sent to bath houses at the rear of the jail for ritual washing before prayers. But, because so many people had been arrested, not enough guards were on hand to keep watch.

“I climbed on to the roof of the bath house with three friends,” Jawid recalled yesterday. “We jumped from that on to the top of the prison wall, which is about four metres high. We were able to climb down on the other side without anybody seeing us.” He went home and then immediately left Kabul with his parents, three brothers and a sister.

Their destination was the territory just north of Kabul controlled by the opposition Northern Alliance, which is mainly Tajik. They reached it by taking the safest route across the front line ? a 150-mile drive north-east of Kabul to a bleak mountain called Giawa, which they crossed on foot.

Jawid and his family have joined a growing army of refugees, but they are luckier than most. We met him in a grove of trees beside an irrigation channel in an attractive village called Bagram, where he was surrounded by his relatives. His white-bearded uncle made a scything motion and said: “Old as I am, I would like to cut off the heads of all those Taliban.”

If war starts, a flood of refugees will probably try to escape to safety. But, at least on the roads north from Kabul, the outflow is still only a trickle. This may be because it is a difficult and dangerous route. More direct roads are said to be impassable unless refugees have friends among the Taliban who let them through.

A feeling is growing among the refugees, and Afghans of all ethnicities, that the Taliban are finished because the forces arrayed against them are too great. Mohammed Shaqer, a policeman in Bagram, said: “It’s simple. Because the Americans are so strong, the Taliban will be defeated by the US.”

So far, however, there is little fighting, according to Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the Northern Alliance’s foreign minister. He said the Taliban had launched a counter-attack near Mazar-i-Sharif, the biggest city of the north, and had used two jets for bombing. But the scale of the fighting seems limited, with few casualties on either side.

Dr Abdullah did hint at talks going on with tribes and groups allied to the Taliban about changing sides. If there is a successful offensive by the Northern Alliance, it will probably be in association with defections from the Taliban. Nobody here likes to back a loser.

Dr Abdullah fears that Pakistan will retain its predominance over Afghanistan by helping the US to get rid of the Taliban. He suspects it wants to install a new government as dependent on Pakistani wishes as the Taliban are. “My fear would be that the Pakistanis would divide the terrorists into the good and the bad, and keep the good terrorists for use later,” he said. CP

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail