ABSTRACT

Pakistan played a crucial role in the Afghan war after the Soviet invasion in 1979. The biggest operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was conducted, with the support of Pakistan, during the Cold War against communist Russia. The joint military operation between Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the CIA created an environment that ultimately forced the USSR to retreat from Afghanistan in 1989. Pakistan supported the Afghan resistance movement through a seven-party alliance based in the Pakistani city of Peshawar (Grare 2003). After the Soviet forces withdrew, fighting Afghan Mujahideen groups, because of their internal ethnic and sectarian differences, failed to reach any consensus about the future political setup of Afghanistan. Simultaneously, key regional actors supporting the Afghan jihad (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran) backed their own favorites, which further complicated this crisis. Eventually, these internal differences and complications led to civil war among the Mujahideen themselves. However, after the intervention by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan an accord was signed between different Mujahideen groups on 24 April 1992 in Peshawar. But it could not be sustained for more than 4 months when Kabul was attacked by Hikmatyar in August 1992 with ISI support (Jones 2002). The violence-wracked environment in Afghanistan led to the mysterious emergence

of the Taliban, with Mullah Omer as its new leader in Kandahar in 1994. It was seen as a new force that could restore much desired peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan is suspected of providing all-out support to the Taliban. By 1996, they were able to bring about 80-90 percent of Afghanistan under their control (Maley 2001). The Taliban became a threat to world peace when they joined hands with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after taking over Kabul. Again the ISI played a key role in the development of contacts between Al Qaeda and the Taliban (Coll 2004). With this nexus, Afghanistan became a safe haven for Al Qaeda’s global jihad and planning was begun for future terrorist activities from there. Because of Osama’s link with the 1998 missile attacks on US embassies in East Africa, the US targeted the safe havens of Al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan. These attacks failed to eliminate Osama but resulted in killing significant

numbers of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A year later, the hijacking of an Air India aircraft and the Taliban’s role as mediator between Pakistan-based hijackers and the Indian government fostered the feeling that the Taliban-Al Qaeda alliance would embolden the agenda of global terrorism. This alliance eventually led to the world’s most significant terrorist activity when Al Qaeda suicide squads hijacked aircraft and attacked various locations in the US on 9/11 (Moore 2003).