Leaving Islam



Trouble ahead in Karzai’s Afghanistan ?  Talibans roil Kandahar by killing the head cleric

A.H. Jaffor Ullah  

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Let us not make the mistake by assuming that Hamid Karzai is an extremely popular president of present-day Afghanistan .  Behind his meteoric rise to power in Kabul is George W. Bush.  In the aftermath of America ’s invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent removal of Talibans as a political force, George Bush favored Karzai, a scion of a Pashtun warlord family from Southern part of nation, to assume the absolute power in this war-torn nation.  

In December 2001, a meeting was organized in Bonn , Germany , where a decision was made to form a provisional government in Afghanistan .  In the meantime, a Loya Jirga (traditional tribal assembly) was convened in Kabul .  To boost the morale of Afghan people the deposed king, Zahir Shah, returned to Kabul in April 2002.  In June 2002, Loya Jirga chose Hamid Karzai as their temporary president.  This allowed for drafting a constitution, which was Sha’ria-based one hundred percent.  No surprise here.  In January 2004, Loya Jirga adopts a new constitution by virtue of which a presidential election was held in October 2004.  From a field of many candidates Mr. Karzai came out as the winner receiving 55% of the popular vote notwithstanding alleged vote rigging to favor a Karzai win.   

The central government of Afghanistan headed by Hamid Karzai is based on Kabul where the federal force could control law and order with the help of 5,000 strong NATO forces.  Outside Kabul , it is a different story altogether.  There, provincial governor is maintaining the law and order many of them are warlords.  From time to time, the warlords wage war against the federal force while American soldiers keep busy hunting down remnants of Talibans who are armed and most willing to kill federal army and American servicemen if and when opportunity lands.  Karzai knows very well that Talibans do hate him; derisively, they call him an American stooge.  Therefore, it has become the main job of Karzai government to discredit Talibans and their supreme leader Mullah Omar who is in hiding somewhere in the southern province near Pakistan .  

In May 2005 when the news of alleged desecration of holy Koran by American soldiers in Guantánamo Bay was flashed in the Islamic world, many clerics in Afghanistan who are sympathetic to Talibans whipped up anti-American feelings amongst Afghans.  Street demonstration followed and Taliban insurgencies have risen sharply since then.  Under this ominous backdrop, something terrible had happened in the last week of May in Kandahar .  I will describe chronologically what did happen in the main city of the southernmost populous province of Kandahar where Taliban movement got started by Mullah Omar in the aftermath of Soviet pullout from Afghanistan in 1989.  

In what maybe characterized as an ominous development, the Talibans were regrouping in southern parts of Afghanistan ever since the presidential election was held in October 2004.  The Karzai Administration was trying to persuade the clerics in Kandahar to dissociate themselves from Mullah Omar’s organization and his sphere of influence.  In 1996, the same clerics have bestowed Mullah Omar the title of “Amir ul-Mumineen” (Leader of the faithfuls) in a ceremony held in a famous mosque in the outskirts of Kandahar when he entered the city triumphantly wearing a cloak supposedly worn by prophet Muhammad.  Thus, Karzai thought if the same bunch of clerics would withdraw their support for Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader’s stature would greatly diminish and Taliban Movement would wither in vine.  With this view in mind President Karzai had befriended the shura of Kandahari clerics, Maulvi Abdullah Fayaz.  IT turns out to be a bad news for the head cleric.  You will see why I said so.  

In May 2005, 600 clerics from different provinces of Afghanistan assembled in the Blue Mosque in Kandahar ; they seated on the marble floor before the head of shura, Maulvi Fayaz, who said: “Karzai is elected through free and fair election, and religiously we have to obey his orders. None of the orders of the previous emirs, including Mullah Omar, is accepted.”  

Maulvi Fayaz urged his fellow clerics that to accept orders from Talibans would mean killing Afghanis and destabilizing the country.  He opined that Afghanistan is ruled per Sha’ria law, and killing fellow citizens are against Sha’ria.  A list of 13 proclamations was read out during the three-hour ceremony.  

But the support of the religious establishment had strings attached to it; the clerics saw liberal views gaining grounds in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The clerics wanted Karzai Administration to construct hundreds of madrassahs, prohibit drug usage, alcohol and screen “sexual films.” They also called for women's rights to remain within the bounds of Sha’ria law. The meeting of the council followed several days of unrest and escalating violence across the south done by loyalists to the cause of Mullah Omar, who is rumored to be still alive.  


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