Ashgabat, 13 October 2015 (nCa) — Here is an exclusive interview with General Mirza Aslam Beg (Retired), who was the chief of the army staff of Pakistan from 1988 to 1991. He is recognized worldwide as an authority on Afghanistan.
nCa: Do the Taliban have any ambitions beyond the borders of Afghanistan?
General Beg: Afghans have been subjected to foreign aggression, through-out the hundred twenty years of their existence as a sate, but themselves they have never aggressed against any country and now have no ambitions beyond their borders. They have myriad problems within, to solve needing help and assistance from neighbours and friends.
nCa: Afghanistan has common borders with three countries of Central Asia i.e. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. If the Taliban come to power, will it be a source of concern for these countries?
General Beg: No, not the Taliban but the Mujahideen from neighbouring and distant countries, who have joined them, may create problem if they are not granted amnesty, to return to their homeland. For example, if the Saudis had allowed Osama bin Laden and his few thousand followers to return, the 9/11 incident perhaps may not have occurred.
nCa: Do the Taliban actively recruit fighters from Central Asia or do they mainly take only the Afghan citizens who come to them voluntarily?
General Beg: Taliban do not recruit volunteers, who join on their own. According to CIA report, “more than sixth thousand volunteers from seventy countries of the world joined Taliban fighting against the Soviets.” Similarly, thousands now have joined them against the Americans. Once the Taliban gain firm control over Afghanistan, they would help the repatriates to return to their homes. The affected countries therefore have the responsibility to solve this problem with an open heart.
nCa: How far can the nexus of Dr. Abdullah, Amrullah Saleh and Ustad Atta disrupt the rise of Taliban?
General Beg: They are all lame ducks, like Ashraf Ghani, blaming Pakistan for their own miseries. They will soon be packing-up.
nCa: What role the established warlords such as Dostem, Ismail Khan and Gul Agha Sherzai may play in the newly developing situation in Afghanistan?
General Beg: Taliban now have set-up their new support base and sanctuaries, north of Kabul, in areas which were the preserve of Northern Alliance (NA). Dostem, Abdullah Abdullah and others, at best can put-up sporadic opposition, till they get defeated. In the past, during Taliban surge – 1995-2001, the NA hardly put-up any resistance. This may happen again.
nCa: The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline will pass through four provinces of Afghanistan. Two of them (Helmand and Kandahar) are under Taliban sway already. Can the Taliban be expected to help safeguard this pipeline considering that it is a project of vital economic importance for Afghanistan? The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor concept is incomplete without fully extending it to Central Asia through Afghanistan. What will be the position of Taliban on the establishment of this corridor, using the territory of Afghanistan for connectivity between Pakistan and Central Asia?
General Beg: Taliban recognize TAPI, as a “project of vital importance for Afghanistan” as you have rightly said. They will protect and guarantee its safety on priority. It would link-up with CPEC, thus making Afghanistan, “the “strategic economic hub” integrating the entire Euro-Asian region, and geo-politically supported by the emerging coalition of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan – a gigantic opportunity of the millennium.
nCa: Some analysts, including we at nCa, believe that the Wakhan Corridor actually belongs to Pakistan and it was given to Amir Abdul Rehman on custodianship to create the buffer zone between the British India and Czarist Russia. Since the need for such a buffer has ceased to exist, should Pakistan revoke the custodianship of Afghanistan and take this territory back because it will touch Pakistan’s borders directly with Central Asia?
General Beg: Pakistan has no intentions to open the issue of Durand Line or the Wakhan corridor, because these fall into insignificance with the “shifting of the global geo-strategic pivot, to Afghanistan – the Heart of Asia.” Therefore, we all have to tread very carefully to defeat the machinations of our enemies who would try their best to cause disruptions. In fact, we are now witnessing “the phenomenon of Divine Intervention against the evil,” which during the last several decades has caused such devastation, death and destruction, to the suffering humanity, whom Allah loves.