Dec 17, 2001
The Taliban has supposedly been defeated. So what is going on among the victors?
In some parts of the country armed fighting has broken out between the armies of various war lords. On December 12, for example, a battle occurred in Pul-i-Khumri, a town just south of Kunduz. This town had been captured by the Northern Alliance. Troops supporting Sayed Jaffar apparently attempted to move into the town and take it over. Sayed Jaffar is a member of the feudal family that long dominated the Ismaili people. The family had ruled Pul-i-Khumri until the Taliban took over, when the family fled the country. The Northern Alliance troops that captured the town don’t want to turn it over to him.
A New York Times reporter on the spot saw U.S. jets bomb the Northern Alliance forces. She also pointed out that the troops loyal to Sayed Jaffar had two trucks with U.S. equipment and back packs, as well as U.S. weapons and ammunition. The soldiers were dressed in new padded winter clothing. The same type of equipment was provided by the U.S. to Northern Alliance troops. They may have the same sponsor but that doesn’t prevent them from engaging in a new civil war among themselves.
The photo accompanying the article of December 13 showed a 12-year-old boy who was wounded in the fighting, with his mother watching – clad in the burka, the head to toe veil covering her entire face. Obviously it was not only the Taliban which severely oppressed the women of Afghanistan.
During the days of Taliban rule, various international relief operations complained that the Taliban had seized their vehicles, preventing them from feeding the starving, removing mines and helping the suffering. But now the relief organizations say the Northern Alliance forces have in turn stolen their vehicles. The acting governor of Kunduz Province drives around in a Land Rover taken from the Halo Trust, which had the truck to remove land mines. The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan that runs clinics and schools says 28 of their trucks have been seized by the Northern Alliance. “We captured it, it's ours,” is their attitude.
It’s clear that the defeat of the Taliban carries little promise for an improvement in the lives of ordinary Afghanis, who are still subject to plunder, fighting, the oppression of women, and feudal lords fighting to maintain their power.