Excerpts from the RT interview with Former Pakistani ISI Operative, Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar
Brigadier Amir Sultan Tarar AKA ‘Colonel Imam’, a veteran Pakistan Army officer and Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operative is widely believed to have played a key role in the formation of the Taliban, after having helped train the Afghan Mujahideen;on behalf of the United States in the 1980s. Tarar is a graduate of Pakistan’s Military Academy, he is a commando-Guerrilla warfare specialist, trained at the U.S. Special Operations School in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Western intelligence sources suspect he continues to support the Taliban today, and is active among a group of ex-ISI officers.
Earlier in 2010 Brig. Tarar broke silence giving rare interviews to local Pakistani, Western (New York Times) and Russian (Russian TV) media. The main cause of these interviews seem to be part of a Taliban attempt to deal with the new American strategy, that moves to convince the ‘people of Afghanistan’ to withdraw from the fight, lay down their arms and accept NATO’s terms. Part of this strategy was a U.S. offer to pay Taliban half a billion dollar to lay down their arms, an offer taken as a direct insult to the Afghan warfighters.
The military leaders are willing to negotiate with the U.S. over the current situation” Brig. Tarar said, but he immediately states that the Afghans will never be defeated. “This country has been the graveyard of empires.” Tarar opened, describing the Afghans as proud people, not scared to sacrifice their lives. “Afghanis take courage in defending their country and that’s what they are doing today” He said. When faced with overwhelming opponents, the Afghans just disappear in to the mountains, they were never subdued. In his interview in the Russian TV, Tarar complemented the Russians as a worthy enemy, much superior in ground battle to the current British, American and NATO troops. “The Spetznatz (Russian Special Forces) were formidable people.” Tarar said, “When they came on to the field the Afghans Mojahideens didn’t know how to handle them. For about six months the afghans were forced back, they could not carry out any actions because their fear of the Spetznatz. Ultimately, they revised their own techniques and all that and the Spetznatz were also reined in.”
Had the Americans not interfered after the Russian departure, things would have been totally different, Tarar complains, “America abandoned the Mojahideen, and supported the criminals against them – those Mujahideen who made America a superpower and this is where the problem occurred.” America has to give reassurance not to fight a war but helping with rehabilitation. A lot of damage has been done to this country. We need to extend a hand through Pakistan to these people.
Tarar highlights NATO’s main weakness in the fact that their people are not prepared to fight while the Taliban are prepared to die for their cause. “It is not the technology or money; it is the superior faith, the religious faith, the faith to defend one’s country, the stronger faith to defeat occupying forces, and a very superior faith to defend ones’ religion. This is a very strong thing – nobody can defeat them!”
As an experienced warfighter Tarar is realistic to admit that wars cannot be won by faith alone. “Apart from that (Taliban) they have a lot of experience, at present they have been at war for more than 30 years; a bulk of them – about 80% were born during the war. The terrain is most suited to defend the area, to defend the people, and this is what the Americans are facing. In their present surge, maybe they will kill more people, mostly civilian people, maybe some Talibans, but ultimately they will be finished.” Tarar is hopeful that negotiation between the right parties could lead to some kind of reconciliation. He is confident that the Taliban leader, Mula Omar is the one person the Americans should negotiate with, not hunt down.
Tarar is believed to have been the trainer of Mullah Omar and other Taliban factions back in his days with the Mojahideen. He has high appreciation to his former trainee: “Among all the (Afghan) leaders Mula Omar he is the most sensible man.” Tarar said, “That is why he is respected by the majority of the (Afghan) people. The (other) elder people have a lot of respect for them, they fought very well against the Soviets, but at this moment they have been negated, nobody has much of a following compared to Mula Omar Mujaheed… He is today the biggest leader, and highly respected, and people are with him. Surely he will listen to every negotiation attempt. But can Americans be trusted?” Asked Tarar, alluding to the recent proposal to ‘buy off’ Taliban for $500 million. “If they can carry out this bribe strategy it is a shameless conduct. This term will become part of a military strategy people will laugh at.” Tarar considers such offers an act of weakness “This will not work as people will see that their victory is coming.”
What if Mula Omar is eliminated? Could such a loss shake the Taliban into a defeat? Tarar recommends talking, not shooting: “He is a man, if you do not talk to him how can you have success with dialog? You have to talk to the right person. If Mula Omar is not there, other people are there, they are going to come out. It is better that Mula Omar remains, otherwise there will be hell in this area. Tarar explains the unique belief that makes these leaders immortal in the hearts of their followers “The leadership has the soul of the holly prophet. Mula Mohammed who was martyred in ancient times, had the soul of Mula Umar, and people still respect him today. After they buried him they start fighting, at that time they were weak. Many people were killed – but they had a convincing and rightful cause, that kept their struggle. It is a credit to become a prisoner and to be killed is an honor.”
Tarar does not expect the current NATO offensive in Southern Afghanistan to be defeat the Taliban. “The Americans and NATO have enough bombs to kill everyone in Marja, they have been doing that for some time…but this will not defeat the Taliban… After a month or so, reinforcements will be coming from all over the world, Russians, Uzbeks and Tajiks, even without the approval of their governments or their families, they will come” Said Tarar. Tarar don’t think the Taliban or Mojahideen are capable of defeating the NATO forces as well. “They do not have the resources. The American soldier has the technology, but lack the faith – the sacrifice is not there, that’s why they can’t win the war. The Mojahideen have this superior factor, more superior than technology, but because of their other limitations – resources and finances, they cannot throw the Americans out of Afghanistan. But they can wear down the Americans, the way the Russians were worn down. It was then that Gorbachov gave orders to leave the area.” Tarar concludes. He explains that the Taliban knew to take advantage of the unique cultural background of Afghan people for their benefit “The vast majority of Afghans are not Taliban, but are tribal people that follow Pashtun culture that praise revenge. If somebody kills your men, you kill ten of his. Our religion (Islam) doesn’t say this. It says someone kills your men, you take revenge – you kill that man. These codes of action were quite effective when the Taliban took over the country and fought for domination against the oppositions. Religion, Pashtun culture and blood relations between each other unite many of the Afghans against outsiders.”