28 October 2001

Haq was on mission to sideline Northern Alliance

28 October 2001
The Times of India



NEW DELHI: Abdul Haq, the former Pushtun guerrilla
leader executed by the Taliban on Friday, was a
legendary commander of the anti-Soviet mujahideen war
who had retired from the fractious politics of his
country before being drafted by Pakistan and the US to
help foment a rebellion in the Jalalabad region last

Haq left Afghanistan in 1992 after the Moscow-backed
Najibullah regime was overthrown. He moved to Dubai
and set up a trading company there, eventually drawing
close to the Rome-based exiled former king of
Afghanistan, Zahir Shah. In 1999, amidst reports of
Haq planning a political comeback centred around the
possibility of creating a broad-based Afghan
government, his wife and 11-year-old son were shot
dead in Peshawar by unknown gunmen. In the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attacks, Haq was regarded by
Islamabad and Washington as a leader around whom
Pashtun tribal chiefs inside Afghanistan could be
rallied to overthrow the Taliban. He was considered
particularly credible because he was not involved in
the bloody civil war that raged in Afghanistan from
1992 to 1996.

Significantly, he had been a commander of the Younus
Khalis faction of the Hizb-e-Islami, the same
mujahideen group to which Jalaluddin Haqqani, the
Taliban's Khost-based tribal affairs minister, also
once belonged before he defected to the Taliban.
Haqqani had visited Islamabad last week for urgent
consultations and is rumoured to be part of the
nucleus of "moderate Taliban" the Pakistani
authorities are cultivating. The province of
Nangarhar, where Jalalabad is, was once the stronghold
of the Khales faction.

Haq was in many ways more opposed to the Northern
Alliance than to the Taliban. In turn, he was regarded
as a Pakistani agent by the groups united under
Burhanuddin Rabbani and the late Ahmed Shah Masood. In
an editorial in the October 15 edition of the weekly
Omaid newspaper -- a mouthpiece of the Northern
Alliance -- Haq was clubbed together with Syed Ahmed
Gailani and Gulbeddin Hekmatyar as watanfarosh '', or
traitors, who were working with Islamabad to
"infiltrate the Loya Jirga process and provide the
basis for the next armed force to enter the fray in
Afghanistan with Pakistani mastership".

Haq's capture and killing is a setback for the
Pakistani and US plan to build a credible,
Pashtun-based military opposition to the Taliban. The
other Pashtun flank opened by the US is led by Hamid
Karzai, who is said to have moved in to Kandahar
province with hundreds of armed men.

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