Afghanistan: Graphing the violence
NATO has made a renewed push to secure Afghanistan after attacks rose to their highest levels since the Taliban regime of Mullah Omar was ousted in early 2002. At this week’s annual NATO summit in Bucharest, Bulgaria, members committed additional troops to Afghanistan. France will send a battalion of infantry – more than 700 troops. Georgia will send 500 soldiers and Poland will send 400 additional soldiers. Czechoslovakia has committed 100 elite counterterrorism troops. Romania, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Britain agreed to send an unspecified amount of additional troops. The US will deploy two additional Marine battalions and supporting elements this year and committed additional forces in 2009. Canada has committed to staying in Afghanistan through 2011 after threatening to withdraw if NATO members did not step up and shoulder their fair share of the fighting.
NATO has also secured supply line through Russian territory to resupply forces in Afghanistan after fears that the Pakistani supply lines through the Khyber Pass would be interrupted by Taliban attacks in Pakistan.
According to NATO statistics, “More than 75% of [Afghanistan] experienced less than 1 security incident per quarter per 10,000 people, supporting the assessment that the insurgency is not expanding across [Afghanistan]. 70% of the events occurred in 10% of the districts. The population of these districts is less than 6% of the population of [Afghanistan].” NATO attributes the increase in violence to increased operations by NATO forces.
Data provided to The Long War Journal by Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan (VSSA) shows that the attacks by the Taliban and “Anti-Government Elements” such as Gulbaddin Hekmatyer’s Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin and other allied groups have increased from the first quarter of 2007 when compared to the first quarter of 2008. The eastern, southeastern, and southern provinces bordering Pakistan still remain the most violent areas in Afghanistan.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxMujahideen Khan: 'we do not know who the Taliban is right now'
Afghanistan remains a huge challenge for NATO. Whilst officials met in the Bucharest's Parliament Palace from 2-4 April, a group of Estonian journalists cast an eye back with a mujahideen in the Afghan mountains
Mujahideen Khan is an ethnic Tajik. His title denotes that he was one of the warriors who over the course of the past three decades of war in Afghanistan successfully fought against the soviets, the Taliban and fellow Afghans seeking to conquer his territories. But looking into the future makes him anxious, as a group of Estonian journalists found out in August 2007, when they met him at his home in the Panjshir Valley, a picturesque gorge 150 kilometers north of Kabul in the Hindu Kush Mountains. How do locals regard the international reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan?
Mujahedeen Khan on:
... the soviets' nine-year invasion from 1978 - 1989
Afghanistan was calm then. Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud was such a strong, brave man. He never believed that Russia could take over the whole of Afghanistan. When they did attack us with gas in 1978, there was nobody left in Panjshir. People fled their houses and escaped to the mountains. About 90% of the population ended up with weapons that we took from the soviets. The locals retaliated for our independence after three days, with only about 36 people in the Mujahedeen in the beginning of the resistance. I was busy in jihad for fourteen years, I didn't work, so my older brother helped to feed my family and my parents.
... the Taliban who ruled from 1996 - 2001
It is impossible that anyone from the Panjshir or Nangarhar province in the east could support the Taliban; never. I fought with Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Dadullah and other famous people from the Taliban face to face, and I resisted. The Taliban got Kabul because commander Massoud did not want more people to be killed, and had moved the Mujahideen back to Panjshir valley.
The Taliban are not human - they kill themselves with bombs! Meanwhile, US forces were bombing our provinces, killing our people whilst thinking they were killing the Taliban, thus paving the ground for the latter. We do not know who the Taliban is right now - maybe we will face them again.
View of the Panjshir Valley
...foreign aid and Afghanistan
When Hamid Karzai became president in 2001, we thought Afghanistan would become a great, reconstructed country. I think that the UN didn't need to come and help. They should have set up a good interim government in Afghanistan led by Afghans, not foreigners. There are more bad things in Afghanistan than there used to be. If foreign countries help Afghanistan, everyone wants a piece – it's a bad habit of the Afghan people to take advantage. Every country, and especially the UN, have helped Afghanistan, but unfortunately we cannot see it. What is more, our people do not care about our country and its future. People are more interested in having a car; everyone just thinks about themselves.
International Islamic Conference in Pakistan Calls on Authorities to Confront Ahmadi Muslims
The Ahmadis are a religious movement founded in the late 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839-1908), a spiritual leader from the town of Qadiyan, now in the Indian Punjab. Although they consider themselves Muslims, many Muslims reject them because of the Ahmadis' belief that their founder received divine revelation. This belief is regarded as a violation of the basic Islamic tenet which defines Muhammad as the last prophet. In Pakistan, Ahmadis are officially designated as non-Muslims, and suffer from persecution; many of them have been tried for blasphemy.
A large group of Islamic scholars recently held an international conference in Pakistan dealing with the question of the Ahmadi Muslims. According to the Urdu-language Pakistani daily Roznama Jang, the conference participants urged Pakistan's leaders to confront the Ahmadi Muslims, stressing that the sole responsibility for "countering the growth of this community" should not rest with the religious groups alone.
Following are details from the Roznama Jang report on the conference. 
Conference Participants, Speakers and Statements
The conference - held in Chichawatni, a town in the Pakistani Punjab - was organized by Majlis-e-Ahrarul Islam, a Pakistan-based organization that opposes the Ahmadi Muslims, and chaired by the organization's head, Syed Ataul Maheman Bukhari, who is also active against the Ahmadi community in India. The conference was held in honor of "the 10,000 martyrs of the Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement" - an Islamic movement which instigated the 1953 riots against the Ahmadi population in Lahore, which led to the first imposition of martial law in Pakistan.
Among the conference participants were the emir of the International Khatm-e-Nabuwat Movement, the Saudi Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki; the secretary-general of Alami Majlis Tahaffuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat (The World Assembly for the Protection of the Finality of Prophethood), Maulana Azizur Rahman Jalandhari; the secretary-general of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Syed Munawwar Hasan; the secretary-general of Pakistan's Shari'a Council, Maulana Zahid Al-Rashidi, the leader of Ahl-e-Sunnah wal Jamaat, Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi; the leader of Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, Maulana Abdullah Gurdaspuri; Maulana Ziauddin Azad of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam; and Maulana Ahmad Ali Siraj, a Kuwaiti member of the International Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement.
Speakers at the conference included Syed Muhammad Kafeel Bukhari of Majlis-e-Ahrarul Islam; Abdul Lateef Khalid Cheema; Saifullah Khalid, chairman of Bazm-e-Raza; Sheikh Aijaz Ahmad Raza; Maulana Muhammad Yunus Hasan; Maulana Abdul Nayeem Nomani; Hafiz Muhammad Masood Dogar; Hafiz Muhammad Sharif Manchanabadi; Hafiz Muhammad Akram Ahrar; Maulana Shahid Imran Rasheedi; Hafiz Abdul Basit; Qari Muzaffar Khan; Pirji Qadri Abdul Jaleel; Maulana Abdus Sattar; Qari Manzoor Ahmad Tahir; Qari Abdul Jabbar; Qari Atiqur Rahman; Qari Bashir Ahmad; Muhammad Aslam Bhatti; Maulana Kalimullah Rasheedi; Qari Saeed ibn Shaheed; and others. The local leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) also attended the conference.
At the conference, the participants said that Pakistan's political parties should confront the growing influence of "those who reject the finality of prophethood" (i.e. the Ahmadis), and that the incoming government should work to eradicate them. They also accused the Ahmadi Muslims of promoting the nationalist Indian ideal of "akhand bharat" (a united India), and of "weakening Pakistan's geographic and ideological boundaries."
Maulana Abdul Hafeez Makki said at the conference that about 20,000 Jews and Christians had converted to Islam in the month following 9/11, and that this "troubled the world of the infidels." He added that belief in Muhammad as the final prophet was a fundamental tenet of Islam, and that those who rejected it were therefore eternal enemies of the faith. Jamaat-e-Islami leader Syed Munawwar Hasan said that the Ahmadis have always relied on the infidels and on those in power to help them survive. He also said that the infidels have always striven to reduce religion to an aspect of personal identity by removing it from the mainstream of people's life.
The closing statement of the conference expressed concern that an Islamic system has not been implemented in Pakistan. It also asked the incoming Pakistani government to reconsider all pro-U.S. policies, and to stop the military operations in the tribal regions.
The participants said that it was unfortunate that the government was not doing anything to stop the international activities of the Ahmadi Muslims. They demanded that all Ahmadis serving in the armed forces be discharged, and that their property be confiscated by the government.
The Majlis-e-Ahrarul Islam organization was founded in the early 20th century by Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari from the town of Patna, now in northern India. The organization was founded with the explicit goal of fighting the influence of the Ahmadi Muslims, who were then just beginning to emerge as a movement. Maulana Azizur Rahman Jalandhri, head of the World Assembly for the Protection of the Finality of Prophethood, said at the conference that it was thanks to the efforts of Syed Ataullah Shah Bukhari that the Ahmadi Muslims were declared a minority in Pakistan in 1974. (In Pakistan, the term "minority" designates non-Muslims, and many Sunni groups in the country are therefore demanding that Shi'ite Muslims also be declared a minority as well. Ahmadi Muslims are also designated a minority in Saudi Arabia).
* Tufail Ahmad is the director of MEMRI's Urdu-Pashtu Media Project.