History of the Taliban
Before the communist invasion there were 2500 spiritual teachers and leaders .The government of Pakistan under ,Zial Haq ,had established a chain of deeni madras's along the Afghanistan Pakistan border.A survey conducted by the Home department of the government of Punjab in May of 1997 revealed that there was 169 deeni madras's with an enrollment of 17,533 students. The report goes on to state that most of these deeni madras's were being used as hide outs for terrorists attached to foreign mentors.
These schools spread into Afghanistan ,especially into the eastern province of Herat.The majority of these students were Afghan nationals.These schools taught not only religion and also the military arts. Those selected to fight were associated with the various Afghan factions.During the anti-soviet jihad the Mujaheddin under Abdul Rashid Dostum had strength of 50,000 (Jumbish-e- mili) stationed in the northern part of the country composed of mainly Uzbek's. Ahmed Shah Masood had 30,000 fighters, mainly Tajiks who operated out of the Panjsheer valley and the easterly province bordering Iran and at Herat.
The Hizb-e- Islami under (Engineer) Gulbadin Hikmetytar had a force of 20,000 Pushtuns who operated in the easterly Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan. All of these were of the Sunni factions the only Shia groups the fighters of Hizb-e-Wahdad operating out of the Bamian region. The final figure for the Taliban at the end of the civil war period under Mullah Omar, (strangely enough the son in law of Osama bin Laden through marriage) was 50,000 fighters.
¬†The main source of revenue for these groups were the smuggling routes running from Iran in to Pakistan where electrical goods, furniture, and even cars fetched three times there initial value,the war lords charging a tax on all goods passing through their territory.
The Taliban are not to be compared to an organized army. Their main tactical methods at this time comprised of the firing a large a number of rockets and artillery rounds as possible towards the enemy with no thought given to fire and movement, never mind forming up areas and initial start lines. When the enemy began to fade away ,usually through desertion, frontal attacks of roughly five hundred fighters were mounted upon the largely abandoned positions.
Where there was resistance attacks in the thousands were mounted showing great courage and a complete disregard for lose of life. Tactics were employed only on small scale,usually flanking attacks and the probing of forward lines, followed by a barrage of artillery and rocket fire , sometimes accompanied by air strikes, the aircraft in the main very ineffectual as they seldom ventured within AA range.Poor maintenance facilities and a lack of spare parts also contributed to their lack lustre performance.
Where would an army of school children get the necessary expertise needed just fly one of these aircraft, never mind fight in them? Afghanistan had been at war for twenty years ,the population heartily sick and tired .Any force able to stop the fighting allowing the citizenry to go back to leading a normal life was very welcome.Also contributing to their acceptance was the fact that many of the fighters within the various Mujaheddin had no Axe to grind with the Taliban and were content to let them have their way,in some cases even joining them bringing with them the sophisticated equipment acquired after defeating or taking the surrender of Afghan army unit's.
In November and December of 1994 the Taliban established itself in the province of Kabul situated on the Pakistan border by capturing a huge arms depot belonging to Hikmetyar.They drove two trucks through the province loaded with about fifty Talibs posing as smugglers who, after paying a paltry bribe at the various check points, arriving at Spin Boldack jumped out from under the plastic sheet ,and ,after a brief firefight , over came the opposition losing five of their own fighters and taking control of around 3,000 metric tones of arms and ammunition, including 80,000 Kalashnikov rifles.
They ingratiated themselves with Pakistan by freeing their nationals held hostage by a tribal group.Herat in the east is an important communications center on the highway leading to Turkmenistan .Pakistan wanted to open the road for its own traffic so as to reach the oil fields and natural gas resources in Turkmenistan and Iran.
Sultan Amin formally of the ISI (Pakistan's inter service intelligence directorate) was made the first head of the Pakistani mission in Herat on 1st August 1994.Pakistan Major General Naseerullah Babar initiated the opening of the north western road to Turkmenistan by taking a convoy along the route.The interim Afghan prime Minister Professor Burhanuddin Rabanni objected .The convoy was halted .Colonel Imam in charge of the convoy stated that he had obtained the necessary papers at Kandahar .There was much negotiating up to the national level achieving nothing .
Two hundred students studying at the deeni madras's in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan suddenly swooped down .Fighting raged for two days until the hijackers surrendered, their commander killed ,the students loosing six of their own .The captured convoy contained in addition to Pakistani army troops: ISI personnel.
From this day on the Taliban went on dominate the entire Afghan conflict. They fought a battle at Kandahar lasting for three days then went on to take parts of Kabul and then probed deep into the Pansjheer valley sanctuary of Mazir-e-Sharif.
Gulbadin Hikmetyar ,the strong man of Afghanistan, had promised to teach the Taliban a lesson if they attacked his base at Mazir-e-Sharif and as they prepared for such an attack launched a pre emptive attack upon them near Ghanzi. This attack resulted in disaster for Hikmetyar as his supposed ally ,the governor of the city,had switched sides taking with him a large number of his fighters and their equipment. Hikmetyar put in a counter attack but Rabanni ,also his supposed ally, also switched sides, leaving Hikmetyars forces decimated, the proud Mujaheddin leader forced to find sanctuary abroad.
From this time inwards the Taliban went on to dominate the north defeating all of the Mujaheddin factions,the commander Hickmetyer killed by assassins posing as news photographers.