A former army commander has declared a new assault on the Taliban.
According to Lieutenant General Sami Sadat, eight months of Taliban control persuaded many Afghans that military action was the only way forward. He said operations could resume next month, after the Islamic holiday of Eid, when he intends to return to Afghanistan. Last August, the Taliban launched a rapid push to take control of the country.
As the last US-led NATO soldiers withdrew after a 20-year military operation, hardline Islamists swept through the country in just 10 days. Lieutenant General Sadat spoke to the BBC for the first time about the preparations, saying he and others will do everything in our power to ensure that Afghanistan is liberated from the Taliban and a democratic government is restored. Until we win our independence until we have our free will, we will struggle, he added, refusing to commit to a timetable.
The general highlighted how the Taliban had reintroduced increasingly harsh rule, including significant limits on the rights of women and girls, and that it was time to end their totalitarian rule and open a new chapter . What we have seen in Afghanistan during the eight months of Taliban control has been nothing but additional religious restrictions, misquotes, misunderstandings and political exploitation of the scriptures of the Holy Quran. He had planned to give the Taliban a year to see if they would change their ways, he added. “Unfortunately, the Taliban have something new to do every day you wake up – torturing people, killing, disappearing, running out of food, starving children.”
He said he receives hundreds of messages a day from Afghans asking what he plans to do about it. However, in a country ravaged by more than 40 years of violence, many Afghans are tired of fighting, anxious to flee or trying to cope with a worsening economic crisis. According to the UN, the country is suffering from “battle fatigue”, with millions of people on the brink of hunger. Many people in rural areas who have borne the brunt of NATO’s battle against the Taliban have enjoyed relative peace now that American and Afghan planes have left the skies and Taliban strikes have ceased.
I think they hold their position quite effectively. But I also advise them, you know, to trust each other more because the continued support from NATO and other nations might come to an end.
“I hope they will continue to receive help for as long as they need it.”