Originally Published 2005-05-13 11:41:51 Published on May 13, 2005
This is the biggest protest campaign in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban regime. This is bloody, widespread and countrywide.This also shows that they are fed up with the United States and they just needed a spark to vent their feelings.
Hizbut Tehrir Behind Afghan Violence?
"This is the biggest protest campaign in Afghanistan since the ouster of the Taliban regime. This is bloody, widespread and countrywide.This also shows that they are fed up with the United States and they just needed a spark to vent their feelings."

So said on May 12,2005, Mr.Rahimullah Yusufzai, the highly-respected Pakistani journalist, who is considered an authority on the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He was talking about the violent anti-US and anti-Karzai demonstrations sweeping across Afghanistan since May 10,2005, in protest against the alleged desecration of the Holy Koran by the US guards at the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba, where about 500 Afghans, Pakistanis and other Muslims have been detained by the US authorities without any trial and without giving them any right of access to human rights organisations.

The demonstrations, often culminating in violence, which started at Jalalabad near the Pakistan border, have since spread to the northern provinces of Parwan, Kapisa and Takhar, Laghman in the east, Logar and Khost in the southeast and the southern province of Kandahar. It also spread to Kabul itself on May 12,2005. According to latest reports, ten out of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan have been affected by the demonstrations and the resulting violence. The anger of the demonstrators has been directed not only against the US and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, but also against Pakistan and the UN and Western non-governmental organisations functioning from Afghanistan. Their offices have been attacked, causing considerable property damage everywhere.

Though there have been no fatalities inflicted on the security forces by the demonstrators, seven civilians have so far been killed and over 80 injured as a result of firing by the Afghan and American security forces in order to disperse the demonstrators. Reports of the demonstrations received from several towns indicate the following common features:

The students spearheaded the demonstrations, in which a large number of educated people participated. The demonstrations were not spontaneous. They had been well-prepared, and were well-organised and well-orchestrated. Groups of students went from town to town instigating the local students to take to the streets. The demonstrators were not armed and confined their protests to shouting anti-US and anti-Karzai slogans, burning American and Pakistani flags and effigies of Bush, Karzai and Musharraf and attacking properties like buildings and vehicles. 

The demonstrations were not instigated by the Taliban or the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar or Al Qaeda. However, elements from the Taliban and the Hizb-e-Islami, who were taken by pleasant surprise by the students taking to the streets, subsequently joined them. Many members of the Police and the newly-raised Afghan Army showed sympathy for the demonstrators and were reluctant to use force against
them when ordered to do so by their senior officers. 

Reports from reliable Afghan sources indicate that the ant-US and anti-Karzai demonstrations have been organised by the Hizbut Tehrir (HT) and not by the Taliban or the Hizb-e-Islami or the Al Qaeda. While one was aware of some HT activities in the student community in Afghanistan, the extent of its penetration not only in the student community, but also in the Afghan security forces has come as a surprise. In their preoccupation with fighting their so-called war against the Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Hizb-e-Islami, the American intelligence agencies and security forces seem to have remained oblivious of the subterranean activities of the HT and have consequently been taken totally by surprise. (13-5-05)

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation, Chennai Chapter. E-mail: [email protected]

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