Everyone is talking about Osama bin Ladin but few people know there is one man who can give orders to Osama. This man is Mullah Omar. That is why Omar is more important than Osama. Many people think Omar is mad. Is he?
Omar came on the scene after he killed the kidnapper of a girl in Spin Boldik and got her released at the request of her father. The incident made him a hero. In those days Gulbuddin Hekmatyar controlled Spin Boldik and the surrounding areas of Kandahar. The city of Kandahar was occupied by Gul Agha, a close aide of Syed Ahmed Gillani (National Islamic Front). Gillani was associated with Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmed Shah Masoud, who controlled Kabul at that time. When Omar began his offensive against the warlords of Hekmatyar, Rabbani and Masoud were very happy.
The American CIA noticed the potential of the young Mullah and the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, was asked to help this new
student militia known as the Taliban. It is interesting that Omar occupied the area from Spin Boldik to western Kandahar with the help of Rabbani and Masoud. Later, he attacked the city of Kandahar, and despite requests from Rabbani and Masoud, the local governor Gul Agha was assassinated publicly because he was a homosexual and had married a young boy. That was a turning point in the life of Omar. The Afghanis realised that the Taliban were against all warlords; they only protected the interests of the poor.
In the next two years, Taliban captured Kabul, Jalalabad and Herat with the help of Maulvi Younas Khalis and Jalaluddin Haqqani. Omar had earlier fought against the Soviet troops under the command of these two senior leaders of Hizb-e-Islami. When Jalalabad came under the control of the Taliban, Osama was living there as the guest of Jalaluddin Haqqani. Their friendship began in September 1996. Next year, the Taliban captured Mazar-e-Sharif with the help of Osama. Hundreds of Arab fighters sacrificed their lives in that operation. Those were the days when Pakistan started putting pressure on Omar for the extradition of Osama to the US.
Americans were angry with Omar because he refused to oblige their oil company, UNOCAL. UNOCAL was interested in a US$5 billion gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. One UNOCAL official offered big money to Omar through one of his colleagues. Omar got angry and signed the MoU with Bridas, an Argentinian company. That was the beginning of the confrontation between Omar and the US. The Americans used both Pakistani and the Saudi officials to convince Omar. The chief of Saudi Intelligence, Prince Turki, visited Omar in early 1998 and said that if Osama were handed over to America, they would reconstruct the whole of Afghanistan. Omar reacted very angrily and told the prince off.
After this, he also developed differences with Islamabad. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif openly accused the Taliban of promoting sectarian terrorism in mid-1999. The Taliban also refused to be dictated by the Musharraf government. Musharraf is using the same language about the Taliban that Sharif used two years ago. The Pakistani intelligence agencies try to hide their failure against sectarian terrorism by putting the blame on the Taliban. There is no sectarian terrorism in Afghanistan and the Taliban are not harbouring any sectarian terrorists.
Omar was expecting a US attack even before September 11. Some of his extremist policies are not liked in Pakistan but the majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the US and admire him for defying Washington. His vision of Islam is influenced by the Afghan tribal traditions. No one can deny that he
brought peace to Taliban-controlled areas after 16 years of civil war. He disarmed the Afghan tribal society, which is a big contribution.
Omar lost one eye fighting the Soviets. He is ready to sacrifice his life fighting the US. The Taliban are preparing for a long guerrilla war against the US and Omar is waiting for the entry of the US ground troops into Afghanistan. He believes that the war against America will not be restricted to Afghanistan; it will be fought around the globe.
He was very happy when General Musharraf decided to side with the US. When he heard the decision, he told his commanders in Kandahar “Now the whole world will know that we are not the puppets of Pakistan. We are independent and will fight the superpower independently”. He is a typical Pathan. He’d rather become a martyr fighting the US than to be condemned by history as a traitor and a coward.