Arabs have taken over fight from Taliban

By Masood Anwar

KANDHAR: The Arabs and not the Afghan Taliban fighters are controlling important parts of the country and fighting major battles on frontlines.

Talking to people of Kandahar and those close to the Taliban, revealed that Arabs troops had taken control immediately after bombings by the US and allied forces started. "The power centre shifted to the Arabs as they were the main fighters," a Kandahar resident said.

The Taliban still have all the liberty to frame their own rules and apply on the locals but these rules do not apply on the Arabs. "The Arabs are the real fighters who are repulsing the attacks of Northern Alliance and US allies on Kabul and Mazar -i- Sharif," a foreign non-Arab fighter who, for the last three years, worked as cook with Arabs, told The News during a chat.

Before the attacks, the Taliban had all powers but then the scenario suddenly changed and the Arabs emerged in the country as the real rulers, he said. Locals admit that as compared to the Taliban, the Arabs fight more bravely. "That's why, not a single Arab has been arrested by Northern Alliance or other opponents," they said.

"The Sheikh", Osama Bin Laden, has the last word on all matters and no one can disobey his orders. Majority of the NGOs working inside Afghanistan are either directly supervised or funded by Arabs nationals.

During my visit to Kandahar city, headquarter of Taliban leader Mulla Omer, it was observed that the spying network of US was very strong and working quite efficiently. Majority of the sites attacked by the US forces were those that were used by the Taliban or the Arabs in recent days.

The Taliban too are very sensitive about spying and they do not tolerate strangers. Any suspicion on any person and he is immediately hanged, no questions asked. However, there are soldiers and supporters of many other parties and leaders like Burhanuddin Rabbani, Parcham and Khalq parties in significant numbers who publicly support the Taliban but also secretly spy against them. These people are the assets used by the US forces. Attacks on Mulla Omer's home, jeep and on a building that he had left just few hours ago were some examples of these insider job. One thing is very pervasive in Kandahar. No one knows the real impact of the air strikes. Inside and outside Afghanistan, there are only estimates about the casualties.

According to the international media, 13 persons were killed in the attack on the Red Cross building in Kandahar but when this correspondent visited the building the very next day, locals said not a single person had died as the building was vacant at about 5 a.m. in the morning.

Another fact is also very ominous. Whenever a target is hit, given the heavy ammunition and missiles, the death rate is very high as compared to injuries. Thus while surgical wards of hospitals are comparatively empty, space in the graveyards is being filled up rapidly.

But no one is ignoring the fact that winter is just starting in Kandhar and more casualties are feared due to the weather than the US bombings. Although shops are full of stuffs, the buying power of the locals is very limited and they are unable to procure warm clothes or blankets to cope with the harsh winter now setting in.

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