President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday said that the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was not the cause of the civil war; instead, he said, there wasn’t a plan for the country in the Soviet exit plan. Afghan leaders, said Ghani, believe this lack of planning led the country into a civil war.
In a video message marking the 32nd anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Ghani said the presence of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan was seen as an occupation by the international community, the UN, the Muslim nations' conference and the "entire free world." It was heavily criticized, he said, and support was announced for the "freedom-seeking nation" of Afghanistan.
Ghani said that the motive behind the Afghans’ jihad was to establish a system based on the will of the nation in which national and military institutions are supported and preserved, but Afghanistan entered into a multi-dimensional civil war as the withdrawal was not responsible and there wasn’t any measure for the future of the country in the Soviet exit plan.
Ghani said the country’s security forces, national institutions and infrastructure were damaged in the war.
“We should learn from all of these,” Ghani told the nation, adding that “Afghanistan now has an opportunity to end the war and achieve peace, a peace which our military and civil institutions have preserved and are further strengthening, a peace that benefits our children, women, youth and all the deprived social layers of Afghanistan.”
President Ghani said that at one time analysts believed that the Soviet forces would not leave Afghanistan, but they were defeated, and the critics were proved wrong. “Now, our measures and our unity will prove (critics) wrong who believe that Afghanistan will not achieve peace.
Ghani reiterated that Afghanistan will achieve an enduring peace that preserves the dignity of Afghans.
The 32nd anniversary of the withdrawal of Soviet forces was marked in several ceremonies on Sunday.
“Afghanistan is in a sensitive political situation,” former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanooni said an event, adding that “the peace talks in Doha are faced with a deadlock.”
“No one can win power militarily,” Qanooni said, adding that “young Taliban members want to continue violence while their leaders think that the issue can be solved through talks.”
Meanwhile, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar at an event on Sunday said that US President Joe Biden’s remarks show that “the United States will retreat from the Doha agreement" and might abandon the May 1 exit plan.
He said “the US has no option but to leave Afghanistan.”
Hekmatyar claimed that “the Afghan government is preparing for new fighting and is providing arms to militias. He added that “weapons are distributed to those warlords who previously fought against the Taliban.”
Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Thirty-two years ago, in February 1989, the former Soviet Union announced its complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, ending a nine-year war that claimed the lives of millions of Afghans.
In 1979 the Soviet Union entered then neighboring Afghanistan in the hope of shoring up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Quickly almost 100,000 Soviet Union soldiers took control of major cities and highways around the country, but war soon broke out with the rise of the Mujahideen.
The war lasted nine years and, in that time, an estimated one million civilians, including children, were killed, along with 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, more than 20,000 Afghan troops and over 14,000 Soviet soldiers.
In 1979 Hafizullah Amin was the ruler of Afghanistan. The Soviets were told by its KGB spies that Amin's rule was a threat to the part of Central Asia that was the USSR and they suspected that he was not loyal to the Soviet Union.
The Soviets also suspected that Amin was behind the death of his predecessor president Nur Muhammad Taraki.
In light of this they decided to remove him and on December 22, 1979, Soviet advisers to the army of Afghanistan took many steps. They stopped all telecommunication links in Kabul. No messages could come inside the city, or go outside the city. Soviet air force troops also reached Kabul.
Noting some danger, Amin sought refuge in the presidential palace but on December 27, about 700 Soviet troops took over major government and military buildings in Kabul.
On the same night, the Soviet troops reportedly destroyed Kabul's communication systems and minutes later stormed the presidential palace.
By morning, Amin and his two sons had been killed. Babrak Karmal was immediately appointed as head of government and ruled the country until he resigned in 1986.
Dr Najibullah Ahmadzai took over in 1987 and ruled until 1992.
Soviet soldiers remained in control of most major cities thereafter, while the Mujahideen continued to fight them around the country.
Globally there was dissatisfaction about the Soviet’s occupancy and the then president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, said the Soviet action was "the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War".
By the mid-1980s, many Mujahideen groups had organized themselves and were receiving help from a number of countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
At the time, Islamabad felt the Soviet war in Afghanistan was also a threat to Pakistan.
As the war continued, and more and more Soviet soldiers were killed, the USSR’s leader at the time, Mikhail Gorbachev, was quoted as saying their war in Afghanistan was a “bleeding wound”. The Soviets were also treated as invaders and morale among Soviets was low.
But after their withdrawal, peace in Afghanistan remained elusive as civil war broke out. This lasted for about 10 years and was then followed by the Taliban’s takeover – a regime that lasted just over five years.