- Published: Saturday, 05 March 2011 00:34
- Written by Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai
By: Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai (June 2007)
The entire world witnessed the humiliating withdrawal of the Soviet Red Army from Afghanistan in 1989. Their invasion of Afghanistan had brought no joy but instead opened a deadly chapter in Afghan history. The Soviets left behind their puppet regime of Dr Najibullah. Meanwhile, the Mujahideen (so called, Freedom Fighters) leaders were busy fighting to gain power and get to the throne of Kabul.
During the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980’s, the Pakistani ISI divided the Afghan resistance leaders into 7 or 8 different groups, fomenting many differences among them, under the ‘divide and rule’ theory of colonialism. These very different groups in some cases have had enmities which, sadly, resulted in the loss of many freedom fighters & created ethnic enmities. It has sometimes been postulated that these groups have killed more of each other than the Russians ever did. We can now clearly understand from this very experience that we should never allow Afghans to divide into many different groups and Parties for the same cause.
The war of Afghan against Afghan continued for a year, more Afghan lives were lost on both sides. Paktia’s Late Chief Raiss Afzal Khan Zazai gathered Afghan Tribal leaders, Afghan & Pashtoon (NWFP Pushtoons) intellectuals, Afghan politicians & some key members of the (Pakhtoon Awami National Party) of NWFP in Peshawar to find a solution to end the continuing slaughter in Afghanistan. After discussions, a ‘road map’ was drawn and named (it translates as ‘Peace Mission’). The main aim was to bring a stop to fighting and pave a road for a smooth transfer of power from President Dr. Najibullah to the Afghan King (King Mohammad Zahir Shah) and provide an opportunity for every political party to be part of a future government and work towards peace, stability and development.
Chief Afzal Khan Zazai became the head of ‘Peace Mission’ and first thing he did was to meet with the Mujahideen leaders based in Peshawar Pakistan. He only received the support of just few. Most of those whom were well known for their extremist views (such as Hekmatyar, Sayaf, Rabani and Mulavi Khaliss) rejected the idea at first - they claimed they would take Kabul by force.
Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai then travelled to Kabul, where he met with President Najibullah, and, following several discussions, convinced him to step down when the future Loya Jirga ask him to do so. After receiving assurances from President Najibullah, Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai travelled to India where he met the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. After spending 15 days with Ghandi, Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai received his assurances and declaration of support, following which he flew to London to meet the British Prime Minister Mrs (now Baroness) Thatcher. Having received the full support and backing of the British government he then flew to Rome to meet the Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah. The King assured Zazai that once the road was paved, he would return to Afghanistan to prevent further bloodshed.
Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai busied himself in Afghanistan trying to create an atmosphere for a smooth power-transfer from Najibullah to the Loya Jirga which would then empower the King and permit all parties to be part of the government in Afghanistan, but a number of extremists and power-hungry men still saw no benefit in becoming part of a government if they could be the government by themselves.
The world witnessed how mysteriously Dr Najibullah’s government collapsed and these power-hungry men then fought each other over the throne of Kabul. Men who had been small commanders turned into massive Warlords having their own armies and their commands became the orders of the day. These men killed innocent people, looted people’s livelihoods, raped women, destroyed the infrastructure of Afghanistan and committed crimes against humanity. The deadly civil war went on for five long years, many innocent men, women and children were killed and Kabul turned largely into rubble. It is still largely-unknown in the Western world that many of these same Warlords are now sitting in Parliament, are members of the Karzai cabinet and have been appointed as governors of provinces of Afghanistan.
While the Warlords were busy fighting each other to get to the Throne of Kabul and committing atrocities against Afghans, Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai was working hard to bring an end to the deadly civil war by promoting Tribal Unity throughout Afghanistan to unite all the Afghan tribes to bring an end to the civil war.
In 1994, a movement was created under the name of ‘Taliban’. The movement became popular among the Afghans as it campaigned harshly against the Warlords and literally whipped them out of the principal Afghan cities. The Afghan people initially supported the Taliban, thinking that once the Taliban had wiped-out these Warlords and thugs, they would hand over the government and power to the right people. Unfortunately, the Afghan nation was not aware of what others such as the Pakistani ISI and men like Osama Bin Laden and Egyptian Doctor Ayman Al Zawahiri had in mind.
In the 1980’s, many Arabs had come to Afghanistan to fight the Russians; when the Russians left, many of these Arabs had remained in Afghanistan. Most of them were with the Warlords Hekmatyar, Sayaf & Rabani & many of these Arabs were issued Afghan Passports by Rabani’s regime in the 90’s. After the Taliban gained power in most of Afghanistan, these Arabs became part of the Taliban movement. Whatever the Taliban agenda was in the beginning, after the Arabs involvement, their way and motives were diverted to a different track. After the return of Osama Bin Laden from Sudan to Afghanistan, a new and more serious chapter was opened in the Taliban’s rule. Ayman Al Zawahiri created a new terrorists organization, Al Qaida. Osama Bin Laden (also known as Abu Abdullah) was made the new leader and head of Al Qaida. The reason that the Egyptian Doctor Ayman Al-Zawahiri made Osama Bin Laden the head of Al Qaida was to attract more financial and political aid from the rich Saudis.
The Arabs played a smart game with the Taliban; the Arabs financed the Taliban war against the late Ahmad Shah Masoud’s ‘Northern Alliance’ and, in return, the Arabs sought and gained permission to set up training camps for Al Qaida members. The Arabs at one stage became totally in charge of affairs leading, at one point, to the Taliban spiritual Leader Mullah Omar falling out with Osama Bin Laden as to who was really in charge of Afghanistan. Things only ‘cooled down’ when Pakistani Taliban elements (Mullana Fazul Rehman, Mulana Samiul Haq, General Hamid Gul & Qazi Hussain Ahmad and the ISI Top Generals) intervened between the two factions. Meanwhile, the Arabs were exercising considerable and growing power and influence in the region.
There is speculation that Osama Bin Laden paid over 2 billion Pakistani rupees to the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in order to win the election over Benazir Bhuto who was believed to be a close friend of ‘the West’. The Al Qaida started to grow very fast and benefited from far-reaching support and backing of the Pakistani ISI. Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai learned quickly about their international agenda to franchise terror around the globe.
While all these events were taking place in Afghanistan, Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai tried his very best to bring the attention of the West to the international terror franchising intentions of Al Qaida and their activities in Afghanistan. Many letters were written to top British government officials by him which he channelled through his very good friend Mr. David Simpson who acted on his behalf in the UK. Unfortunately, no one listened with the result that the world witnessed the horrifying events of 9/11 in America. If only the men at the top in the west had listened while Al Qaeda was vulnerable and in its infancy, we could have prevented many innocent lives from being lost.
By 2000, an Al Qaida-trained army spread around the globe like a large franchise; many young men were trained from 1996 to 2001 in Afghanistan & were sent to the West and around the globe to await further orders. Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai learned through very reliable sources about their agenda and forwarded the same sensitive information to his friend David Simpson in England, to attempt to alert the West.
Before 9/11, a man believed to be from the Iraqi Secret Services was constantly seen around Osama Bin Laden and was in charge of Bin Laden’s security. There did appear to a link between the Al Qaida leader and Sadam Hussein.
After 9/11, America now realised what Al Qaida was capable of, so they militarily intervened in Afghanistan to try to catch Osama Bin Laden and other senior Al Qaida leaders and to topple the Taliban regime who were harbouring this terrorist organization (Al Qaida) and its members within Afghanistan. What the American strategists failed to realize was that the Northern Alliance, who were fighting the Taliban principally for personal reasons, were not a sound group of people for them to be backing.
The Tora Bora bombing campaign was seen worldwide on TV. People around the globe were waiting to see the world’s Number One enemy Osama Bin Laden gets caught, but shamefully, he made good his escape. Some trusted Warlords played a key role in this by giving Bin Laden and many of his supporters enough time to flee the area and cross into Pakistan.
The majority of the Afghan nation was happy as the Americans brought an end to the brutal regime of Taliban, but many were not happy when the Americans empowered the same Warlords who initially had been the main cause of the Taliban’s initial creation. The Afghan nation was optimistic but had many reservations when witnessing the Warlords alongside the International community. These men had committed crimes against humanity and the Afghan nation could not understand the ‘blind eye’ of the International community in their regard. The Americans had replaced evil with evil.
Having the same criminals and thugs restored to power made it most difficult for the Afghan nation generally to understand what exactly the International community has in its mind for this country. The many indiscriminate bombings by the US & NATO caused many innocent lives to be lost often on the basis of false information provided by particular Warlords who wanted to wipe out their personal enemies. One such horrific tragedy was when 50 Tribal chiefs from Paktia & Khost Provinces, who were on their way to Kabul to take part in the first inauguration ceremony of President Karzai in 2002, were bombed by the US Army and were all killed. The false information in relation to the need for the international community to attack this group was provided to the Americans by a Warlord, Bacha Khan Zadran of Paktia province, who used the American air power & killed his enemies and people who opposed him. Late Chief Afzal Khan Zazai’s son (Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai) was lucky not to be among this group when it was slaughtered. Bacha Khan Zadran is now a Member of Parliament in Kabul.
Many such unfortunate incidents occurred and many innocent lives were lost forever. The brutal Warlords used the power of American Air Force to settle scores with their enemies and personal rivals. Among the ordinary people of Afghanistan, full credit for such atrocities was ascribed totally to the US Army and many people were thus motivated to join the then pocket resistances of the Taliban. In fact, the Warlords were totally responsible for these events but, because of their evil actions, many Afghans quickly turned into deadly enemies of the Americans. The Americans should have held these men responsible for what transpired – but they did not.
The Bonn agreement must be blamed for all which went wrong initially. There was no need for such a lengthy and costly process; the ancient tribal democratic system of Loya Jirga had existed for many hundreds of years, there was no need to mix ‘new’ democracy and Loya Jirga together. The ‘road map’ in the Bonn agreement was the weakest way to try to bring in a strong government. Many millions of dollars were wasted on these useless elections which the world witnessed as corrupt in large part. The amount wasted on these lengthy and costly election processes could have been used on something more constructive such as paving the bad roads and depopulating the city of Kabul.
A Loya Jirga would have been the correct way forward. The Loya Jirga could have elected a man to be the President for five years; a new constitution, parliament, cabinet, senate, Provincial Councils, District Council & a Supreme Council could have been formed from the same Loya Jirga. But the International community wasted the donations money just to show the Afghans what ‘western’ democracy is all about, to give individuals the right to vote. Unfortunately, there was no one to explain to the International community that, at that time, these Afghans needed a loaf of bread far more than individual choice in who they could vote for.
Instead, The Warlords, who were initially suppose to be in The Hague to face trials for crimes against humanity, were given high positions as ministers, presidential advisors, deputy presidents, Marshals, Generals, governors, police chiefs, parliament and senate members. Men with no qualifications were made Marshals & Generals. Throughout this period, the hopes of most Afghans just faded away. The Americans literally gave a free hand to the Northern Alliance thinking that these could be trusted as friends, allies & supporters of the US.
Meanwhile, the Americans and their ‘Coalition’ allies went against the Pushtoon tribes in the South, Southeast and Eastern provinces. Continuing to this day, Pushtoon villages, towns have been repeatedly bombed and many Pushtoons killed. The Americans have largely been guided by false information provided by the Northern Alliance, which has resulted in the loss of many innocent Pushtoon lives.
If we look back to the Russians invasion, we can realize and understand the insurgency situation which is going on right now in Afghanistan. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the Western world, especially the Americans and British, backed and financed the Mujahideen (Freedom Fighters). After almost a decade of aggression, the Russians Red Army suffered a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan which led to the US becoming effectively the world’s sole super power. There is a very similar situation right now only with the same players in different positions. The American, British and International community forces are on the ground. American, British, Australian and Canadian forces are actively engaged in fighting with the Taliban and it is other countries (China, Russia, Iran) which are strengthening as a result.
The geo-political situation of Afghanistan has proved, as always, to have pivotal importance in the region. By controlling Afghanistan, one can easily have the supremacy over large parts of central Asia, parts of China, Iran and parts of South East Asia. This is why it has been always the main interest of ‘major powers’ to have presence and control in Afghanistan. But players of ‘the great game’ should only do so when they have full knowledge of how to play.
The situation in the region is not actually particularly complicated, but it does need a good understanding. If we take the trouble to understand the region and its politics, including the agendas of some of the powers that are involved there, we can become wise enough to win. But if we will not be able to understand the region’s politics and ground realties, we will likely be losers. At present, the Coalition forces are engaged in fighting with the Taliban and there are large powers existing in the region who want to see the Coalition be engaged in perpetual fighting with the Taliban, so that the Americans losses will be on a far-greater scale. This meaningless war with the Taliban will slowly and surely exhaust the Americans, which is precisely what Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan wish to see.
Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan are fully backing the Taliban insurgents to fight the coalition forces in Afghanistan. Back in 1996, 1997 & 1998, Iran trained 2,400 Afghan fighters under the leadership of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (A warlord) to conduct a war against the Taliban as Iranians initially believed that the anti-Russian Taliban were American allies. Later, when the Iranians realized that the Taliban were actually the enemies of America, Iran did not send these trained men to Afghanistan. After Karzai came to power, the Americans pressured Iran to exile Gulbuddin Hekmatyar; these Iranian-trained men are now actively fighting in Afghanistan against the Coalition forces under the command of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The Taliban insurgents continue to receive money and weapons from Iran, China and Russia and using the Pakistani ‘free wing’ of ISI which is under the leadership and command of ex-ISI Colonel Imam.
The three regional powers (Iran, Russia & China) clearly want to see America getting engaged in a lengthy war in Afghanistan. Their failure in Iraq has made the situation worse for the Americans & British in Afghanistan as well. It has given much courage and support to these extremists who are prepared to fight both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The Chinese are sending their agents to Afghanistan under the cover of prostitutes, the Russians are sending their agents to Afghanistan under the cover of businessmen and women, the Iranians are sending their agents to Afghanistan under the cover of ‘returning’ Afghans who are Iranian-born, ironically no one seems to be taking any particular notice of such dangerous approaches. The Kabul regime in particular seems fully-asleep and unaware.
The Taliban fighters are receiving Iraqi-style slaughter and fighting training in Iraq. Some Taliban have bee reported recently to have been witnessed fighting in Lebanon alongside the Hezbollah. The Iranians have created a network for extremists and terrorists to roam around in the region and engage in combat and terrorism globally. About 10 to 11 months ago, top Taliban commanders were in Moscow to discuss future strategies. Why would Moscow take such an approach and against whom? Surely the secret agencies must be fully-aware of this progress.
If I were now to write a further one hundred pages about how bad the situation is in Afghanistan, it still would not be enough. But what would be gained by this? So let us instead focus on the main points and give serious attention to the ‘Way Forward’, a plan which we believe is the only realistic solution to the present problems. Action on progressing the ‘Way Forward’ is needed before it gets to be too late.
We have witnessed the failure of the Kabul government under Mr Karzai; we all know how weak a leader he is and that he is not capable to continue leadership as things worsen day by day. On the other hand, the world has witnessed a democratic government being elected in place in a country where guns previously ruled. However, the people of this world who only believe in democracy also are witnessing that this ‘democratic’ government is overflowing with corruption, very weak, unable to bring War Criminals to justice, unable to bring the ‘good Taliban’ to a talking table, unable to gain the trust and faith of its people, unable to bring law and order to the country, and unable to bring back the 4 million refugees who presently languish in Pakistan and Iran without any future.
President Karzai is hijacked by Warlords: his immediate family members are involved in the drug trade, trafficking and widespread corruption. Most high positions of office in this ‘democratic government’ are for sale, the illegal revenues are divided among ministers and high-profile men behind the government. All reconstruction contracts are only given to immediate family or with large ‘kickbacks’ being taken from some companies who do not have a good reputation. Despite the International forces presence, there is a shameful increase in poppy cultivation and drug production. When such a system of rule in a country is in place, then one should not call it a ‘government’, it is a ‘regime’ identical to those throughout the world’s history which have been controlled and governed by dictators.
Meanwhile, the so-called ‘pockets of resistance’ have now turned into a significant resistance force (Taliban), which is well-trained and well-financed. There are queues of young men waiting to carry out suicide-attacks against the Coalition forces in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. The continuing further recruitment of the Taliban is believed to be more effective than had been previously-predicted.
It would appear that, some day rather soon, the US and the British will pull out of Iraq as things do not seems to be particularly hopeful there. When that happens, as soon as the major pull-out commences from Iraq, we will have a new major problem in Afghanistan. The Holy War fighters of Al Qaida will shift the war totally into Afghanistan. Most of us know already that this will happen, as Iran and Pakistan are supporting these very groups already. If anyone at senior level within Western governments thinks it could not happen “due to such and such”, at this critical stage, sincere people, genuine people with vision and concern should just not listen to them but instead understand the realty ‘on the ground’ and the scale of the emergency. Switching sides is a fashion in this part of the world; it is not easy to find good friends, but when you do find such friends you need to listen to them.
By studying the Afghan recent and ancient history, we can then understand the land and the people and can draw very successful strategies, which can work for both Afghanistan and the International community. I see a very critical situation for the International forces and as well as for the Afghan people and Afghanistan. In my opinion, if the Iraqi Holy War gets fully-shifted to Afghanistan, the International forces will have a tough war to fight which will present a major strain on domestic politics throughout the West. If then, some years later, the International community or some major part of it decides to pull their forces out of Afghanistan, in that case I do not see any country called Afghanistan continuing to exist on the world’s map at all as the country will be dragged back into a long civil war by these warlords and eventually Afghanistan will be divided among the neighbours. If some think that could not happen “due to such and such”, we need only point them back to the 1980’s at what happened when exactly the same things were said about the ‘unbeatable’ Russian Red Army & the 1990’s Afghan civil war where more than 60,000 innocent lives were lost in Kabul alone.
It is my firm believe that in Afghanistan the Americans should not have been so extreme in their approach with the Pushtoon Tribes in particular. From ‘day one’ many Pushtoon villages were literally wiped-out by B52 bombers and many innocent lives were lost. Many Pushtoons were imprisoned and treated with disrespect. However, although these things have all been witnessed, we all know that it has happened in the past and we cannot revise these tragic and unfortunate events. What we CAN do, together with the Afghans and the International Community, is to bring about positive and effective policy changes, so that future errors may be ended once-and-for-all and plans may also receive the support and backing of the Pushtoon Tribes who comprise the majority of the Afghan Nation; these very tribes who throughout Afghan history have played a significant role in either bringing peace or destabilizing situations.
I urge the International community to understand ground realties and realise that, without the support of the Pashtoon Tribes, it will be near-to-impossible to ever bring peace and stability to Afghanistan. We know fully the need to eradicate extremists and terrorists from the Afghan society, but the ability to do so depends critically on how the International community handles important matters such as bringing Pashtoons back into the Government and given the Pashtoons more representation according to their numbers in the government and working closely, as partners, with the Pashtoon Tribes.
I here would like to draw your kind attention to the ‘Way Forward’ plan, which has already been discussed with Tribal Chiefs, and some Afghan intellectuals and politicians who lives in western countries. As we have all witnessed that Kabul’s present government is a failure regime, we need to bring about appropriate changes fast enough to both save lives and also prevent the present situation from worsening.
We do not wish to replace President Karzai at this stage; we know the world witnessed a democratic government being elected in Afghanistan. By merely replacing Mr Karzai we would only worsen the situation and create a lot of fuss. At this time and stage, major rivals and players (Iran, China, Russia & Pakistan) are all very keen and watching events in Afghanistan very closely; deeply analysing every small incident and accident seeking to exploit any opportunity. We do not wish to give these people more negative energy and raise their false hopes by replacing Karzai. We need to keep things calm and show effectiveness and we need to deliver the impression as well as the reality that we are in control.
Mr Karzai can still enjoy being the President. The present Parliament should be dissolved almost overnight. The Warlords, criminals and thugs should be apprehended by the International Special Forces and the leaders sent to The Hague to face trial for crimes committed against humanity. An urgent Loya Jirga from the real representatives of society, all the Tribes, intellectuals, prominent members of the Royal Family, politicians, scholars and pious men should be called. The Loya Jirga would need to bring appropriate changes in the constitution to declare a vacancy for a Prime Minister position. It would be determined that overall power would be transferred from the office of President to the Prime Minister. The Loya Jirga would then elect a good man for the job of Prime Minister for a five-year term. The Loya Jirga will give a timetable to the new PM to form his cabinet from among themselves. A new and functional Parliament would be made from the same Loya Jirga, as would a new Senate. A ‘Control Committee’ would also be created, to keep an eye on Government from the very Loya Jirga. This Loya Jirga would exercise the ancient form of democracy, which has existed in Afghan history for many hundreds of years.
Every government has its tasks when newly appointed; this new Afghan government would work hard to pave a way & win them over for those who are considered ‘good Taliban’; pave a way for the return of 4 million refugees languishing in Iran & Pakistan without any future and providing them with housing and employment; providing security and restoring the Law and Order situation in the country; fighting corruption to its grass-root level and getting very harsh on those who do not wish to be free of corruption; reviving the economy and promoting business and the economy.
The new government and the International community would then work very closely with all the Pushtoon Tribes who are stretched throughout the long borderline with Pakistan and Iran, to fight the enemies of peace and Afghanistan. I will assure you that these same Tribes will defend Afghanistan and play a major role in returning peace and stability.
I truly believe the ‘WAY Forward’ is an acceptable package within the circle of Afghan traditional and ancient form of democracy which will work as an effective cure for the present ill situation. In the end I hope that the people who can truly make a difference would understand and accept realties rather than scoring on past assumptions. I am fully prepared to work closely with our partners for a bright future in Afghanistan for the Afghans.
Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai
MINERAL REOURCES IN AFGHANISTAN
As a nation, Afghanistan is poor. But there's a world of treasure beneath the surface of the landscape.
Exclusive to American Free Press
By Christopher Bollyn
Afghanistan has an extraordinary abundance of rare and strategic minerals - now all within easy reach of the global planners who installed a puppet government that they both control and protect.
Pipelines transporting the immense gas and oil reserves of Central Asia and the Caspian basin to global markets will undoubtedly play an important role in Afghanistan's future, but the country's abundance of strategic minerals has the potential to greatly enrich the Afghans-if the wealth of the nation is not plundered.
Afghanistan has rich and extensive mineral resources including gold, silver, uranium, beryllium, copper, chrome, lead, zinc, manganese, iron and nickel. Lapis lazuli, amethyst, beryl, ruby, emerald, sapphire, alabaster, tourmaline, jade & quartz are just some of the precious and semiprecious gemstones that have been mined in the country for centuries.
California-based geologist Bonita Chamberlin, who spent 25 years exploring the country, is convinced that Afghanistan's vast mineral deposits including oil and natural gas and gemstones could bring the nation great wealth.
Chamberlin co-authored with Gary Bowersox, Gem stones of Afghanistan, (1995) regarded as the original and most complete study of Afghanistan's gems and minerals.
Chamberlin told American Free Press that she had identified 91 minerals, metals and gems at 1,407 documented potential mining sites in Afghanistan. These sites also contain solid combustible minerals, metallic and non-metallic minerals, rare metals, radioactive elements, precious metals, gemstones, salt and industrial minerals.
Beryllium and uranium are among the minerals in Afghanistan of the greatest strategic value, Chamberlin told AFP.
Chamberlin began surveying Afghanistan in the mid-1970s while working with companies cultivating cotton and grapes. The scope of her work changed during the Soviet invasion when heavy bombing uncovered significant de posits of rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other gemstones.
Afghanistan has plentiful mineral wealth due to the collision of the Indian subcontinent with the Asian continent, which trapped and combined chemicals from ancient seas with those from the land under tremendous geologic pressures. This collision "formed minerals that exist in very few places in the world," Chamberlin said.
Afghans are only lacking the infrastructure to exploit their nation's mineral wealth, Chamberlin said. "The people just need the expertise and the direction."
When the required infrastructure is developed “Afghans could rule the world" Chamberlin told the Culver City Rock and Mineral Club in California.
Beryllium is a strategic and essential material used in the aerospace, energy, defence, nuclear, automotive, medical and electronics industries.
A unique metal with properties unmatched by any other metal, beryllium is both extremely light and strong. It is one-third lighter than aluminium but six times stiffer than steel. It also has one of the highest melting points of the light metals.
Beryllium is used in the nuclear industry in fusion reactors and in the construction of nuclear devices for military applications. Beryllium alloys are essential structural materials for the production of high-speed aircraft, including the space shuttle and the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), missiles, surveillance and communication satellites. It is also used in Apache helicopters, tanks, and aircraft landing gear components.
Military electronic targeting and infrared countermeasure systems use high beryllium content components, as do advanced missile and radar navigation systems.
Beryllium alloys are used in battery contacts and electronic connectors in cell phones. Beryllium-copper provides the high reliability and miniaturization needed in these applications. FM radio, high-definition and cable television and underwater fibber optic cable systems all depend on beryllium.
Computer and laser technologies require beryllium. It is used in computers where lightness and stiffness are required. As computers get smaller, lighter and faster, the beryllium-copper alloy is often the only material that meets the demands.
RUBIES & SAPPHIRES:
Afghanistan possesses rich gem deposits, many of which are used in lasers and advanced weapons technologies. Rubies have been used in lasers since laser technology was first developed.
Historical accounts indicate that the ruby mines of Badakhshan in Afghanistan were the source of many of the finest and largest rubies in gem collections around the world, such as those in the crown jewels of Iran, the collection in Istanbul's Topkapi, Russia's Kremlin and England's Tower of London.
Sapphire is used in Lockheed Martin's latest laser targeting system, "Sniper," which is used on U. S. fighters. The Sniper has a sapphire window and will be used on the new Lockheed Martin JSF.
Sniper's window is made of sapphire because it is extraordinarily durable and transmits a wide range of wavelengths. Tests have shown that the window was unharmed after being struck by a piece of granite travelling at 197 miles per hour and a metal nut at 150 miles per hour. The rock shattered and the nut was bent but Sniper's sapphire window suffered no damage.
OIL & GAS:
Afghanistan has significant oil and gas deposits of its own. "Afghanistan has one of the largest, if not the largest, reserve of natural gas, which was already being tapped by the Soviets prior to their invasion," Chamberlin said.
At its peak in the late 1970s, Afghanistan supplied 70 percent to 90 percent of its natural gas output to the Soviet Union's natural gas grid via a link through Uzbekistan.
Although the Soviets estimated Afghanistan's proven and probable natural gas reserves to be 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and its oil and condensate reserves at 95 million barrels in the 1970s, current estimates range much higher.
Afghan natural gas production reached 275 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d) in the mid-1970s but output fell to about 220 mcf/d due to declining reserves from producing fields. In 1980 the Jorquduq field was brought online and was expected to boost the nation's natural gas output to 385 mcf/d by the early 1980s.
Oil exploration and development work as well as plans to build a 10,000 barrels per day refinery were halted after the 1979 Soviet invasion.
Sabotage of infrastructure by the anti-Soviet muja hideen fighters limited the country's total production to 290 mcf/d, an output level that held fairly steady until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
In February 1998, the Taliban announced plans to re vive the Afghan National Oil Company, which was abolished by the Soviet Union after it invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
U. S. OIL STRATEGY:
Afghanistan occupies a central position in the U. S. strategy for the economic control of the oil and gas resources in the entire Middle East, according to experts.
Current estimates indicate that, in addition to huge gas deposits, the Caspian basin may hold as much as 200 billion barrels of oil-33 times the estimated holdings of Alaska's North Slope.
V. R. Raghavan, a strategic analyst and former general in the Indian army, believes that the prospect of a western military presence in a region extending from Turkey to Tajikistan could not have escaped the geo-political strategists who waged the military campaign in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime and replace it with a government they could control and protect-with a multinational army.
In 1998, the California-based petroleum giant UNOCAL, which held 46.5 percent stakes in Central Asia Gas (CentGas), a consortium that planned an ambitious gas pipeline across Afghanistan, withdrew in frustration after several fruitless years.
The pipeline was to stretch 762 miles from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad fields to Multan in Pakistan at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. An additional $600 million would have brought the pipeline to energy-hungry India.
Among the many advantages of the Afghanistan route, according to experts from the oil and gas industry is that it would terminate in the Arabian Sea, close to key Asian markets.
Vice President Dick Cheney, as CEO of Halliburton, a major player in the oil industry, told oil industry executives in 1998, "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly, to become as strategically significant, as the Caspian."