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India funded Afghanistan warlords instead of former government, US report says

March 5, 2023 at 8:38 am

Former Afghan Army general Hibatullah Alizai [Facebook]

The Indian government funded Afghan warlords instead of the former Afghan government prior to the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, newly published American documents have indicated.

According to the latest report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), released on Tuesday and titled ‘Why the Afghan Security Forces Collapsed’, former Afghan Army general Hibatullah Alizai was quoted as saying that Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum – two former warlords and provincial militia leaders in Afghanistan’s north – went to India and got money from India to create a resistance in the North.”

He insisted that while that was good, “that money should have gone to the Afghan government to pay ANDSF [army] forces’ salaries. That should have been directed to the central government to be distributed lawfully.”

Alizai stressed that “I as a commander was requesting money for operations and supplies, but I could not get it from the government. But Dostum got money just from making phone calls to the Indians. That funding should have gone to the central government and central bank.”

SIGAR’s report attempts to assess the primary reasons for the collapse of the former Afghan military – trained by US and Western forces throughout the past two decades – in the face of the advance and victory of the Taliban on 15 August 2021.

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The country’s fragile political situation at the time, the rampant corruption in the government and military ranks, and the hasty withdrawal of US forces which resulted in almost $7.2 billion in military equipment being left behind are all commonly-cited reasons for the rapid decline and collapse of the Western-backed system in Afghanistan.

What is less cited, however, are the prominent role that warlords such as Dostum and Noor played in that system, with their local rule, crimes, and corruption being ignored and unaccounted by Kabul and its Western military backers.

That component was seen as an essential part of the Afghan government’s form of rule, with such warlords holding historic or personal enmity against the Taliban. Many reportedly fled to countries to Tajikistan or Turkiye upon the takeover, and some reconciled with the group and its new government.

India’s role in supporting the former Afghan government has also been well-known over the years, particularly in terms of financial support and the provision of annual scholarships to Afghan military personnel to be trained in India. SIGAR’s latest report, however, also seems to prove New Delhi’s funding not to Kabul and its government, but to those notorious warlords.

In the report, General Alizai also mentioned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a backer to figures such as Dostum, stating that the “Emirates gave Dostum about 200 brand new Land Cruisers”.

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