Gen Haibatullah Alizai was heading the army before Kabul fall
The people of Afghanistan are presenting a bleak picture of destitution and helplessness since the Taliban seized power in the country in mid-August.
As soon as Kabul fell to the Taliban, scores of desperate Afghans lined up at the airport to leave their country. Overcrowded planes were seen taking off with desperate Afghans leaving everything behind to get out of the country.
The world witnessed harrowing scenes when a number of Afghans died after falling from the fuselage of a US military aircraft as it took off from the Kabul airport runway.
Pictures from these refugee camps clearly showed the miseries of the Afghans housed there.
Those who were once mighty and powerful in Afghanistan were rendered helpless in these camps. Two days ago, a picture surfaced from an Afghan refugee camp in the US state of Virginia.
In the picture, a man was seen apparently pensively reflecting upon past life while sitting on a curb with his head down.
The man in the picture was General Haibatullah Alizai who was Afghanistan’s chief of the army staff when the Taliban entered Kabul.
The picture went viral over social media.
Some people termed it callousness on part of the US authorities and questioned the treatment meted out to a former Afghan army general.
Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani appointed Alizai as the head of the army just days before the fall of Kabul. He replaced General Wali Ahmedzai on August 11 as the chief of the army staff.
Before taking command of the Afghan army, Alizai was heading the commando unit of the Afghan army’s special forces.
Before the picture of Alizai from a Virginia-based refugee camp went viral, another image made rounds on social media showing his predecessor Ahmedzai standing in a queue to board a plane at the Kabul airport to escape the country.
On August 20, Afghanistan’s former Chief of the Army Staff General Sher Mohammad Karimi, in an interview with TRT World, outlined the reason for the Afghan army’s collapse in the face of an advancing Taliban.
According to General Karimi, the army leadership was weak, it was divided and was too much under political influence.
“The problem isn’t that the army didn’t want to fight or wasn’t capable of fighting,” said General Karimi.
“The army wasn’t given the command to keep fighting and in many cases, they were told to avoid fighting.”
Criticizing the decision-making process, General Karimi said that the, majority of army appointments had been made under political influence. “They were not based on professionalism.”
On paper, the strength of the Afghan army was 300,000. But experts believed that the actual number of troops was far below this number.
“The army wasn’t given the command of the fighting and in many cases they were told to avoid the fighting.”
General Karimi lamented that the appointments in the army were made under political influence and not on professionalism.
On paper, the strength of the Afghan army was three hundred thousand. But experts believed that the actual number of troops on the ground was way less.
On August 30, Zack Kopplin, an investigator at the Government Accountability Project in the US wrote an essay in The Guardian in which he outlined the extent of corruption in the Afghan army.
According to Kopplin, there were ‘ghost soldiers’ in the Afghan army whose salaries were drawn by warlords.
“Reports of US government funds flowing into the pockets of warlords and criminal syndicates were common, while nepotism marred public trust in successive administrations,” wrote Kopplin.
“If the Afghan people – and its military – refused to fight for the state, it was, in part, because they had no faith in it.”