By Moncho Torres
New Delhi, Sep 24 (EFE).- Polish journalist Wojciech Jagielski, who covered Afghanistan for a decade between 1992 and 2001, says he sees history repeating itself in the Asian country, with the return of the Taliban to power, while apparently no lessons have been learned from past mistakes.
Jagielski (1960) makes a reference to his book “Pray for the Rain” (first published in Polish in 2002) documenting the most relevant events in the country over the last half-century, such as the beginning of the Soviet occupation in 1979, the formation of the Taliban during the civil war and its coming to power in 1996.
This book has accounts of the reporter interviewing guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud – known as the “Lion of Panjshir” – in the mountains, as well as interactions with the Taliban, and the civilian population of a Kabul destroyed by bombing.
Jagielski, during a virtual interview with EFE, showed how he remains abreast of the situation in Afghanistan, with a deep knowledge and understanding of war-ravaged nation.
QUESTION: It’s amazing how the history of Afghanistan repeats itself, over and over again.
ANSWER: History should teach us something, but we are not learning anything, not only us, Afghans too are not learning. They have been at war for almost 50 years (…) we should learn the lessons from the Russians, at least. We made the same mistakes, at the end the result was almost the same.
(The Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, leading to a civil war among the country’s different warlords. In 1994, the emergence of the Taliban was seen as a way out of the violence and chaos. In September 1996, the Islamist group entered Kabul with little resistance, and remained in power until the American invasion in 2001.
Two decades later, on Aug.15, the Taliban once again entered the Afghan capital marking their takeover of the country, two weeks before the last US troops left the country on Aug.31.)
Q: How can we explain the rapid advance of the Taliban, almost without any opposition from the Afghan military forces? In almost two weeks, 33 of the 34 provincial capitals fell.