February 2, 2023 12:03 am

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Pakistan Have Started To Feel The Pinch of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan

The Pakistani Think Tank asserted that Pak’s celebration of Taliban victory in Afghanistan proved to be short lived as Taliban is trying to become more and more hostile towards Pakistan with each passing day.

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The initial euphoria of the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan has changed into regret for Pakistan, reveals the finding of the Pak-based think tank – the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS).

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan today is scuffling to figure out how to tackle the fallout of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as there is no sign that the Taliban regime is taking steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups on Afghan soil.

Effect of Taliban rule on Pakistan

Pakistan has started to feel the perils of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Pakistan witnessed an unbelievable 51 percent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in a single year since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021.

As per the report of PIPS, “As many 433 people were killed and 719 wounded in 250 terrorist attack incidents in Pakistan between 15 August 2021 and 14 August 2022. In the corresponding year between15 August 2020 and 14 August 2021, the country witnessed 165 terror attack incidents that killed 294 people and injured 598 others.

The think tank assessed that Pakistan’s celebration of Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock as Pakistan may face another wave of terrorism in near future.

It is evident from the current internal security situation in Pakistan that the Afghan Taliban and TTP (Teherek-e-Taliban Pakistan) are two faces of the same coin. TTP militants have increased their presence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and there is a wave of fear and panic among the residents.

The fallouts in Afghanistan post-Taliban takeover have resulted in a refugee crisis in Pakistan as thousands of Afghans have entered Pakistan.

Pakistan’s failed policy regarding Afghanistan

Pakistan’s military and political leadership have for the past 40 years considered Afghanistan as their fifth province. The strategic depth syndrome of Pakistan is a result of it. The repercussions of such thinking have resulted in instability and violence on both sides of the Durand line.

Pakistan always wanted to have a puppet government in Afghanistan. This he thought would safeguard its security vis-a-vis India. This challenged the basic instinct of Pashtuns who never accept anyone to be their master. This has resulted in perpetual backlashes for Pakistan in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s dubious policies have resulted in continuous turmoil in Afghanistan without realizing that this would be detrimental to Pakistan in the future. As Afrasiab Khattak, a political analyst, and expert on Afghan affairs has rightly said that “If Afghanistan collapses, Pakistan will bear the brunt.”

The findings of the PIPS also reiterated that Afghanistan must be treated as a sovereign state and that Islamabad needs to rethink its conventional outlook and tried-and-failed policies towards Afghanistan.

Menace of TTP

The Tehrek-e-Taliban is on the rise in the ex-FATA area of KP. With renewed support from Afghanistan, it has unleashed havoc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly targeting military and police personnel.

The Army has dubious plans regarding TTP as is evident from the ongoing secretive negotiations between the Pak army and TTP. Major political parties in Pakistan have criticized the secretive talks between the military and the TTP. 

During the PIPS periodic consultation with experts on the prospects and process of peace in Afghanistan (held on Sep 3, 2022, in Islamabad) the participants questioned the past claims of the Pak army that the TTP had been crushed through military operations. The experts said that talking to such a terror outfit would only send a message that it is the state that has actually been defeated.

Speakers also cautioned that unilateral endeavors by the military would create a crisis of confidence between the Parliament and the security establishment. 

Zia Ur Rehman, journalist, and analyst based in Karachi said that Pakistan hoped that the Taliban regime would facilitate it in countering Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but the TTP has only grown stronger during the first year of the Taliban rule. 

Maj. General (Retd) Inam ul Haque, defense and strategic affairs analyst, pointed out that Pakistan’s military officials should not have been involved in the negotiations with the TTP. The recent negotiations with the TTP were mainly based on a sort of ‘give and take’ rather than building on the leverage Pakistan and its people have on the terrorist group. 

Farhatullah Babar, former Senator  (Pakistan People’s Party) criticized the Pak army’s secretive talks with the TTP.  He said that all the state institutions such as parliament, political parties, the federal cabinet, and the bureaucracy should be well informed about the negotiations with the TTP. 

He further said that the unilateral decision of talks with TTP has strengthened it, which now has regrouped in Swat, Chitral, Dir, Bajaur, and Waziristan. 

“It appears as if someone behind their resurrection wants to keep the militants alive so that they can be used for internal political purposes,” said Babar

The Afghan Taliban has repeatedly denied working on Pakistan’s directives. The relationship between both countries has not been cordial, especially after the air strike by the Pakistan Air Force in the Khost and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan in April 2022.

The strike killed several Afghan citizens and the Taliban sharply reacted and termed the strikes as a violation of Afghan sovereignty.

Similarly, The Taliban deputy Foreign Minister Sher Abbas Stanikzai earlier in September called on Pakistan to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and has accused it of using the situation in Afghanistan to borrow money from the world.

Stanikzai condemned Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif’s statement in the United Nations, claiming that Afghanistan is home to several dreaded terrorist organizations. The leader further went on to say that the US has violated the Doha agreement and has warned not to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

 The statement was probably directed against US and Pakistan regarding the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman-al-Zawahiri in a US drone strike in Kabul in August this year.

The Taliban has defied to follow Pakistan’s dictates. It has been in denial mode in taking actions against TTP and has preferred the role of mediator in the negotiation between TTP and the Pakistan army. 

Taliban has an eminent threat in the form of the terrorist group ISKP(Daesh) and it fears that taking any actions against TTP would strengthen Daesh. Hence, the Taliban is bound to play its cards cautiously as it does not want internal turmoil in Afghanistan. Hence, the Taliban is bound to work as per its interest rather than on Pakistan’s dictates.

Shubham Joshi
Shubham Joshi
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