Pakistan's strategy in Kabul and what happens next


Afghan nationals arrive on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing level in Chaman on August 19, 2021 to return again to Afghanistan.

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Pakistan was one of many first international locations to welcome the Taliban’s return to energy in Afghanistan final month, following the collapse of the U.S.-backed civilian authorities. Now, Islamabad has to fret about a few of the penalties of the Taliban’s success next door, former diplomats and political analysts stated.

“It may not be as easy for Pakistan as its leaders may have thought,” Husain Haqqani, who was Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. between 2008 and 2011, informed CNBC in a current interview.

Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly said that Afghans had “broken the shackles of slavery.” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Pakistan’s national security advisor Moeed Yusuf publicly urged the worldwide neighborhood to interact with Afghanistan — which, in essence, now means the Taliban.

Pakistan, regardless of being an U.S. ally, had lengthy been accused of covertly aiding the Taliban throughout their 20-year insurgency in Afghanistan — a cost that Islamabad denies.

What are the problems?

The most important concern that Haqqani and others level to is the safety danger posed by the home terror group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, also referred to as the Pakistani Taliban — the group is separate from the Afghan Taliban. Last week, the TTP reportedly claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Pakistan that killed no less than three folks and left 20 wounded.

The group will “definitely be encouraged by the success of their brethren in Afghanistan,” Haqqani stated. “The Pakistani Taliban would like to replicate what happened in Afghanistan in at least the Pashtun areas of Pakistan — so, that’s one problem.”

It can be very troublesome for Pakistan to not acknowledge the Taliban.

Husain Haqqani

former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S.

Pashtuns are an ethnic group native to Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. The contested colonial-era Durand Line, which kinds the worldwide land border between the international locations, separates Pakistani Pashtun-dominated territories from Afghanistan. The latter claims these territories as a part of a standard Pashtun homeland.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, Islamabad believes that the Afghan Taliban’s ideology emphasizes Islam over Pashtun id. Both the Afghan Taliban and the TTP are predominantly Pashtun.

“Given the Afghan Taliban’s links with the Pakistani Taliban — both operational and ideological — Pakistan really has to worry about the risks a resurgent TTP poses to Pakistan,” Madiha Afzal, a David M. Rubenstein fellow in the international coverage program at Brookings Institution, informed CNBC.

“It has already seen a few of these dangers materialize with the release of TTP prisoners from jails in Afghanistan in current weeks in addition to an uptick in assaults towards Pakistani safety forces,” Afzal stated.

The Afghan Taliban have but to denounce the TTP or acknowledge the Durand Line because the formal border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

International recognition

The Taliban have held diplomatic talks with quite a lot of international locations in their try for worldwide recognition — together with Pakistan’s biggest rival India.

The militant group has sought to distance itself from its previous brutalities because it tries to realize that international recognition, which may give them access to international aid that Afghanistan desperately wants. But many, together with Haqqani, say they aren’t satisfied by the Taliban’s assurances.

“If the Taliban are unable to get international recognition and there are sanctions against them, there will be a fallout on Pakistan,” ambassador Haqqani, who can be director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, stated.

He defined that Pakistan can be compelled to implement any worldwide sanctions positioned on Afghanistan and it could not be a simple activity given the porousness of the worldwide border. There can be “widespread sympathy for the Taliban in Pakistan,” Haqqani stated.

Pakistan would additionally need to probably take care of a big influx of refugees if the state of affairs in Afghanistan destabilizes resulting from future preventing among the many Taliban and different rebel teams, he added.

Brookings’ Afzal added that Pakistan’s perceived closeness with the Taliban would additionally pose important issues for its international popularity, after the nation spent years trying to shed a picture related to terrorism. “That relationship with the Taliban in particular could strain Pakistan’s already troubled relationship with the U.S.,” she stated.

What happens next?

The Taliban final week formed an all-male interim government.

Political danger consultancy Eurasia Group stated the appearing authorities “is not the ideal outcome for Pakistan, which has been working to cultivate non-Pashtun support” in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s international ministry consulted with leaders of the previous U.S.-backed Northern Alliance about the potential for their becoming a member of a Taliban-led authorities, in response to Eurasia Group. “But the Taliban have insisted that anyone who collaborated with the ‘occupation regime’ cannot hold a senior position.”

The Northern Alliance comprised of a free coalition of Afghan warlords who fought the Taliban in the late-Nineties.

Islamabad has but to formally acknowledge the Taliban as rulers of Afghanistan. Haqqani informed CNBC that the delay is a political strategy the place Pakistan is hoping that different international locations would acknowledge a Taliban-led Afghan authorities first.

“It would be very difficult for Pakistan not to recognize the Taliban,” he stated, including that Islamabad may find yourself with a “pyrrhic victory.”

“The Americans are out, and the government that had been created through international support is gone. So, will Pakistan really be able to have influence in Afghanistan of the kind that it wanted, without Afghanistan being a source of destabilization inside Pakistan?” Haqqani added.

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