Dark Mode
Friday, 19 July 2024
Logo
AdSense Advertisement
Advertisement
The Afghan Conundrum

The Afghan Conundrum

 

By: Palwasha Aftab

Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan have mostly remained strained. Chronologically, the seeds of mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan were sown before independence in 1947. By 1946, as it became clear that British India would be partitioned, the Afghan government saw an opportunity to revise the Durand line of 1893 by laying claim to several territories that were to become part of Pakistan. When Pashtuns, in a referendum, held in the then NWFP in July 1947 ruled decisively in favor of joining Pakistan, the Afghan government started championing the cause of a separate state of ‘Pashtunistan’ for the Pashtuns.

On Sept 30, 1947, Afghanistan’s representative cast the only negative vote for admitting Pakistan to the UN. That vote was later withdrawn but the hostility it represented cast a long shadow of mistrust between the two countries. After the Soviet and US invasions of Afghanistan in 1979 and 2001 respectively, Afghanistan plunged into a series of crises, causing enormous hardship to its people. Pakistan opened its doors to millions of Afghan refugees and even supported Afghan militants — referred to as Mujahideen — who were resisting the occupiers. That built expectations in Pakistan that a friendly Afghan government denying space to elements hostile to Pakistan could be a strategic asset.

Fast forward to August 2021 after the takeover of Kabul by the Afghan Taliban, many including those sitting at the helm of affairs portrayed the Afghan Taliban's victory as a major success for Pakistan. The premise for their celebration was that the friendly Taliban government would evict groups such as the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates. Things, however, have not transpired according to the expectations. The Taliban have done little to rein in the anti-Pakistan militant groups, notably the banned TTP, from using the Afghan soil for launching attacks in Pakistan.

The report, compiled by a UN committee that monitors terrorist activities across the globe, defined Afghanistan as a "place of global significance for terrorism, with approximately 20 terrorist groups operating in the country and spreading their influence across regions to build theocratic quasi-state entities." It also observed that “the distinctions between members of Al Qaeda and affiliated groups, including TTP, and [IS-K] are at times blurred, mirroring Pakistan's concerns on the threat posed by the IEA to peace and security of Pakistan and beyond.

According to official and independent reports, TTP terrorists, responsible for bloodshed in Pakistan, are operating freely in various Afghan regions, including Kunar, Nuristan, Paktika, Khost, and others. TTP emir Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud is believed to be based in Paktika province, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, while his deputy, Qari Amjad Ali, shelters in Kunar.

While the interim government of Afghanistan has repeatedly refuted allowing the use of its territory against Pakistan, reports indicate that IEA is providing TTP and its affiliates not just safe havens, but logistical support and the left-behind American stockpiles of arms as well. In a video evidence circulating on X, TTP fighters can be seen using the pickup trucks and helicopters of the Armed Forces of IEA to infiltrate the Pak-Afghan international border to carry out attacks against the state of Pakistan. Meanwhile, in the recently targeted airbase in Mianwali by the Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), seemingly a front group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), American weapons were seized, which according to reports, are being sold by Afghan Taliban to like-minded extremists, including the TTP, who are inspired by their victory.

Over the last few days, military personnel as well as police officers have come under militant attacks in KP, Balochistan, and Punjab, resulting in the martyrdom of several individuals. The deadliest attack was in Gwadar, where 14 troops were martyred, while terrorists launched a brazen attack on a PAF base in Mianwali. Attacks also took place in Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat and Khyber. Notably, the upsurge in these terrorist attacks followed right after
Pakistan ramped up its legitimate actions to enhance border control, enforce proper documentation and passport requirements, deport illegal migrants (mostly Afghan), combat smuggling and narcotics activities, and regulate the Afghan Transit Trade,
which have been met with anger in Kabul.


In the face of mounting security concerns emanating from Afghanistan, what are Pakistan’s options? With respect to Afghanistan, in a major policy shift, Pakistan has rightly decided not to advocate the Afghan Taliban’s case at the international level or extend any other assistance following failure of the Kabul authorities to neutralize the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as it may potentially work as a pressure tactic to coerce Kabul to deny Pakistan-opposing groups, including the TTP, who have been responsible for 60 per cent increase in terror incidents since August 2021, from using the Afghan territory for perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan. Also, Pakistan should work with concerned regional countries like China, Iran, Russia and the Central Asian Republics in mounting pressure on Kabul to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

More important, though, are the steps Pakistan takes at home. The security forces and law enforcement agencies must eliminate militants operating inside Pakistan and launch an earnest campaign to dismantle the expanding influence of extremist groups.

The writer has been a research associate at Eurasian Century Institute and writes on hybrid warfare and counter terrorism.

 

*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times   

AdSense Advertisement
Advertisement
AdSense Advertisement
Advertisement

Comment / Reply From

Archive

Please select a date!

Newsletter

Subscribe to our mailing list to get the new updates!

AdSense Advertisement
Advertisement