Update: June 20, 2021 6:51 PM STI
Islamabad [Pakistan], June 20 (ANI): It is becoming increasingly clear that Pakistan, caught between the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rising Mujahedin allies and the Taliban, will not get what it wants after the troops withdraw Americans from Afghanistan.
Pakistan is now caught in the midst of a power struggle that threatens to explode into a destabilizing new phase of civil war, according to an Asia Times article.
At the same time, anti-Pakistani and jihadist terrorist groups aligned to varying degrees with the Taliban on both sides of the border are trying to carry out new deadly attacks inside Pakistan, a campaign that could escalate if Islamabad allows the United States new access to its military bases, writes Salman Rafi Sheikh in the Asia Times.
According to a recent UN report, at least a dozen different militant groups are now active in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with at least 6,500 Pakistani nationals involved.
Pakistan-based jihadist groups such as Jaish-i-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) continue to fight alongside Taliban groups against Afghan national forces, according to the report.
“If and when the conflict in Afghanistan escalates, Pakistan will inevitably be drawn deeper into the fight,” Sheikh said.
Islamabad’s response so far has been to literally protect itself against the growing threats that exist on both sides of the border.
While fencing off sections of the 2,670-kilometer border may curb cross-border infiltration to some extent, the multibillion-dollar policy will ultimately have limited impact on preventing groups from launching attacks in Afghanistan and fleeing. to a shrine in Pakistan, Asia Times reported.
With anti-Pakistani Taliban-aligned groups already active in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, the escalating situation presents a huge dilemma for Pakistani policymakers who had previously hoped to make Afghanistan a satellite state they control over and over again. its advantage over rival India.
While Pakistan has historically followed a policy of “strategic depth” towards Afghanistan, whereby it attempts to control the country as a political pawn and a strategic cover vis-à-vis India, a role that the Taliban played in the 1990s, in the current context, Islamabad can “I do not easily come back to doctrine, because groups influenced by the Taliban are opposed to the Pakistani state,” writes Sheikh.
Indeed, the Taliban’s desire to reestablish an “Islamic emirate” in Kabul will provide new ideological fire to thousands of Islamic militants in border regions to pursue similar goals in Pakistan.
Afghanistan could thus quickly turn into a proxy theater for Indo-Pakistani rivalry after the complete withdrawal of US troops and NATO by September 11 this year.
At the same time, Pakistan cannot afford to oppose completely the Afghan Taliban, who is closing in on all-out victory as US troops retreat and withdraw. Any move that alienates the group, including re-establishing ties with US forces, could push Pakistan-based Taliban groups to resume their extreme terrorist actions against Pakistani targets and state forces, Sheikh believes.
Pakistan is clearly struggling to strike a balance between Ghani’s government and the Taliban that prevents further waves of terrorism within its borders while keeping Afghanistan as an ally that does not come too close to the India in the emerging post-American era.
A power-sharing government between the Taliban and Ghani would likely limit the extent to which pro-Taliban groups could destabilize Pakistan, especially in agitated Baluchistan where Baluch groups have recently stepped up their attacks, especially against Chinese interests. in the troubled province.
Pakistan’s duality of goals is leading to mixed signals. For example, while Pakistan supports calls to preserve Afghanistan’s gains after 9/11 and prevent the emergence of a new Taliban-ruled emirate, it has also called for the political integration of the Taliban in Kabul. through a political settlement.
The net effect of this dual policy has been to strain ties on both sides. Sensing Pakistan’s double the game, the Taliban have increasingly resisted Islamabad’s attempts to push them to the negotiating tables in Doha and Istanbul.
The Taliban are also said to be quite worried about US-Pakistan talks on a new military alliance following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which could allow the United States to use Pakistan’s land and air space for counterterrorism operations. inside Afghanistan, especially against groups aligned with the Taliban such as Al Qaeda, Asia Times reported. (ANI)