Pakistan’s Double Dealing In Afghanistan – OpEd
It is becoming more and more evident that Pakistan is heavily involved in the Afghan war, and is in fact the perpetrator of the war through terrorism. Unfortunately, Pakistan has declared an unannounced war against Afghans and Afghanistan. The Ashura terrorist attacks claimed by Pakistani based and ISI supported Lashkar-e Jangwi is one example of Pakistani terrorism in Afghanistan. The Lashkar-e Jangwi spokesman reportedly called Radio Liberty’s Islamabad bureau and verbally claimed responsibility. As of now there has been no other formal claim. So why is Pakistan unleashing terrorism in Afghanistan?
Pakistan has been heavily involved in the Afghan quagmire for greater than four decades. Its initial support for terrorism against Afghanistan began in the early 1970’s to destabilize Sardar Daud Khan’s government for its staunch disagreement regarding the imposed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the time Pakistan had minimal impact on the Afghan government and its institutions despite Pakistan’s support for religious fanatics that were tools of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the tide of Pakistan’s influence over Afghan affairs became ripe when Afghanistan was invaded in 1979 by the former Soviet Union to support its communist puppets in Kabul. To counter the power and extension of the communists in Afghanistan, the international community developed a marriage of convenience with religious radicals based in Pakistan, who were sworn enemies of the atheist communists, and presented to the international community by Pakistan as the most willing and most organized fighters. Blind to Pakistan’s overall ill intentioned strategy— to curtail moderate, independently minded Afghans and to extend its presence inside Afghanistan— the international community poured billions of dollars, supplied arms, and politically supported Pakistan for its support against the Soviets. Ironically, the aid provided to Pakistan allowed it to further penetrate and control the “Mujahideen”. These Pakistani controlled resistance groups became known to the outside world as “freedom fighters” or “Mujahideen”.
Meanwhile, sinisterly, Pakistan continued to shun moderate Afghan movements that were against the Soviet Union and their puppets. Simultaneously, to maintain its control over the “Mujahideen”, Pakistan pitched one group of “Mujahideen” against another for Pakistan’s favoritism—money and power— and as a check to their independence. In the process, many Afghans were murdered, homes were razed and refugees were formed.
Consequently, with the aid of the international community the Pakistani controlled groups became the sole voice of the Afghan people, with minor representation by small groups at the disposal of Iran. Gradually, these groups morphed into religious zealots with intolerant philosophies under the banner of Islam that was foreign to the general Afghan population. Progressively, these radical groups drowned the Afghan peoples’ desire to liberate their country and form a stable democratic nation following international norms, without contradicting the moderate Islam that was omnipresent in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion.
With Pakistan’s manipulation and international community’s naivety foreign radicals were allowed to enter Pakistan and Afghanistan for what had become a “Jihad”. In the process, Al-Qaeda took form, and a radical movement with far reaching affects metamorphosed from a local war to an international war.
Eventually, the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan and its communist allies were toppled by the “Mujahideen”. Unfortunately for Afghans, the groups of “Mujahideen” that entered Kabul were at each others’ throats, the hatred had been already seeded in Pakistan, and they were at odds over the spoils of war rather than focusing on what was expected of them, to form a sovereign government that recognized and acknowledged the sacrifices of all Afghans in their fight against the former Soviet Union and their puppets. Pakistan continued to exert its influence to find a niche for itself in the Afghan government and, in the process, it launched an unwavering military and financial support for its friendlier allies. In the process, Kabul and its residents experienced thousands of rockets, death, destruction and refugees.
The battle for Kabul destroyed over seventy percent of Kabul, and a stalemate developed between the various groups that were contending for power. Pakistan, unable to see one of its favorite groups wrestle Kabul, invested in a new organization that became known as the Taliban. The Taliban were marketed by the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, as Afghanistan’s savior and a new wave of war was launched. Within a few years ending in 1996, the Taliban, with the support of Pakistan, were able to take Kabul from one of Pakistan’s prior stooges and a new round of terror was unleashed in the name of Islamic purity. Women weren’t allowed to attend school, men were forced to grow bears, and so forth. Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda was operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with Pakistan’s blessing with impunity.
Al-Qaeda having bases in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, which was under Pakistani dominance, was able to launch several spectacular attacks internationally, some of which included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the September 11th, 2001 attack again on World Trade Center and the Pentagon. With the latter bombings, the internationally community finally came to a realization that allowing Pakistan to breed radicalism for its geopolitical ends was in fact becoming a fire that was beginning to rage internationally. Subsequently, the United States with the support of the international community invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban, and at the same time warned Pakistan to discontinue its support for the Taliban.
In 2002, after the defeat of the Taliban, Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan to the chagrin of the Pakistani’s became severely curtailed. Pakistan had invested heavily in controlling Afghanistan’s political and military affairs, and it came to not. Humiliated and disgruntled. Pakistan began a double game, whereby it overtly sided with the international community against terrorism, but covertly it supported terrorism to destabilize the newly established, fragile Afghan government. Pakistan’s support for terrorism has led to the burning of homes, schools, villages, and above all it has caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) hundreds if not thousands of civilians are killed by Pakistani supported groups and to a lesser degree by the forces of the international community.
Pakistan’s double dealings manifested an apex when Osama bin Laden was found inside a compound, arms distance, 0.8 miles (1.3 km), from a Pakistani Military Academy considered its “West point”. The lid had finally come off of Pakistan’s refusal to admit that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. One after another, from the “Mujahideen”, to Taliban, and now Osama bin Laden Pakistan has began to see its fortunes overturned. In desperation to control events in Afghanistan, Pakistan continues its support for groups that strike terror inside Afghanistan for a hope that its luck may turn to its favor. Meanwhile, the terror and bloodshed continues in Afghanistan.
Because of the world’s reluctance and lack of seriousness in containing Pakistan’s support for radical organizations, Pakistan continues to maintain links of support with organizations that have been fighting the Afghan government. Each time Pakistan’s double dealing has been exposed and lack of seriousness undertaken, Pakistan has become more bold and daring. Pakistan’s boldness has gone as far as supporting and encouraging a Pakistan based-militant group, the Haqqani network, to attack the US embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul in September of 2011, despite a few months earlier Osama bin laden was found and killed in Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Pakistan has taken every opportunity to sabotage any hopes of peace by becoming an obstacle to peace talks with insurgents. To that end, a Pakistan based militant assassinated Afghanistan’s peace envoy, Burhanudin Rabbani to stall the peace process. Importantly, Pakistan boycotted the Bonn conference on December 5th that was held to discuss a road map for on-going international support for Afghanistan after the international troops leave in the end of 2014.
Pakistan has been heavily involved in Afghanistan for the last four decades. It gained strong strategic, military and financial support unintentionally from the international community during the Soviet invasion. When unable to control Kabul through its former proxies, it organized and mobilized the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist, and which allowed groups like Al-Qaeda to inflict military attacks to as far away a nation as the United States. With the toppling of the Taliban, Pakistan lost a very important tool to meddle in Afghanistan’s affairs. Out of desperation, Pakistan has been taking every opportunity to provide lip service to the international community to support the war against the insurgents on one hand and on the other supply and support the insurgents as it sees fit. Meanwhile, the Afghans continue to suffer. Unfortunately, on December 6, 2011, two suicide attacks occurred in Afghanistan, during a holy day, Ashura– to lament the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and members of his family in Iraq in 680 AD, which a Pakistan based group known as the Lashkar-e Jangwi took responsibility.
The international community must not take Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan as lightly as it has. Pakistan is growing bolder the more we appease it, and the more we request, rather than demand of it. The trajectory of Pakistan’s double dealing hasn’t been favorable to Afghanistan or the international community. We cannot allow the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers to go in vain by foolishly continuing to appease Pakistan. Pakistan has offered the international community nothing beneficial; it has offered a fear of instability and paranoia of what if its nuclear weapons fall in wrong hands. Appreciating that paranoia, it has blackmailed the international community to submission to its every move. It is time for the international community to become serious and demand that Pakistan stop its nefarious designs, or else it should be warned of serious repercussions. Otherwise, if the past is any testimony to the future, Pakistan will continue its double dealings at a cost to Afghan and international lives.