Afghan Taliban And Pakistan At Loggerheads – OpEd


Pakistan, like several other countries, has provided humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan over the years. This assistance has included food aid, medical supplies, and support for Afghan refugees who have sought refuge in Pakistan. Pakistan has often cited humanitarian reasons for its support to Afghanistan, particularly during times of crisis, such as natural disasters or armed conflicts.

Pakistan, being a neighboring country, has a vested interest in the stability of Afghanistan, as instability in Afghanistan can have implications for Pakistan’s security and economy. Additionally, Pakistan has a significant Afghan refugee population, and it has provided shelter and assistance to millions of Afghan refugees over several decades.

However, it’s essential to note that Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan is multifaceted, and it has also faced criticism and accusations of supporting various Afghan factions during the long Afghan conflict. The dynamics of this relationship influenced by various factors, including political, security, and economic considerations.

Likewise, Pakistan has asked repeatedly to Chinese authorities that they must act against anti-Pakistan elements operating from Afghan soil. Pakistan is angry that the Taliban are copying its playbook by hosting a militant group hostile to a neighboring country.  Riven internally, debilitated by the death of successive leaders, and forced from its strongholds, the TTP was seen for years as a largely spent force. But the group has reemerged over the past two years, unifying squabbling factions and unleashing a wave of deadly attacks.

Pakistan recorded at least 294 militant attacks in 2021, a 56 percent increase compared to the previous year, according to the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS). Most of the attacks were attributed to the TTP. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened and strengthened the TTP. The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in August has significantly reduced U.S. air strikes in the region, allowing the TTP to operate more freely. TTP fighters have also obtained sophisticated weaponry, including U.S.-made firearms that their Afghan allies seized from Afghanistan’s defeated armed forces. With the Taliban unwilling to clamp down on the TTP, Pakistan is likely to continue targeting TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan, which will further strain Islamabad’s ties with the militants

Pakistan has pivotal role in the Afghan conflict over the years. Pakistan has taken steps to cooperate with the Afghan government and the international community in combating terrorism. It has been a key partner in facilitating peace talks between the Afghan government and various Afghan Taliban factions. Pakistan has also taken military action against domestic militant groups operating in its tribal areas and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The situation in Afghanistan has evolved over the years. The dynamics between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other regional players were shifting rapidly. Pakistan has also been engaged in diplomacy and regional efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan. It has participated in initiatives like the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) and has sought to facilitate dialogue between various Afghan factions.

Efforts to eradicate terrorism and extremism require cooperation not only from one country but from multiple stakeholders, including the Afghan government. It is important for any government, including the Afghan government, to take decisive actions to address these issues within its own borders. Countering terrorism and extremism is primarily the responsibility of the national government. The Afghan government should have effective security and law enforcement agencies to combat extremist groups and ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

In today’s interconnected world, addressing terrorism and extremism often requires international cooperation. The Afghan government should work closely with neighboring countries, regional partners, and the international community to share intelligence, resources, and strategies to combat terrorism. Achieving political stability and national reconciliation within Afghanistan is crucial for effectively countering extremism. A stable government can better address the root causes of extremism and work towards a peaceful and inclusive society. Extremism often thrives in areas with limited economic opportunities and social unrest. The Afghan government should prioritize economic development, education, and social programs to address the underlying issues that can lead to extremism.

Upholding the rule of law and ensuring that justice is served is essential in countering extremism. The Afghan government should have a functioning legal system that can prosecute individuals involved in extremist activities. Engaging with local communities and religious leaders can be instrumental in countering extremism at the grassroots level. Building trust and cooperation within communities can help identify and prevent extremist activities. Implementing effective counter-radicalization and de-radicalization programs can help individuals disengage from extremist ideologies and reintegrate into society. Developing and implementing comprehensive counterterrorism legislation can provide the legal framework for addressing terrorism and extremism.

Shaikh Moazam Khan

Shaikh Moazam Khan is an Islamabad based expert of strategic affairs.

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