Unraveling The Aftermath: How The US-Taliban Deal Impacted Pakistan’s Security Landscape – Analysis

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The agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020 aimed to withdraw most U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2021. This withdrawal would result in certain factions of the Taliban gaining a larger role in Afghan politics, raising concerns for India. Indian assets in Afghanistan have been targeted by the Haqqani group, a major Taliban faction, and India’s investments in the country were protected by the presence of U.S.-led troops and the stability they brought.

As this stability now becomes increasingly uncertain, India faces risks to its continued presence in Afghanistan. The first risk is related to terrorism, as there is uncertainty about if the Taliban can effectively prevent terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan. The second risk is linked to the growing influence of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which has strong ties with the Taliban, particularly the Haqqani group. The third risk involves political instability in Kabul. To safeguard its interests, the paper recommends a set of strategies for India to mitigate these risks and adapt to the changing situation in Afghanistan. (Chaudhuri & Shende, 2020). 

While supporting the Taliban, Iran also sought a role in the Afghan peace process, advocating for talks that included the Afghan government and all parties. Iran’s main motivation for supporting the Taliban is its rivalry with the U.S., which has become more pronounced after the killing of General Qassem Soleimani. Despite its support for the Taliban, Pakistan remains the external actor with the most influence over the group. Pakistan played a key role in the U.S.-Taliban peace deal and has gained further influence in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal. For Iran to become a significant player in Afghanistan, it needs to improve its relations with Pakistan. Cross-border attacks and tensions have strained Iran-Pakistan relations, but efforts have been made to de-escalate and enhance border security cooperation. Iran’s ties with the U.S. and India also influence its relations with Pakistan. The U.S.-Taliban deal provided Iran with an opportunity to gain a foothold in Afghanistan. (Verma, 2022, pp. 260-279).

Managing Ties with the US and the Taliban

The U.S. aimed to transform Afghanistan over two decades, but the outcome following the government’s dissolution was far from the desired goal. The US-Taliban deal faced criticism for excluding the Afghan government and not adequately addressing human rights and democracy concerns. The deal required the US and its allies to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, contingent on the Taliban’s compliance with counter-terrorism commitments. Pakistan, sharing a border with Afghanistan was affected by the deal’s aftermath, facing attacks from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), both allied with the Taliban. Pakistan hopes for a stable and friendly Afghanistan to improve regional security and economic prospects, nevertheless, the attacks raise doubts about the Taliban’s commitment to preventing groups from using Afghan soil to threaten Pakistan’s security or that of other countries (Mills, 2021).

Pakistan’s Historical Ties with the Taliban

The deterioration of relations began in the 1970s, with both countries supporting various factions against each other. During the Soviet-Afghan War, Pakistan became a major training ground for mujahideen fighters who crossed into Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet forces.

In the 1990s, Pakistan supported different factions, including the Taliban, to gain influence in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s rise to power led to close relations between the two countries, but tensions resurfaced when the Taliban refused to recognize the Durand Line as the official border. Both countries have accused each other of supporting militant groups and engaging in cross-border skirmishes.

After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Pakistan urged the international community to engage with the Taliban and address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis. However, growing tensions between the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and the Afghan Taliban government have added further complexity to the relationship. Pakistan conducted air raids across the border in response to TTP attacks and called for a thorough investigation into an attack on its embassy in Kabul. The text highlights the long-standing and intricate issues that continue to impact the relationship between the two neighboring nations (PBSO NEWS HOUR, August 30, 2021).

Impact on Afghanistan’s Security Situation

The Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 marked the end of decades of continuous war. While the world focused on the humanitarian and economic fallout, the security situation in Afghanistan experienced a significant shift, with a notable slowdown in violence.

Afghans had become accustomed to a high level of death and destruction, but after the Taliban’s takeover, the rate of violence decreased drastically. Emergency wards were no longer filled with war-related injuries, and the number of battles and explosions decreased significantly. Displacement due to conflict also reduced, with only two provinces reporting such issues.

Despite the relative calm, uncertainty loomed among Afghans as they speculated whether the period of reduced violence would last or if it was merely a temporary respite before another outbreak of civil war (United Nations, September 27, 2022).

Security Challenges for Pakistan

On January 30, 2023, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a mosque in the high-security zone of Peshawar, Pakistan during afternoon prayers. The attack resulted in at least 61 deaths and over 150 injuries, mostly among policemen and army personnel present at the mosque. The bomber detonated himself in the front row of worshippers, causing the roof to collapse on the congregation. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility, stating it was a revenge attack for a slain TTP commander.

The mosque was located within the police lines, raising questions about security lapses, and authorities are investigating how the bomber managed to enter the highly fortified area. The Prime Minister and Army chief visited the site and vowed to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address the deteriorating law and order situation. The attack was strongly condemned by various political figures and officials, emphasizing the need to combat terrorism effectively. The TTP has a history of carrying out deadly attacks in Pakistan, and this incident highlights the ongoing security challenges faced by the country. (Institute for Economics & Peace, November 2019).

Opportunities and Risks for Pakistan’s Security Landscape

Pakistan’s cybersecurity policy, emphasizes the importance of examining the policy’s deliverables and nuances. The policy includes 17 distinct deliverables, covering governance, technology, human resources, and cybersecurity awareness. A Cyber Governance Policy Committee (CGPC) was formed to provide strategic cybersecurity oversight, and its recommendations require approval from the Federal Cabinet.

The policy addresses capacity building, research, development, public-private partnerships, and establishing a national cybersecurity culture. It advocates for a risk-centric approach to cybersecurity decisions and highlights the need for trust in digital transactions. The implementation of robust cybersecurity awareness programs in both the government and private sectors is emphasized. To ensure policy enforcement, robust audit mechanisms are proposed to monitor compliance by applicable organizations. The goal is to achieve cybersecurity self-sufficiency and enable the export of mature cybersecurity products and services, benefiting Pakistan’s economy and contributing to the region’s cybersecurity landscape (Baloch, et al., 2022).

Withdrawal of US Troops and its Consequences

The U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, starting from the September 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaeda, led to the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States to oust the Taliban and dislodge al-Qaeda. The war continued for years, with various troop surges and attempts to stabilize the country.

As mentioned above, in February 2020, the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in exchange for the Taliban’s commitment to peace negotiations and preventing terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan. The U.S. began withdrawing troops, and by August 31, 2021, the withdrawal was completed, leading to the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. The text has highlighted the challenges, controversies, and humanitarian efforts during the withdrawal process and raises questions about the war’s overall impact and its long-term implications for Afghanistan’s stability (NATO, August 31, 2022).

The post-Taliban takeover scenario in Afghanistan has witnessed a rise of terrorist groups in the region. Many terrorists from different parts of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Pakistan have gathered in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s return to power. The Taliban has maintained ties with other terrorist groups and allowed al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to live in Kabul until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

The Taliban has tried to avoid attacks by terrorist groups on foreign soil, except for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which continues to conduct attacks. However, the Taliban has struggled to control the Islamic State in Khorasan (ISK), which seeks to provoke sectarian conflict and weaken the Taliban. The National Resistance Front (NRF) is an anti-Taliban group but lacks significant support and is unlikely to win in a renewed civil war. There are concerns about potential terrorist attacks abroad and the possibility of armed factions splitting from the Taliban (NBC NEWS, August 3, 2022).


The growing insecurity in Pakistan, particularly in the province of Balochistan, is due to various internal and external factors. The newly founded Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) claimed responsibility for a recent attack on a military base in Northern Balochistan, adding to the region’s longstanding ethnic separatist uprising. The presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region has further complicated the security challenges. The situation in neighboring Afghanistan, with the Taliban’s takeover and the activities of ISIS-Khorasan, also contributes to the escalating violence. To address these security threats, Pakistan and Afghanistan must cooperate to prevent cross-border terrorism and tackle the root causes of violence. International cooperation is also essential in combating extremist groups that pose a global security threat.

About the authors:

  • Balinder Singh (Ph.D. Scholar), Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharmshala, India. Email: [email protected]
  • Professor (Dr.) Jagmeet Bawa, Head Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Dharmshala, India. Email: [email protected]
  • Dr. Bawa Singh is an Associate Professor, Department of South and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, India. Email: [email protected] 
  • Dr. Sandeep Singh is an Assistant Professor, Department of South and Central Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, India. Email: [email protected] 


Baloch, U., Muhammad, B., & Niaz, T. (2022). Pakistan’s Cyber Security Governance: Challenges and Way Forward. Available online: https://www.ndu.edu.pk/issra/images/issra/01-Insight-Cyber-Security.pdf. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

Chaudhuri, R & Shende, S. (2020). Dealing With the Taliban: India’s Strategy in Afghanistan After U.S. Withdrawal. Available online: https://carnegieendowment.org/files/Chaudhuri_Shende_-_Afghanistan.pdf. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

Institute for Economics & Peace. (November 2019). Global Terrorism Index 2019: Measuring the Impact of Terrorism. Available online: https://www.economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/GTI-2019web.pdf. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

Mills, C. (August 13, 2021). The withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan and its implications for peace. Available online: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9241/CBP-9241.pdf. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

NATO. (August 31, 2022). NATO and Afghanistan. Available online:  https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_8189.htm. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

NBC NEWS. (August 3, 2022). The U.S. killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul. What now for the Taliban?. Available online:   https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/us-killed-al-qaeda-leader-ayman-al-zawahri-kabul-taliban-war-on-terror-rcna41120. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

PBSO NEWS HOUR. (August 30, 2021). A historical timeline of Afghanistan. Available online: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/asia-jan-june11-timeline-afghanistan. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

United Nations. (September 27, 2022). Afghanistan’s Future Depends on Taliban’s Engagement with World, But Restrictions on Women Signal Lack of International Commitments, Briefer Warns Security Council. Available online: https://press.un.org/en/2022/sc15038.doc.htm. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

Verma, R. (2022). US–Taliban peace deal and regional powers as potential spoilers: Iran as a case study. International Politics59(2), 260-279.

Welna, D & Dwyer, C. (February 29, 2020).  U.S. Signs Peace Deal with Taliban After Nearly 2 Decades of War In Afghanistan. Available online: https://www.npr.org/2020/02/29/810537586/u-s-signs-peace-deal-with-taliban-after-nearly-2-decades-of-war-in-afghanistan. (accessed on 26 July 2023).

Balinder Singh

Balinder Singh (PhD Scholar), Department Political Science, Central Univesity of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, India.

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