Pakistan, Afghanistan and Taliban

26 Jun 2016

Caution: Men at work

By:Syed Zeeshan Haider

The year was 1995; Benazir Bhutto was serving as the Prime Minister of Pakistan while Nasrullah Babar Malik was the Interior Minister. Abdul Wahid Kakar was the Chief of Army Staff and Talibanisation was on a continuous rise. During the same era, Taliban hanged the Afghan President Najibullah brazenly. After his execution, Taliban took over Afghanistan. Their era featured some good steps as well including the eradication of the cultivation of opium, a complete crackdown against the usage of drugs and a decline in the rate of crimes. However, the immensely horrendous stuff that they did afterwards cannot be neglected. They banned women’s access to education, taking Afghanistan back to the Stone Ages. Taliban, in reality, abhor anything that is even remotely related to progress, technology and modernity. Their definition and version of religion is so rigid that it does not have any place for other faiths or religions, whatsoever. That is exactly why they carried out brutalities against other nationalities and sects residing in Afghanistan. Mullah Omer became known as the most important Taliban leader, while, Ahmed Shah Masooud was leading the northern alliance. Taliban and Northen Alliance were pitted against each other in a ruthless war. Ahmed shah Masood was a brilliant military commander who successfully resisted the Taliban onslaught.

Ahmed Shah Masooud received his education from the Kabul University in 1970 and was awarded with the title of “Lion of Panjsher” after serving as the resisting leader during the Soviet Union’s attack in 1979. He also served as the Defense Minister for Afghanistan. During 90s, almost all the world forces including Pakistan supported Taliban while India and Iran stood with the northern alliance against the Taliban. On 9th September 2001, Ahmed Shah Massoud was assassinated after two Al-Qaida members, disguised as Journalists, came to interview him. The bomb was fixed in the camera. As a result of his assassination, 9th September is celebrated as the “Massoud Day” in Afghanistan.

After two days of assassination, the tragedy of 9/11 took place. The Taliban were standing with Osama Bin Laden and up until then, they had seized control of a huge amount of land in Afghanistan. During the same time period, Taliban were on a verge of starting an oil pipeline project, in which an American company was highly interested. However, 9/11 put an end to every such prospect. America started bombing the areas inhabited by Taliban and this marked the beginning of the decline of Taliban.

Afghanistan and America have always blamed Pakistan for supporting Taliban. Pakistan, on the other hand, has a soft spot only for one organization and that is the Haqqani Network. However, it has never fully admitted it. During the era of Ashfaq Kiyani, he was forced to carry out an operation in South Waziristan. However, he kept saying that he is waiting for the right time. After his tenure ended, General Raheel Sharif took the reins in his hands. 16th of December 2014 was the day when Peshawar’s Army Public School was attacked and from there on, Pakistan Army took its positions. Resultantly, an action plan was developed and army operations were begun across the country. Recently, Punjab is going through the mission clean-up where several Al-Qaida leaders and their facilitators have been killed specifically in Multan, Muzaffargarh and surrounding areas. As a result, law and order situation in Pakistan has improved.

However, Afghanistan has not given up on blaming Pakistan for harboring and supporting Taliban. Lately, Mullah Mansoor, the Taliban leader, was killed in a drone attack in Nushki, Pakistan. He apparently had a Pakistani ID card too which puts a question mark over the performance of our security institutions and NADRA. Unfortunately, this was not the sole incident which puts Pakistan in an awkward situation.

The killing of Osma Bin Laden in Abottabad, arrest of Khalid Sheikh from Karachi, murder of Haqani’ son in Rawalpindi area and presence of other internationally renowned terrorists in Pakistan paint a dubious picture of the country in a global context. Moreover, a Pakistani passport and ID card of the Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor,  have also been found near the car that was wrecked in a Drone strike.

The government needs to take up this matter rather seriously. On the other hand in Afghanistan, after the death of Mullah Omar, Mullah Baituallh Khanzada has been appointed as the new ameer while Siraj-ud-Haqqani and Mulla Omer’s son Mullah Yaqoob have been appointed as the deputy ameers. Pakistan is still accused of supporting the Haqqani network. If this turns out to be true, the ball will be in Pakistan’s court. Therefore, Pakistan should use its influence over Taliban in general and Haqani in particular to resolve the issues between Afghanistan government, America and the Taliban. If it succeeds in doing so, peace can return to Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan will able to redeem itself and regain it past reverence in the international community. However, if it fails, Pakistan will lose its only card in the region of having influence over the Afghan Taliban. Subsequently, it will lose its importance in the region. Pakistan’s recent foreign policy and its ability to resolve these issues will determine its place in the world as “good“ or “bad”, in the coming days.

Published in Pakistan Today on 26-06-2016

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