Shall Pakistan wage war against Afghanistan?


After decades of battle against radical Islamic terrorists, as the US has abruptly withdrawn from Afghanistan by abandoning its ‘war of terror’, terrorist groups particularly Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has already emerged into a huge threat to Pakistan and its armed forces.

Monday’s suicide blast at a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines area makes it clear that Pakistan’s secret agenda of sponsoring terrorism and backfired and started causing damage to its own. During recent times, incidents of terrorist acts have more than doubled in Pakistan, with 319 in 2020 compared to 630 in 2022. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is one of the main culprits of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, particularly those targeting the military and police. Although one of its commanders took credit for the latest attack, TTP has formally denounced it, while the recent attacks on Pakistan’s police have remained unclaimed, according to analysts, TTP is the key beneficiary of it.

Experts said the uptick in violence has led Pakistan’s government to engage in direct negotiations with the TTP, sometimes using the Afghan Taliban as a host. However, these negotiations have been unsuccessful, and past experience has demonstrated that brokered ceasefires with the TTP do not last. Pakistan’s authorities even sent a clerical delegation to Afghanistan led by the Deobandi cleric Mufti Taqi Usmani to negotiate with the TTP. Usmani used his notoriety and scholarly credentials to declare it impermissible to attack the Pakistani state.

They said, the rise of TTP attacks can be attributed to a variety of conditions. The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the subsequent ascendance of the Afghan Taliban, which has provided refuge to at least 6,000 members of the TTP, has been a material and morale booster for the group. Even the Haqqani Network wing of the Taliban’s leadership has been unsympathetic to Pakistan’s concerns. Additionally, the TTP is taking advantage of the strained relationship between the Pakistani government and the inhabitants of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Military operations, arbitrary detentions, low investment, and a sense of exclusion from mainstream Pakistani politics have alienated some inhabitants of the tribal areas. This has been further deteriorated by the stern approach taken toward the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, which is essentially a Pashtun civil rights movement but has been strident in its criticism of the Pakistani state. Moreover, the volatile parliamentary politics, anti-military sentiment in the country, and journey towards economic bankruptcy of Pakistan may have prompted the TTP to escalate its campaign. These terrorist groups are thinking – it is their best opportunity to establish another Sharia emirate by dividing a part of Pakistan.

Established in its current form in 2007, the TTP is sometimes referred to as the “Pakistani Taliban”. The TTP’s attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School in 2014 brought a stark realization of the severity of the situation in Pakistan, leading to large-scale military operations by the Pakistan army. Pakistan’s military paid a high cost, evidenced by high casualties in the field, terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s military headquarters, and a separate attack on a mosque that killed senior officers and 17 children.

Key policymakers in Washington and other Western capitals see the Afghan Taliban as mere stooges of the Pakistani deep state. Now it is assumed that any hostility of those Islamist terrorist groups toward Pakistan was a result of Islamabad’s double-dealing. It may be mentioned here that, Pakistan has been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States under the pretense of combating militancy, while it has been maintaining connections with several terrorist groups and been providing funds, logistics and training. To a large segment of Pakistani populace, TTP is considered as a consequence of the US war in Afghanistan. Policymakers in the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agency believed – if negotiations with the Afghan Taliban were successful and the war concluded, violence within Pakistan would cease. By now they are being proved wrong.

Several analysts in Pakistan said Washington’s decision-makers never considered the defeat of the Taliban and stability in Afghanistan to be a top priority or a vital interest. This can be understood from President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, President Barack Obama’s choice to surge on a timeline, President Donald Trump’s expedited negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, and President Joe Biden’s ultimate decision to withdraw.

While Pakistan now finds itself alone in its fight against TTP or the Taliban, as violence in the region is not a top priority for Washington or Pakistan’s other close allies. In the meantime, the Biden administration is putting focus on continuation of democratic process in Pakistan, despite the fact that this democracy would only enable new players – politicians in running the country at whims, while majority of the key members of Shehbaz Sharif’s government are already known as notoriously corrupt. Due to Biden’s emphasis on democracy, a major segment of political elites in Pakistan are already considering their armed forces as villains and culprits, despite the fact, for waging war against Afghanistan, Shehbaz Sharif’s government requires active participation of the army.

Meanwhile, another truth is remaining out of focus. During its presence in Afghanistan, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been running a transnational drug trade with active participation of Afghan drug lords. Although Washington has left Afghanistan, its presence in the Afghan drug sector is continuing in full-swing, as this is one of the main sources of income for the CIA.


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