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The Afghan Taliban make measures against Islamabad as Pakistan’s Afghanistan strategy fails.

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The Afghan Taliban who are currently in power and have turned into a worrying thorn in Islamabad’s side rather than offering any strategic advantages or helping to Pakistan’s security, have ultimately destroyed Islamabad’s long-standing goal of having a dependent administration in Kabul. This not only has serious consequences for Pakistan’s security (such as through Kabul’s backing for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP), but it also calls for a new approach to foreign policy in order to cope with the situation in Afghanistan’s bordering region.

Since the fall of the Republic, the Afghan Taliban have protected the TTP.

The Afghan Taliban have done four dubious actions in favour of the TTP since taking office on August 15, 2022, all of which are obviously detrimental to Pakistan’s interests and security.
1. Operational support: Of these measures, backing the TTP and giving them a free field in Afghanistan is the most important. Over 2,000 TTP militants who had been imprisoned by former Afghan presidents Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai were released from Afghan prisons shortly after the Afghan Taliban rule came into power.

Terrorist assaults soared by 56% in 2021 in Pakistan, following six years of comparatively calm conditions during which annual attacks actually fell. According to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think tank based in Islamabad, 395 people were killed in total across 294 attacks. These attacks “coincided with the Afghan Taliban’s military offensive, which [started] in May 2021 and reached the highest point in August 2021 when the Taliban took over Kabul.”

2. Pushing for Pakistani accommodation: There are several geostrategic benefits to the Afghan Taliban’s decision to assist and facilitate Pakistani negotiations with the TTP rather than engage in direct military conflict with the organisation. This has the effect of forcing negotiations with the TTP to take place on the latter’s terms, and Pakistan must now deal with the facilitator of its talks with the TTP leveraging relationships with one of its top security concerns to that aim.

Since the Afghan Taliban and TTP have a long history of cooperation, this not only benefits the TTP as allies, but it alsopermits Pakistan to be on the defensive so as not to engage in Afghan issues, giving the Afghan Taliban a chance to develop a positive reputation for themselves as peacemakers. Finally, and probably most importantly, it could be beneficial to dispel the myth that the Afghan Taliban are Pakistani go-betweens.

3. Persistent rejection of the Durand Line: The Durand Line, a 2,640-kilometer boundary between the two nations that is otherwise acknowledged globally, is the third big anti-Pakistani action taken by the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Zabihullah Mujahid, acting minister of information for the Taliban, stated in an interview from February 2022 that “the Durand Line problem is still an unsolved one, while the erection of fencing itself generates rifts among a population sprawled across both sides of the border. It essentially divides a country (referring to the Pashtun ethnic-linguistic group).

4. Openness to dialogue with India: Pakistan is very troubled by the Taliban defence minister, Mullah Yaqoob, who expressed a desire for India, Pakistan’s bitter adversary, to train Afghan forces. Given that Yaqoob is the eldest son of Mullah Omar, the movement’s founder, such an overture carries a lot of weight and marks a dramatic shift in tone. Thus, having a dependent regime next door is a serious setback to Pakistan’s decades-long policy in Afghanistan, preventing Islamabad from exploiting Afghanistan for its long-term regional agenda, notably its anti-Indian agenda. The Taliban’s reliance on Pakistan would begin to decline if Delhi agreed to train Taliban forces, giving India a significant presence on Pakistan’s Western policies.

Long-standing Pakistani strategy toward Afghanistan has fallen short of its main goal of installing a pro-Islamabad government in Kabul to balance the danger from India. The Afghan Taliban may now utilise Pakistan to further their own objectives, including tightening their grasp on Afghanistan by supporting the TTP at the expense of all other Afghan political groups, thanks to this strategic mistake. The interests of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan are being harmed by this circumstance.

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