Islamabad: The quest for achieving ‘strategic depth’ against India by sponsoring the Afghan Taliban’s bid to capture power in Kabul and turning Afghanistan into a virtual fifth province has proved extremely costly for Pakistan.
The dream of a ‘Gazwa-e-Hind’ or supposedly holy war against India lies in tatters as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the tribal and ideological brothers of the Afghan Taliban across the Durand Line – has turned large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces into no-go areas for the Pakistan Army.
The volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan region is again the global hub of terrorism after the revocation of the peace deal by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Taliban taking over Afghanistan, reported Asian Lite International.
It’s a double whammy for Pakistan which has a new ‘enemy’ (Taliban) on its western border and a new nightmare that is its own making (TTP). As many as 15 cross-border attacks took place in Pakistan in 2022.
While conditions in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan are anybody’s guess given its cloistered existence, a survey by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), released January 7, 2023, confirms details of what is known — that 419 Pakistanis were killed and 734 injured in 262 attacks during the past year launched by the TTP and other Islamist militant groups active on the Af-Pak border.
It appears uncertain whether “the Taliban will fulfil their promises on foreign militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State Movement of Uzbekistan, ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) or TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party), and the TTP”, the report says.
Pakistanis are sore from facing threats to its own rule. Kabul has only acted against ISKP and not against the TTP and elements like Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, all religiously inspired.
Analysts are asking why and how religion and terrorism go together in the entire region of which Pakistan is the prime example.
As the Afghan rulers stay defiant, more and more Pakistanis, including the political opposition are ridiculing the end of the long-sought ‘strategic depth’ from a ‘friendly’ Afghanistan.
At long last, the charade of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban that Pakistan successfully sold to the world, especially the United States, has now been exposed, the report says.
For Raoof Hasan, a former special advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan (The News, January 6, 2023) the new formulation of TTP/TTA, clubs the Afghan Taliban with their Pakistani ideological brothers. Operations to tame the TTP were “only partly successful because the bulk of their operatives escaped across the border where they have been working since in filial bondage with the Afghan Taliban.”
Pakistan’s military ‘establishment’, also called the ‘deep state’, fully exposed now, is finding it difficult to learn that radicalization as a state policy or a proxy weapon is a double-edged sword bound to operate both ways.
Blaming the government for the manner of holding talks with the TTP, the PIPS report notes that the Afghan Taliban’s taking power in Kabul, and the Pakistani state’s persistent ambition to engage in peace talks with the TTP had “encouraged the group to regroup and escalate terrorist violence in the country,” reported Asian Lite International.
As the Pakistan government vowed to crack down on militant groups without discrimination, the reaction from the TTP has been a familiar one: a threat to attack two of the leading political parties of Pakistan for fighting ‘America’s war’.
Pervez Hoodbhoy, writing in Dawn (January 7, 2023), declares that the “TTP is undefeatable” as the rulers are in cahoots with them. “If Pakistan is to eventually defeat TTP and its backers in Kabul, our soldiers must know what they are fighting for and why. An ideologically confused army cannot hope to fight and win. Without a clearly spelt-out cause, there cannot be a strong motivation. Else Pakistan will lose and TTP will triumph,” he writes.
He underscored the need, clarity of intent and determination to act against the TTP with a comparison. “By official counts, there were 70,000 deaths from terrorism in 2002-2014, whereas Pakistanis killed in all four Pakistan-India wars add up to around 18,000,” he added.
Moreover, since the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan, the relations between Pakistan and the Taliban soared over the issue of the Durand Line. The Taliban do not recognise the international border and bilateral ties are tense.__firstpost.com