Pakistan and Afghanistan share unique relationship with each other. The two countries have been neighbors separated by a 2,570km border. There are religious, cultural and ethnic relations. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai even described the two countries as “inseparable brothers”.
However, Pakistan’s support to Taliban, Threat of TTP to Pakistan and ISIS remains some of the contesting issues between the two countries. However, with the rise of Taliban, the relations between the two countries have taken a new turn. Here’s a look at the Pakistan-Afghanistan relations:
Pakistan’s Support to Taliban
Many experts have pointed out Pakistan’s ISI supporting Taliban in Afghanistan. Reports say that without Pakistan’s shelter and support Taliban might not be marching through the streets of Kabul. Right from the inception of mujahedin in the 1980s against the Soviet, Pakistan stood with the US in supporting the Afghan mujahedin. After the victory against Soviet Forces, Taliban emerged as the most powerful military group within Afghanistan and came to power for a brief period.
Later when the US attacked Taliban post 9/11, Pakistan became a hot bed for Taliban refuge and training. Previous Afghan government have alleged that Taliban was supported militarily and financially from Pakistan.
What remains for Pakistan?
Pakistan is not seen by the international community as a firm ally in the battle against jihadist terrorism. It has long been accused by many countries including India and the United States of providing support for the Taliban and terrorist groups, something it denies.
As Pakistan supported Taliban in its fight for two decades, it has become one of the few countries to formally recognise its government. After Taliban seized Kabul last month on August 15, Pakistani PM Imran Khan declared the group were “breaking the chains of slavery”.
Islamabad also sees Afghanistan as a strategic partner in its conflict with India and has therefore been willing to embrace the new government in Kabul. According to a report in BBC, Pakistan has a huge interest in ensuring the new government in Kabul cracks down on groups like Al Qaeda and the local Islamic State offshoot – ISIS-K.
Pak Soldiers Fighting Alongside Taliban?
Though Pakistan have denied reports of supporting Taliban, evidence from dead Taliban soldiers fighting in Panjshir show Islamabad connection.
According to a report in Times Now, Pakistani Army personnel are also fighting with Taliban to capture the Panjshir valley. An identity card recovered from one of the Pakistani soldiers killed in the counter attack by the resistance forces in Panjshir shows the proof of the alliance.
The identity card reportedly belongs to a Pakistani national named Mohammad Waseem. The report comes a day after the Pentagon claimed that it had no evidence to verify reports that Pakistanis were fighting alongside Taliban.
Taliban’s Rise Threatens Pakistan?
However, with Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan, it is not all good news for Pakistan. Some factions in the Pakistani government have shown opposition to Taliban, reason- Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). A section of people in Pakistan government fears that the rise of Taliban and a miscalculated move could strengthen the TTP.
TTP has been proven dangerous against Pakistan as its main objectives included “implementing Sharia law, fighting US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and engaging in jihad against the Pakistani Army”, a report in The Indian Express said. The group has been responsible for carrying out many terrorist attacks in Pakistan, resulting in mass bloodshed and destruction of property.
Even in 2021, the group has increased its activity and claimed a number of attacks across Pakistan. Reports say that in the first two months of 2021 alone, it claimed 32 attacks, the majority of which occurred in FATA.
The relationship between the TTP and Taliban often runs hot and cold. The group have supported and opposed each other on different issues.
Souring Relations with the West
Pakistan’s relation with the West, especially the United States have deteriorated over the last few years. President Joe Biden has refused even to call Prime Minister Khan since he became president.
Lt Gen HR McMaster, the former US National Security Adviser said Pakistan should be treated as a “pariah state” if it did not stop its support for jihadi groups, BBC reported.
“We have to stop pretending that Pakistan is a partner,” he reportedly said. “Pakistan has been acting as an enemy nation against us by organising, training and equipping these forces and by continuing to use jihadist terrorist organisations as an arm of their foreign policy.”
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