By Hoor Arif
Where Pakistan has been blamed to have “double crossed” in the war on terror, at the same time, it has severely been afflicted during the combat. Thousands of people, including security personnel, have died while millions of others, from Pak-Afghan borderland on Pakistani side, have been forced to live as displaced persons. All this happened because the turbulent tribal belt was used as a launching pad for Afghan mujahidin against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. As a dire consequence of her actions, Pakistan had to pay a price for these actions when this environment of glory, through the use of religion, gave birth to several other religious extremist groups in support of or against Afghan Taliban.
After the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan, many Afghan Taliban leaders flew away to different parts of the world, especially to Pakistan – the reasons for preference were its porous border with Afghanistan and its erstwhile relationship with the major players of Soviet-Afghan war. Pakistan was time and again blamed for providing shelter to the terrorists whereas the arrests of a number of Al-Qaeda leaders from different cities of the country including the execution of Osama bin Laden contributed further to the allegations against Pakistan, being a double agent in the war against terrorism. Along with that, Pakistan was blamed for being a safe haven for Quetta Shura (Taliban Council) as seemingly evident from the killings of different Taliban leaders in Baluchistan, including that of Mullah Omar’s successor and former Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Akhter Mansoor, in the most recent drone strike in April 2016. To add to these allegations, it was claimed that the incumbent Taliban supremo, Mullah Haibatullah Akhonzada, had been teaching in a certain madrassa located in Balochistan. On the other hand, Pakistan based terrorists have made every effort to destabilize the country by continuously targeting its civilian population as well as paramilitary forces across the country. Correspondingly, Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to curb militancy as claimed many a time. This entire situation has entangled Pakistan in a state of disquiet.
When the NATO forces remained unable to gain considerable success against the Taliban insurgents, opening doors for table talks was the only option to bring belligerent groups in Afghanistan into mainstream politics. For this purpose, talks were initiated in Doha; nevertheless, Pakistan was not included in that process. The arrest and release of Afghan Taliban Second-in-Command, Mullah Biradar (2010), was perceived as an endeavour by Pakistan to express its significance in the Afghan peace process. The hopes for peace process, however, were shattered when Afghan government objected to hoisting the Taliban in administrative structure, during the negotiations in Doha.
In the line of this peace process initiative, another round of peace talks was held in Murree. It was said that “it is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and Pakistan is acting as a facilitator.” It was hoped that peace talks would bear fruit because Pakistan, which is recognized by many countries as the key player in the war on terror, was facilitating the negotiations. But the talks were derailed when the news of death of Mullah Omar, the then Commander of Taliban, came on the horizon of peace process. The news not only damaged the peace process but also triggered rifts among different factions of Afghan Taliban followed by intense skirmishes to control the helm of the affairs. After the stalled Murree peace talks, another initiative was undertaken by China and Pakistan, with the name of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), along with other regional countries to bring Taliban at negotiating table. Nonetheless, it brought no fruit because Taliban refused to participate in it unless there were Western footprints on the Afghan soil.
At present, Pakistan is believed to be going towards isolation at international level. Whether it is war on terror or Afghan peace talks, Pakistan is perceived as a non-confident ally by different countries, especially by the US and Afghanistan. It is evident from the fact that when Afghan government initiated peace talks with former Mujahideen commander, Gulbadin Hikmatyar, the then head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) tweeted that, “Hikmatyar is an explosive jacket and Pakistan wants to bury it in Afghanistan.”
Likewise, the recent visit of Afghan Taliban to Pakistan is again perceived as a conspiracy as Pakistan, time and again, asserted that it had some influence over Afghan Taliban. Pakistan should look into its own interests and pursue them on diplomatic lines. Unless, Pakistan figures its own stance by taking actions against different groups, internationally declared as terrorists, it will have to face isolation in the global community. Moreover, it will get no international support regarding different issues: the most important being Kashmir and Baluchistan.
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 Jon Boone, “US drone strike in Pakistan kills Taliban leader,” The Guardian, May 22, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/21/us-airstrike-taliban-leader-mullah-akhtar-mansoor
“Mullah Biradar, Kabir not on Talking Terms with Afghan Govt,” The News International, Oct 19, 2010. https://www.thenews.com.pk/archive/print/609384-mulla-biradar,-kabir-not-on-talking-terms-with-afghan-govt
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