Fabien Baussart
Fabien Baussart

Pakistan is to blame for the Taliban’s return

The world is in shock and feeling sorry for the people of Afghanistan, who have lost the battle against the Taliban. The two-decade-long struggle has seen a humiliating end for the torchbearers of democracy and free society. Human rights activists, leaders, and the average citizen of the country tried their best to fight the Taliban resurgence. But they were overpowered by the militant group, which drew its power through the proxies in neighbouring Pakistan. But the efforts of the Pakistani establishment are likely to prove counterproductive. The Taliban rule in Afghanistan will destabilise Pakistan as well as enhance militant activities. Islamabad’s ill-fated policies that always prioritised countering arch-rival India have ensured strong support to militant outfits like the Taliban, even though they hurt Pakistan in the process.

Many in Afghanistan are blaming Pakistan for their current situation as it gave shelter to the Taliban when Afghani people were fighting the radical forces. The areas in northwestern Pakistan were used by the Taliban to rearrange and resurrect following the assault by the US and allied forces in 2001. There have been angry reactions on social media blaming Pakistan and its spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) for the ongoing mess in Afghanistan. On Twitter, #sanctionPakistan trended soon after the Taliban announced victory. The hashtag was used 730,000 times and37percentofthemoriginatedfromAfghanistan.1 “Theexistenceof Pakistan depends on supporting and directing terrorism. Unless and until this issue is dealt with, the world will never be safe for anyone,” tweeted journalist Daud Junbish.2

Even, First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Salen openly named Pakistan for oppressing the Afghan population through support to the Taliban. “In my soil. With the people. For a cause & purpose. With a solid belief in righteousness. Opposing Pakistan backed oppression & brutal dictatorship is our legitimacy,” he said.3 “Truth can’t be hidden or faked for long. It comes out and hits back at the liar and the deceiver. Pakistan can’t hide anymore. They are in the war and on the side of the terrorist Taliban.”

Afghan officials and even international experts observed that the Taliban could not take over the country without help from Pakistan. Ismail Khan, a warlord in the conflict-stricken country, said “I can say openly to Afghans that this war, it isn’t between Taliban and the Afghan Government. It is Pakistan’s war against the Afghan nation. The Taliban are their resource and are working as a servant.” Afghan-Canadians carried out protests in front of Pakistan’s Consulate in Vancouver for supporting the Taliban.

Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf had accepted a few years ago that the ISI was responsible for the birth of the Taliban since the Afghanistan officials and largest ethnic group favoured India. “Obviously we were looking for some groups to counter this Indian action against Pakistan. That is where the intelligence work comes in. Intelligence being in contact with Taliban groups. Definitely, they were in contact, and they should be,” Musharraf said.4 Notably, Pakistan’s support to the Taliban led to the birth of many militant outfits in Pakistan, which ultimately challenged the country’s leadership and carried out several terror attacks inside Pakistan.

One such group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had opened fire in an Army school in Peshawar, killing over 150, of which 134 were children.5 Yet, the Pakistan establishment continued to support the Taliban. Now Afghanistan being under complete control of the Taliban, the civilian government in Pakistan has become the most vulnerable. Just a few months ago, an outlawed Islamist outfit, Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), had carried out nationwide, violent agitations over republishing the cartoon of Muhammed by a French magazine. The group had brought the civilian government to its knees by laying siege to Islamabad. Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan emboldens the radical Islamists in Pakistan.6 There is a likelihood the TTP with the help of TTP and other militant outfits may carry out armed rebellion to overthrow the elected government.

Many Pakistani people rejoiced at the news of the Taliban taking over Kabul. However, there was a word of caution as the news may mean aggravated risk for Pakistan. “Those in Pakistan cheering on the Taliban would be well served to remember that the Afghan Taliban is the ideological twin of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis, including 130 children at the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014,” said Madiha Afzal, a Pakistan-born researcher.7

1 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/11/sanction-pakistan-twitter-trend-afghanistan-taliban
2 https://twitter.com/DaudJunbish/status/1425362863208738821?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5E tweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1425362863208738821%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2 F%2Fwww.aljazeera.com%2Fnews%2F2021%2F8%2F11%2Fsanction-pakistan-twitter-trend- afghanistan-taliban
3 https://twitter.com/AmrullahSaleh2/status/1427020144606433283
4 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/13/pervez-musharraf-pakistan-india-proxies- afghanistan-ghani-taliban
5 https://www.britannica.com/event/Peshawar-school-massacre
6 https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pakistan-negotiates-with-islamist-group-behind-anti- france-protests-11-police-2021-04-19/
7 https://twitter.com/madihaafzal?lang=en

About the Author
Fabien Baussart is the President of CPFA (Center of Political and Foreign Affairs)
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