In this age of War on Terrorism, Pakistan has always played a vital role; be it as an offensive accomplice of the United States, a battling military force inside the country or as an arbitrator between the Afghan-Taliban and Afghan government – since the 1980’s, Pakistan has never stayed away from terrorism.
In order to achieve regional peace, Pakistan is at loggerheads again. This time, as an arbitrator between the Afghan-Taliban and the Afghanistan government under President Ashraf Ghani. Recently, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called for Pakistan to wage war (military action) against the Afghan-Taliban, just like it has been doing for the last 14 years, to no fruitful end.
Terrorism and its love for Pakistan
Ever since Zia Ul Haq’s time, Pakistan has been forced to take part in suppressing regional terrorism. Unlike the Pakistani version of Taliban, namely the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan), the Afghan-Taliban are driven by a slightly different agenda – their focus is more inclined towards controlling the government of Afghanistan, instead of taking the religious route, an approach that only revolves around implementing the Shariah Law.
The recent suicide bombing on a military unit in Kabul left dozens killed and at least 300 injured, forcing President Ghani to call for action and Pakistan to choose a side. Pakistan had already invited the Afghan Taliban to hold talks for a peaceful future for the region, which Pakistan’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz said, “Would take time!“
Bilateral Cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan
Since the conception of the QCG (Quadrilateral Cooperation Group), which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US, our country is bound to help Afghanistan in this time of need. The effort is directly proportional to peace in Pakistan as well. The Kabul attack, according to the Afghan-Taliban, was orchestrated from within Pakistan by the Haqqani Network. Even though some might promote direct border control instead of getting involved in external operations as Zarb-e-Azb still hasn’t concluded, Pakistan cannot afford to shift its military focus on Afghan-Taliban.
“Pakistan had committed in writing at QCG’s meetings to take military action against armed opponents of the Afghan government, but now they do not consider it suitable,” Afghan President’s spokesperson Dawa Khan said. Since Pakistan had already promised military action against the Taliban in black and white, the turncoat policy is now causing perilous problems.
What should Pakistan’s response be now?
Everything said and done, should Pakistan stick to its words, wage war against the Afghan-Taliban or should Pakistan try to bring the Afghan government into peaceful talks with the Taliban?
Either policy doesn’t favor Pakistan.
If Pakistan takes military action against the Taliban, the fear is of facing dangerous, unprecedented attacks in Pakistan – if we don’t, we are disregarding the QCG and Afghan-Pakistan’s bilateral cooperation.
With Operation Zarb-e-Azb to continue till its ‘logical conclusion‘ – Pakistan cannot afford the enmity of the Afghan Taliban nor the Pakistani Taliban, leaving them an open option for reconciliation and joint operations. After the APS attack, the Afghan Taliban had condemned the act and stated that it was against the principles of Jihad altogether. On the other hand, Pakistan cannot disappoint the Afghan government under the QCG. Pakistan is at a crucial juncture and lacking a strong point of view.
What do you suggest? Should Pakistan wage war against the Afghan-Taliban or try to bring both parties to peaceful terms? Share with us.