Home World After a year of Taliban rule, how does Pakistan view relations with its northern neighbor? | Reporter’s Column News | Al Jazeera

After a year of Taliban rule, how does Pakistan view relations with its northern neighbor? | Reporter’s Column News | Al Jazeera

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After a year of Taliban rule, how does Pakistan view relations with its northern neighbor? | Reporter’s Column News | Al Jazeera

The Taliban’s takeover of the Afghan government was a major turning point for neighboring Pakistan. The previous Ashraf Ghani government, which was at odds with Islamabad’s leadership, was overthrown. The Taliban has close ties with the Pakistani military and security services, and Pakistan is undergoing an insurgent movement against the Pakistani Taliban government in Islamabad. So the rise of the Taliban has rekindled hopes of ending the insurgency.

Islamabad had hoped that the Afghan Taliban would pressure their opponents in Pakistan to stop their attacks on Pakistani soil, especially in some tribal areas where Pakistani Taliban militants are still active. Also, get them to accept Islamabad’s terms and make concessions to reach an agreement to end the conflict between the two sides.

The Taliban have been in control of Afghanistan for a year. And now Pakistan’s above hopes have not been realized. They continued to attack tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Meanwhile, security instability remains a source of concern for local citizens and the Afghan political leadership.

(Al Jazeera)

Parliamentary concerns and public dissatisfaction

At the Pakistani parliament meeting last Wednesday, August 10, MPs including Defense Minister Khawaja Asif warned of continued anti-Taliban sentiment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province , also said law and order in the province is also in a deteriorating situation.

On the other hand, Mohsin Dawar, a former independent representative of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), said that after the arrival of the Taliban in Afghanistan, terrorist sentiment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is increasing.

Speaking in parliament, Dawar also teased protests against the Pakistani Taliban by leaders of the independent security forces in the region. He also pointed out that the previous party government in 2021 also welcomed the Taliban in power in Afghanistan. He also criticized the Afghan authorities for “not taking a stand” in dealing with the frequent occurrence of “terrorism” in the region.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region remains unstable, especially in the tribal areas. Last time, there were multiple attacks in the area in the previous period. The incident sparked local people’s dissatisfaction with the security situation and held demonstrations against the Pakistani Taliban.

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In the past month, there have been protests demanding peace and protection in the districts of Dir, Swat and Ghulam Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Some commercial outlets between the two countries were closed.

(Al Jazeera)

Dialogue with the Pakistani Taliban

There are growing concerns about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa compared to other provinces in Pakistan. This is because the province has direct borders with Afghanistan, and Pakistani Taliban leaders and fighters have links to the province. This has enabled the fighters to return to the area during and after talks with the Pakistani Taliban in Islamabad.

Against this backdrop, protests against the return of these armed men to the Swat Mountains also took place in and around Swat. At the same time, they vowed that “radicalism” will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Earlier, the armed men kidnapped four police officers in Swat; in addition, the vehicle of a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial representative affiliated with the Justice Movement Party (PTI) was bombed.

On a broader popular level, some parties see negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban as disregarding the blood of Pakistani victims. So Pakistani political parties have in the past refused to negotiate between their government and the Pakistani Taliban.

Disappointed

Pakistani journalist and political researcher Zia Rahman published an analysis on the Voice of America website. In the article, he argued that the sudden rise of the Taliban to power would strengthen Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan, especially given Pakistan’s key role in persuading the US and the Taliban to negotiate Washington’s “glorious” exit strategy.

But a year later, most Pakistanis who support Taliban rule have had much less enthusiasm for it.

He also said that the Taliban’s success in taking power not only encouraged the Pakistani Taliban to expand their “insurgency” operations against Islamabad, but also gave them confidence that Islamabad would give them more respect, just like how the US treats the Afghan Taliban.

The reporter also said that unprecedented border clashes and Pakistani airstrikes in Afghanistan have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Islamabad and the Afghan Taliban.

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The difference is that Tahir Khan, a political analyst specializing in Afghanistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, believes that the Pakistani army will thank the Afghan Taliban for hosting, facilitating and mediating negotiations in Kabul.

Hakim Allah Mehsud, founder of the Pakistani Taliban (Al Jazeera)

But at the same time, Tahir Khan said in an interview with Al Jazeera that he did not believe the Afghan Taliban would accept Islamabad’s demands and then put any pressure on them. But Islamabad will try to persuade the Afghan Taliban to push the matter.

On the question of whether Pakistan is disillusioned with the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, political analysts responded that Islamabad’s current policy towards Afghanistan has not changed and is almost identical to that adopted by Imran Khan.

He also said that Pakistan is one of the few countries that have asked to unfreeze Afghan funds. Pakistan has so far opposed pressure on the Taliban, citing the inclusiveness of its government.

On the other hand, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired lieutenant general and former Pakistani defense minister, said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera that we are all disappointed in each other. For example, the Afghan government also expects Pakistan to promote the legitimacy of the new Taliban regime by reaching a consensus among China, Iran, Russia, Turkey and some regional countries.

He also said: “Correspondingly, Pakistan has joined and followed the requirements of the international community for inclusive government, women’s education, etc. On the other hand, Pakistan also hopes that terrorist organizations such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Balochistan Liberation Army are harbouring in Afghanistan. They can’t find any space to continue their campaign against Pakistan from Afghan soil.” He also said, “In this regard, the Afghan Taliban have not made any effective and worthwhile attempts.”

The Pakistani Taliban are the most important factor in the tension between Islamabad and the Afghan Taliban (French media)

Negotiations stalled and demands hang in the balance

Negotiations between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban have continued for months. But so far no substantial breakthrough has been made. Some government circles and media in Pakistan believe that Islamabad has called for the cancellation of the decision to integrate the former federal government’s tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but the Pakistani Taliban refused to budge. At the same time, the Pakistani Taliban has proposed that it refuses to lay down its arms even if it strikes a deal with the government. After this, the negotiations between the two sides reached a deadlock.

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The former defense minister said that in such a situation, despite the Afghan Taliban sponsoring the talks, the Pakistani Taliban were so stubborn and demanded almost impossible terms that the talks failed. “The Pakistani army and the current government are showing restraint, and they have also discussed the progress of the peace talks at a large closed session of a parliamentary committee,” he added.

The same source said that the political situation in Pakistan has changed and US influence is returning. These events also had a negative impact on the progress of the negotiations. He also said it was clear that the political parties in the current government would not make any progress in negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban or deepen ties with the Afghan Taliban regime. Moreover, the return of American influence will not allow this to happen.

The retired general concluded: “In my opinion, unless there is a major change in the political situation in Pakistan, it will be difficult for the talks with the Pakistani Taliban to succeed. At the same time, good relations with the Afghan government are still difficult to achieve. Therefore, the Pakistani armed forces must do well Prepare for continued internal unrest.”

Tahir Khan, an expert on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, said: When the two sides reach an agreement, the ministry will receive final approval from the government or most likely parliament. But no decision has yet been made, so it will take more time to get to this stage after the demands of the Pakistani Taliban have been dealt with.

In Pakistan, he concluded, “the political leadership has historically played a relatively small role in Afghanistan, while the security sector has historically played an important role in Afghan affairs.”

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