New Delhi: “I was called Taliban Khan…,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a recent speech in Parliament in the context of his strong opposition to the decision of the Pervez Musharraf regime joining the US-led war ‘against terror’ in Afghanistan. Some words and utterances seek to come back and haunt the public leaders with vengeance. Imran Kahn’s regime soft-peddling on the fight against the Taliban is again in public discourse. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said “more than 10,000 Jihadi fighters” have entered Afghanistan from Pakistan in the last month, and that Islamabad also had failed to convince the Taliban to participate “seriously” in the peace talks.
"It is the Taliban doing the work …but it is a proxy war. Taliban may be the army…but the brains of management (are in Pakistan)," Afghanistan's National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib told BBC.
Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh said Pakistan Air Force did not allow the Afghan Air Force to launch attacks on Taliban along Pakistan-Afghanistan borders.
Taliban in effect is not a unified structure under a single command. It is actually an alliance of ‘regional chieftains’. The Pakistan government has already cautioned that “very tough times” lay ahead for it following the US pull out from Afghanistan. Imran Khan himself says being part of the US coalition for war against terror was the “darkest period” of Pakistan’s history.
“Have you heard of a friendly country carrying out attacks and drone strikes in your country?,” he has asked. In 2018, Donald Trump was in an upbeat mood. He announced the suspension of military aid to Pakistan and tweeted blasting Islamabad for giving the world and Americans “nothing but lies and deceit”.
This was before Imran Khan-led PTI swept to power and by August 2019, Trump changed his mind and the US State Department gave a nod to the US 125 million dollar support programme for Pakistan’s F-16 jet fighters.
Trump wanted Pakistan and especially Imran Khan to broker a deal between the US and Taliban. But the fact of the matter is experts and perhaps Imran himself knew that no substantial thing could be achieved. Experts also understand the changing dynamics and the roles Russia and Iran could be playing.
Iran has considerable influence on regional Taliban leaders. External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar spoke to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif last Wednesday against the backdrop of intense fighting in Afghanistan. In other words when the US is on intense confrontation with Iran, Pakistan cannot deliver much.
The US standpoint as seen even lately to ‘win over’ good Taliban in the peace process is somehow perplexing as for two decades the entire efforts were directed against Taliban and Al-Qaeda and now there is a sort of 'acceptance' of the same Taliban as a legitimate representative.
There is no doubt that Afghanistan offers a complex challenge to all global and regional powers.
In short, insurgencies have flourished in the backyards despite the US-led forces presence in the era as was the case when actually communist Soviets ruled the roost in 1979 and beyond.
The alien forces actually lay ‘trapped’ and what has happened is almost in a similar fashion Donald Trump or Joe Biden have lost ‘patience’ as was the case with Mikhail Gorbachev. Of course, the hint is the US will retain a sizeable consular presence with a good network of intelligence and perhaps will have to bank on countries like India.
Pakistan needs to be careful.
The visit of US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, from July 27, therefore, has a considerable significance.