Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 17th, 2019

The Instrumental View of Islamabad on Afghan Peace Process

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The Instrumental View of Islamabad  on Afghan Peace Process

After the cancellation of peace talks between the US and Taliban, the Taliban were almost marginalized in the world and so traveled to capitals of regional countries to compel the United States to resume the negotiations. They repeatedly warned impose heavy expenses on the US to due to peace talk’s abortion. In homophony with Taliban position, the Pakistani prime minister has also recently said that the Taliban want peace while reality in the field is something different.  The Taliban’s violence has not only diminished in recent weeks but also increased both in its scope and objectives. Last week, the Taliban targeted a classroom in Ghazni University killing and wounding dozens of innocent students. In the past, they argued that civilian casualties are increased because of their proximity to military vehicles, but attacks on university students and other civilians are in paradox to their words and peace resumption. The nearly ten months Qatar peace talks clearly showed that Taliban are not serious in a fair peace talks demanding a kind of surrender to impose their own intentions on the Afghan people.
Given absolutist approach of Taliban, the question that arises is why Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to portray the Taliban as peaceful and good-natured beings. The main issue is that Pakistan thinks India is its strongest enemy in the region with a growing economy and a powerful army and since the separation of the two countries in 1947 there has been hostility and incompatibility between the two neighbors. In pursuit of its goals, Pakistan has always sought to use radical religious groups in the region, especially in Kashmir and in Afghanistan to hit India and limit its regional influence. The India’s recent action in Kashmir considered an anti-Pakistani approach while Pakistan could not do anything to count as a dramatic and retaliatory move. Therefore, the Afghan peace talks and the Taliban war in Afghanistan is the last Islamabad card to use in the region.
In the beginning of the third millennium, when the US invaded Afghanistan, Islamabad pursued dual policies to obtain the US financial aid, and on the other hand, they tried to protect Taliban from permanent removal as Islamabad needed it in completion against New Delhi and Kabul officials. Now, as Americans are tired of the long war in Afghanistan and the Afghan people also want peace, Imran Khan Want to redefine its pivotal role in the peace process to benefit from the US financial assistance and impose a kind of new political system in Afghanistan to compete with New Delhi. In general, Islamabad can achieve its strategic benefits through Afghan peace process as following:
Firstly, if Islamabad get chances to steer the US peace program with the Taliban, they will have the most golden opportunity to exploit it in its poor economic and foreign policy. Pakistan has always had a realistic approach in its foreign policy even against his closest friends, such as the United States. During the Cold War, the Pakistani policymakers fully used the advantage of its geopolitics while the US had to accept what they wanted at that time, and the Pakistanis knew well that the United States had no other option. Once again, Islamabad understands that the United States alone will not be able to conclude the Afghan peace program. They think that without Islamabad’s support this process will be incomplete, and so they are trying to deal with the United States again like in the 1980s. The Pakistan’s most important goal is that the United States should, as before, provide substantial financial support to Pakistan and, on the other hand, support from Pakistan’s position against India. Given the fact that Pakistan alone cannot compete with India, sometimes they near its position to Beijing and sometimes to Washington to use their financial and political support in competition with New Delhi. When Imran Khan announces the demand of Taliban for peace, it means that only Pakistan can force the Taliban to accept a peace plan in Afghanistan.
Secondly, Taliban act as proxy fighters; when Pakistan steer the Afghan peace program, it means Islamabad will play a greater role in the proxy war between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. Given the long-term goals of Pakistan towards Afghanistan, the Taliban are leading a proxy Islamabad war in Afghanistan and it does not want a strong central government in Afghanistan to unite Kabul with New Delhi against Islamabad. Islamabad could also use the Taliban as a tool to control the foreign policy of Afghan nationalists, especially about Durand line, and also push back the policies of New Delhi in Kashmir. As long as the Taliban continue their fight against the Afghan government, Afghanistan’s territorial claim and its hostility to that country will automatically postpone the required opportunity to raise such issues. Given that the Taliban’s educational and ideological source is in Pakistan, it could easily use the group against Indian interests in Afghanistan or even in the Kashmir terrorist conflict. Therefore, the Afghan political elites must refrain from any emotional stances in the region, especially in regard to Pakistan.
Given the current reality, any absolute hostility to Pakistan cannot benefit Afghanistan in the long run. In order to achieve sustainable peace, it is necessary to reduce all sources of tension in the region. The Afghan border dispute with Pakistan is the most important impetus to prevent Islamabad’s hostile policy towards Afghanistan. The territorial claim of Afghan nationalists will not change the realities and will only aggravate hostility and instability in the region, especially within Afghanistan. Therefore, before putting an end to this issue, it will be unrealistic expectation to establish a friendly cooperation from Pakistan.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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