Those responsible for making Pakistan’s Afghan policy helped the Afghan Taliban in a number of ways. Pakistan played a significant role in arranging the US -Taliban dialogue in Qatar. In the aftermath of the overthrow of the Ashraf Ghani government, Pakistan bent over backwards to persuade the world to provide humanitarian assistance to the country facing acute food shortage. While Pakistan itself suffered from liquidity crunch and wheat shortage forcing it to import the items, it sent several consignments of food aid to the neighbouring country. Pakistan also sought aid for Afghanistan while raising the issue at world forums like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the OIC foreign ministers summit.
It appears that the establishment’s expectations from the Taliban that they would stop the TTP from launching terrorist attacks inside Pakistan were unrealistic. It was expected that while the Ghani administration allowed the Indian agents to use its territory to launch attacks inside Pakistan, the Taliban would stop hosting anti-Pakistan terrorists, the TTP being the foremost. What one sees happening is the opposite. Reportedly in 2021, there has been more than 40 per cent increase in terrorist violence in Pakistan compared with 2020. According to an Islamabad based think tank, August saw 45 terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the highest number in a single month since 2017. Any protracted conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan is bound to further endanger Pakistan’s border security particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The Taliban’s response to Pakistan’s demand for stopping the TTP from attacks has been dismal. This exposes the myth that the Afghan Interior Minister or for that matter the Afghan cabinet is sympathetic to Pakistan. Instead of telling the TTP to stop attacking a friendly country, the Afghan Taliban asked Pakistan to resolve its issues with TTP through talks for which they facilitated a ceasefire which ended without any progress. This would send a highly negative message to China, Russia and the Central Asian countries. Taliban government would be seen to be preserving and using various terrorist groups as levers to pressurise neighbouring countries.