Roughly a year ago, when Kabul fell to the Taliban, there was a rather perplexing sense of jubilation in Pakistan. This sense of euphoria bordered on the bizarre, given how vast sections of society were cheering on the success of an organisation, an offshoot of which had been killing our own soldiers and civilians, an organisation the campaign against which was even used to justify some human rights excesses by the state.
They are two different organisations, we were told by talking heads generally known to be taking their cue from the security establishment. That the Afghan Taliban are an entity distinct from the Pakistani variety. Even if this were to be true (and it wasn’t) the morality here was still problematic: why should we be cheering on the ascent to power of what most certainly is a medievalist totalitarian regime, one that gleefully used to take responsibility for placing IEDs at busy marketplaces, schools and hospitals?
But if the national hive mind has no moral qualms about the citizens of another country, they should know that the cosmic balance keeps a ledger and there are debts to pay, with interest. Having acquired a strategic depth of their own, the zealots are very much back in action in Pakistan. Already, there is credible information that cabinet members of the KP government have been paying protection money to the regrouped and remobilized Taliban. Horrible reports are emerging from Swat. And the TTP is, as per undenied reports, in peace talks with the security establishment.
As for Afghanistan itself, that beleaguered nation finds itself on the brink of a catastrophe even more stark than what it has faced. The ragtag militia, that can’t govern at the best of times, has had a drought, earthquake and some floods on its hands. All on top of financial reserves that are due to the government, but not being released by the western powers, on grounds that they will be used for terror financing. The West has blood on its hands when it comes to Afghanistan. They should hold the new regime to high standards, but keep the interests of the Afghan people (who didn’t even choose the new regime) higher.