Afghanistan needs to do more

TTP can tear apart Pak-Afghan ties

The diplomatic relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a multi-dimensional tapestry, interwoven with historical, cultural, geopolitical, and economic threads. The two neighboring countries share a border spanning over 2600 KM, which not only underscores their geographical proximity but also highlights the significance of their interactions. Over the years, Pakistan-Afghanistan relations have navigated through various ups and downs, driven by regional dynamics, internal conflicts, and the quest for stability in a volatile region.

The historical connection between Pakistan and Afghanistan dates back centuries, characterized by shared traditions, languages, and cultural exchanges. Both countries have been part of ancient empires and trade routes, shaping a common heritage. However, historical associations have at times been marred by border disputes and disagreements, which have had lasting implications on the modern relationship. Geopolitically, Pakistan and Afghanistan find themselves in a delicate equilibrium between regional powers and global interests. The strategic location of Afghanistan has often made it a battleground for competing influences, exacerbating tensions between the two countries. During the Cold War, Pakistan and Afghanistan found themselves on opposing sides, with Pakistan aligning with the USA and Afghanistan with the USSR.

These dynamics evolved with the Cold War but still influence their relations today. Security concerns have been a significant factor in shaping Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. Their porous border has allowed for the movement of militants, exacerbating regional instability. Afghanistan’s support for certain militant groups have strained ties and contributed to a lack of trust between the two nations.

In recent years, both countries have taken steps to address these concerns and enhance cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. The issue of Afghan refugees seeking asylum in Pakistan has been another critical aspect of the relationship. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees over the years, accepting both humanitarian challenges and socio-economic impacts. While the refugee influx has strained resources, it has also underscored the interconnectedness of the two societies and the need for collaborative solutions.

Economic ties hold great potential for fostering cooperation and stability. Trade routes connecting the two have historical significance, and both nations stand to benefit from enhanced economic integration. The Chaman and Torkham border crossings, as well as the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, represent opportunities to bolster economic relations and reduce dependency on volatile routes.

Diplomatic efforts have been crucial in shaping Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. International actors, including the USA, China, and regional organizations like SAARC, have played roles in mediating and facilitating dialogue between the two countries.

Bilateral talks, confidence-building measures, and cooperative agreements have aimed to address underlying issues and promote a stable regional environment. The future of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations remains complex and multifaceted.

Afghanistan’s hosting of the TTP presents a formidable challenge to regional stability and security. Afghanistan needs to do more in this regard by destroying TTP centres in its land and also should stop hosting and facilitating the militant groups. Pakistan and the Pakistan Army are fully committed to secure each and every inch of the country and have a full right to eliminate the militants from within and outside the country.

As Afghanistan navigates its post-conflict phase, both countries have an opportunity to redefine their relationship based on mutual respect, cooperation, and shared interests. The Afghan peace process, regional stability, and economic development should be central to their endeavors. Trust-building measures, enhanced intelligence-sharing, and joint efforts in countering terrorism can pave the way for a more stable and prosperous region.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan , an extremist militant organization notorious for its violence, continues to cast a shadow of fear and insecurity over Pakistan. In recent times, the TTP has orchestrated a series of attacks targeting civilians, security forces, and public spaces, underscoring the urgency of confronting this menace. As Pakistan confronts the ongoing threat of terrorism, understanding the nature of TTP’s recent attacks is crucial to formulating effective strategies to counter its destabilizing activities.

Recent months have witnessed a disturbing surge in TTP-linked attacks across various regions of Pakistan. These attacks have targeted a wide range of locations, including marketplaces, religious sites, educational institutions, and security installations. Its tactics often involve suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and armed assaults, demonstrating a ruthless commitment to maximum damage and casualties. Such attacks not only cause immediate casualties but also create lasting trauma within communities. The TTP’s recent attacks have showcased an ability to strike in both urban centres and rural areas. This adaptability allows the group to maintain a widespread and persistent threat.

Recent attacks have had profound societal and economic impacts, ranging from loss of life to disruption of daily life. The fear instilled by these attacks not only affects the immediate victims but also creates a sense of vulnerability among the general population. The targeting of educational institutions, mosques and public spaces reveals the TTP’s intention to undermine Pakistan’s social fabric by limiting access to education and public gatherings. These attacks disrupt the normal functioning of society and perpetuate a climate of fear that can stifle progress and development.

The geopolitical landscape of South Asia has long been shaped by complex dynamics, and one of the most pressing recent challenges has been Afghanistan’s hosting of the TTP. This development raises concerns not only for Afghanistan’s own security but also for the stability of the entire region. As Afghanistan grapples with post-conflict realities, the presence of the TTP on its soil underscores the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to address the evolving security landscape.

The TTP, an extremist group that has wreaked havoc in Pakistan for years, has found refuge and support in various parts of Afghanistan. This strategic shift is of great concern to both Pakistan and the broader international community. The TTP’s presence in Afghanistan poses multifaceted challenges, including exacerbating tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, undermining regional security, and complicating efforts towards lasting peace.

The TTP’s presence in Afghanistan adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing peace process. As Afghanistan attempts to establish stability and consolidate gains made over the years, the TTP’s activities can act as a spoiler. The Afghan government’s commitment to hosting TTP members is perceived as a breach of trust by Pakistan, making bilateral cooperation and trust-building efforts even more challenging.

Afghanistan and Pakistan share a long and porous border, which historically has been a source of both cultural exchange and conflict. The presence of TTP operatives in Afghanistan exacerbates existing mistrust and strain between the two. Afghanistan’s inability or unwillingness to crack down on TTP elements on its soil has fueled suspicions in Pakistan about Afghanistan’s commitment to regional security and cooperation.

The TTP’s presence in Afghanistan not only threatens Pakistan’s security but also has broader implications for regional stability. It has the potential to foster an environment conducive to extremism and terrorism, which could further destabilize neighbouring countries and undermine progress made in the fight against terrorism in the region. A coordinated regional response is crucial to prevent the TTP from regaining strength and conducting cross-border attacks.

Dealing with the TTP’s presence in Afghanistan requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses diplomatic, political, and security dimensions: Afghanistan and Pakistan must engage in open and sincere dialogue to address mutual concerns and rebuild trust.

International mediators and organizations can play a role in facilitating such discussions. Enhanced intelligence-sharing and joint counterterrorism operations can help disrupt TTP networks and prevent cross-border attacks. Addressing the root causes of extremism by promoting socio-economic development and providing opportunities for marginalized communities can reduce the appeal of groups like TTP. Regional and global actors, including the United Nations, should play an active role in mediating disputes, facilitating negotiations, and encouraging collaborative efforts.

Recently, The Taliban’s interim Defense Minister Mullah Yaqub has said that if someone goes outside of Afghanistan with the intention of jihad, it is not jihad,. “If the Amir explicitly prohibits Mujahideen from engaging in combat and they still persist, the resulting battle would not be classified as jihad,” he said during a speech to Taliban commanders. “The Amir’s orders are binding,” stressed Yaqoob, adding that any individual leaving Afghanistan with the explicit purpose of pursuing jihad would not be labelled as engaging in true Jihad.

Recently, in his speech to the Independence Day parade at PMA, the COAS has also said that Pakistanis have been the most hospitable nation and wished that the Afghan government would reciprocate their earnest efforts by at least not allowing its soil to be used against Pakistan.

Pakistan-Afghanistan relations encapsulate a rich history of interconnectedness, challenges, and opportunities. As the two nations work towards a more stable and cooperative future, it is essential to acknowledge the complexities that have shaped their relationship. By focusing on shared interests, diplomatic engagement, and collaborative efforts, Pakistan and Afghanistan can contribute to the broader goal of regional stability and prosperity. Only through sustained dialogue and genuine cooperation can the threads of this intricate tapestry be woven into a brighter and more harmonious future for both countries.

Afghanistan’s hosting of the TTP presents a formidable challenge to regional stability and security. Afghanistan needs to do more in this regard by destroying TTP centres in its land and also should stop hosting and facilitating the militant groups. Pakistan and the Pakistan Army are fully committed to secure each and every inch of the country and have a full right to eliminate the militants from within and outside the country.

Abdul Basit Alvi
Abdul Basit Alvi
The writer is a freelance columnist


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