View: How Pakistan’s ‘bleed neighbours with terrorism’ policy has backfired

Author:Shishir Gupta 2024-03-20 22:50 9

Twelve years ago, then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Islamabad had told the Pakistanis bluntly that they cannot have snakes in their backyard and expect them to only bite their neighbours.

For Pakistan, the chickens have come home to roost as far as its duplicity on terrorism is concerned. Islamabad has been playing its double game over at least three decades. But unfortunately for Pakistan, it gets caught everytime. This time it has been caught in Afghanistan.

On March 18, Pakistan attacked Khost and Paktika to take out what they call were Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) extremists. Afghanistan, led by Taliban, launched an immediate attack, with artillery firing on Pakistani posts across the Durand Line.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan's premier Shehbaz Sharif (left) and Afghanistan defence minister Mullah Yaqoob

Why did Pakistan attack TTP across the Durand Line?

It was Pakistan who raised the TTP to establish an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and help the Taliban in taking out the US coalition forces. Today, Pakistan wants the same Taliban to take action against the TTP.

Now, the Tehreek-i-Taliban wants to establish an Islamic Emirate in Pakistan, just like they helped Taliban establish one in Afghanistan. Secondly, they want control of what was earlier called the FATA area and now the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan has been caught in something of its own making once again. Former prime minister Imran Khan, who once said that Taliban had shaken the shackles of slavery by taking over Kabul on August 15, 2021, has inadvertently opened the Durand Line question.

Taliban has made it very clear that TTP is Pakistan's problem and it is for the Pakistani government to deal with it. At best, the Taliban can only facilitate a dialogue which it has done even during the current regime.

But the problem here is that Pakistan does not know how to handle the TTP and Taliban is very clear that it does not recognise the Durand Line which was demarcated as a Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand.

Three decades ago, Pakistan helped the US take down the erstwhile Soviet Union when it had occupied Afghanistan and made them to withdraw from there in 1989. Pakistan thought that Afghanistan would be a strategic depth for it against India. Today, the same Taliban which Pakistan had nurtured within its own country, is now totally opposed to what Islamabad is doing to Afghanistan.

‘The strategic depth’ is now turning into a strategic loss for Pakistan as Taliban clearly wants all the areas dominated by the Pashtun community to come under Afghanistan. If that happens, Pakistan itself will be divided into two pieces.

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What happens now?

The Taliban, which has not been recognised by any government in the world, is still an Islamic military regime currently ruling Afghanistan. But the nationalistic fervour is such that hardly anybody from outside can intervene in Afghanistan. The erstwhile Soviet Union and US tried but failed.

Even the Pakistanis do not have the capacity to take on the Taliban. Similarly, the Taliban cannot do anything to Pakistan because it does not have the wherewithal or capacity to do any serious cartographical changes to the Durand Line.

So, in future both will be playing against each other with skirmishes all along the Durand Line. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan will be playing its own game within Pakistan.

Pakistan played a similar game against Iran on January 18 when Iran attacked two positions in Balochistan with missile, saying that these were camps of Pakistani Sunni group called Jaish-ul-Adal. This Jaish is a Sunni extremist group among the 45 groups operating within Pakistan and 80 proscribed groups within the Islamic Republic. Pakistan retaliated against Iran and attacked the Sistan area within the country.

ALSO READ: Iran-Pakistan battle theatre: How will it impact India?

Pakistan's terror card against India

Thirdly, Islamabad used the same card against India three decades ago. Pakistan thought that just like it beat Soviet Union in Afghanistan, it would beat India in Kashmir. Islamabad tried its level best to send jihadis across the border and massacre innocents in the Valley as well as in the hinterland. After the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir is now hosting a Formula 4 circuit race on the banks of Dal Lake. And Pakistan is gripped in economic and political crisis.

Title:View: How Pakistan’s ‘bleed neighbours with terrorism’ policy has backfired