The Taliban nexus

For years the Afghan Taliban have been considered an ‘asset’ in Pakistan’s establishment circles. They were trained and funded by the state so that we would not have an ‘enemy’ to deal with on our western border. But recent events should force the establishment to rethink its policy of nurturing them. A nexus between the local Taliban and their counterparts in Afghanistan has by now become obvious. More than 30 Pakistani troops are missing after an attack by the Afghan Taliban on a border checkpost between the Mohmand and Bajaur agencies. The Taliban have claimed that they are holding some Pakistani soldiers captive. This is quite alarming. It seems as if we are looking at another Frankenstein’s monster. After the US invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban, the Northern Alliance came to power. Musharraf adopted a dual policy when it came to handing over militants to the Americans. The Afghan Taliban were protected while members of al Qaeda were caught and subsequently handed over. Now that the endgame in Afghanistan is on the cards, a process of reconciliation has begun in Afghanistan whereby the Karzai government is offering to negotiate with the Taliban. But the militants have so far refused the Afghan government’s offer, keeping in view that they are far stronger than the weak government in Kabul.

The local Taliban have already disrupted peace in the country with their terrorist attacks both against the security forces and civilians. The Pakistan Army has conducted successful military operations in Swat and South Waziristan. Another one is ongoing in Bajaur, where the local Taliban have suffered heavy casualties. An unprecedented attack by the Afghan Taliban on a border checkpost is indicative of the emerging nexus between them and the Pakistani Taliban. They must have intervened at the behest of the local Taliban in order to put pressure on the army. Pakistan must now reverse its ‘strategic depth’ policy, which has proved disastrous. This attack by the Afghan Taliban on our forces leaves room for scepticism whether they would ever prove to be an asset for Pakistan. Even in 2001 the Afghan Taliban paid no heed to Pakistan’s advice to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US, so putting our trust in them again will probably backfire. The Taliban are no one’s friends but themselves. The US has presented evidence against the Haqqani network to Pakistan regarding their attacks inside Afghanistan, but to help eliminate the terror networks operating from our soil, the US should provide us with advanced attack helicopters. We have suffered heavy losses during the military offensives and if we are to launch one in North Waziristan, additional military equipment and funds are required.

Another worrying aspect vis-à-vis the terrorist nexus is the emergence of the Punjabi Taliban, a loose terror network that is spread all over the country. This group is not only in cahoots with the Pakistani Taliban but they also have suspected links with al Qaeda. It is about time that the so-called assets of the state like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are disbanded and crushed. These groups have enjoyed state patronage for years. Pakistan has suffered enough at the hands of its skewed foreign policy goals. We cannot afford to do so anymore. Enough is enough. Let our soil be finally cleansed of our sins of the past.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

Sadia said…
The concept of strategic depth was short sighted and it is the reason behind the chaos in our society, the Afghans despise Pakistan for the groups that we supported were barbarians. It is high times that our intelligence guru’s get this straight that non-state will switch sides and there are no good terrorists
Ammar said…
We should have zero tolerance for those who dubiously justify the horrible acts of Taliban; every Taliban Apologist must be shunned with full vigor. Anyone who dares questions the legitimacy of this war must also ponder upon the fact that we have lost over 21,600 civilians and around 8,700 military personnel in this war. How much more blood will make them realize that we are fighting a war of our own survival rather than an imposed battle.

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