By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
“Is it a sin to consider Afghan Taliban an asset?” As a liberal and anti-Taliban, it does not suit me to say this but isn’t it a fact that today in Afghanistan every stakeholder is supporting one group or the other to implement its own agenda in the war torn Afghanistan. Suppose Pakistan disowns Afghan Taliban but can someone assure Pakistan that then US will not become the shepherd of Afghan Taliban.
Although Pakistan has changed its outlook in the last decade, how can it neglect the presence of a giant in its neighborhood? In the past Pakistan could not tolerate to see USSR – a friend of India (a psychological fear factor for Pakistan) – on its western border and now when US (a supposed anti-Islam and imperialist entity) decided to reside in Afghanistan whose interests also do not collide with India, how can Pakistan stay apart from the struggle for power in Afghanistan.
But the difference between US and Pakistan’s policy is that US tried to be close to every segment even Taliban in Afghanistan but Pakistan only relied on the savage Taliban. Pakistan’s this aspect has a negative impact on other Afghan nationalities. Pakistan’s stand on Taliban is understandable but the way it avoided to sit with other nationalities has created challenges for Pakistan’s Afghan policy.
The real drawback of Pakistan’s Afghan policy is that now other nationalities of Afghanistan do not trust Taliban and ultimately Pakistan. Secondly some people also think that if Taliban are given a share in the next setup so how can these savage Taliban help in legislation for those segments of Afghanistan which are moderate or even liberal. Taliban themselves have created a negative impact of themselves. Simply now the word “Taliban” creates an impression of savage, illiterate, extremist, fundamentalist, ignorant nationalist, and easy for them to slaughter someone instead of arguing.
Pakistan cannot disown Afghan Taliban and Afghans are not ready to accept Taliban. But even Pakistanis do not like Taliban. Though still people are retelling the stories of their bravery and fair play but even then people do not wish to see them in the mainstream Pakistani politics. For example the hardliners like Jamat-e-Islami is never sure of its success in general elections. Similarly Mollana Fazal Rehman has several times rejected the Talibani style of struggle in Pakistan. He always supported parliamentary struggle for the implementation of Islamic model.
The space created for the justification of Taliban type struggle is the pretence of occupation of foreign forces in Afghanistan, neglecting the fact that Afghani parliament has always supported US presence in Afghanistan. The same argument of occupation was used by Pakistan and US too in the past to oppose Russian presence in Afghanistan.
Pakistan is once again using the same justification against US presence in Afghanistan.
Now when Pakistan supports Taliban’s armed struggle against the foreign forces; it, at the same time, does not support Talibani style of politics so question arises that how Afghanis can accept Taliban factor in their mainstream politics. It is an aspect that Pakistani policy makers could not or do not want to understand.
Owning Taliban and staying moderate is always a difficult question for Pakistani moderate segments. It is not possible to justify Taliban’s armed struggle against foreign forces and to stay moderate at the same time. It is not more than hypocrisy. We will have to abandon one. Though some segments can point out that US and India are also supporting Pakistani Taliban against Pakistan but still it is debatable. And, in case it is true, then instead of discussing trade matters with India we must bring these facts on table before India so that a way is worked out to trust one another.
The recent joint efforts of India and US against Pakistan will only strengthen the perception that US, India and Israel want to encircle Pakistan. This perception is already prevalent in Pakistan and this recent move will strengthen Pakistani establishment’d point of view to own and protect Afghani Taliban. US and India will be equally responsible for Pakistan’s this stance.
Either Taliban should be declared a complete threat to the solidarity of Afghanistan and the region and Talibinazation should be eradicated from the grass root level or the other option is, if Taliban is a fact and an integral part of Afghanistan, then proper system should be made in consultation with regional powers to make Taliban part of the civilized world.
Owning and disowning Taliban by different stakeholders will only add to the importance of savage Taliban. Suppose Taliban are not a reality and it is only hidden support of Pakistan that is responsible for their survival so is it logical to pressurize Pakistan to disown Taliban or is there any other assurance that can encourage Pakistan to come out of the yoke of Taliban? This is the question that I want to ask from anti-Taliban Afghan segments.