Pakistan betting on the wrong horse

By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)

The decades’ old nightmare of Pakistan to secure its grip on Kabul has now turned into neutralizing Indian factor in Afghanistan, however so far neither Kabul has become the stronghold nor has the access to central Asian states been made possible.

Just a day after the second phase of presidential election in Afghanistan, Pakistan announced the long waited military operation in North Waziristan. The goals of the military operations are still blur but one of the presumed goals is to deprive Afghan Taliban of the expected support of the network of Pakistani Taliban and to make them totally dependent on Pakistan after 2014 withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. However apparently Pakistan has announced that there will be no discrimination among terrorist groups and even Haqqani network will be targeted.

Analyst Lieutenant General (retired)Talat Masood is of the view that now Pakistan wishes to get rid of the yoke of the strategic depth concept. But on the other hand until now Pakistani media is not using the word ‘Taliban’ for the terrorists killed in this operation. It seems that still Pakistan does not want to defame the word ‘Taliban’ and wants to rely on Taliban in future in Afghanistan. The recent statement of General (Retired) Hamid Gul about Dr. Abdullah Abdullah may reflect the real intensions of Pakistani establishment. He said that a Jihadi (Dr. Abdullah) can better negotiate with Jihadis (Taliban).

No matter whoever comes to power in Afghanistan, the question is what Taliban have in their basket for negotiations. As there is no difference in the viewpoints of Pakistani and Afghani Taliban so the way negotiations with Pakistani Taliban ended in operation, similarly how we can expect successful negotiations between Kabul and Taliban. How a failed formula in Pakistan would work in Afghanistan?

The stories of the successful negotiations between US and Taliban for the release of prisoners cannot become the script for the future negotiations between Kabul and Taliban. Political objectives are not an equivalence of war prisoners which can be buried to give way to give and take. The people of Afghanistan have given chance to democracy after the fall of Taliban tyrannical rule. The present protests are also part of democratic process. So how can they give chance to people who are against the spirit of democracy?

Would Taliban be able to adjust themselves in the democratic process in Afghanistan? Pakistani Taliban have declared ‘Fatwa’ – a religious decree – against democracy and considered it a process that strengthens nationalism and secularism, so how would Afghan Taliban accept democracy as a just system. It is not possible that Afghan Taliban keep denying democratic process in Afghanistan but starts negotiations and get privileges. Neither this formula worked in Pakistan nor would Kabul be able to acceptthe demands of Taliban.

Pakistan is committingthe mistake of relying on such group whose Pakistani allies could not compromise with the rightist government of Pakistan. The future of Afghan Taliban will not be different from Pakistani Taliban. Similarly the dream of strategic depth too will come to the same end.

It would be better for Pakistan not to get hold of Pakistan friendly sections in Afghanistan but rather Pakistan should become friendly and accommodating towards Afghanistan. Pakistan’s support for Afghan Taliban has reduced other options for Pakistan in Afghanistan. Shunning the concept of strategic depth will surely widen the scenario and options for Pakistan in Afghanistan.



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