Pakistani and Taliban flags fly on their respective sides as people cross a security fence to cross the border at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Chaman, Pakistan on Wednesday August 18, 2021.
Credit: AP Photo / Jafar Khan
Since the fall of Kabul, Pakistan has received much criticism in Afghanistan and elsewhere (including Iran and India) for its alleged role in the Taliban takeover. This was reflected in social media campaigns like #SanctionPakistan, in which many critics referred to the celebrations in Pakistan to prove that Islamabad is the real winner. This simplistic label of Pakistan is unwarranted. It is a diverse country and certainly not everyone celebrates the victory of the Taliban.
Regarding Islamabad, he reacted cautiously to developments in Afghanistan by urging the international community to continue its engagement with Kabul to ensure that there is no spillover in the form of extremism and terrorism in South Asia and beyond. But there are various segments of Pakistani society which celebrate for various reasons. We believe that these segments can be divided into three broad categories.
The first category includes the elders diplomats and retired military officials which celebrate India’s exit from Afghanistan, a country with which Pakistan shares a border of over 2,600 kilometers. Since the fall of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 2001, Islamabad had serious concerns about India’s growing influence in Afghanistan, as evidenced by India’s five diplomatic missions (unlike its one mission previously , which was closed in 1996) and approximately $ 3 billion investment.
New Delhi’s investments, infrastructure development and security cooperation with the National Security Directorate (NDS) and the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were seen through the prism of a sum game. negative in Islamabad. Rather considering India as a source of unrest, one of many in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, New Delhi was seen as the only source of unrest in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The former administration of Ashraf Ghani in Kabul was also seen as pro-Indian and anti-Pakistani. Ghani’s government not only criticized Pakistan for influencing the Taliban, but also sided with India in isolating Pakistan. In 2016, Afghanistan supported India’s position by accusing Pakistan of state terrorism, which led to the cancelation the annual summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (ASACR) to be held in Islamabad. Pakistani policymakers, past and present, are relieved to have a hostile government departed from their western border.
A second segment of Pakistani society is celebrate the success of the Taliban because of their hatred of US imperialism. This segment is loosely made up of Pakistan’s upper and lower middle classes, social science students with Marxist leanings and inspired by Che Guevara. They see the American withdrawal as the defeat of a superpower by motley militias, namely the Taliban. Even Khan tried to accommodate this class for political purposes by saying that the Afghans had “broken the chains of slavery. âThis segment of society is very active on Twitter and other social media networks and has used these platforms to propagate the humiliation of the superpower and celebrate the victory of the Taliban. This class, however, also shares the concerns of the international community regarding how Taliban governance will affect religious minorities and women in Afghanistan.
The third segment represents Pakistani Islamists who can be subdivided into two categories namely Islamists and Mullahs. Islamists are political groups that want to revive their vote bank on the basis of religious sentiments. Since 2008, Pakistan has experienced a sharp decline in the vote bank of these Islamic political parties. The “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan’s crackdown on terrorist groups like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and its ban on hate speech and other similar measures as part of the National action plan (PAN), have developed an environment hostile to religious extremism.
TTP terrorist attacks, such as the one against the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in 2014, further demonized religious parties in public. The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan gave Pakistani Islamists new hope to rekindle their strength and influence in Pakistan’s political and cultural landscape. That is why Religious holidays like the group Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) sent congratulatory messages to the Taliban. While the head of the JI Express happiness in the face of the victory of the Taliban, the head of the JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman sent a letter of congratulations also to Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada of the Taliban.
Both JUI and JI were at the forefront of the Afghan-Soviet war by being directly involved in recruiting Mujahedin from Pakistan. Therefore, they tried to equate the Taliban victory with Fatah-e-Mecca, the conquest of Mecca, where the Prophet Muhammad peacefully entered Mecca and announced amnesty for all non-Muslims. This segment in Pakistan also has its own desires related to the rebirth of the Muslim Ummah, which they believe can be achieved after the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. These parties are inspired by the Taliban to achieve total Islamization through the implementation of Sharia law in Pakistan.
On the side of the mullahs, the evolution is more alarming because many of them rejoiced at the victory of the Taliban. The most disturbing change is the reappearance of Maulana Abdul Aziz from the Red Mosque, with her menacing tone defying Pakistani state ordinance. In 2007, the Red Mosque and Jamia Hafsa Seminary became prominent in challenging the authority of the state, which led to a Military operation and finally the destruction of Jamia Hafsa. More than 100 militants and 11 members of the armed forces were killed during this operation. After the fall of Kabul, these fundamentalists felt elated and found moral strength in the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan.
Since the fall of Kabul, Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad replaced the Pakistani flag with that of the Afghan Taliban. Despite various efforts, the state was unable to remove the flag from the seminary. In fact, Maulana Aziz and her energized students repeatedly pushed back the Islamabad police and threatened consequences for the removal of the Afghan Taliban flag.
Regardless of their vested interests, these segments of society have sadly ignored the reality that Pakistan has paid a heavy price on terrorism and extremism, with over 80,000 casualties and economic losses of over $ 100 billion since. 2001. Pakistan’s hard-fought success against terrorism is in jeopardy following the victory of the Taliban, with an increasing number of terrorist attacks in recent months. These bizarre celebrations put Pakistani policymakers under pressure by downplaying their options for dealing with a possible spillover in the form of non-traditional security concerns like extremism, terrorism, influxes of refugees and drug trafficking. The message of these celebrations will also negatively affect Pakistan’s image internally in terms of the country’s success against extremism and terrorism.
Going forward, the government must reassess the NAP in order to develop an effective counter-extremism plan by addressing the multi-faceted challenges emanating from the Taliban victory in Afghanistan.