Return of Taliban – What lies ahead for Pakistan

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Return of Taliban – What lies ahead for Pakistan
Return of Taliban – What lies ahead for Pakistan

A delightfully unanticipated series of developments that occurred in quick succession in Afghanistan over the last weekend, left the world dumbfound. No one could have imagined such a smooth and non-violent transition of power in Kabul. The ill-planned and disgraceful exit made by the elusive US forces left the common Afghans to fend for themselves. To further add to the chaotic situation, the corrupt and unpatriotic Afghan politicians abandoned the country as soon as news broke of the mighty Taliban having reached the gates of Kabul. The fleeing of politicians from Afghanistan did not come as a surprise as puppets put in place by an external power can never be expected to be dedicated enough to serve the Afghans. What was unimagined was the lightning speed at which the Taliban captured one province after the other. The most important aspect that deserves appreciation and acknowledgement by the global community is that by far, all these developments have been largely peaceful.

The first press conference conducted by the Taliban leadership in Kabul (17 Aug) further cleared doubts about the genuineness and suavity of the new leadership in Kabul. The heart goes out to some misled and fearful Afghans who are acting based on preconceived notions from the past or the narrative set by the western media. The mayhem at Kabul airport is an outcome of this confused mindset. The assurances by Taliban leadership on women’s rights, free press, no revenge to ensure restoration of peace would go a long way in reassuring and building confidence among baffled Afghans. Last, but not the least, they have begun on a right note by smashing the rhetoric built by the west to demonize Taliban.

So, what does the world look forward to? Now, the question of what lies in store for Afghanistan, its new rulers – the Taliban and the population is no less than a mystery to the world. As keen observers in geo-strategic and political space, developments in days to come will be of utmost interest to the global community, particularly to the South Asian nations. The role played by Pakistan in bringing Taliban to the table for talks in Doha with the US and other key stakeholders has been so crucial in steering the direction in which the world is looking today. Undeniably, from the 90s till date, Pakistan has played an instrumental and constructive role in the region, much to the unease of its eastern neighbor. Now, with the Taliban seizing power, India has been left high and dry with all its heavy investments made in Afghanistan over the last two decades going down the drain. This unexpected humiliation is sure to create further discomfort to the Indians. The ripples of these troubled waters are bound to touch shores of Pakistan and as a forward-looking young nation, we must be ready to counter all challenges whilst paving the way for progress of the nation.

In the rapidly changing geopolitical arena, Pakistan can expect to enjoy continued support of its iron brother China as well as Russia and Iran. The new dynamics in the region should now provide Pakistan with an impetus to boost growth and regional influence. After assessing the risks and opportunities in accepting the Taliban, the biggest regional power, China has already initiated its relationship with the Taliban with a definite view to further expand its influence in the region. As a smart player, China understands the importance of coordinating and peacefully co-existing with friendly neighbors. Moreover, this also helps China in countering its apprehensions of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) collaborating with the Taliban against China. The Taliban have promised not to interfere in China’s domestic matters. On the other hand, enjoying the defeat of US, Russian President Putin has adopted a pro-Taliban stance. Similarly, treading on the path to counter US, Iran also appears all set to accept the Taliban. Thus, at a time when most nations have pulled out their citizens and shut down diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, the missions of Pakistan, China, Iran, and Russia continue to work in Kabul.

As Pakistan shares roughly 2252kms of border with Afghanistan, re-emergence of the Taliban as a new force in the region is a welcome development. Nevertheless, Pakistan should not ignore the challenges that it may face in the changed scenario. As Taliban seeks legitimacy from the global community and consolidates its new gained ground in Afghanistan, it is prudent that Pakistan tackles potential security threats at home like the TTP/BLA/PTM. Our hostile neighbor India may attempt disrupting the CPEC/BRI project through these groups as it has done in the past to hamper economic growth in Pakistan. At such important junctures like the present situation, India’s hostility and hatred for Pakistan goes to the extent of denying Pakistan a chance of speaking on Afghanistan at the UNSC. Besides, during its interactions with the Taliban, Pakistan needs to emphasize on recognition of the Durand Line. While, as a neighbor, Pakistan has been providing and is happily ready to provide all required support to the Afghans, be it political leaders or the masses in the form of refugees. Overall, as a young and thriving nation, we are ready to project ourselves and move forward like a dynamic young leader in the Islamic Ummah.

Author: Tanaz Ansari

About Author: Tanaz Ansari is an alumnus of the prestigious Lahore College for Women University, Lahore. After acquiring a bachelor’s degree in English literature, she pursued her MBA degree from the same college. She has successfully completed certificate course in Competitive Strategy in Munich, Germany.

Tanaz Ansari’s Twitter: @AnsariTanazz

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