More than 280 people were killed and injured in the Afghan capital when a suicide bomber blew up an ambulance loaded with explosives. This is one of a series of terrorist attacks recently carried out by Taliban. These major events will worsen regional disputes in Afghanistan’s surroundings, particularly against Pakistan. Disputes are escalating to the extent that the US announced punitive measures against its ally Islamabad for the first time in the history of their relations.
Is someone using Afghanistan and terrorism in the Indian subcontinent like it has been used in Iraq and Syria?
There have been rumors and media accusations that Pakistan is behind Taliban. No one can prove this relation, at least on the academic and media levels. Grave American losses in Afghanistan and the spread of violence in Pakistan ruined ties between Islamabad and Washington and reached a phase that overturned the historical relations between the two countries. The US considered Pakistan a strategic ally for more than four decades especially during the Cold War, and it was one of the countries that helped Pakistan the most after its independence from India.
A security and propagandist presence
It seems happy days have reached their end. Pakistan’s domestic political situation has been miserable ever since the coup on Nawaz Sharif and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. All these developments happened at the same time as the chaotic developments in Afghanistan which is influenced by Pakistan and which Pakistan influences. I do not want to jump to conclusions amid the absence of facts and accuse Iran of being a major player there but there’s plenty of evidence to that. Iran’s security and propagandist presence is strong in Afghanistan and it’s become stronger and more influential inside Pakistan. A lot has been said about Iran’s relations with Taliban as many believe it resembles Iran’s relations with Al-Qaeda whom its most prominent commanders still live in Iran. This is in addition to the Iranians’ confession that they’ve had a major role in what was dubbed the Iraqi jihadi resistance against the US invasion of Iraq. Moreover, it later turned out there are relations between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and terror groups in Syria as part of the complicated conflict there.
Pakistan is besieging itself by not taking enough measures to reassure the international community that it’s fighting Taliban which has become more violent and dangerous than ISIS and Al-Qaeda. This does not deny the fact that Pakistan is one of the countries that are most affected by terrorist groups, after Afghanistan. Accusations made against it by its rival India that it supports armed or separatist Islamist groups make its situation more difficult.
We knew that Qatar’s attempts to contain Taliban will fail because Doha’s approach in managing relations with extremist groups, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and even Al-Nusra Front in Syria, is always based on buying temporary political stances for huge sums of money. Doha has never been able to alter the situation by making permanent deals or altering these organizations’ methods. It rushed to communicate with Taliban when it heard the Americans were moving to negotiate with it and opened an office for it in Doha and provided it with money so it can be a mediator between it and Washington. The end result is that Qatar succeeded in releasing westerners whom Taliban held hostage, like it did with Al-Nusra Front before. It helped release them for huge ransoms in operations that looked like money laundering! It’s only normal that political negotiations later ended in failure.
It’s undeniable that Taliban is a terror group, and this does not mean that its tribal relations are not significant in Afghanistan. Pakistan is still the most qualified state to resolve this situation, either through force or political solutions or both. This is Pakistan’s only opportunity to get out of the bad situation it’s currently in.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.
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