Pyrrhic victory: On Imran Khan’s pro-Taliban stand

Religious extremism, militancy in Afghanistan will be counterproductive for Pakistan

The geopolitical implications of the Taliban’s victory are still unclear. But, irrespective of what kind of a government they will establish, the resurgence of a Sunni radical jihadist group could embolden similar outfits elsewhere. Pakistan has a problem with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the ideological twin of the Taliban, that has carried out deadly attacks inside Pakistan. Also, the August 26 Kabul blasts are a warning of what is awaiting Afghanistan. The country is still chaotic and lawless where groups such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), the IS affiliate that has claimed responsibility for the blasts, would seek to flourish. Without order, the country could fall into a multi-directional, civil war between the Taliban, the IS-K, and the remnants of the old regime. The question is whether Pakistan, overwhelmed by the Taliban’s success, sees the possible dangers the triumph of hardline Islamism now poses. Religious extremism and militancy can help one country tactically but will be counterproductive in the long term. When the U.S. backed the Mujahideen in the 1980s, it might never have imagined that the Taliban would rise from the Mujahideen and host the al Qaeda that would carry out the deadliest attack on America since the Second World War. Similarly, a chaotic Afghanistan ruled by extremist Islamists is as much a geopolitical victory as a security and strategic challenge to Pakistan. During the insurgency, Pakistan refused to use its leverage over the Taliban for peace. It should do so at least now because a stable Afghanistan which treats its people with dignity and does not provide safe havens to transnational terrorist organisations is in the best interests of all regional powers, including Pakistan.

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