Thursday, August 12, 2021

The Taliban's Friends In Pakistan

The quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, with Taliban forces overrunning one provincial capital after another, is focusing attention on Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan as a factor in the Taliban's success. According to many Afghans, Pakistan has been protecting and providing aid and comfort, if not arms, to Taliban fighters:

"As the Taliban swiftly capture territory in Afghanistan, many Afghans blame Pakistan for the insurgents’ success, pointing to their use of Pakistani territory in multiple ways. Pressure is mounting on Islamabad, which initially brought the Taliban to the negotiating table, to get them to stop the onslaught and go back to talks.

While analysts say Pakistan’s leverage is often overstated, it does permit the Taliban leadership on its territory and its wounded warriors receive treatment in Pakistani hospitals. Their children are in school in Pakistan and some among them own property. Some among Pakistan’s politicians have rebranded the insurgents as 'the new, civilized Taliban.'”  (our emphasis)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is adamant that his nation wants peace in Afghanistan and a sharing of power, as was negotiated between the Afghan government and the Taliban with Pakistan acting as a neutral facilitator, but doubts remain:

"Still, Afghans are unconvinced. Even the international community is skeptical. The United Nations last week rebuffed Pakistan’s request to address a special meeting on Afghanistan to again give its side.

The criticism is fueled by images of slain Taliban fighters being buried in Pakistan at funerals attended by hundreds, waving the group’s flags. Last year, Prime Minister Khan called Osama bin Laden a martyr in a speech to Parliament, seen as a nod to militants.

When the Taliban were battling Afghan security forces in an assault on the Afghan border town Spin Boldak, wounded insurgents were treated at Pakistani hospitals in Chaman. The Taliban took the town and still hold it."  (our emphasis)

Ever since the 1947 partition with India, the U.S. has given tens of billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan. The discovery of terrorist Osama bin Laden in Pakistan's city of Abbottabad, home to its military academy, raised alarms over Pakistan's connections with al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. By its tolerance of the Taliban, Pakistan appears to want a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan as its client state to the north.

(photo: Taliban Political Commission meets with PM Khan in Dec. 2020. Government of Pakistan)

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