India Could Be Part Of Afghan Peace Talks But Why Is Pakistan Fearing A Taliban Pullout?

India, besides the US, Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran could be part of the Afghan peace process according to reports by IndianExpress.

Another report by HT claims that a draft peace agreement recommended by the US to begin the peace talks in Afghanistan envisions the creation of a transitional government with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, many experts believe that Pakistan could be fearing that the Taliban could abandon the Afghan peace progress and create problems for both Kabul and Islamabad.

According to the 2020 Doha agreement, the Pentagon is supposed to call back the last of its troops from Afghanistan in less than two months’ time. However, the intra-Afghan talks have not really moved forward and the turbulent region has also seen an increase in violence.

There are indications that the peace process in the war-ravaged country is in jeopardy with the Taliban looking to seize power and abandon efforts of maintaining peace in the region.

Imran Khan | 14 January 2010 | Chatham House | Flickr
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan has backed the Taliban since its formation in the 1990s to have a strong foothold in Afghanistan and reduce the influence of India. But the situation has changed over the years with New Delhi and Kabul getting closer.

With Washington keeping a close eye on the Taliban, Pakistan certainly does not want to be looked at as a nation that supports the militant group. Besides, there are other reasons that might do more harm than good to Pakistan if the Taliban is successful in taking control of Afghanistan.

Taliban & Pakistan Don’t Like Each Other

While Pakistan has indeed hosted the militant group and helped it during its rule in Afghanistan, the fact remains that they still are not allies.

Pakistan’s reputation has already been tarnished due to its links with various militant organizations, and if there are any signs of Islamabad going soft on the Taliban, it would have to be answerable to the US directly.

Tricia Bacon, a former US counterterrorism official, told National Interest that while Pakistan and the Taliban have shown long-standing common interests, there is no friendship between the two.

Bacon said that the security establishment in Islamabad looks at the militant organization with contempt, and even the Taliban does not like the country’s interference in its matters.

Pakistan Has Bullied Taliban

Pakistan may have helped in the Taliban since its inception, but it has also bullied them at the behest of Washington.

The US is considered the biggest enemy of the militant group and for Pakistan to take sides with them is something the Taliban is absolutely against.

It was indeed Islamabad that provided crucial assistance to the US-led military campaign which ousted the Taliban from power back in 2001.

Future Realignment Unlikely

While Islamabad and the Taliban might have worked together in the past, they are unlikely to collaborate in the near future. For the Taliban, it might actually be a good strategy to distance itself from the country if they are to win popular support back home.

On the other hand, Pakistan cannot afford to work in tandem with the organization and give itself another reason to remain in the “Grey List” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris-headquartered global watchdog on money-laundering and terror financing.

There is also a chance of the Taliban hosting other militant groups, which might pose a threat to Pakistan. Since the country has followed a dual-strategy of supporting one militant group and hunting down the other, there is always a chance of Pakistan being attacked by some faction owing allegiance to the Taliban.

So far, it has supported the Afghan Taliban or Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), however, it has acted against militant groups like Al Qaeda, Islamic State, and the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that attack its citizens regularly.

In fact, it was the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan that was behind the 2014 Peshawar school attack, in which 150 people were killed, including 134 children.

The Drug Menace

If the Afghan peace process fails and the Taliban does come into power, it is believed that there will be a significant increase in the trade of drugs within and outside the nation. In that situation, Pakistan, which already has a sizeable population of drug addicts, would have a tough time checking the trafficking of drugs and narcotics.

Crystal meth has become a craze among a section of Pakistani youngsters in recent years. And things will only go from bad to worse if there is an increase in production of the cheap meth in Afghanistan through the use of locally-grown ephedra, according to National Interest.

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