Taliban advances: Why are Afghans so skeptical about Pakistan?

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Written by: Shamil Shams & Masood Saifullah

Afghan media are extraordinarily crucial of Pakistan’s alleged help for the Taliban, who are gaining energy amid the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan.

Most media shops and political commentators in Afghanistan are blaming Islamabad for the present turmoil of their nation, alleging that the Pakistani army and its intelligence companies are backing the Taliban following the withdrawal of international troops, serving to militants seize extra territories.

These are not new accusations: Afghan officers have lengthy maintained that Pakistan supplies shelter and army help to the Taliban. But because the US is ending its two-decade conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s alleged interference in Afghanistan has turn into a serious matter of dialogue within the Afghan media.

“You must be aware that we are under attack from Pakistan. It is not the Taliban that we are fighting: We are dealing with Pakistan’s proxy war,” Abdul Sattar Hussaini, an Afghan lawmaker, mentioned on a latest TV speak present.

“The Taliban do not have any plan for Afghanistan, and we are not ready to accept Pakistan’s plan,” he mentioned.

An awkward relationship

Pakistan denies allegations that it helps the Taliban, however many Afghans are not able to consider the official stance. Pakistani officers, thus, discover it difficult to form the narrative and persuade the Afghan media.

Last month, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared on an Afghan TV present to allay considerations about his nation, however it put him in a clumsy place.

Afghan National Army (ANA) troopers patrol the world close to a checkpoint recaptured from the Taliban, within the Alishing district of Laghman province, Afghanistan July 8, 2021. (Reuters)

The present host requested whether or not Qureshi knew that some Taliban commanders have been based mostly in Pakistan, to which the international minister replied that he was not conscious of it. The presenter then mentioned that Shaikh Hakim, a Taliban peace negotiator in Qatar, had traveled to Pakistan to seek the advice of the group’s chief about the peace course of.

“Well, he did not contact me, so I wouldn’t know,” Qureshi replied.

“So, at least, you are not their [Taliban’s] leader,” the journalist quipped.

The Pakistani international minister tried to persuade the Afghan TV host that the allegations in opposition to his nation are baseless, however he continued to face robust query.

Experts say speak reveals equivalent to these current Pakistan as an enemy nation, and subsequently form the general public opinion about Islamabad.

There are additionally long-standing points between the 2 nations that make Afghans skeptical about Pakistan.

Mistrust and misconceptions

“Afghanistan-Pakistan relations have been tense for more than four decades. Most Afghans living in big cities have a negative view of Pakistan because they remember that Islamabad supported the Taliban and the Mujahideen in the 1990s,” Sharif Hasanyar, head of the Kabul-based Ariana News TV channel, informed DW.

Najibullah Azad, a former presidential spokesman, mentioned the notion about Pakistan in Afghanistan was based mostly on actuality.

Afghan National Army (ANA) troopers stand guard at a checkpoint recaptured from the Taliban, within the Alishing district of Laghman province, Afghanistan July 8, 2021. (Reuters)

“Pakistani officials have accepted some accusations leveled by Afghan experts. Former Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf admitted in an interview with an Indian media outlet that Islamabad was backing the Taliban. In 2015, Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was in opposition at the time, said in an interview that his hospital treated a wounded Taliban fighter,” Azad mentioned.

“Recently, Pakistan’s interior minister, Shaikh Rasheed, admitted that the families of Taliban members were living in Pakistan, and that the injured and dead fighters were brought to the country from Afghanistan,” he added.

The battle strains are drawn

With the departure of NATO troops and Taliban advances within the nation, the potential of a civil conflict in Afghanistan is extra doubtless than ever. Ahmed Rashid, a outstanding Afghanistan professional, not too long ago informed DW in an interview that the chaotic scenario in Afghanistan “can suck in the neighboring countries.”

“If that happens, that will be the end of Afghanistan,” he mentioned.

He additionally mentioned the Taliban wouldn’t interact in a dialogue with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s authorities “as long as the Pakistani military and intelligence continue to give them sanctuary.”

“Why should they when their leaders and their families are safe? If Pakistan wants to show its sincerity, it needs to immediately force the Taliban leaders to either compromise or leave their sanctuaries in Quetta or in Peshawar,” Rashid mentioned.

In the current state of affairs, the battle strains are drawn, and new alliances are being cast. The media conflict in each Afghanistan and Pakistan can be in full swing.

Can the ties be improved?

But the very fact stays that the nations are related geographically and culturally, and the turmoil in Afghanistan may have a spillover in Pakistan.

“Civil society members and journalists from both countries have made efforts to build trust, but it is actually the job of the governments,” Hasanyar mentioned.

“Afghan media outlets reach out to the Pakistani embassy in Kabul for comments,” Hasanyar mentioned, “but Pakistani diplomats don’t want to engage with them.”

Azad mentioned Afghanistan had tried to take care of the scenario in a diplomatic manner. “In the past few months, high-ranking Afghan officials have visited Pakistan. But nothing has changed on the ground.”

“In order to improve their image in Afghanistan, Pakistan needs to stop backing militants,” he pressured.

Officials in Islamabad say the relations between the 2 nations received’t enhance till Kabul stops hurling accusations in opposition to Pakistan.

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