An uneasy stalemate in US-Pakistan relations amid withdrawal from Afghanistan


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Six months into the Biden administration, amid the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and increasing violence on the ground there, the US-Pakistan relationship is at a turbulent stalemate. Pakistan has repeatedly indicated that it wants the relationship to be defined more broadly than it is in relation to Afghanistan – particularly based on “geographical economy”, which is what currently distinguishes it from trade, investment and connectivity – and insisted that it does not. We will not want to blame Pakistan for the failures in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US made it clear that it expects Pakistan to “do more” about Afghanistan in terms of pushing the Taliban toward a peace agreement with the Afghan government. Pakistan responds that it has exhausted its influence on the Taliban. The result is a relationship with the Biden administration defined by Pakistan’s western neighbor, as it has been for relations between the United States and Pakistan for most of the past 40 years. The situation in Afghanistan may determine the future of the relationship as well.

What do you want Pakistan

Pakistan’s official position is that it favors a peaceful outcome in Afghanistan, the kind of power-sharing arrangement that was reached after an intra-Afghan peace agreement. Many question this given Pakistan’s support for the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and the group’s later found sanctuary in Pakistan. But Pakistan argues that a prolonged civil war in Afghanistan would be disastrous for it, on three dimensions: First, insecurity may extend from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Second, Pakistan fears that this would give way to the re-emergence of the Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group responsible for killing tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and attacking the country’s military, security forces and politicians. Third, this will increase the volume of refugee flows into Pakistan (which has hosted millions of Afghan refugees since the 1990s, including 3 million Nowadays), which you can not afford. These concerns are justified.

Pakistan is less clear about what a Taliban military victory might mean for it, but it is discussing it along the same lines with the possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan. The implication is presumably that the path to an all-out military victory for the Taliban will be violent, raising many of the same concerns identified above. as part of Extension of the “troika” on the peace settlement in Afghanistan – which also includes the United States, China and Russia – Pakistan has signed the statment Saying that the Taliban emirate would be unacceptable to it.

What Pakistan does not openly discuss is this central tension: Pakistan has long treated the Afghan Taliban as friends – preferring them to Pashtun nationalists (which it viewed as a threat, fearing they would mobilize Pashtuns on the Pakistani side of the border as well) and for the current Afghan government (which it considers a friend of India) – Whereas the Taliban’s Afghan friend and ideological twin, the Pakistan Taliban, posed an existential threat to Pakistan and killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis. This tension is clearly making Pakistan tense. Pakistan defeated the Pakistani Taliban in military operations that began in 2014, but many of them have taken refuge across the border in Afghanistan, and have regrouped since last year. The potential rise of the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan would almost certainly embolden the Pakistani Taliban, and threaten to plunge Pakistan into the kind of violence it witnessed between 2007 and 2015. There is some speculation that Pakistan could cut a deal with the Afghan Taliban to constrain the TTP but even if It happened, there is a real question about how effective it is.

This tension is not clear to the Pakistani public. You will see that the Pakistanis support the Afghan Taliban and oppose the Pakistani Taliban, because the Pakistani state has blocked the links between the two groups. The only time that senior officials have admitted this recently was behind closed doors, when he was the army chief and the head of the Military Intelligence Agency (ISI). call The Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are “two sides of the same coin”.

Amid escalating violence in Afghanistan, with the finger pointing at Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban, Pakistan is trying to distance itself from the group. Prime Minister Imran Khan recently She said Pakistan does not speak for the Taliban, nor is it responsible for it. Pakistan argues that a “hasty” US withdrawal ahead of peace talks has paved the way for the current situation. Khan said the Taliban’s battlefield victories made it moot what influence Pakistan could wield over them. He even argued deceptively that the Taliban are hiding among Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

However, the world remains skeptical, amid Reports of alleged Taliban fighters receiving treatment across the border in Pakistan, and formulations Like the one made by her home minister, who said recently that Taliban families live in Pakistan.

what do you want america

From America’s point of view, the main demand is that Pakistan exert influence in pushing the Taliban to reduce violence and toward an intra-Afghan peace agreement. The second is the possibility of cooperation in combating terrorism in the post-withdrawal scene. But the checkered past colors the relationship. For Washington, part of the reason it lost the war against the Taliban is that the Taliban found support in Pakistan, including sanctuary for the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura. Osama bin Laden was found in Abbottabad in 2011 eroding any remaining trust on the American side. However, as it stands, America still needs Pakistan’s help in the region, especially as it withdraws from Afghanistan. Pakistan has largely fulfilled the Trump administration’s main request, which is to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with the United States.

There are some questions about what US discussions with Pakistan over counterterrorism cooperation entailed – the “bases” in Pakistan have no basis in Islamabad, and a question that may not even have been asked, although it has occupied the internal debate for some time. However, it is assumed that intelligence sharing and other forms of cooperation are all up for discussion and are discussed behind closed doors.

But the sticking points remain on the American side: wariness of trusting Pakistan, and Islamabad’s desire to put pressure on the Taliban. Pakistan argues that demands from the United States to “do more” never end.

Participation Terms

President Joe Biden has not yet – somewhat inexplicably – called Prime Minister Khan. But US-Pakistani involvement continues, especially on Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have spoken several times. The US Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, continues his visits to Islamabad and Rawalpindi, including one in july. CIA Director Bill Burns visited Pakistan on a subsequent secret trip made public. Army Chief of Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa received multiple calls from officials in Washington, including From Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The national security advisors of the two countries have personally met twice, as well as the head of the Pakistani intelligence visited Washington Just last week. It was a new foursome announce Between America, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. The United States also has Delivered Millions of doses of Moderna vaccine for Pakistan to aid its response to the pandemic. However, despite all this, there has been no movement on intra-Afghan peace talks after a series of inconclusive meetings in Doha in July – and the situation in Afghanistan is get worse quickly. As it deteriorates, the United States appears to be in a wait-and-see mode regarding the relationship with Pakistan.

stark choices

As for the future, it has become clear that Pakistan will find it impossible to separate itself from what is happening in Afghanistan. With the Taliban advancing on the ground, the accusing finger is pointed at Pakistan’s relationship with the militants. Whether Pakistan likes it or not, whether this is unfair considering the Afghans, weThe fact is that the world sees the Taliban’s progress as the result of the long-purported Pakistani double game. This means that there will be little willingness in Washington to engage with Pakistan on other matters if Afghanistan is involved in violence or in the hands of the Taliban. (Pakistan’s rapprochement with China won’t help it either, in an age of America’s increasing confrontation with Beijing.)

If Pakistan really means what it says about wanting a peaceful Afghanistan, it is time to do everything in its power to force the Taliban to stop the violence and come to the negotiating table for peace. No other country’s interests – in terms of internal security, international standing, and the relationship with America – would be better served by such an effort than Pakistan’s. The Taliban will be stubborn given their newly acquired international legitimacy, starting with A deal between the United States and the Taliban And keep it up current travels Around the world, most recently Battlefield victories. However, Pakistan has no other choice but to pressure it, for its own sake, and certainly for the sake of its next-door neighbor. The Pakistani alternative – betting on the Afghan Taliban while simultaneously planning to tackle the nascent Pakistani Taliban movement at home – would be disastrous, both for them and for Afghanistan.


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