Taliban, Pakistan's Strategic Depth

in Afghanistan and the Way Forward

The events of the August 15th, 2021 and subsequently in the Af-Pak region of South Asia are ominous. Dr. Ashraf Ghani, the US supported, and quasi-installed/selected Pushtun President, fled the country with cash, cars and minions because ostensibly he did not want spilling of the Afghan blood. It would be more apt to say the Dr. Ashraf Ghani did not want to meet the fate of Dr. Muhammad Najibullah in the same country or the fate of Samuel Doe in Liberia. In both these instances, UN protected former or disputed leaders were pulled out of the UN protective buildings and were tortured and killed brutally by the other party.

The US flight and withdrawal of the forces as planned under both Trump and Biden administrations was clumsily done over the last one-year. Taliban was given a carte blanch by the Trump administration to take over the country. Five thousand Taliban terrorists were released as a result of pressure on Afghanistan government by the US government as part of the Doha process.

No one is rejoicing the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan by default except for one country, namely, Pakistan. Taliban have already started to kidnap young girls by conducting door to door searches so as to procure brides for their fighters.

The US Role:

The US was the father of Al Qaeda during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when it tried to humiliate the Soviet Union by supporting the so-called Mujahedeen and helping create the monster that Jihadi terrorism turned out to be. Three successive US presidents including Carter, Reagan and Bush-41 played that sinister role in creating the Al Qaeda monster. After the break-up of Soviet Union in 1991, all these Jihadis turned their ire against other countries including India, US and Europe. It must be acknowledged that the US did hobnob with Taliban prior to 9/11/2001 when they were trying to negotiate a TAPI oil pipeline with Mullah Omar regime. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the staff from the US funded Rand corporation were involved in those negotiations. Under Bush-43 administration the mission creep led to change of the objectives to nation building, promoting democracy and human rights in Afghanistan. Obama as president released a number of Taliban fighters from the Gitmo prison and resettled them in Doha from where they plotted their moves. If the US wanted to leave Afghanistan it could have been done in a more orderly way of eight years of Obama presidency but did not happen. During the Trump administration, the US provided legitimacy to Taliban by directly negotiating with them in Doha eliminating the role for Afghan government. US special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad stated that Mullah Baradar was released from Pakistani prison in 2018 at the request of Trump Administration. Trump wanted to invite the Taliban into White House granting de facto recognition. Furthermore, under Taliban pressure, the US forced Afghan government to release 5000 Taliban fighters as part of the Doha negotiations in which Afghan government was not able to put across its point of view forthrightly.

The Taliban Factor:

Taliban were the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan under Benazir Bhutto government as an instrument of the state policy. Taliban were in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Taliban and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s ISI controlled Jihadi assets were involved in hijacking of an Indian Airline plane flight 814 in December 1999. During this period, rogue Pakistani nuclear scientists had started to hobnob with the al Qaeda and Taliban about transferring the nuclear weapon capacity to these state and non-state actors. There is a serious risk of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s nuclear assets coming under the control of Taliban 2.0 once they consolidate their position not just in Afghanistan but also in the greater AF-Pak region.

Islamic Republic of Pakistan’s Perfidy:

Since its loss of its eastern wing following liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani establishment (GHQ/ISI/Army complex) has yearned for acquiring strategic depth by merging with a sparsely populated Afghanistan. One of the figure head, titular Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Ghulam Ishak Khan in a fit of naivete’ spilled beans about Pakistan’s plans. The policy of strategic depth was started during the time of General Zia-ul-Haq. After his death in plane-crash, Ghulam Ishak Khan was appointed president.

The Strategic Depth Doctrine was a proactive policy to install an indoctrinated Pashtun-dominated the Islamic Republic of Pakistan-controlled government in Afghanistan. It was originally conceptualized by the Pakistani deep state (GHQ-ISI-Army complex) during General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule. The policy envisaged brainwashing and disowning the Pashtun/Afghan identity and banning any Indian strategic or cultural influence in Afghanistan. The policy also called for Arabization and Wahabbization of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan's polity and civil society concurrently with de-Persianization and de-Indianization of Pakistani society. This also included a systematic tempering with the Pashtun identity to erase the cultural memory of the present and future generations of the Pashtun and replace it with an Wahabbi Arab identity. The ultimate aim was establishment of an Islamic Republic of Pakistan controlled government in Afghanistan that would eventually become a part of a greater Islamic Republic of Pakistan bereft of any Pashtun identity. Historically, Islamic Republic of Pakistan was the first country out of four that recognizedthe Taliban government. Taliban leadership was trained in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan based Deobandi Madrassas. Even after 9/11, although Pakistani dictator General Musharraf exercised duplicity and deception when he agreed to help US operate drone strikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan; while it continued to provide material, financial, intelligence and logistic support to Taliban government. Eight thousand Pakistani Army personnel were evacuated from Kunduz in Afghanistan under orders from Donald Rumsfeld before the bombing began by the US in December 2001.

Islamic Republic of Pakistan has always used deception to camouflage its adventurous expansionism. Pakistan claimed that it was the tribals who invaded Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir in 1947-1948. Similarly, Pakistani Army infiltrated into the Kargil sector in 1999 and claimed that it was the tribals and the Mujahedeen. In the name of Taliban, it is the Pakistani Army that has over-run Afghanistan at this juncture. Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been the source of majority of the terrorist attacks all over the world. It has sheltered Jihadi terrorists with impunity. It is feeling victorious following the US ignominious flight from Afghanistan. Pakistani PM Imran Khan Niazi has already given statements eulogizing the Taliban take-over.

China’s Ambitions:

China is likely to recognize the Taliban 2.0 sooner rather than later with an eye to the mineral and rare earth wealth that it wants to exploit in Afghanistan. China had tried to develop copper mines in Afghanistan during Taliban’s previous rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 period. China would like to develop a strong economic, commercial and mercantile relationship with a Taliban 2.0 regime in Afghanistan on the pattern of OBOR/BRI initiative. China has already turned Pakistan into its economic colony and would like to integrate the whole Af-Pak region into Greater China. That way, China can control the separatist movement by Uighurs in East Turkistan region.

UN, Taliban and Afghanistan:

UN sadly abdicated its responsibility in Afghanistan and had not taken a direct role in managing the terrorism problems emanating from the Af-Pak region. UN had been a moot spectator to everything that happened over the last 20 years. It had let the US and NATO do their own thing in Afghanistan over the last twenty years. Since the US has burnt its fingers by over-extending its role and capabilities, the international community led by the UN should take charge in containing terrorism originating from the AF-Pak region. The FATA region of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkwah (KP) province are very porous and lawless with Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and Haqqani Network having terror bases there. Perhaps, time has come for the UN to assert its jurisdiction over this failed and lawless state.

The Way Forward for the UN and International Community:

We strongly recommend a 12-point action plan for the UN and the international community as a way forward.

  1. UNSC must invoke the Chapter VII of the UN charter and authorize both military and non-military actions in the Af-Pak region.
  2. UN must not give recognition to Taliban 2.0 controlled regime in Afghanistan.
  3. The next step should be declaring Afghanistan, FATA region and the KP province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as UN protectorates.
  4. The FATA and the KP province of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have to be secured to prevent free flow of terrorist movements from one sanctuary across the border to the other side.
  5. The World Bank, the IMF and the Asian Development Bank should not give low interests credits to Taliban 2.0 regime.
  6. Financial sanctions must be hard from the beginning as Taliban spokespersons have already started talking about extending Sharia’ law all over the world.
  7. China might try to extend soft loans to Taliban using Chinese controlled financial institutions like the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) and the Shanghai head quartered NDB (New Development Bank) of the BRICS. All other members of the AIIB and the BRICS should dissuade China from extending soft loans to Taliban controlled Afghanistan.
  8. Taliban’s violation of human rights, women’s rights and illegal narcotic trade calls for their criminal trials for crimes against humanity through the International Criminal Court in the Hague. For sake of humanity, the Taliban terrorists must not be given a free pass. A process akin to Nuremberg trials must be initiated.
  9. Strict Financial sanctions must be imposed on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for its complicity, and it should be put on the blacklist of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) on Money Laundering instead of the grey list.
  10. The final step involves deployment of UN peace-making forces that can enforce the peace, maintain law and order and have the proper mandate to fire on Taliban fighters and contain and defang the Taliban’s terror network and other non-state Jihadi actors.
  11. The UN mandate must involve demilitarization of the Af-Pak region, the terrorist networks and confiscation and destruction of all the advanced weapons abandoned by the fleeing US forces.
  12. The UN must take adequate steps so that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are out of reach of Taliban 2.0, Al Qaeda or other Jihadi terror groups.


More by :  Dr. A. Adityanjee

Top | Analysis

Views: 3603      Comments: 5

Comment Very Poor analysis. The USA and his alloys have spent 20 years in Afghanistan and there output is NIL. The UN is a dummy body that always acts on the USA instructions. Talibans have done a legal treaty with the USA i.e. the Doha treaty. Things have been done as per planned as per the talks between the USA and Taliban. Why there is a hype , why it happened in Afghanistan, Where the hell Afghan Army gone? all happened as per plan.

Better do realistic analysis. No one is happy over Taliban Back.

Riz Khan
11-Sep-2021 01:04 AM

Comment Excellent analysis and recap
Had Carter in 1979 not subcontracted with Osama and Pakistan to recruit thousands of Mujahadeens to go and fight in Afghanistan to kick Russians out, this whole Afghan mess and its impact on the Western world would have been avoided today. There would have been no Osama, no bombing of Pentagon and WTC in 2011, no invasion of Afghanistan and the 20-years of nation-building that followed. No Trump surrender and Biden's withdrawal.

Mike Persaud
05-Sep-2021 17:05 PM

Comment well explained and analysed

Komal Singh
23-Aug-2021 03:30 AM

Comment Nice read.

Cdr Sandeep Dhawan
19-Aug-2021 04:17 AM

Comment very well written.

A perspective:
Who is UN? Where is UN? Who all control UN?
What is their interest today who control UN?
What has UN done since it’s inception and in last 3 decades?
India should tread cautiously given others move, Indìa’s geo-political situation, it’s future interests.

First and foremost: Some Indìan media reporters should stop their obsession, half truths and misadventures who are bent upon to jeopardize India’s interest and diplomacy.

18-Aug-2021 22:09 PM

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