Bharat’s neighbourhood never ceases to spring challenges for the subcontinent and the world as a whole. Ever since the Taliban wrested control over Kabul, the security scheme of things has taken a rather unpleasant turn.
Afghanistan, which was touted to become the terror hotbed under Taliban 2.0, is currently dealing with its own tryst with terror attacks within the country. A country facing a similar fate is none other than its partner-in-crime Pakistan. The famous photo op by the then Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) chief visiting Kabul shortly after the Taliban takeover while smiling ear to ear in front of the cameras and ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan declaring the ascent of Taliban as breaking the shackles of slavery is still quite afresh in our minds. Pakistan itself had talked of Afghanistan being its ‘strategic depth’ in its so-called “jihad” against Bharat.
Pakistan’s military establishment were handed with a shock of their lifetime when the Afghan Taliban refused to act against their Pashtun brethren Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is at direct confrontation with the security forces of Pakistan. The TTP gets both ideological as well as logistical support from the Afghan Taliban, in exchange for their longstanding relationship with the Afghan Taliban.
It is quite obvious to say that the TTP has now become the strategic depth for Afghanistan inside Pakistan. The Afghans have never approved of the Durand Line Agreement signed in 1893. The fact that Pakistan, with a larger and more sophisticated military has repeatedly tried to persuade the Afghans to abide by the same, reflects their weakness. The Afghans perfectly sense the reality and have left it to the people’s wisdom on either side to decide upon the border issue.
A series of suicide bomb blasts inside Pakistan targeting their security forces and police personnel shows how Pakistan is now slowly turning from perpetrator of terrorism to both perpetrator and victim of terrorism. This newly gained status does not help the confidence of the armed forces of Pakistan either.
The recent operation by TTP’s militia in Chitral district cannot be seen as an isolated incident. A group of 150-odd strong guerrilla forces storming the military headquarters of Pakistan army in its north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a tell-tale sign of things to come. It is further reported that the TTP has now taken over several villages in Chitral and now pushing for a broader goal of de-merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
The weaknesses in Pakistan’s defensive structure may also encourage similar rebellious organizations like the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) to rise up in arms. The Pakistani army, with its unique distinction of having never won an external war and never lost an internal war would be keen on maintaining the clean track record at home, so as to prevent its Balkanization.
A politically divided society, facing its toughest economic crisis and carrying a sentiment of betrayal by its own military, may only complicate things for Pakistan. Pakistan is now faced with a two-front war both from inside and outside its borders.
Over the years, many great militaries from around the world have learnt the hard way that it is easy to invade into Afghanistan but difficult to retain it. It is due to this reason that Pakistan is not striving for a military solution with Afghanistan. Also, trying to settle the issue through dialogue with terror factions will only lead to a loss of face for the Pakistani army, while legitimizing the barbarian acts of the terrorist organizations.
The problem for the Pakistani establishment becomes multi-fold due to the omnipresence of militia men from TTP and other organizations, even in the urban areas of Pakistan. Thus, any miscalculated move by the establishment against the TTP can spell doom for Pakistan.
Among all the ruckus, it is imperative for Bharat to maintain close vigil over its western borders as there are all the possibilities for a spill-over of terror into its own borders. The thaw over Line of Control (LoC) saves its resources for it to concentrate on the activated front of Line of Actual Control (LAC).
While the problem between the nations is a man-made one, it helps to recall the lines of the then-American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that, “If you keep snakes in your backyard, you cannot just expect them to bite your neighbours. They are going to come bite you as well. “ The current situation shows that the Pakistanis are not as prompt at taking good advices. This has now led to a civil war-like situation in Pakistan that is reminiscent of the Bangladesh imbroglio of late 1960s.
(Mr. Binit Patnaik is a freelance writer dealing with Indian political system and International Affairs (email- email@example.com))