Will Pakistan emerge a winner in Afghanistan?

Will Pakistan emerge a winner in Afghanistan?

Pakistan's flag and the Taliban's flag are seen in the background as people make their way to Afghanistan at the Friendship Gate crossing point at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Abdul Khaliq Achakzai

As the Taliban complete their breathtakingly rapid campaign to retake control of Afghanistan and thousands of people swarm Kabul's airport in a desperate bid to flee the country, the world is watching with bated breath to see what happens next. The US is primarily preoccupied at the moment with completing the withdrawal that set off the Taliban offensive and extracting all its citizens safely, while other countries in the region are already looking ahead and worrying that an Afghanistan led by the Taliban could once again become a staging ground for actions by Islamic terrorists.

Pakistan, however, is much less concerned, given its history of close ties with the Taliban. Eurasia Group analyst Akhil Bery explains that Pakistan stands to benefit from the Taliban's recapture of Afghanistan, though it also poses some risks.


How does Pakistan stand to benefit?

Pakistan's national security establishment, especially the highly influential Inter-Services Intelligence, is delighted to see the Taliban return to power. The ISI has a long history of supporting the group, first in its fight against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, and then more recently in its insurgency against the US-backed Afghan government. Though Pakistan publicly claimed it was working together with the US to achieve its goals in the region — and receiving copious amounts of US aid for it — in reality it was also supporting the Taliban. Back in 2014, General Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, quipped: "When history is written, it will be stated that the ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America. Then there will be another sentence. The ISI, with the help of America, defeated America."

Moreover, Pakistan sees the Taliban takeover as a win against arch-rival India, which was deeply invested in supporting the civilian government in Afghanistan but has been left out of most discussions between the Taliban and various world powers on what Afghanistan's future should look like.

What are the risks for Pakistan?

The return of the Taliban does also present some challenges, however. While it is widely accepted that Pakistan's military has a degree of control over the Islamic group, that control maybe waning; many in the Taliban have grown weary of Pakistan's efforts to exert its influence and seek political and financial independence. In addition, when the Taliban were last in power, Pakistan was the last country to recognize them as a legitimate government. But following its recent success in firmly establishing its control of the country, the Taliban will have a broader range of partners, limiting Pakistan's sway. Furthermore, Afghanistan could once again become a haven for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a radical Islamic group that has conducted terrorist attacks in Pakistan, for example when authorities have tried to exert their control over remote tribal regions that serve as a refuge for militants.

How will Pakistan's relationship with the US evolve?

Relations have been strained in recent years. Former President Trump has attacked Pakistan on Twitter, accusing it of "giving us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking our leaders as fools." Yet, there were efforts at rapprochement — for example, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Washington in July 2019, and then-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross visited Islamabad in 2020 to encourage more trade between the two countries. But those efforts have not continued under the Biden administration, which has been a source of frustration for Pakistani authorities desirous of refocusing the bilateral relationship more on trade and economic development. Going forward, the US will continue to pressure Pakistan (likely through aid programs and multilateral agencies) to ensure that Afghanistan is not used to conduct terrorist activities. The US is likely to continue viewing its relationship with Pakistan through a counterterrorism prism.

How do the recent developments affect Pakistan's relations with other countries in the region?

The return of the Taliban possibly presents the biggest challenges for India and China. India is worried because the last time the Taliban were in power, they sheltered pro-Pakistani militants, including those who hijacked an Indian Airlines flight in 1999. Furthermore, India is concerned that Pakistan, emboldened by its success in Afghanistan, may start to push back more aggressively in the two countries' numerous areas of dispute. Though there have been some attempts at rapprochement with Pakistan lately, India faces an increasingly hostile neighborhood.

China, meanwhile, is worried that Afghanistan will again become a haven for a Uyghur extremist group known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which Beijing believes could launch attacks on China in response to the widespread repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang. A joint China-Pakistan investigation found that the bus bombing in Pakistan on 14 July that killed nine Chinese engineers was a joint operation by the TTP and the ETIM; China will likely pressure both Pakistan and the Taliban to make sure its interests are not harmed.

Empowering minority-owned businesses in 2022

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?
A woman of color smiling as she uses a tablet

One of the keys to accelerating financial inclusion and building a more equitable digital economy is to enable minority-owned businesses to scale. And one of the fastest ways to do that is through partnerships with a global network like Visa. At the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI), we’re committed to providing research and insights on important issues related to inclusive economic policy. Our reports cover topics like what women-owned businesses need to unlock growth and how to empower Black and Brown-owned banks. Read more of our latest stories here.

Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

More Show less
The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.

U.S Navy/EYEPRESS

100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

More Show less
The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

More Show less
Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

More Show less
The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

More Show less
Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

Subscribe to GZERO Media's YouTube channel to get notifications when new videos are published.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The AI addiction cycle

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal