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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Zaheer
Full Name: Zaheerul Hassan
User since: 20/Jun/2009
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Afghanistan a threat to Pakistan’s Security


Revitalization of Mackinder’s Heartland theory has once again projected geopolitical and eco-strategic significance of area comprising CARs, Afghanistan and Pakistan in Asian politics after dreadful event of 9/11. Winning Afghan war has become a great challenge to the USA and its allies. Afghanistan’s critical situation, insurgency and wars have spill-over effect mostly over Pakistan in particular and region in general.
Afghanistan which has been a protective shield regarding Pakistan’s western border security however USA invasion created manifold problems within the country and for immediate neighbor. Pakistan-Afghanistan both has not been enjoying cordial ties since subcontinent partition. Afghanistan due to having Pushtoon belt adjacent to Pakistani western tribal belt was a strategic depth for its strategic interests in 1979 Soviet invasion. But Musharraf’s decision to be ally of USA in war on terror opened new window of troubles to national security. A wave of extremism and terrorism initiated as a result Pakistani armed forces operation in tribal areas. To understand how Afghanistan conundrum is a direct threat to Pakistan’s survival, there is need to look into Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan, concerns and prospects what she can do to untie knots of Afghanistan problem ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬tangled with Pakistan.
At present, the country of Afghanistan has adversely trapped in vicious circle of the challenges like incompetent, weak and corrupt government, security, poverty, spreading insurrection from the Taliban, suicide attacks, the collateral damage caused by America and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), kidnapping, opium production, disappointment and disillusionment of indigenous Afghans, a great fear of the future, unclear and inconsistent policy of Afghan government and its sponsors to Afghanistan’s security and development, creating problems in neighboring states especially along its eastern border with Pakistan. Pakistan’s concerns are from Afghanistan, regional and global powers. There are trans-border insurgency in Afghanistan directly affected Pakistan’s northern belt, increasing radicalization in the Pushtun society, confronting outlooks on Durand Line, Afghan Diaspora in Pakistan, unsafe Afghan-Pakistan border, deep Indian ingress, India’s increasing hegemonic designs overshadowing Pakistan’s political, economic and strategic interests, internally–growing militancy and suicide attacks against pro-Western government within Pakistan, immense economic recession, political and societal damage, uncertainty about the future of Pakistan among its masses. Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan are as follows:
Strategic interests: Maintain territory integrity, secure eastern and western borders.
Political interests: Pakistan wants to see strong, stable and united Afghanistan, with a Pakistan-friendly government, giving the Pushtuns their due share in power.
Economic interests: A peaceful Afghanistan that enables the laying of oil and gas pipelines from CARs and makes Pak-Iran-India pipeline project successful, through Afghan territory to Pakistan. In this way, Pakistan could be able to fulfil its increasing demand of industry at home. Moreover, CARs represent a huge market for Pakistani goods.
On the other hand, Afghanistan has also few concerns from Pakistan like the insurgency within Afghanistan could not exit as it is today with support of Pakistan. Moreover, the insurgency’s revival is a function of increased flow of jihadists plus money, and militarily assistance from within Pakistan. The element of Taliban was created by Pakistani armies and intelligence agencies to secure Pakistan from communism as a means to extend its own leverage in the land of Afghanistan. Militant Taliban and insurgents were/are openly being trained and recruited in Quetta and continued the support to tribal warlords in its frontier provinces and Afghanistan’s as well. Pakistan promoted Islamic radicalization on the will of America for its own economic and security interests within the country and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani has described two main concerns to General David Petraeus who replaced General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan before making new Af-Pak strategy by Patraeus:
i. Despite the need for peace between India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s national security doctrine requires it to weigh New Delhi’s expanding military capability and regional influence in Afghanistan rather than its professed peaceable intentions because “intentions could change at any time”. Therefore, India remains a constant threat.
ii. Pakistan needs a “stable, peaceful and friendly” Afghanistan, not “neutral” but “friendly” because of the India factor. New Delhi is establishing a hegemonic foothold in Kabul. In the past, secular-communist or pro-India regimes in Kabul like Karzai’s have refused to accept the Durand Line as the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and coveted Pakistan’s Pushtun areas. Under the circumstances, Islamabad seeks to establish guarantees that the Pakhtuns of Afghanistan will look to Kabul for nationhood and the Pakhtuns of Pakistan, who number more than those of Afghanistan, will not be distracted from looking to Islamabad for theirs. Therefore, Pakistan requires “soft strategic depth” in Afghanistan.
iii. One of the major threats to Pakistan’s security is rapidly growing close relationship among India, Israel and the USA in Afghanistan. As it has best described by Muhammad Zulfiqar Khan Niazi, “As the USA-India-Israel strategic partnership becomes institutionalized, Pakistan’s threat perception regarding India’s heightened military proficiency–stemming from military-to-military contacts and joint exercises between India, Israel and US air forces and navies–also heightens thereby further widening the gap between the armed forces of the two South Asian rivals. It is frustrating for Pakistan that, while it is going all the way in ameliorating America’s threat perceptions related to al-Qaeda”. 
iv. Another strategic threat to Pakistan is from US drone attacks in south of the country which are fuelling local resentment and causing growing flux of refugees. The UN’s Philip Alston has condemned the “PlayStation mentality” of the drone pilots who usually operate from Colorado, and whose operations have led to the death of more than 600 civilians in northern Pakistan over the past year.
v. Indian rapid ingress in Afghanistan poses a serious alarm to Pakistan’s security. It is trying to create a two front security situation for Pakistan to put her on the horns of a dilemma in any future Indo-Pak war. She is engaging herself in creating friction between Pakistan and Afghanistan by giving boost to controversial issues like Durand line. She is also opening of consulates at Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat to train people by her intelligence agencies to destabilize law and order situation within Pakistan.
Pakistan’s concern regarding India has intensified after the recent visit of President Obama to India not to Pakistan. His visit has been in limelight of Pakistani media’s debate while at the same time raising both muted and vocal concerns in politico-strategic quarters. It has been a usual routine of the US presidents to visit India and Pakistan in one leg but this time no such attempt was conceived. He has lifted India vis-a-vis China and Pakistan on the very heights by saying this straight and sharp that “India is not simply an emerging power, but now is a world power”. Pakistan’s concerns are quite genuine because his recent immediate visit to India basically aims to ink secret agreements with New Delhi to bring changes in the world order. India would collaborate with the US and other western partners to confine five countries which include Pakistan, China, Iran, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Strategies: Pakistan has shrewdly tackled its concerns and interests. At the time of 9/11 and in War on Terror, Pakistan decided to play a frontline state role for its survival and is still actively fighting against militants in its own land. She has extended intense and vast operations of Pakistan’s forces to counter Western claim that the North and South Waziristan has become a sanctuary of terrorism and fundamentalism. Pakistan has shown serious response to Afghans’ concern over Pakistan’s past role in Afghanistan and is trying to remove them by committing full cooperation and conciliation regarding sustainable peace and consistent developmental procedure within its proximate neighbour. Pakistan’s same commitment can be seen at international forums as well. Pakistan has raised the issues like Indian presence in Baluchistan in Sharmul Sheikh, increasing number of consulates in Afghanistan, reviving the issue of Durand line that Durand Treaty’s duration has been expired etc. Pakistan is demanding to resolve the Durand line issue and saying to international community to accept this de facto line as a permanent international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan because it would reduce confrontation and help to coordinate easily for peace process.
Outcomes: The war on terrorism put diversified impacts on Pakistan. During the last ten years since 9/11, almost 22,000 people have been killed in-between suicide attacks, surgical strikes by NATO and USA, military operations by Pakistan army etc. Terrorism inside Pakistan has doubled since 9/11. Pakistan had to face direct threats of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Terrorists killed 907 people and injured 1,543 others in Pakistan in 2006. In the year 2007, terrorist attacks resulted in 3,448 casualties from 1,503 attacks and clashes according to Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) security report. Terrorism in Pakistan is mainly a result of Pakistan's support of the US in return for American financial and military support. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists accuse Pakistan governments’ decision fighting America’s war on its land against own people because they view America as the devil and any cooperation with the US as an affront to Islam.
Prospects: Cordial relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan might be established merely by compromising policy but on equivalent basis. The strategic calculus of Afghanistan and Pakistan is closely intertwined but ironically it things are seen in their right perspective, at present what is happening in Afghanistan is not because of Pakistan but it is the other way round. Pakistan’s future role should be:
• Disassociate itself from Taliban or any militant within Afghanistan.
• Avoid putting its influence on the Afghan government and tribal elites.
• Enter in dialogue with local Taliban leaders on their own terms.
• Try to satisfy the Pushtuns’ demands in FATA.
• Complete the Afghan refugees’ repatriation with help of Afghan government and international community.
• It should support Pushtun government in Afghanistan
• It needs to change its Afghan’s foreign policy of “strategic depth” into ‘strategic silence’ which has adopted for the time being after fighting a proxy war of terror and heavy losses in it.
• The attacks by NATO in Pakistan borders are a wakeup call for us. Let’s not ignore the fact and be united to form a new strategy by keeping in mind the storm which is in the making in the skies over Pakistan. We must encourage and supply our security forces with resources to crush militancy in Pakistan and not to provide the troubled waters for the outside forces to fish in.
• Today when the end game has begun in Afghanistan and America is contemplating different options and strategies to withdraw from Afghanistan till 2014, a careful dissection of Pakistan’s militant landscape is imperative to understand the regional security complex with a view chalking out different roles of regional countries in post-American Afghanistan.

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