Experts warn that Pakistan's risky bet in Afghanistan has put it in jeopardy
5th July, 2021
Pakistan has long been accused of supporting the Taliban, and Prime Minister Imran Khan recently ruled out hosting American facilities on its land for military operations in Afghanistan. While the Taliban continue their onslaught against Afghan security forces, an analyst has cautioned that Pakistan is taking a risk in the war-torn nation by attempting to develop extreme jihadist organizations in the region. Kelly Alkhouli, a political consultant for The Jerusalem Post, said in an editorial article for The Jerusalem Post that it is ironic that Pakistan, which has frequently undermined US strategy in the area, has long been seen as a vital ally in settling the decades-old intra-Afghanistan war. “Pakistan's assistance for jihadi organizations is partially motivated by cynical realism, as it seeks to expand its sphere of influence in Afghanistan and back the Islamist insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir,” wrote Alkhouli, director of international relations at the Center for Political and Foreign Affairs. “If Pakistan agreed to host US bases from which to attack Afghanistan and an Afghan civil war erupted, Pakistan would once again be targeted by terrorists,” Khan added. However, Pakistan's unwillingness to accuse the Taliban for the growing bloodshed is being interpreted as tacit support for the militants. Last month, Pakistani Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi claimed that blaming the Taliban for the spike in violence would be a “exaggeration,” instead targeting the Afghan government and the Islamic State. According to Alkhouli, the Taliban is a "autonomous terrorist organization with fickle allegiances," and Pakistan's diminished power over the Islamist group, along with the possibility of a Taliban triumph in Afghanistan, has left Islamabad "increasingly cautious." She warned that the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan will result in a massive migration of migrants into Pakistan. She believes that the Taliban's win would encourage other Islamist organizations in Pakistan, and that Imran Khan's lack of control over the security apparatus might lead to a coup. “In the end, Pakistan's risky bet has put it in a precarious position, with fewer partners and more mistrust,” Alkhouli added.