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Pakistan’s failed attempt to pacify Taliban leaders in Kabul

Pakistan’s potential role as a mediator between the new Taliban government and some Western powers has raised high hopes and some concerns. While there are genuine efforts to create an inter-governmental dialogue, according to some media parts of the country's military and intelligence establishment maintained links with Islamist groups in Afghanistan, thus giving room to ambivalent roles. 

12.02.2022 21:50
Piše: Valerio Fabbri
Ključne besede:   Pakistan   Afghanistan   Kabul   Moeed Yusuf   Islamabad   Abdul Salam Hanafi   Mullah Hassan Akhund   Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar   Balochistan

It is no secret that the real disappointment for Pakistan came in the security-related issues.

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor (NSA), Dr. Moeed Yusuf, led a delegation to Kabul to discuss with the Afghan authorities border fencing, security issues and stalled joint infra projects. Dr. Yusuf, who also heads the Afghanistan Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell, a policy formulation and implementation forum, called on Afghan Deputy Prime Minister (PM), Abdul Salam Hanafi, and Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, besides participating in delegation-level talks with the other government ministers and officials. The visit came at the end of January, after Moeed’s failed attempt earlier that month to visit the country for a discussion with the Taliban leadership on the afore-mentioned issues.

 

Prior to Yusuf’s visit, Islamabad had assessed highly centralized decision-making within the Taliban regime and lack of recognition from the international community as the two major hurdles in developing economic ties with Kabul. Though the Pakistani side was able to get Taliban’s audience on some trade-related issues, it failed to achieve any substantive outcome. Acting upon the demand of Pakistan’s Chamber of Commerce & Industries, the delegation requested Afghan authorities to facilitate a study of Hajigak Iron Ore Mines in Afghanistan. The mines are said to have the potential of becoming long-term cheap source of iron ore for Pakistan’s steel industry. While the Afghan side made no commitment on the issue, the Afghanistan Chamber of Industries & Mines lamented that Pakistan was hindering exports from Afghanistan, while trade between the two countries had plunged from $3 billion to $1 billion during 2021.

 

Likewise, the Pakistani team could not secure any commitment from the Talibans on early completion of major infrastructure and connectivity projects, including the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA)-1000 power project, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline and the Trans-Afghan Railway (TAR) project. On its part, Pakistan appeared ready to offer capacity building and training support to Afghanistan in health, education, banking, customs, railways and aviation sectors. However, bilateral discussions on new transit-trade agreement, revival of the Joint Economic Commission, resumption of bus services between Peshawar Jalalabad and Quetta Kandahar, widening of Torkham - Jalalabad road and proposed rail links between Peshawar and Mazar-e-Sharif remained inconclusive.

  

It is no secret that the real disappointment for Pakistan came in the security-related issues. While Dr. Yusuf could not meet with the Taliban PM, Mullah Hassan Akhund, and Deputy PM, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the official statements from the two sides did not make any reference to the Durand Line and cross-border terrorism. Yusuf’s efforts to secure the release of Tariq Haqqani, son of Minister for Refugees Khalil-ur-Rehman Haqqani, along with three Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials with Mullah Baradar-led group in Kabul, also failed.  

  

As violence along the Pakistani-Afghan border areas continued in the week after the NSA’s visit to Kabul, the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistani military’s media wing condemned the use of Afghan territory by the militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) following the killings of at least five security personnel in Khurram district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

 

In absence of cooperation from Taliban, Pakistani government and establishment are confronted with possibilities of more disturbing alliances. According to some reports appeared in Sputnik International quoting a TTP militant, the organization is also training fighters from the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) at its facilities located along the said border. In return, BLA is said to be providing TTP an access into Balochistan, a region that is acting as a refuge for TTP fighters leaving the Pakistani Army's counter-insurgency operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. While the BLA is involved in a movement aimed at fighting the ethnic and regional discrimination by the Pakistani state, the TTP claims to be fighting for implementing Islamic Sharia law in the country.

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