The Afghan Taliban will be affected by Pakistan's diplomatic manoeuvres in the Ukraine
- Pakistan’s so-called foreign policy independence or neutrality is going to have severe implications for its allies in Kabul.
- As the refugee crisis in Ukraine gets more acute, the Afghan Taliban will face huge challenges in saving Afghanistan from an economic catastrophe, financial bankruptcy and a humanitarian crisis.
- Pakistani policy in Afghanistan is also determined by the rigidity of the strategic commitment, which makes it virtually impossible for Islamabad to give up its obsession of shaping a new political order across the Durand Line.
Impact of Pakistan’s stance
- Afghan Taliban are now going to be affected by the Pakistani Prime Minister’s diplomatic manoeuvres in the Ukraine minefield.
- First, this will dampen the Taliban’s chances of getting immediate international recognition as Pakistan’s turn towards Russia seems to have further deepened the distrust between Washington and Islamabad.
- The problem of trust deficit between Pakistan and the West can be aggravated further by the rhetoric necessary to mobilise Pakistani public opinion behind any major foreign policy move by Islamabad.
- The Taliban’s resurgence has also not resulted in the outcome that Pakistan’s military establishment was hoping for, and the delay in getting the Taliban regime recognised internationally will only make Islamabad more frustrated.
- Second, the situation in Afghanistan has become complex and uncertain. Afghan people desperately require food, medical supplies and cash.
- There is already donor fatigue with regard to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
- Islamabad has its own set of economic problems, many of them self-inflicted.
- As Pakistan continues to remain in the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force, the Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, it has become difficult for the political leadership to keep the economy stable and fend off the negative implications of an unrecognised Taliban regime in its neighbourhood.
- The Taliban’s unexpected victory in Afghanistan has compounded the threat of domestic terrorism in Pakistan, and the state’s incapacity in preventing terror attacks.
- Given Pakistan’s growing dilemmas, pragmatic voices in the Taliban regime may even demand more autonomy from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in dealing with the outside world.
- The ISI is rightly perceived to be the real force behind the Taliban’s military victory over the Western-backed regime.
Consequences for Afghans
- The changing geopolitical scenario and the increasing alignment between Islamabad and Moscow casts a shadow over the Taliban’s ability to create a more effective Afghan state.
- The recognition of the Taliban regime is as much about values and principles as it is about geopolitics.
- Therefore, expectations of an early recognition should now be scaled back and future diplomatic moves undertaken with more care.