Focused Talk on

“Identifying Situation in Afghanistan: Impacts on Pakistan”

September 09 2021

Proceedings of focused talk were started with the recitation of Holy Quran. The session was chaired by Lt Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi HI (M). Cdre (R) Baber Bilal Haider SI (M) (Director of the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA)) welcomed the participants on behalf of NIMA and invited Lt Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi HI (M) to deliver his keynote speech.

The speaker started his speech by discussing the main purpose of America for fighting the war on terror for 20 years. He was of the view that the major aim of America was to eliminate Usama Bin Ladin, who was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. But according to him, America had already achieved its objective 10 years back. So, if the purpose was only to kill Usama Bin Ladin then the question arises that why they were still there! According to him, the following were the main reasons due to which America deployed its troops in Afghanistan for 20 long years:

  • To stop China and Russia from influencing this region both politically and economically.
  • To ensure that Central Asian countries which are affiliated with Russia remain landlocked  
  • To slow down the progress on CPEC or BRI
  • Keep an eye on the nuclear activities being carried out in Iran
  • The physical presence of America ensured that Afghanistan remains landlocked for Russia, China, and Pakistan. 

He was of the view that America has not failed while fighting the war against terror as they are still the superpower of the world but their campaign in Afghanistan has been defeated as its ends into the net political and economic loss of the country. A state cannot win the hearts and minds of people with such a huge political and economic loss. But all that did not go in vain as America has pushed back the influence of China and Russia

in this region by at least 15 years. So, it is not that they went back empty-handed but of course, they have paid a very high cost.  

The keynote speaker further mentioned that the way Taliban have taken over the government was surely unexpected for the world and even the best military and political minds failed to predict. But that should not be a surprise for the world as Taliban were working to achieve their aims two years back. Taliban had made political and diplomatic approach and made right connections all over the country. 

He clearly told that the Taliban had the support of local people because the insurgency of such a magnitude can never be achieved without the support of the local people. Afghanis were welcoming the Taliban because they were fed up with American forces and the corruption of the Afghan government. He further added that Afghan Army could not deliver against Taliban as most of the Afghan Army was trained by the Indians who mostly focused on efforts for brainwashing of Afghan Army against Pakistan instead of focusing on improving fighting skills. Also, the Afghan government had spread their army in penny pockets which resulted in poor concentration of force. In such a situation, they had to fight without air support as it cannot be provided in all areas.

He was of the opinion that Taliban has already shown signs of forming an inclusive government in Afghanistan, i-e. Army Chief and Finance Minister are from Tajik group and the Vice/deputy PM is from Uzbek background. On matter of women participation, elaborated that there are currently 63 countries where women are not part of the government. So, if the world had never asked from those countries then, why, they were expecting that from the Taliban who had such an orthodox society and culture. Although, may be Taliban include women in their cabinet in the future. 

He believed that Taliban rule in Afghanistan will face difficulty to survive without the US support. US can still implement multiple sanctions on the Taliban to weaken their government. He was of the opinion that participation of more than 15 countries in oath-taking ceremony of the Taliban will indicate that world has accepted Taliban rule but if they are less than five, then it will be difficult for the Taliban to survive for long. 

According to him, Cold War between China and America will also affect Afghanistan. America and its allies will not leave this zone vacant for China and Russia. They will surely come back with a different plan possibly with economic investments or sanctions to support Taliban or otherwise. On the other hand, Taliban are relying on China for financial aid and morale support against US. However, Taliban will welcome all investments for the stability and economic growth of Afghanistan. 

According to the keynote speaker, Pakistan had the fear that the refugees would come to Pakistan but that has not happened until now. The other threat to Pakistan was that TTP will get new lease of life in Pakistan. However, as in past TTP had given logistic help to the Taliban in their difficult times when even Pakistan had refused to give them basic needs, Taliban may have soft corner for TTP in Pakistan. However, TTP was mainly sponsored by the CIA, RAW, and NDFS and now when these agencies have shrunk their support, there would be less chance that TTP will flourish or grow in Pakistan, especially after Taliban pledge that Afghanistan soil will not be used against any country.  

In his opinion, the major threat now to Pakistan is that the extremist groups in Pakistan would get inspired by the Taliban and they would stand against the government. But it will definitely not happen very soon. However, he shared his assessment of future scenario that if the Taliban or the future government of Afghanistan start delivering in the fields of justice, social security, job opportunities, economic growth, control narcotics, eliminate normal street crimes, then there would be a big threat that people in Pakistan also ask

similar state system. On the other hand, if Pakistan succeeds in giving people justice, education, protection, economic opportunities, then probably democracy will migrate to Afghanistan also and their people may start asking to implement Pakistani system. He further assured that Pakistan Armed Forces will not let the Taliban interfere in Pakistan, but if they use a political platform then they may succeed.

In the end, Discussants and participants gave their individual opinion about the Afghanistan situations and choices Pakistan has in this regard. Director NIMA, Cdre (R) Baber Bilal Haider SI (M) concluded the session by thanking the chief guest and all the eminent discussants who participated in the focused talk. He

added that the focused talk has provided an opportunity to understand the current situation in Afghanistan better and possible impacts on Pakistan in near future.  

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