Crossing the Red Line

Owing to Pakistan’s denial to recognise the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the latter would like to have the battleground shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

By Arslan Qadeer | March 2023

For the first time in the last 40 years of Pakistan-Afghan relationship, the role of the two countries seems to have switched as Pakistan today finds itself at a crossroads yet again, where it has to figure out its right course of action. Before we look at the causes of this new geopolitical chessboard, we need to have a brief glance over the history of this great game – the one, we have been part of since long — notwithstanding, whether or not, did we ever like to play.

The Genesis of the Problem

In the late 1970s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) attacked Afghanistan. Concerned with the presence of the communist superpower on her western border, Pakistan covertly started helping the Afghan resistance. Soon the US also joined the war, ostensibly to avenge the humiliation of Vietnam and contain the spread of socialist influence in the region. To combat the Soviets, a strategy was evolved in the name of “Jihad”, in which Muslims from all over the world were persuaded to join the Mujahedeen. As per the strategy, the US sold the weapons to Mujahedeen, the Saudis gave the money, Pakistan had to train and distribute the necessary equipment as well as money and the Afghans had to fight.

At that point in time, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and Afghanistan all had their own objectives and interests. Pakistan having been sandwiched between India in the east and Soviets in the west, (while India having had cordial relations with the USSR) had no choice but to do its bit to stop the war spilling over to Pakistan. Subsequently, the tribal areas of Pakistan, because of their geography, topography, and demography were conveniently made the training grounds for Mujahedeen pouring in from all over the world. It’s been more than four decades since this very region and its dwellers experience a war-like environment. The young generation as well as the one now becoming aged has been brought up in the same bellicose habitat. War has become their second nature and a means of livelihood. During the Taliban regime they blended Islam and Pukhtoonwali to their own convenience and interpretation to validate their deeds and doings.

The Creation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP)

The conclusion of the war in Afghanistan and the balkanization of the Soviet Union left behind the legacy of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). In the 1990s, the rise of Taliban inspired the youth of the tribal areas, being of the same caste and creed and having the slogan of Islam. It was pioneered by the battle-hardened youth belonging to areas included in Pakistan who had fought side by side with their Afghani brethren.

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2 thoughts on “Crossing the Red Line

  • March 6, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    Dear Col. Arslan sb there is no match the topic and short stories written by you no doubt you are highlighting this eye opening issues .keeping going well done May God bless you and your family

  • April 2, 2023 at 11:09 am

    Dear Arsalaan,

    Well written article. Highlighting the history and the present.

    Your recommendations for moving forward are fine but after US exit,🇵🇰 made sincere efforts including a visit by Intelligence Chief . Hopeful headway seemed to be on horizon, but resulted in vain.

    An Out Of Box solution is probably the answer by a 2/3 majority of Government.