Myth or Reality?

Pakistan does not wield influence on the Taliban currently as it wielded in the past.

By Dr. Qasim Sodhar | August 2023

Historically speaking, it is a fact that Pakistan fully supported the US in creating Mujahedeen to counter the former USSR invading Afghanistan. The people who later converted to Mujahideen and the Taliban were told that they were waging war against the ‘infidel’ USSR under the leadership of the US. Yet, they were instigated to launch ‘jihad’, and they did it. But, after the collapse of the USSR, the same Taliban were left at their mercy.

However, the situation changed post-9/11, when the new term ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ was created. Those Jihadi forces, who sided with Pakistan and the US, were termed ‘Good Taliban.’ On the contrary, those who did not accept submission before these powers were considered ‘Bad Taliban.’

The US is widely believed to be only a friend until you serve their interests. For example, Pakistan signed two military pacts against communism called SEATO and CENTO in 1954-55, which was a formative phase for the country, and at the same time, China that was following the communist line and was very close to Pakistan, despite that Pakistan signed anti-communist pacts with China’s rival, the US. Despite that, in return, Pakistan did not get reasonable support from the US in the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971.

Evan Pakistan was the country that mediated between China and the US to create ties between these two countries. Still, Pakistan was not important to the US until the Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and when 9/11 happened.

As far as Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban is concerned, the Pakistani authorities have been exerting influence over the Taliban since its very inception. But, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is currently involved in terrorist activities on Pakistani soil. For example, two terrorist attacks in January and February on the police headquarter in Peshawar and on the Sindh Police chief’s house in Karachi, respectively, were committed by the TTP, which raised the eyebrows of the security agencies.

It was strange to face such terrorist attacks in Pakistan by the TTP during the Taliban’s reign in Afghanistan. Although the TTP had been committing such crimes from the Afghan border even before the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, at that time, since Pakistan had turbulent relations with the Ashraf Ghani regime, it was easy to blame that regime. But now the case is different: when the Taliban are ruling Afghanistan, still the terrorist activities are not stopped. Even the Afghan Taliban have, time and again, given assurance to the Pakistani authorities that the Afghan government will not support the TTP. Despite that, it is a fact that the Afghan Taliban cannot detach themselves from the TTP because they fear that if the TTP is left alone, they can collaborate with Daesh.

It is also a fact that almost the entire world was worried about the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. The Pakistani government and the state authorities were celebrating their takeover. For example, the then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Taliban’s return had broken the chains of slavery.” Likewise, the Pakistani state, as well as the current PDM regime, is fully supporting the Taliban regime.

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