Scapegoating and punishing Pakistan -The Nation

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Soon after independence, Pakistan was confronted with two hostile neighbors; India and Afghanistan. Today, the major threat emanates from India because of the unresolved Kashmir issue. India has not accepted a sovereign and independent Pakistan as its neighbor and has subjected Pakistan to hybrid and 5G warfare. It is also using fake news against Pakistan through its mainstream media, social media and various other outlets. Recently a surge in fake news has been noticed with the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. India was using Afghanistan as a second front and had 66 terrorist camps inside of it for BLA, TTP and ISKP.

In the past, Afghanistan had remained a threat to Pakistan because of hostile governments and the fear of a two front war. Later, factional fighting and puppet governments continued to remain a source of concern for Pakistan. The fall of Panjshir, the last stronghold of the Northern Resistance Front (NRF), jolted India badly. With Taliban back in Afghanistan, India’s free hand in the affairs of Afghanistan and its intention to reach out to Central Asian Republics is gone.

The US is also not happy with the Taliban taking over Afghanistan after their humiliating exit from Afghanistan. The western media and government officials are blaming Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan and trying to make it a scapegoat. After Soviet withdrawal, the US abandoned Afghanistan and dumped Pakistan and that led to factional fighting and the emergence of the Taliban. After the 9/11 attacks, the US invaded Afghanistan and Pakistan allowed the use of its bases. This alignment led to terrorism inside Pakistan and the phenomenon of suicide attack was introduced. More than 86,000 Pakistanis have been martyred in the war on terror. The US provided $20 billion in aid, however losses to the Pakistan economy have exceeded $150 billion.

The withdrawal of the US’ NATO forces demoralised Afghan forces who were unwilling to fight for a corrupt leadership. Pakistan cannot be blamed for the fact that three lac Afghan troops, trained and equipped by the US and India, surrendered easily to the Taliban without firing a single shot. Recently, the US has said that it would review its ties with Pakistan in view of its role in Afghanistan over the last 20 years. A bill has been moved in the Senate by the Republicans to sanction the Taliban and their supporters for the humiliating exit of the US. The question is why Pakistan should be punished when we did not force the US to withdraw.

Mullah Baradar was released by Pakistan on the request of the US and a travel of Taliban leaders and in return, it allowed Pakistan to open a political office in Doha. Secondly, our alignment with China is not well received by the US and West. The US and its allies are getting into new alliances to contain China like AUKUS and QUAD. Iran too has shown its concern, especially after the fall of Panjshir to Taliban. Despite Pakistan’s best efforts, there has been ups and downs in our relations with Iran. With the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Baloch insurgents have relocated in Sistan and other areas of Balochistan.

The Counter Terrorism Police of Balochistan has revealed that the suicide bomber who targeted Chinese nationals in Gwadar had come from Iran and the mastermind was a resident of Chahbahar. The abrupt abandonment of New Zealand’s cricket team’s tour before the toss following a so called threat alert is also being seen as a part of a great game. Firstly, the Indian hand has been clearly established by security agencies. The device used to send a threat to the New Zealand team belonged to India. According to the cricket team, the alert was sent to them by ‘Five Eyes’, an intelligence alliance that comprises of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. According to them, it was not safe for the team to play in Pakistan.

Pakistan was the safest country for the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan—including American and NATO forces, IMF, the World Bank and other Western staff. The international community must understand that Pakistan is not responsible for Afghanistan’s internal problems and is unnecessarily being made a scapegoat by the US. The US has forgotten the sacrifices of Pakistan in their war on terror after 9/11. For Pakistan, peace and stability in Afghanistan is important. In case of instability in Afghanistan, there are chances that it would spill over into Pakistan and may facilitate the resurgence of TTP. The time has come to break the shackles and align ourselves with China, Russia, Turkey and Iran. Pakistan is the agent of stability in the region and international community must work with it for peace and stability in the war torn Afghanistan.