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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

The old saying about perspective inducing the view whether the glass is half full or half empty applies to the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and its implications for Pakistan. On September 26, 2021, Afghanistan's Acting Deputy Information Minister Zabihullah Mujahid appreciated Pakistan for supporting the Taliban government before the world. In an interview to state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), he 'revealed' that Pakistan had called upon the world to establish better ties with the Taliban regime. PTV could be considered guilty of allowing the broadcast of what has been a self-evident plea to come since the Taliban entered Kabul.

Meanwhile, Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi, while addressing a ceremony at the Afghan Ministry of Commerce in Kabul on the same day pronounced the profound truth that the Taliban government does not want conflict in the country. Which government in the world, no matter how it got there, would want conflict when it is in the seat of power? However, the 'peace' the Taliban now advocate after being at war for 20 years resembles little more than the peace of the graveyard. Unfortunately for them though, they do not seem to understand what it would take to get there.

Muttaqi 'celebrated' the fact that not a single shot had been fired in Panjsher since the Taliban took the valley. This is exceedingly strange coming from a guerrilla fighter who should understand the dynamics of guerrilla resistance in the face of a superior foe. The Panjsheri resistance has undoubtedly retreated into the mountains to regroup, strategise and relaunch their guerrilla war against a medieval regime incapable of normal governance, let alone the inclusive, human rights-respecting (including the rights of women) regime the world has made the bedrock conditionality for international acceptance and eventual formal recognition.

The UN General Assembly session just concluded offered the opportunity for Pakistan to make its pitch to the assembled world leaders and delegations for the acceptance and recognition of the Taliban regime. Whereas the world seems united in expecting that regime to be inclusive of the ethnic mosaic that is Afghanistan, the interim government in Kabul is nothing but a hardline, Pashtun Taliban creature without a single woman in its ranks. While the world expects the Taliban regime to be open to human and women's rights, it is tending the other way. Women's educational and vocational opportunities are being subjected to various restrictions. The Taliban's version of 'human rights' were on display in Herat on September 25, 2021 when, instead of charging suspected kidnappers and trying them in a court of law, the Taliban killed them and strung up their bodies as a supposed deterrent to such crimes in future. The picture of the body of one such suspect hanging from a crane in the main square of Herat reminded one of the castrated, bleeding bodies of former Afghanistan ruler Najib and his mentally challenged brother strung up for days in Kabul after the Taliban took the capital in 1996.

The Taliban are slowly but surely returning to their old ways even when no serious immediate threat is visible to their grip on power. What will they do when resistance mounts, as it must given the logic of the situation, from excluded-from-power ethnic groups, women and other sections of Afghan society that either do not subscribe to the medieval ideas of the Taliban or are put to hardship through a combination of international reluctance to embrace a cruel and barbarous regime and the latter's consequent inability to govern in a manner that takes care of at least the minimum needs of the populace. Hunger and malnutrition stalk the land. The innumerable war widows who will be unable to work under the Taliban restrictive directives will undoubtedly struggle to feed their families and keep their heads above the rising waters of a mass looming disaster.

The Taliban are incapable of breaking with their past or their inherent character. That implies the world is unlikely to rush to recognition, thereby contributing to the exacerbation of human misery in the benighted country, UN and other aid agencies' efforts to provide humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan people notwithstanding.

What Islamabad has to wake up to is that in fighting the Taliban's case after supporting their struggle against the US-led west for two decades, it risks its own quota of isolation and even more serious problems.

Without being an adherent of conspiracy theories, one wonders whether there is a congruence between the cancellation of New Zealand's cricket tour just literally minutes away from start of play of the first match of their long awaited series, the subsequent withdrawal of England from its scheduled tour of Pakistan, and rumblings of Australia following suit and the fact that the current head of Pakistan's government was an outstanding cricketer and captain in his day, none other than Imran Khan. Surely this cricketing debacle when hopes had risen of normality returning to cricket visits to Pakistan since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore must have hurt the former cricket hero-turned-prime minister.

The results of Pakistan's pleading on behalf of the Taliban regime are in plain sight at the UN and in interactions in major world capitals. Pakistan's credibility has been stretched to disbelief if not breaking point. Its word struggles to be heard, let alone believed. That has implications for the Taliban's chief, if not only supporter (former allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE seemingly having distanced themselves from these 'holy warriors'), Pakistan.

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Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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