The Afghan dynamics

The Afghan population comprises of different ethnic groups which include Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and Turkomans. Ahmad Shah Abdali founded the Afghan empire which stretched from Mashad to Oxus River and Indus River in the South East. With the decline of the Afghan empire and in view of the increasing Russian threat, British India decided to demarcate the boundary between them and Russia. The border agreement was signed in 1893 when the two parties reached an agreement. This agreement led to the creation of the Wakhan Corridor as a buffer.
The successive Afghan governments referred to the boundary as ‘Durand Line’ and refused to recognize it on the pretext that it has divided Pashtuns. Even today, the Afghan Taliban does not recognize the border as legitimate. There are more Pashtuns in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. There are 35 million Pashtuns in Pakistan, whereas in Afghanistan Pashtuns are about 15 million.
The banned Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is now operating from Afghanistan was formed in 2007. They fled to Afghanistan when the Pakistan military successfully eliminated their hideouts and 4000 square kilometers of area was cleared from terrorists in KP. The recent attacks across KP has rung alarm bells across Pakistan which has also exposed our security loopholes. The Afghan Taliban government has released many TTP and Al-Qaeda terrorists from prisons and they are now threat not only to Pakistan but to the West as well. More recently, inside Afghanistan, reportedly the TTP has reunified with some of its break away factions which is the reason why there is increase in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. In 2018, RAW facilitated the Baloch separatist groups in Afghanistan to form the Baloch Raji Ajio Sangar (BRAS) which included, the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Baloch Republicans Guard (BRG). The Baloch groups have also established an alliance with some negligible Sindhi groups to create an impact.
Another group which is gaining its lost strength after Afghan Taliban came to power is Al-Qaeda in Indian Sub-continent (AQIS). They celebrated the Taliban victory with whom they have an alliance since the 90s. Another militant outfit which has been raised in Afghanistan by hostile agencies is Islamic State (Khorasan), IS (K). They have sizeable strength comprising mostly of disgruntled TTP elements. Other banned organizations gaining strength are Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in North Afghanistan, and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan which is an ally of Al-Qaeda.
The strongest among Afghan Taliban is ‘The Haqqanis’ under Sirajuddin, who is caretaker minister of interior and refugees. The Haqqanis are considered the most organized, trained and lethal organization in Afghanistan. They hold power in the Taliban power structure and exercise much influence over decision making. In Afghanistan the Tajiks are second largest ethnic group which constitute 26 percent of Afghanistan population who speak Dari, a variant of Perion with ethnic linkage with Tajikistan. Their leader Ahmad Shah Massoud fought the Russian invasion from 1979 to 1988 and the Taliban from 1996 to 2001 under the banner of Northern Alliance, which comprised of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. After capture of Kabul by the Taliban, a force was raised in Panjshir valley named as National Resistance Front to resist Taliban. However, Panjshir valley fell to the Taliban.
90 percent of world opium is produced in Afghanistan which is smuggled to Pakistan, Iran, Central Asian Republics and West. In the past the narcotics revenue had been used to finance Mujahideen against Russians and later for the Taliban struggle against the west. After the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, some 5.5 million Afghan refugees migrated to Pakistan. Today, Pakistan hosts over 2.2 million registered Afghan refugees leaving aside undocumented Afghans across Pakistan.
Although the Taliban have returned to power, peace has still not returned to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is again plagued by terrorism, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. Not a single country has recognized the legitimacy of Afghan Taliban government. The international community and UN have to take the Afghan government onboard to exert some influence. If left at its own, Afghanistan is likely to become a festering ground for terrorism and the consequences will be disastrous for the Afghan people and the world in general.

The writer is a retired brigadier and freelance columnist. He tweets @MasudAKhan6.

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