Afghan forced backed by NATO are reported to have regained control of Kunduz after a three day battle with Taliban fighters. This comes as a disappointment to many of our own countrymen who celebrated reports that Taliban had seized control of the major Afghan city on Monday. This is deserving of reflection. Why are so many of us celebrating advances by Taliban fighters even while we are locked in a battle to the finish with Taliban ourselves? The answers offer important clues to the root of our troubles and, possibly, provide some hope for a solution.
The fall of Kunduz was not exactly greeted with the distributing of sweets, but judging by too much of Pakistan media it came very close.
Such reactions can be understood in two ways. There is the obvious anti-Americanism present. After feeling humiliated for years by drones strikes, Abbottabad, and public slaps such as Admiral Mullen’s remark that Haqqani Network is “a veritable arm of ISI”, many of us take great pleasure in seeing the arrogant superpower cut down to size. For those who do not have the privilege to travel and study in America, this resentment has been pumped up to an enormous level also by sponsored campaigns like Difa-e-Pakistan that have driven home an extremely anti-American message among the common man. It is important to note that such articles and messages appear mainly in Urdu media, not in English.
The reaction is also due to resentment of Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani who we expected to bring a relief from Karzai’s policies. Instead, Ghani has been even more outspokenly anti-Pakistan along with the NDS who have been accusing Pakistan of having a hand behind every attack carried out in that country. As in the case of America it is hard not to taste some sweetness when someone is tripped up that is always accusing you.
The third reason for this reaction among more of the population than we like to admit is that there is support for Taliban and the idea of Islamic regime not only in Afghanistan but at home as well. A small minority (though not as small as we wish) do not support TTP or Daesh, but there is a much larger group that is Islamist in thinking but not Takfiri extremists. These are people who support Army’s operations against anti-Pakistan militants but also support Taliban as fighting legitimate insurgency in Afghanistan against a Western puppet regime.
Each of these groups is missing an important point. Afghan Taliban have their sights set on Kabul today, but they are not a nationalist Army and once they have completed their quest for Afghanistan their ultimate plans will not respect political borders. Already they have been providing support to anti-Pakistan militants. This has been going on since long in the form of weapons, training, and funds:
“The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers,” said Shahidullah Shahid in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border.
“In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially.”
Even recent attacks such as PAF Badaber have been planned and controlled from Afghanistan according to ISPR. Terrorists involved in APS Peshawar attack were arrested in Afghanistan also. In other words, Afghanistan’s problem is our problem also. They may have different names, but these names are only temporary as we know. They may have different priorities today, but they share the same ultimate goal, and there is not place for Pakistan as a sovereign democratic country in those plans.
In cheering for Taliban in Afghanistan, we can gain some small feeling of satisfaction for seeing those who criticise us brought down a notch, but when the dust settles, it will be us who continues to suffer the tragic and horrific consequences of building up Taliban extremists. And who will cry for us after we have celebrated their own misery?