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Pakistan Wants to Cash in on Its Taliban 'Victory.' But China's Wrecking Its Plans Pakistan Wants to Cash in on Its Taliban 'Victory.' But China Is Wrecking Its Plans

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09.09.2021

After an interlude of two decades, Pakistan has conquered Afghanistan, again.

Or so you would think, looking at the reactions of Pakistani leaders over the past three weeks. From leaking intelligence meetings to celebrating Western leaders’ calls, Islamabad is relishing, loudly, the attention it is getting.

Imran Khan is lauding the Taliban for breaking Afghans’ "shackles of slavery," while he leads a country that received billions of dollars to maintain exactly that "slavery."

Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, head of a military that has been taking orders from the U.S. for 20 years, is now lecturing Washington on the failures of its geopolitical strategies, while peddling a Taliban that, he asserts, would champion human rights. This, only a month after Bajwa expressed concerns about cracking down on the Pakistan Taliban for fear of violent "blowback" within Pakistan itself, acknowledging that the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban are "two faces of the same coin."

For Pakistan’s real rulers, the military, the time has come to cash in on that coin.

Pakistan’s triumphant tub-thumping began last year, after Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban in Doha. The U.S., by legitimizing the Taliban as a critical stakeholder, signified a victory for Pakistan’s decades-old plan to establish an Islamist regime in Kabul.

That plan even predates the U.S.’s utilization of the jihadists to drive out the Soviets. Pakistan formulated the policy of cultivating an extra-territorial mujahideen force under its writ soon after the state’s inception, to counter Indian influence and ‘liberate Kashmir.’

To those ends, it sought ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan and first sent jihadists to target the Daoud Khan regime in the early 1970s. Pakistan has also been anxious about an Indo-Afghan ploy to incite separatism among the Pashtun-majority areas on Islamabad’s side of the Durand Line that no regime in Kabul has ever officially recognized as a border.

In addition to being the foundation of the Pakistan’s regional policies, the jihadists also help the military suppress civilian leaders to maintain its position as the omnipotent hegemon at home. Therefore, a lot was at stake when, in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. threatened that if Islamabad didn’t uproot its jihadist superstructure, it would bomb "Pakistan back to the Stone Age" — even if George W. Bush didn’t in fact use those exact words.

But Pakistan barely even paid lip service to its pretense to clamp down on jihadists,........

© Haaretz


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