Lessons for Pakistan

Pakistan’s former foreign secretary and ambassador to Iran and the US, Najmuddin Shaikh, has published an important article about what Pakistan should expect in Afghanistan. His conclusions, drawn in the last paragraph of his article, take an admirably realistic and clear-headed look at the Afghan situation and propose interesting policy changes. His conclusions, reproduced below, are almost the exact opposite of what the Pakistani establishment has been pursuing — wrongly — in Afghanistan for the last few decades.

This necessarily selective recollection of Afghanistan’s political history has lessons to offer for determining what Pakistan can and should want in Afghanistan. First and perhaps most important, no Afghan leader is prepared to endorse or countenance the break-up of the country on ethnic lines but the days of Pashtun let alone Taliban domination cannot be resurrected. Second, a power-sharing arrangement will come only when the Afghans can sit together and be sure that there will be no external interference. Third, no Taliban or other Pashtun leader will easily give ground on the irredentist claims against Pakistan. The Taliban limit their ambitions to Afghanistan but their definition of Afghanistan includes large parts of Pakistan. Fourth a dominant Taliban presence on our borders will be an ideological threat. Today we may believe there is a distance between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. We may be right in suggesting that the TTP largely comprises criminal elements and derives support from inimical external agencies. But let us not forget that most of them proudly proclaim their sworn loyalty to Mullah Omar and profess to want the imposition of the same Taliban ideology in Pakistan.

 

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