Mumbai: As America gears up to withdraw forces from Afghanistan later this year, former Pakistani diplomat has cautioned the international community to prepare for dealing with a second wave of Al Qaeda and associated groups.
Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, while speaking to the Free Press Journal said, “ The jehadi narrative will be that first we drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan, and now we have defeated America and that will simply embolden them to mounting terrorist attacks in every place they can do it.”
He feels that the terror groups will mount terror attacks not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but in Kashmir, India and rest of the world. New Delhi is already concerned about the spill over impact of the withdrawal in Kashmir Valley.
So far the international security forces have not been able to defeat the terror groups irreversibly, and in the months left before the scheduled withdrawal, no miracle is expected to tame Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.
Islamabad would make all the efforts to keep New Delhi away from Afghanistan.
“ It is not in any country’s interest to allow or encourage a civil war in Afghanistan. I hope that all the countries of the region including India and Pakistan can work together to ensure that Afghanistan does not descent into a civil war”, Haqqani said, adding that, “ Kabul has economic interest with India and other nations, Pakistan should not have a zero sum approach.
That will be the recipe for disaster. The best way for Pakistan is to have a friendly government in Kabul by not telling it what to do.” He believes that Islamabad’s legitimate security concerns can be addressed by insuring cooperative relations with both Kabul and New Delhi.
Unfortunately, Islamabad with its myopic view has frozen its policy of keeping India out of Afghanistan.
Haqqani says, “ The American withdrawal will have great consequences for Pakistan.
The US will no longer be dependent on Pakistan for logistical support and that may lead disengagement with Islamabad that it does not really want.
I am concerned that we may see a competition between Afghan political actors backed by different regional powers.” The onus will be on both – Islamabad and New Delhi to avoid rivalry in Kabul. It would be prudent of Islamabad to worry about Taliban’s Pakistan faction and stop worrying about Afghan Taliban and its influence in Afghanistan.
If Islamabad decides to support Taliban for influence in Kabul, it would fuel a fresh civil war and perhaps chaos in Afghanistan.
With the American withdrawal the regional security scenario will permanently change.
It would be for Kabul to decide whether to reconcile with the Taliban and invite them to the discussion or to fight them.
To make either of the option work – the international community, the US, Pakistan and the Taliban will need to agree on a single unified formula.
And Islamabad and New Delhi need to start bilateral talks on intelligence sharing and development matters in Afghanistan in order to allay mutual suspicion and ensure peaceful coexistence in Kabul.