The Afghan Mess
An Indisputable role of Pakistan in funding militant Organizations
Recently, there was a major development at the Kabul airport when an ISIS suicide bomber attacked the airport. What has happened around the airport is a big problem for the Taliban. It is a big problem because first, it challenges the legitimacy of the new order, around the airports and the control around Kabul after we knew that in most of the cities, the Taliban could enter without any problem. So, at first sight, we have this impression that the Taliban is in full control of Afghanistan, but the attack on Kabul by the Islamic states of Khorasan reminds us the Taliban have an inner enemy. And in that sense, ISIS presents a real challenge for the Taliban, because you can imagine perfectly a situation wherein in the coming months you will have in fighting between regular Taliban and IS fighters, and also a risk of having a wave of suicide attacks across Kabul and another city. And of course, the main concern is that of the situation of the Afghan people. They will have the worst; they will have the Taliban as the government, which is already extremely daunting and complicated stuff for most of the Afghan population, and then they will have also the risk of the ISIS suicide attacks.
It's well established for a very long time, that if you go back to the late Soviet War in Afghanistan and the birth of the Taliban movement, we know very much that at the very basis of that, you had interference of Pakistan and a very active role by Pakistan; channelling the money and the weapons to the Afghan Mujahedeen. So of course there is the indisputable role of Pakistan state in funding militant organizations. There is a complicated ambivalence relationship of some important elements of Pakistan state apparatus with some jihadist groups. Indeed, there is the responsibility of Pakistan into funding this Islamic insurgency and had to support this Islamic insurgency that also spread many forms of terrorist violence. It's the US finally that the US has been trying to curtail and to pressure Pakistan is so that they would stop supporting the Taliban, and we know that this has been a definite failure.
To some extent, there is a wave of support and satisfaction within Pakistan in large, regarding what is happening in Afghanistan despite many Pakistani people have suffered from their own Taliban. When you consider government state agencies and most importantly the military, we see also from the communication of prime minister Imran Khan, that there was kind of a sense of strong satisfaction. So, all this look like a victory for Pakistan because of course they got rid of Ashraf Ghani. So for them at first view, it's a victory, but when you see your own mess within Pakistan, or regarding the management of all those groups, it cost them a huge amount of money and life to reclaim the territory around the Swat valley.
The Afghan Mujahideen defeated the Soviets with the support of Pakistan, with sometimes the weapons of the CIA, but it's first the Afghanistan Mujahedeen. We are well obliged to witness that what is happened in Afghanistan in the past months, and even before, for several years is a huge blow for the US. You don't need to distort the reality to understand that this is a military failure, but it's mostly a political failure. And I add, it is a moral failure also because there was Belgian as a NATO nation also and contributed to the war in Afghanistan. There was a commitment towards the Afghan people that we are on your side, we are supporting you and letting down the Afghanistan people is dramatic. So to say that Pakistan defeated the US once again, there is an unnecessary amount of nationalistic pride in that statement, but it's certain that the US in Afghanistan has been defeated and Pakistan by the mean of military intelligence, mostly, and its underground support to the Taliban played a role.
Pakistan will remain a too important card for the US, and they will still try to cultivate the link with the Pakistani establishment, but it will drastically decrease. The Chinese are pouring down a lot of money developing the Pakistani Corridor Belt Initiative. We know that this comes with a lot of problems for Pakistan itself. We know that the business model around this corridor and all that is not so successful, that it creates a lot of dissatisfaction also within Pakistan. Also, we have seen attacks by the Pakistani Taliban and other forces against Chinese interests recently. So the position of China in Pakistan is very strong, but at the same time, it's more complicated and more fragile. That's what may appear at first sight.
Researcher of the Centre for Security and Defence Studies
The Royal Higher Institute for Defence (RHID) is the reference body of the Belgian Ministry of Defence in the field of security and defence. Nicolas Gosset is the Asia/Eurasia researcher at the RHID’s Centre for Security and Defence Studies.