By Senator Rehman Malik
Unfortunately, the west has selected South Asia as a target to sort out its opponents and other world powers existing in the Asian region. I had been advocating that the American withdrawal without a strategy of peace is bound to bring bloodshed to Afghanistan and push it on the brink of another civil war.
The Taliban are analysing their options, collecting intelligence and assessing President Ashraf Ghani’s forces’ power that have been duly trained by India and the USA. Pakistan has recorded that India has seven military bases on the distance of 25km from the Durand Line and high-level sophisticated training centres to train the thousands of highly paid recruits from Balochistan which picked the momentum after the statements of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his defence minister wherein they had warned that Pakistan will be taught a lesson through Balochistan.
On the one hand, India kept the Taliban engaged in dialogue, while on the other hand it continued to supply arms and ammunition to the Afghan forces to be used against them. It was confirmed that two C-130 Indian planes landed in Afghanistan on July 10 and 11 to airlift their team of diplomats in Kandahar but dropped huge arms and ammunition. The Taliban discovered it when they later entered Kandahar.
There is a big question that appears; how can the Indian military planes, with a heavy contingency of arms and ammunition, fly to Afghanistan over Pakistan’s airspace? This question is pertinent especially considering the rules and regulations defined under the International Air Transport Association (IATA). If India has engaged commercial flights to transport arms and ammunition using Pakistani airspace, the matter may be taken to the UN for the violation of airspace restrictions and its use to aid war and terrorism in Afghanistan. It looks as though the episode of supplying arms from the Middle East, via Iran’s space, to Northern Alliances by Victor Boot is also no more a secret.
The growing triangular tension in Afghanistan is between the Taliban and Ghani forces, Northern Alliances and Taliban, and simultaneously partly between the Hazara Shias and Taliban. The warlords have distributed huge arms around Kabul and the government is expecting a fierce flight between them and the Taliban. In response, the Taliban have strategically and intelligently encircled almost all those areas which are a hub of the warlords. Let us see if the warlords resist or surrender against the immensity of the Taliban. The last soldier will be withdrawn symbolically in the end of August and all of this may happen around that time.
If the Afghan political bomb bursts, there will be splinters launched towards the neighbouring countries and that will create a financial burden and border implications in the form of violence and forced attempts to cross the border, like in the early 80s to Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan. The bomb may affect the whole of South Asia which is already set on the volcano in terms of the China-US cold war.
I hope the government will decide to restrict Afghan refugees within the area of 50km by creating a temporary logistic, including a small airport, shopping centres, hospitals and other necessary arrangements with the help of the UNHRC so that their mixing with the local TTP and Afghan sympathisers in KPK and Balochistan can be restricted. The return of new Afghan refugees, post-US withdrawal, should be ensured within a year. These camps should be self-sufficient.
In view of the peculiar situation, I would like to propose that the government of Pakistan should use its influence worldwide on President Ashraf Ghani, the Taliban, and other factions of Afghanistan to convince them for a ‘Peace Conference’ in Pakistan. Undoubtedly, the powerful and vocal voice of Siraj Haqqani and Molvi Hibatullah can play a prominent role. The government should also form taskforce consisting of senior officers of defence, foreign affairs, religious scholars and expert bureaucrats that are aware of the background and culture of Pashtun, Panjshiri, Tajik, Hazara, and other ethnic groups of Afghanistan to advise the government as to how to deal with the current Afghan situation.
Furthermore, there should be only one agenda of peace in Afghanistan which is to form an interim government for three months or whatever is agreed by all stakeholders. Refugees’ camps may be established closed to the Pak-Afghan border in the Pakistani territory of Balochistan and KPK with all necessary facilities. They should also be provided with food, medicines, temporary hospitals, COVID-related medicines, isolation centeres and laboratory tests.
We must learn lessons from history and should not allow the flood of refugees to mix with the Taliban. I hope the world will defuse the Afghanistan political bomb before it bursts for the sake of peace within the region and for the people of Afghanistan who have suffered immensely for decades.
My prayers for our concerned authorities is that they continue to play their role for peace as peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan. The triangle understanding between the US, Israel, and India cannot be ignored regarding CPEC. However, I am sure that all necessary arrangements to safe guard CPEC are in place. Every Pakistani is praying for a peaceful Pakistan and the only option is peace, not war.
(The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at: email@example.com, Twitter