By Khawar Ali
After 11th September 2001, United States initiated the so-called “global war on terror” focused primarily on the Islamist terror groups. The main targets were Al-Qaeda and Taliban. After two decades of war, the United States and Taliban reached an agreement in an effort to end the war. In this agreement, Taliban agreed that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used to threaten the security of United States and its allies. As a result, President Joe Biden announced that US will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.
General F. McKenzie, US CENTCOM Chief, has warned that after removal of troops, the biggest threat [to Afghanistan] is the regrouping of Al Qaeda and Taliban which will also be a problem for US. The CENTCOM chief added that regrouping is not just a threat to US but it is also a concern to Pakistan, Iran and the whole Central Asia.
Experts predict that after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the entire burden of chaos in Afghanistan will be on Pakistan. After withdrawal there are chances of civil war among different ethnicities in Afghanistan, which will result in yet another wave of refugees into Pakistan. Any civil war in Afghanistan will be bad for Pakistan’s stability, especially in the tribal areas. Tension in tribal areas could be used by militant groups for their activities in Pakistan, says Abbas, author of “The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism”, in an interview.
Analyst believe that increased instability in Afghanistan, after September 2021, will produce spillover effects, like refugees, increased drug trade and cross border terrorism in Pakistan, which Pakistan does not want.
Some tribal people of Waziristan believe that the peace achieved by Pakistan in Tribal areas, particularly Waziristan, after Zarb-e-Azb (military operation), will be in perils.
Mohsin Dawar, a Pakistani parliamentarian, says that the re-emergence of militants is taking place in Tribal areas mainly in Waziristan at an alarming rate after the withdrawal announcement of US troops.
A United Nations report says that more than six thousand Pakistani Tribal Taliban militants are hiding in Afghanistan who were responsible for attacks on Pakistan’s military and civilians. This is a big worry for Pakistan because these militants are linked to the defunct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the so called “Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA)”. These have already taken responsibility for high profile attacks on Sindh and Baluchistan during the last eight years. One of worst attack was on the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar resulting in the death of almost 140 people, mostly children. The UN report said that these militants will likely move towards Pak Afghan border areas after US withdrawal, posing a threat to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has said that no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to join war on terror to help US and in this war almost 75,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives and over the economic cost of the war for Pakistan was almost USD 123 billion. PM Imran Khan added that today Taliban are even stronger than before posing serious threats to the stability of the region.
The contributor is a student of International Relations at the National Defense University, Islamabad.