The Politics of “the Good” and ‘the Bad” Taliban

Ever since President Ashraf Ghani has assumed office about two years ago, Afghan-Pak relations have witnessed many ups and downs. President Ghani in an exclusive interview with Pakistan’s famous Geo Television about a month ago tried to articulate his country’s case in the strongest possible terms. On this occasion, President Ghani’s message to the government of Pakistan was loud and clear: enough is enough and double standards are not acceptable.

Pakistan has consistently maintained claims of its sacrifices in the fight against terrorism in terms of human losses and financial resources. Afghanistan does recognize the loss of lives on the Pakistani side as well the sacrifices of its international partners in the fight against terrorism. Yet, its argument is why Pakistan continues to differentiate between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ Taliban. When Pakistan talks about its fight against the Taliban, it fails to clarify which category of the Taliban it is referring to; ‘the good’ ones or ‘the bad’ ones. It is no longer a hidden truth that Pakistan does fight the insurgents that targets it, which it terms as the ‘bad Taliban’. On the other hand, it provides sanctuaries to those conducting militant operations in Afghanistan calling them as the ‘good Taliban’. As President Ghani has repeatedly emphasized, unless all terrorist groups are dealt with in a similar manner, the sincerity of Pakistan’s so-called fight against terrorism will be looked at with mistrust.

Afghanistan believes Pakistan turns a blind eye to the fact that it has benefited financially from more- than-a-decade’s presence of international security forces in Afghanistan in the form of Coalition Support Fund. Additionally, Pakistan was the top beneficiary of billions of dollars of trade with Afghanistan as the former was a major market for supplies to facilitate the operations of international community. Despite all the commercial benefits, Pakistan has consistently viewed international engagement in Afghanistan as detrimental to its interests because of its own perception.

Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of supporting the Baloch insurgency, which is essentially Pakistan’s internal issue. It is very unlikely that Afghanistan would have had anything to do with it. And neither will Afghanistan profit from any such revolt. Afghanistan’s stance in this regard is corroborated by the fact that the country has its own patriotic Baloch population that has a proven historic record of loyalty to their country. It is probable that a potential Baloch uprising in Pakistan will have a destabilizing effect on Afghanistan.

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