The future trajectory of Pakistan’s complex manoeuvres in Afghanistan is moving towards building structured co-located terror units with active Pakistan military support. It is now a question of timing as to when some of these units will be directed towards India and Jammu and Kashmir.
The role of Hamdullah Mohib (National Security Advisor, Afghanistan) in the collapse of the Afghan government and enabling Taliban to takeover the country will certainly be discussed in the days ahead. According to some bureaucrats who worked in the Arg, one of the reasons why the trained and well-equipped Afghan army collapsed without a fight was because Mohib was contracting surrender deals with the Taliban to help it advance.
By noon on August 15th the Afghan Government had collapsed. There was complete disarray amongst the rank and file of the Afghan defense and security forces. Vice-President Saleh and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan were already on their way to Panjshir Valley. Later Amrullah described the collapse as a “shameful surrender to Pakistan.”
Afghanistan’s Defence Minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammedi, who is now in Panjshir Valley heading the Afghan resistance forces said angrily, referring to Ghani and his team of advisors, "they tied our hands behind our backs and sold the homeland, damn the rich man and his gang." Between August 6th and August 14th Mohib strategically enabled the Taliban to rapidly advance by withdrawing the ANDSF and preventing them from actively engaging the Taliban.
Since the Syrian theatre began to quieten down in 2018, there have been reports of militants being flown to Northern Afghanistan, exactly the location from where out-of-work Mujahideen had fanned out to Kashmir, Egypt, Algeria, Syria. So, is Afghanistan headed for chaos or, as a Marxist analyst predicts: "A Quad is taking shape – Iran, China, Russia and Pakistan." If correct, has India opted for the wrong Quad?
It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. “All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.”
Are the Americans likely to walk away simply because they are exasperated? After having spent a trillion dollars, losing thousands of lives, losing face – so soon after their reversal in Syria – are they really contemplating withdrawal? Will the bosses of UNOCAL suck their thumbs now? Will the priceless poppy fields of Helmand, the oil in the North, the unexplored mineral wealth now become a Russian asset?
The new Prime Minister will be pragmatic. He will not seek to impose a moral code on his armed forces. But he will draw some very firm red lines and these red lines will stretch from Pakhtunkhwa right through Afghanistan, the arena of his political baptism and purgatory. That is where he cannot be seen to be striking deals. His political turf will turn to ash if he does.
For an enduring security of the CPEC, it is imperative for Pakistan to change its course from Quranic to sub-continental variety of Islam, but tragically it has regressed too deep for any course correction. A course correction would enjoin Pakistan to sever its links with its parallel military like Afghan-Taliban, e LeT or JeM. Is it possible?