Opinion | New Taliban government and the dangers posed by it

Written By: Shantanu Mukharji
New Delhi Published: Sep 08, 2021, 06:34 PM(IST)

New Taliban government Photograph:( WION Web Team )

Story highlights

It can be said with confidence that ordinary Afghans are not at all happy with the Taliban coming to power. Sporadic protests are visible in many places with Herat being the latest to be witnessing active protest demonstrations

Within one month of its annexation of Kabul and hasty retreat by the US and allies after a two-decade-long stay in Afghanistan, the country has just embarked upon forming a new 33 member all-male government dispensation which looks bereft of any promise to improve the wellbeing of the common Afghan people. 

This apart, it’s a hurriedly formed cabinet, highly suspected to have been made at the express behest of the Pakistani ISI. 

This is evident as the all-powerful ISI chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed dashed to Kabul close on the heels of Taliban government formation unannounced and held intimate discussions with Taliban supremo, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other critical players in the government.  

 

It’s, therefore, once again clear that it’s the ISI that’s calling the shots and the Imran Khan-led elected government has no say whatsoever in dealing with the new Taliban. Obviously, the Pakistani government stands completely sidelined. Also, it’s a signal that Taliban in future, is unlikely to heed any policy-linked advisory from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and instead listen to the diktat of the deep state. Now this is a dangerous trend that has unfolded in the second spell of Taliban rule.

Watch | Taliban Education Minister says PhD and Master's degrees worthless, mullahs greatest without them

Besides this the ISI chief, as per the security experts watching the developments in Afghanistan, has extracted a specific assurance from the Taliban heads who matter that Indians wouldn’t be allowed to use the Afghan territory for targeting Pakistan. 

This further indicates cementing of more reinforced relations between the Taliban and Pakistan (read ISI). Dabbling by the ISI in the political affairs of neighbouring Afghanistan is nothing new with Pakistan. With a complete control of Taliban other than in the Panjshir valley, ISI is ensuring to run the country as its de facto ruler. Meanwhile, regular Pakistani trained army is thought to be fighting along with the Taliban troops aimed at routing the Ahmad Shah Masood loyalists in the North for an absolute control.

It can be said with confidence that ordinary Afghans are not at all happy with the Taliban coming to power. Sporadic protests are visible in many places with Herat being the latest to be witnessing active protest demonstrations. 

Also Read | Opinion | Can a government led by terrorists govern Afghanistan?

In the same vein, Tehran saw a spate of anti-Pakistan protests in front of its Pakistan Embassy denouncing the Taliban and Pakistan lending it an unstinted support. The Afghan women in particular are deeply disappointed because of a brake on the rhythm of their education which is now segregated punched with heavy restrictions. Regression is on the anvil in the sphere of education and the society will in all likelihood, face the battering.  

Afghanistan, according to UN sources, has severe food shortages and malnutrition amongst the children. Taliban government doesn’t seem to have any plans to address them nor is Pakistan interested to hold Kabul’s hand to ameliorate the deteriorating humane problems. As it is there is not a single woman in the new Taliban cabinet. There is no pressure from any international quarters to highlight this omission. Taliban will feel more encouraged because of this glaring indifference. Hence, socially the future of the women in Afghanistan looks bleak.

Other than these social factors, there are numerous security challenges which Taliban had to face. The inter-factional feuds with the inclusion of the turbulent warlords and armed resistance may threaten in due course. How long can the Taliban use its guns to silence the protests or uprisings? How to control the terror groups like ISIS (K), Al Qaeda, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliates remains a daunting task.

The appointment of Sirajuddin Haqqani as the new Interior Minister in the Taliban cabinet confirms without any iota of doubt that he is the appointee of Pakistan’s ISI and would parrot only what his mentors say. This has serious security implications for India which now needs to tread its chart with abundant caution. 

Haqqani and the ISI are a deadly combination posing menace to Indian security interests. ISI will try to make up with its pawns placed in crucial places. Pakistan’s amnesia that the same Taliban will turn out to be its own Frankstein which will be very hard to control. 

ISIS (K) and Al Qaeda are ruthless and they can transcend Pakistan’s border to harm Pakistani interests. As it is the world at large is getting inspired with the ISIS teachings. Islamic radicals are waiting for the right opportunity to strike. Auckland, New Zealand saw a spate of at least six knife attacks last week from a Sri Lankan ISIS-inspired ultra. We don’t know how many more may spring surprise with such lone-wolf attacks.

Pakistan shouldn’t be happy that it being a Muslim majority state, will remain untouched by such hostile terror groups. There are other soft targets within Pakistan, which can be vulnerable from ISIS and disgruntled Taliban elements. So, Pakistan needs to watch out as its dissent in good measure is already brewing.

In the meantime, India saw a flurry of activities when Russian top official, Nikolai Patrushev held very recently extensive discussions with Indian NSA Ajit Doval on the developments in Afghanistan. According to reliable sources, the discussions were meaningful and Russian dignitary was impressed upon over the security concerns of India. 

Similar discussions were held by the UK Secret Service (MI6) chief, Richard Moore and CIA head William Burnes with the Indian NSA and its team. India’s active role in its ceaseless interactions with other world players is expected to pay dividends. However, Taliban and ISI nexus needs to be severed at the earliest either diplomatically or operationally as that would be in the larger interest of peace in the region.

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

Shantanu Mukharji

Shantanu Mukharji is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst, and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius.
 

Read in App