The long-running conflict in Afghanistan has had a significant effect on the people. People now feel uncertain, untrustworthy, un-loyal, and afraid as a result of the decades war. Yet, Afghanistan has made progress despite the long-running conflict in certain areas, including internal connectivity, infrastructural development, and political awareness. Even under Taliban rule, voices for human and women’s rights exist.
Reasons behind Afghanistan’s instability
Many factors, both internally and externally, have contributed to Afghanistan’s long-standing instability. Here are some of the most important ones:
Geography: Afghanistan’s strategic location and unique geography have historically made it an important crossroads for trade and a battleground for competing powers. Due to its geographical location, superpowers including the United States, Soviet Union, and Great Britain engaged in the internal affairs of Afghanistan even though they were unable to accomplish their military objectives.
Ethnicity: Afghanistan is a diverse country with many ethnic and tribal groups which is primary to blame for country’s persistent instability and conflict. These groups have long-standing conflicts and tensions that have fueled violence and instability. For instance, the Pashtuns, who make up the majority and have historically ruled Afghanistan, have never recognised a non-Pashtoon as head of state, and only two non-Pashtoons have served as president of Afghanistan. Nonetheless, despite its popularity, Pashto has never remained an official language in Afghanistan. when then president Hamid Karzai introduced Pashto in schools, it was strongly resisted even in Kabul by non-pashtoons. Similar to the Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks, other ethnic groups are also at odds with one another.
Foreign interference: The Afghanistan former ruler Amir Abdur Rahman, once described has country as a poor goat on a poor goat caught between the bear (Russia) and the lion (then the Great Britain)—both great powers that had interests in Afghanistan. For decades, the country has been caught up in a broader struggle for regional and global influence between the United States, Russia, China, and other powers.
The United States 20 years’ military mission in Afghanistan, during which the US and its allies tried to stabilize Afghanistan, defeat the Taliban insurgency, and build a functioning government and security forces, has been ended after its withdrawal but not with defeat. The US is still there in Afghanistan and in the region, and financially supporting Taliban.
What Taliban need to do for domestic and international recognition
The Taliban government should take a number of steps in order to gain both domestic and international recognition.
Avoid Revenge approach: The Taliban should avoid taking a revenge approach as it will be counterproductive and would only serve to escalate the conflict and instability in Afghanistan. Instead, they should focus on establishing a stable and inclusive government that represents all ethnic groups and regions of the country.
Establish an inclusive government: In order to address the concerns of all Afghans, the Taliban will need to form an inclusive government that represents all ethnic groups and regions of the country, as opposed to the past errors made in the Geneva Accords, Bonn Agreement, and even the Doha Agreement, in which the setting government was completely ignored and deepened the country’s crisis.
Respect human rights: The Taliban must show that they are committed to protecting all types of human rights, especially those of minorities and women. They will have to achieve this by taking action to defend the rights of all Afghans, including the freedom of expression, education, jobs, and of religion.
Combat terrorism: The Taliban will need to take strong action against terrorist groups such as TTP and IS-K operating in Afghanistan and prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism and promote regional stability.
Failure of Pakistan policy on Afghanistan
Pakistan has remained actively involved in the country’s affairs since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Pakistan’s policies towards Afghanistan have been shaped by a range of factors, including its strategic interests, its relations with other regional powers, and its own domestic political dynamics. However, Pakistan has also committed a number of mistakes in its handling Afghanistan that have contributed to the country’s current instability in the country. Some of these mistakes include:
Support for religious groups: Pakistan has provided support to the Taliban including sanctuary, weapons, and training, which has enabled the group to undermine nationalist forces in Afghanistan. This support has been driven in part by Pakistan’s desire to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan and to maintain a friendly government in Kabul. However, the Taliban’s resurgence has undermined Pakistan’s security interests in the region.
Afghan refugees’ policy: Pakistan has pursued an open-door policy towards Afghanistan refugees without restricted them to the dedicated areas or camps. The refugee population has greatly contributed to the spread of extremist ideologies and made the country vulnerable to extremism.
Meddling in Afghan politics: Pakistan has been meddling in Afghan politics and supporting factions that are sympathetic to its interests. This has undermined not only legitimacy of the Afghan government and contributed to political instability in the country, but also damaged its strategic interests, and its relations with other regional powers.
Pakistan attitude towards Afghanistan: Pakistan’s attitude towards Afghanistan and its leadership has certainly been a factor in shaping the two countries’ difficult relationship. Pakistan should threat Afghanistan as sovereign country. Both countries should work towards building constructive relationships and finding solutions to shared challenges with mutual respect, and trust.
The Issue of TTP: Pakistan can handle the TTP issue by making a clear policy whether the issue should be resolved through dialogues or military operation, are they enemy or friends. After making a clear policy, Pakistan needs to use a combination of diplomatic engagement, military operations, counter-terrorism cooperation, and closely working with the Afghan Taliban government.
Afghan Visa Policy: Pakistan needs to relax process of visa for Afghan nationals that badly affected also those millions of people of both sides who are visiting each other’s since along. Getting visa has now becoming a serious task for visa seekers. Pakistan should relax the process s in a bid to strengthen relations and improve bilateral trade and economic activities. The move will improve bilateral trade, relations and peace on both side of the border.