Anti-Taliban voices

August 29, 2021

The fall of Kabul caught many Pakistani politicians by surprise. They have yet to comprehend what is going on in Afghanistan

Anti-Taliban voices

Many of the opponents of the Taliban movement in countries like Pakistan have been stunned by the latest developments in Afghanistan.

Most Pakistani politicians have yet to comprehend what is going on in Afghanistan and its likely repercussions for Pakistan. They have little to say about what is unfolding in Afghanistan. The Pakistan Peoples Party, considered as one of the prominent anti-Taliban voices in the country, has so far shown a cautious approach towards transfer of power in Kabul. It has not directly opposed the Taliban’s rise to power. “We will not compromise on Pakistan’s sovereignty. We can tolerate those who believe in the constitution, but we cannot tolerate those who killed our people,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP chairman said on August 17, two days after the Taliban took over Kabul.

Bilawal Bhutto also demanded that the federal government fully implement the National Action Plan so that there is no fallout for Pakistan from the evolving situation in the region.

Earlier on August 16, he had reiterated his party’s support for a democratic, inclusive and pluralistic Afghanistan where all citizens of Afghanistan are free to realise their full potential. Speaking at a CEC meeting chaired by him and President Asif Ali Zardari, he had expressed concern for the religious and ethnic minorities and vulnerable communities in Afghanistan.

The party had also expressed concern for the potential challenges this could pose for peace, stability and security of Pakistan and other countries in the region. The party had expressed concern at the developing situation in Afghanistan and its implications for the women, men and the youth of Afghanistan.

Former senator Farhatullah Babar, on the other hand, looks visibly perturbed over the fall of Kabul. Commenting on the development, he regretted that the world had paid no attention to the plight of Afghans. Facing wars for the last four decades, they are once again at the mercy of brutal armed groups, he lamented.

Commenting on the restrictions around the Kabul Airport to stop fleeing Afghan families, he said not much attention was being paid to the plight of Afghans. He warned that the entire Afghanistan had now turned into a vast prison.

In a post on a microblogging site he stated that Mullah Baradar, Mullah Yaqoob and Khalil Haqqani were responsible for most vicious terrorist attacks. Together, he said, they represented one of the world’s biggest criminal and terrorist cartels.

An earlier comments by Babar on the power struggle in Afghanistan was a bit mild. On August 15, he had said both foreign forces and Ashraf Ghani having gone, what else is required for a ceasefire?

The muted response of the Awami National Party (ANP) may have surprised many. There has been no direct comment so far by the ANP leadership on the developments in Kabul, leave alone any criticism of the Taliban forces. Despite the strong ethnic division in Afghanistan and the tribal belt, it is interesting to note that the Pashtun-dominant Taliban have never found any sympathy from Pashtun nationalist ANP.

Regarding the defeat of Ashraf Ghani government, Mian Iftikhar Husain, the ANP secretary general, came up with a subdued retort. He said that he was a supporter of peace in Afghanistan as the situation had been rapidly changing in the country. Reacting to Kabul falling into Taliban hands, Husain said that peace in Pakistan was linked to the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Aimal Wali, the Awami National Party Pukhtunkhwa president, has also come up with a low key response. “Our position has always been that issues in Afghanistan have to be settled by the Afghans amongst themselves and by no one else. It is an independent country and no one but its own people must decide how the country is to be run. We wish Afghanistan and its people peace,” he observed. Earlier on August 16, he had called for respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty, national identity, flag, heritage and terminology. “Peace must be established with dignity, with the protection of people’s democratic rights and liberties, in accordance with the constitution of Afghanistan,” he had opined.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, is also not very vocal on the issue of power struggle in Afghanistan. In fact, the PTI ally in the coalition government, has yet to comment on the evolving situation. On August 20, it announced that an important meeting of the Coordination Committee was held at the MQM headquarters under the chairmanship of Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui. The meeting discussed the current situation in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan. The issue of influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistani cities also came under consideration.

The Balochistan National Party has demanded that the government hold a debate on the situation emerging in the neighboring Afghanistan. On August 18, MPA Sana Ullah Baloch said the government of Pakistan, a next door neighbor, must take all democratic institutions into confidence. Peace in Afghanistan, a stable national government, and above all, respect for Afghan sovereignty were necessary.

The writer is a reporter at The News International 

Anti-Taliban voices