Latest World News: The Afghan Dilemma in Pakistan – Journal – DAWN.COM – DAWN

Once again, Pakistan has warned the Taliban authorities in Kabul of the consequences of attacks carried out by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from across the border.

In the strongest statements by Pakistani military and government leaders since the Taliban returned to power two years ago, Kabul has been ordered to ensure that Afghan soil is not used to carry out terrorist attacks against another country. It was the latest indication of growing tensions in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Two back-to-back military statements last week expressed serious concerns about the safe havens and freedom of action available to the TTP in Afghanistan.

The first came after the visit to Quetta by the army chief, General Asim Munir, who called on the Afghan interim government to respect the commitments made in the Doha agreement (forged between the United States and the Taliban in 2020). A remark attributed to him warned of an effective response from the country’s security forces if the attacks continued.

The second statement was released after a Corps Commanders Conference last Monday which stated that available sanctuaries for terrorists from the banned TTP and availability of latest weapons for terrorists were noted (by the conference) as major reasons affecting (the) security of Pakistan.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asifs’ remarks were equally harsh. He accused Kabul of failing to meet its commitments and said Afghanistan was not fulfilling its obligations as a neighboring country and not protecting the Doha agreement. He said the terrorists who shed the blood of Pakistanis were finding refuge on Afghan soil, and warned that Pakistan would use all possible resources and measures in response.

This series of statements was triggered by the terrorist attack on an army garrison in the town of Zhob in Balochistan on July 12, which claimed the lives of nine soldiers. The same day, an attack in Sui resulted in three other military casualties.

These were just the latest acts of violence in the area of ​​the province close to the border with Afghanistan, where the TTP has expanded its activities from its main theater of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. By expanding its operations to the Pakhtun part of Balochistan, the banned group has increased the security threat to a province already facing violence from Baloch militants.

The country should consider policy options that elicit a response to its security concerns from the Taliban.

In fact, there has been a marked escalation in terrorist attacks targeting Pakistani security forces since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. A Pakistani Defense Ministry report leaked to the media in May said Kabul unwilling to act against the TTP, its regrouping in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power posed a growing threat to Pakistan’s security.

Successive reports by the UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team have concluded that the TTP has arguably benefited all foreign extremist groups in Afghanistan the most from the Taliban takeover.

Attacks by the TTP increased and became even more brazen after its ceasefire with the government collapsed in November 2022. The short-lived ceasefire was itself a futile attempt by Pakistani authorities to end the armed groups’ 14-year war against Pakistan. A wave of violence followed.

In one of the worst terrorist incidents, the TTP attacked a mosque within police lines in Peshawar in December, killing more than 100 and shaking the country. Then too serious warnings were issued by Pakistani officials to the Taliban authorities. But in vain.

Several rounds of talks with Taliban officials also yielded no results. During these talks, the Taliban leaders acknowledged the presence of the TTP in their country (which they do not do publicly), offered assurances to restrict them but asked for time to achieve this. They also argued that containing the TTP was a matter of capability, not commitment. But Islamabad’s patience is at an end.

A high-level Pakistani delegation was sent to Kabul in February with a one-point agenda: to impress upon Taliban leaders Pakistan’s red line on terrorist attacks from Afghan soil and secure a firm commitment from Kabul to curb the TTP and deny it the sanctuary its fighters enjoy there. During these talks, the Taliban leaders requested financial assistance, reportedly to disarm and resettle TTP fighters and their families, estimated at around 5,000, away from the border with Pakistan. But all this was for nothing.

This leaves Pakistan in a difficult position on an issue with serious ramifications for the country’s security. What are his options? To issue public warnings and hope that this would incite the Taliban to react? This hasn’t worked so far and can’t give a different result than the past.

No strategy can be based on hope. Do what Afghan Taliban leaders frequently ask and re-engage the TTP in talks? It was a disaster last time around and backfired on the country, the consequences of which it now has to deal with. The talks broke down when it became clear that the TTP demands were not negotiable.

They included the withdrawal of Pakistani military forces from the border region, the reversal of the merger of Fatas with the KP, and the imposition of Sharia in certain areas of the KP. Pakistani military officials have rightly ruled out the talks in recognition of the past blunder.

Should Pakistan consider strikes against terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan if the Taliban do not act against the TTP? Undeclared kinetic actions have already been taken by Pakistan, targeting the TTP and eliminating some senior leaders. But this approach is unsustainable and has obvious risks and drawbacks.

There are other deterrents (and incentives) in the country’s political toolbox that need to be carefully considered in order to both persuade the Taliban leadership and increase the cost of non-cooperation for them. Islamabad must also work on a regional option. It should develop a coordinated regional strategy to bring collective pressure to bear on Kabul.

After all, security is a concern for all of Afghanistan’s neighbours, even if their other interests vary. The greatest convergence is between Pakistan and China, which underscores the importance of the Pakistan-China-Afghanistan trilateral forum to raise and resolve security issues related to terrorist groups based in Afghanistan. What is clear is that Pakistan’s current Afghan policy needs to be reviewed and overhauled to more effectively protect its security interests.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, UK and UN.

Posted in Dawn, July 24, 2023

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An Overview of Global Events in 2023

In 2023, the world witnessed a myriad of events that left a lasting impact on global affairs. From political developments and economic shifts to environmental challenges and breakthroughs in science and technology, the year was marked by significant changes and a sense of urgency for collective action. Here’s an overview of some of the latest world news in 2023.

Political Unrest and Diplomatic Strides:
In the political arena, several regions experienced unrest and geopolitical tensions. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East continued to dominate headlines, with efforts towards peace and stability remaining elusive. However, there were also moments of diplomatic breakthroughs as nations engaged in dialogues to ease tensions and work towards lasting solutions.

Economic Transformations:
The global economy faced both challenges and opportunities. Trade disputes between major powers affected markets, while some countries grappled with debt crises. On the other hand, emerging economies showed resilience and promising growth, fueling optimism for a more balanced global economic landscape.

Technological Advancements:
Innovation surged forward in the tech industry, with breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and space exploration. Quantum computing achieved milestones, promising radical transformations across industries. Renewable energy sources gained traction, with many countries setting ambitious goals to combat climate change.

Climate Crisis and Environmental Resilience:
As the climate crisis intensified, extreme weather events wreaked havoc in various parts of the world. Wildfires, hurricanes, and floods reminded humanity of the urgent need for climate action. In response, governments and communities across the globe doubled down on efforts to reduce carbon emissions, invest in sustainable infrastructure, and protect biodiversity.

Health and Pandemic Management:
Health remained a global priority as countries continued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. With the emergence of new variants, vaccination efforts and public health measures remained crucial to curbing the spread of the virus. There were also significant advancements in medical research and technology, offering hope for better preparedness in handling future health crises.

Sports and Cultural Milestones:
Amidst the challenges, the world found moments of joy and unity through sports and culture. International sporting events brought together athletes from diverse backgrounds, promoting solidarity and camaraderie. Cultural exchanges and celebrations showcased the richness of human diversity and fostered mutual understanding.

In conclusion, the year 2023 was a dynamic period filled with significant events that shaped the course of history. From political unrest to technological advancements and environmental challenges, the world witnessed the complexities of the global landscape. While obstacles remained, there were also encouraging developments and collaborative efforts towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future for all nations. As we move forward, the lessons learned from these events serve as a reminder of the importance of collective action and cooperation to address shared global challenges.