It is well known that Pakistan want dominance in Afghanistan under the pretext of strategic depth and they have pursued this policy ever since. They see the Taliban as a tool for themselves. USA left Bagram Base on 5th July 2021 and immediately Pakistan trained warlords inaptly named Taliban started capturing villages after village and even went on to proclaim that they had captured 85% of Afghanistan. The question is: What is happening?
What is happening in Afghanistan?
The Afghan intelligence agency had recently arrested a Pakistan army officer, who was sent to Paktia province in Afghanistan by Pakistan forces to fight alongside Taliban and conduct “destructive activities” in the country, local media reported citing an official.
The officer has been identified Azim Akhtar.
For India, a key security concern is the presence in Afghanistan of more than 7,000 Pakistani terrorists from groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. These fighters are fighting alongside the Taliban in many areas. India’s concern is also linked with Afghanistan becoming a base camp for these terrorist organization.
India’s airstrike on Pakistan’s Balakot in 2019 has exposed it’s vulnerability. The total depth of Pakistan from east to west is less than 450 kms. After recent acquisition of two squadron of Rafale fighter plane with it superb stealth capability, the need of Pakistan to move it’s terror camps to Afghanistan had never been more.
However if we follow the twitter account of Ministry of Defence, Afghanistan it appears that Afghan Army is on the move and is killing about 50 Taliban terrorists everyday. See this tweet:
Earlier President Ghani had criticised Pakistan recently for not preventing the “influx of over 10,000 jihadi fighters from Pakistan and other places in the last month” and pushing the Taliban to join peace talks.
Now Afghanistan Army Chief General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai is expected to pay a three-day crucial visit to India on 27th July 2021. Earlier Ahmadzai acknowledged shortcomings in protecting remote districts and pledged his priority is to safeguard major cities, border towns and highways from the Taliban. He added the Taliban want to cut supply routes before launching offensives on districts and cities.
The Afghan army chief’s visit to India is happening at a time when Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan have come under fresh strains, especially after the Afghan envoy’s daughter was briefly abducted and assaulted by unidentified men in Islamabad last week. Afghanistan recalled the ambassador and senior diplomats from Pakistan after the incident.
Taliban does not have airpower except tactical support of Pakistan Airforce. War is not an option for Pakistan but it’s raison d’être for it’s existence. If anybody has any doubt about this, one may read the book called “Koraniq Concept of War” written by Brigadier S.K. Malik of Pakistan Army. Please do read the foreward in the beginning by Zia-ul-Haq as Chief of Staff. Zia wanted the civilian to be always ready for Jihad. Still if you have doubt, try to google the motto of Pakistan Army which calls for Jihad.
Ever since India demonitised it’s large currency, Pakistan’s economy slipped into recession, starting with shortage of foreign currency. Its currency has fallen by 50% in past few years. Inflation of nearly 25% is out of hand. An ordinary country would not venture into any war in such times. But Pakistan is the ‘Fortress of Islam” as they call themselves.
Truth is that Pakistan has a monetary motive in this war. Afghanistan has a cash crop of cultivation of Opium. Presently it is the largest producer of Opium. But it does not have processing labs. If high tech processing labs are started, it’s profit can be multiplied by 50 times atleast. Pakistani Generals are already hand in glove with export of Opium from the ports in Pakistan. The export it illegally to India and recently many big consignments were caught in Delhi and Assam. Needless to mention that Opium is the staple diet of these Jihadi.
As always, Pakistan thinks brilliantly in tactical moves. It has also been given a quick start by USA by surprise exit. But strategically this move can back fire like all previous wars with India but only if India supports Afghanistan. The strategic error is that if this war inside Afghanistan stretches over a long period, it may suck the precious resources of otherwise precarious economy of Pakistan. This factor seems to have been overlooked.
After years of sticking to a policy of only providing non-lethal support to the Afghan military, India provided four Mi-35 attack helicopters to Afghanistan in 2015-16 and four more Mi-35s, which were refurbished by Belarus under a tripartite agreement, in 2019. India also provided three Cheetah light helicopters to Afghanistan. This is in addition to help of almost $3 billion for reconstruction and development projects. Talibani Jihadi tried to bomb one such project called Salma/Friendship Dam, unsuccessfully.
Merely throwing it’s weight behind Afghan Government has made warlords to announce support of Afghan Government. Even otherwise supporting a war against Pakistani trained Jihadi in a distant land suit India’s interest as these Jihadi will eventually find their way to India either they capture Kabul or fail. Only a dead Jihadi is a good Jihadi for India.
Therefore, even if India do not commit boots on ground, it may extend military and tactical support to Afghanistan.
Pakistan is doing propaganda that this Taliban is not the same and is very smart group of people. But smart people do not take upon themself Jihad in the manner it was conducted 1400 years ago. This is the first notification issued by Taliban after capturing the area it has captured:
It is addressed to Imams of the Mosques and Moulvies. They are directed to provide list of unmarried girls above the age of 15 and widows aged below 45 years so that they may be taken away for the ‘Nikah’ with the Jihadi fighters.
So much for smart and polished Taliban Jihadi who have already broken the television sets and remove satellite dishes in the area they captured.
Visit of Afghan Army Chief:
In the time of this war visit of Afghan Army Chief to India is of special interest. My guess is that he is here to be briefed about tactical war games against Taliban and would take those strategies with him to be executed with in Afghanistan. This requires personal presence and cross questioning the same. After all Army Chief is the right person to take the decision in this regard. Afghan needs fighter planes as well as equipment for maintenance of its mobile units which is taking heavy fire. This require trained staff and boots on the ground. Which makes it tricky business for India.
All the best to Afghanistan.