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Maoist (Naxalbari) movement in India

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According to India’s home ministry “more than two-thirds of Maoist related violence is now restricted to only 10 districts of the country. However, media reports reflect Maoists are well entrenched in at least 68 districts.  The movement could not be quelled despite tall claims by Indian authorities over the past 53 years. Indian home ministry has a whole division dedicated to dealing with the movement.

Origin: Charu Mazumdar is given credit for making the Naxalite movement (“left wing extremism”) a practical reality. He started the movement as a “revolutionary opposition” in 1965.  The world came to know of the movement in 1967 when the Beijing Radio reported “peasants’ armed struggle” at Naxalbari (Silliguri division of West Bengal). In July 1972, the police arrested Charu Mazumdar.  They later tortured him to death on the night of July 27-28.

Aim: The Naxalite ideology has great appeal for marginalised strata (particularly dalit and adivasis) of India’s caste-ridden society. The Naxalites aim, as contained in their Central Committee’s resolution (1980) is: ‘Homogenous contiguous forested area around Bastar Division (since divided into Bastar, Dantewada and Kanker Districts of Chhatisgarh) and adjoining areas of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, East Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrapur and Garchehiroli district of Maharastra, Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, Malkagiri and Koraput districts of Orissa would comprise the area of Dandakarnaya which would be liberated and used as base for spreading peoples democratic revolution’.

The Naxalites want to carve out an independent zone extending from Nepal through Bihar and then to Dandakarnaya region extending upto Tamil Nadu to give them access to the Bay of Bengal as well as the Indian Ocean’.  Several pro-Naxalite revolutionary bodies (People’s War, the Maoist Communist Centre and the Communist Party of Nepal) merged their differences (October 15, 2004) to achieve their sea-access aim.

Appeal and influence: Roots: The Naxalbari revolt began in the villages under three Police Stations including Phansidewa, Naxalbari and Khoribari of Darjeeling district in West Bengal. These areas covered about 274 kms with a population of nearly 1.5 lakhs.  More than 30% were labour population, mostly  ‘adhiars’ (the share-croppers) varying from 60.1% in Naxalbari to 50.01% in Khoribari area.

The ‘adhiars’, tribls like Rajabansis, Oraons, Mundas, and Santhals, were exploited like bonded labours’ by their Jotedars (land owners) who owned tea gardens. The Naxalite revolutionaries supported by CPI (M. L) were violently active in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala between 1967-72. They  later moved to Madhya Pradesh,  Bihar and Orissa.  Comrade Asim Chatterjee organised the movement in Orissa in 1971 in Mayurbhanja district . With his arrest on 3, November, 1972, the movement lost momentum. The  movement was shifted to South-Orissa districts, including  Koraput, Gunupur, Malkangiri and Ganjam.

 Prominent Naxalite leaders of Orissa included Purusottan Palai. Jagannath Misra, Nagbhusan Pattnaik, DBM Palluik, P.C. Gomongo, G. Suryanaryana, Dinabandhu Samal and other. During 1973-83, following death of founder Charu Mazumdar, the Naxalite activities were at low ebb. The Naxalite violence has resurged in the South-Orissa districts as manifested in murders, bank-dacoities, kidnapping of officials, attacks on police Stations and looting the arms and ammunitions.

The tremendous appeal of the Naxalite movement is due to the popularity of their agenda for the common man _ land distribution and development of agricultural sector, ridding World Bank’s influence, social justice to the dalits, and creation of Talangana state, development of coastal Andhra and Rayaseema region, and eradication of corruption.

The movement is growing more and more popular.  It has already engulfed 13 Indian states and is spreading to the other states.  Chief ministers of India’s 13 states, at their coordination conference, admitted their incapacity to meet the Naxalite menace.  They appealed to the centre to raise a joint task force to meet the Naxalite insurgency.

India’s home minister promised (October 20, 2004) that 50 battalions of ‘India Reserves’, employing 50, 000 personnel, would be raised to meet the ‘Naxal terror’_ He stated that ‘till November 30, 2004, 420 civilians and 98 security forces personnel were killed in Naxalite violence in 10 States, against 410 civilians and 94 security forces personnel during 2003’. Despite lapse of so many years, Indian government has not been able to uproot the movement.

It is the Naxalites in several states who dictate who will contest (and win) elections. ‘Out of 40 districts of Bihar, about 32 are Naxal affected’ (“150 companies of para-military to be deployed”, Indian Express, September 16, 2005). According to a report in  The Times of India, ‘The Intelligence Bureau has presented a grim picture of Bihar in its report to the home affairs ministry, marking 32 districts as quite sensitive in view of Naxalite presence’ (TOI, September 16, 2005, Naxals tightening noose: IB). 

Second peasant movement: :  Naxalbari is the second most powerful peasant movement in India. The first one, the Telangana Rebellion (1947-51), was launched in the feudal state of Andhra Pradesh against the former Nizam of Hyderabad. The movement was outpouring of resentment against the Reddies and Kammas brahimina traders and moneylenders. They reduced cultivators tenants-at-will, sharecroppers or landless labourers. Like Naxalbari movement, the Telangana peasant struggle was not an overnight exploit. There was simmering cauldron of resentment for  four decades. Who spearheaded? It was led  by revolution by communists of Communist party of India. The CPI in its second conference in March 1948 undertook to wage a Guerrilla war. The movement happened to be crushed. Yet it left a permanent footprint. Later on, the movement had to suffer a lot. But its outcome. The party split in ideology. Those believing in traditional electoral system and others committed to armed fighting.

Naxalbaris Peasant Struggle (1967): It was a violent peasant agitation launched in March-April 1967 in a place called Naxalbaris, in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It gave rise to the Naxalite Armed struggle. Naxalbari is a police sub-station in Darjeeling. The Naxalite leaders like Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal, Punjab Rao, Kumar Kishan, Jail Singh, Vinod Mitra and others had played a key role in this Naxalbari movement.

Demands: The immediate demands were a reasonable distribution of benami lands, nationalisation of forests, and end of exploitation by the moneylenders. The long terms objectives were to change the socio-economic structure of the society by annihilation of big farmers, landlords and jagirdars.

Why it failed? The common man could not be sufficiently indoctrinated in Marxism to become self-less. He continued to hanker after narrow selfish political interests. The divided leaders relied more on violence than on indoctrination. Despite its shortcomings, the movement remains a powerful social movement, are evolutionary movement of peasants and labour-class people, in India in the post-independence years. Naxalite groups were violently active in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala between 1967 and 1972. Thereafter, their activities got shifted to Bihar and Madhya Pradesh also.

People’s War Groups: A teacher,  Kondapath  Satyanarayan.  started Peoples War Group (PWG) in the  Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh in 1979. It later spread to  the districts of Azelabad  Khamam, Warangal, East Godavari and Visakhapatnam in Andhra  Pradesh. Since April, 1996, the Naxalites have organised People’s War Groups is operating in the southern districts of Orissa thus paralyzing the government.

The PWG is very active  in Malkangiri and Raygada Districts. In Malkangiri Dist., 58.36% of the total population of five lakhs are tribals.

According India’s Ministry of Home Affairs’ reply in the Lok Sabha recently, the Naxals have links with Maoist groups operating in Philippines, Turkey and Europe. Minister of State Home Kiren Rijiju told the Lok Sabha that the CPI (Maoist) is “a member of the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia.”

In a written reply, Rijiju said “The so-called ‘People’s War’ being waged by the CPI (Maoist) against the Indian state has also drawn support from several Maoist fringe  Organisations located in Germany, France, Turkey, Italy etc.” Inputs indicate that some senior cadres of the Communist Party of Philippines imparted training to the cadres of CPI  (Maoist) in 2005 and 2011, the MHA reply said.

Source of funds: The Naxals receive funds from a host of sources. They made Rs 2,000 crore in 2009.  In 2010, the then Home Secretary GK Pillai estimated Naxals’ annual income at Rs 1,400 crore while the Intelligence Bureau’s estimates put a roughly similar figure at Rs 1,500. The Naxal revenue comes also from ‘levy’ (extortion) is collected from contractors who win the bid for development works in areas dominated by insurgents Individuals Forest produce contractors Mining companies, transporters, large- and small-scale industries in the regions, growing poppy or ganja, illegal mining. A total of 1, 61,040 mines were found in Naxal dominated areas spread across Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha in 2010. Besides, they thrive on extortion by kidnapping government functionaries.

Shortcomings: The Naxalite intention to capture political power was not well-received by the Indian voters. Its association with CPI (M.L.) did not have mass appeal. However, its recent appeal to intellectuals of India has been welcomed throughout India. China has failed to supply arms to them surreptitiously. China is itself worried at infiltration and exfiltration of Tibetans from the Nepalese porous border.  

Advantages:  Naxals are better informed with topography of the forest land and the hills than the Indian security forces. Naxals have sophisticated weapons. These weapons are either smuggled through the porous international borders with Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh or snatched from the armed forces including police during targeted raids by the Naxals groups. Naxals collect small old guns from the local population.   They snatch and loot arms from local police outposts. They bribe security forces to buy their firearms. They have now established small foundries to manufacture their own arms.

Naxals effectively put up children and women as human shield against an advancing team of security forces. Even in the case of the latest Sukma attack, the security forces had advance knowledge of Naxals presence in the area. But, the Naxals obstructed the attack through human shield in the form of local tribal people.

In the absence of metalled roads, the security forces can’t do hot pursuit. Slow work is on progress on  road connectivity between Jagargunda and Dornapal in Sukma’s, with Bijapur in the west and with Dantewada’s Kirandul in the north. The Naxals attacks often disrupt Under-construction roads.  

Militant clout:  The Naxalite movement would the biggest headache for the Centre in the next few years. After short lulls, Maoists continue to attack Indian security forces. Most attacks take place in Chhattisgarh.  In June 2019, two Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in Naxals attack in Chhattisgarh. The gun-battle took place near Keshkutul village under the Bhairamgarh police station area when a joint team of the CRPF’s 199th battalion and local police was out on an area domination operation (The Statesman,  June 28, 2019). Earlier, on April 6, 2010, 76 CRPF jawans were killed in a Naxals attack in Dantewada, Chhatisgarh.

The Naxal attack almost wiped out CRPF’s 82nd  Battalion. :  On April, 26, 2017, 25 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were killed in an ambush by Naxal forces in Sukma, Chhattisgarh.

To control Naxal influence in elections in Bihar, India’s home ministry sent three additional battalions of border security force (over 3,000 men) along with a fleet of helicopters to the Naxalite-influenced areas to join the already-deployed nearly 4,000 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force. Yet, on ground, the Naxalite held sway. 

To maintain peace in elections, the Centre had to ‘deploy 150 companies of para-military forces, 75 belonging to the Border Security Force, 65 to the Central Reserve Police Force and ten belonging to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force’.

Realising their ineffectiveness against the Naxalites, India’s Central Reserve Police Force has ‘withdrawn around 1450 officers and men from over 200 battalions’, trained them in technical and signals intelligence, to set up  ‘CRPF’s own intelligence wing to minimise casualties and dependence on the state machinery’ (“CRPF to set up separate intelligence department”, The Hindustan Times, February 27, 2006) .

Hardly a day passes without a Naxalite attack on government’s forces or installations, attacks on convoys, banks, railway stations, kidnapping of informers and assassination of anti-Naxalite figures.  Some recent incidents include blowing of police posts and forest department’s towers, killing of four policemen to loot the sum of Rs 12 lac (railway-men’s salary), hacking 16 policemen to death, slaying of Bandwan CPI-M leader Rabindra Nath Kar and his wife, and killing of Madhya Pradesh Transport Minister Lakhiram Kaware (Congress).

According to IndiaTV News dated August 30, 2018, police is of the view that the Naxalbaris are trying to establish links with Kashmiri freedom fighters. The police intercepted eight letters that revealed links between activists charged in Bhima Koregaon case, Naxals, and Kashmiri freedom fighters. The acused were charged with procuring weapons and arming the rebels through international routes.

Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra are among the states affected by the Maoist violence. “Maoists are confined to Sukma in Chhattisgarh, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, Malakangiri in Odisha and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh,” said the second official.

In addition, security agencies have flagged increased Maoist activity in the tri-junction of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In particular, the Centre is keen that communist rebels do not gain any foothold in the southern states. “The home ministry in consultation with the states has opted for pre-emptive police action in these areas”.

No writ of government: In Naxalite-influenced rural areas, there is no trace of India’s judicial system.  There, the Naxalite organisations act ‘virtually like policemen, arresting, meeting out “justice” and in some cases even executing the guilty’ (“Internal security situation”, India’s National Security: Annual Review 2004, New Delhi, India Research Press, 2005, p. 87). 

With merger of pro-Naxalite revolutionary bodies, the Naxalites are the sole arbiters of justice in rural areas.  To counter rising Naxalite influence, the BJP and the Congress-coalition parties are cooperating in anti- Naxalites operations.

The term “Naxalite” is rooted in Naxalbari village (West Bengal) where Kanhu Sanyal presented the concept of “forcible protest against the social order relating to holding of property and sharing of social benefits”. They  started Naxal movement on March 3, 9167 at Naxalbari village, near Siliguri sub-division in West Bengal. It is 30 to 50 miles from Sikkim. Tibet and Bhutan in the, Nepal in the West and from Bangladesh in the east.To him the purpose of the protest was “organizing peasants to bring about land reform through radical means including violence”.

Naxalite movement in India is viewed as an internal security problem.  However, the populist appeal of the movement’s ideology reflects that it would soon assume international dimensions.  India’s Lieutenant General KM Seth laments, ‘Unfortunately, the threat to internal security from Naxalites has acquired dangerous proportions and can no longer be wished away.  …they are also developing links with Turkish and Philippino terrorist organisations…We have suffered and bled patiently and have taken huge human casualties, which could exceed 13,000, uniformed personnel and 53,000 civilians during the last 25 years… As of today, their overall strength could be put to approximately 20, 000 undergrounds, 50,000 overgrounds and more than a lakh in frontal organisations. Their armoury  is reported to comprise approximately 900 AK-47 rifles, 200 light machine guns, 100 grenade firing rifles, 2 inch mortars, thousands of .303 rifles, self-loading rifles and .12-bore guns with a huge quantity of explosives at their disposal’. (“Naxalite Problem”, U. S. I. Journal , January-March 2005, New Delhi, p. 19, 23).

India may blame Pakistan for the freedom movement (‘insurgency’ or ‘militancy’) in occupied Kashmir.  But, who shall she blame for the Naxalite insurgency in Andhra Pradesh and other Indian states? This is a movement against economic deprivation and brutality of the state or central government’s law-enforcing agencies.

Indian media has now begun to report that the counter-insurgency forces are fearful of grappling the Naxalites.  In Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), the Naxalite announced a cash reward of five lac rupees per policeman (“Reward scheme sends forces into huddle”, Indian Express, August 25, 2005). IG (Guntur Range) Rajwant Singh admitted, ‘My men are removing the posters and convincing the villagers to inform them about the activities of Naxalites’.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

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Afghanistan: the US and NATO withdrawal and future prospects

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On April 14, the United States of America announced that it would withdraw all its troops stationed in Afghanistan from May 1 to September 11, 2021. On the same day, NATO also said it would coordinate with the White House military to initiate the withdrawal.

The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has actually been going on since the Soviet invasion of that unfortunate country on December 24, 1979.

What are the plans of NATO and the United States? How will the situation in Afghanistan change in the future?

Regarding the US announcement of the deadline for troop withdrawal, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan government respects the US government’s decision to withdraw its troops by the agreed date.

According to the Associated Press, there were 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan before May 1, far below the peak of over 110,000 in 2011.

According to the websites of the Financial Times and theDeutsche Welle, some ten thousand soldiers from the 36 NATO Member States and other US allies are currently stationed in Afghanistan, including as many as 895 Italian soldiers, as well as 1,300 Germans, 750 Brits, 619 Romanians, 600 Turks, etc.

President Trump’s previous Administration signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan in February 2020, setting May 1, 2021 as the deadline for NATO to begin withdrawing from that country. The Washington Post reported that after the current US government issued the withdrawal statement, the Taliban immediately said that if the United States violated the peace agreement and did not withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, the situation would get worse and one of the parties to the agreement would take responsibility for it.

This year is the twentieth since the United States started the war in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The war in Afghanistan is the United States’ longest overseas war, and has killed over 2,300 US soldiers and wounded some 20,000 people, at a cost of over 1 trillion US dollars.

Although the United States and its allies attacked the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the situation in Afghanistan has been turbulent for a long time, with over a hundred thousand Afghan civilian casualties in the fighting.

According to The New York Times, both Parties’ members of the US Congress have differing views on the consequences of withdrawal. According to the newspaper, Republicans and some Democrats believe that the troop withdrawal will encourage the Taliban insurgency, while others believe it is necessary to put an end to this indefinite war.

But what considerations can be made for the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan?

It is well known that the purpose of the United States in taking the war to Afghanistan was a very heavy measure of retaliation against al-Qaeda, which had organised the terrorist attacks of September 11, and against the Taliban regime that protected the top leaders of that terrorist organisation. Although al-Qaeda has not been destroyed, it is unlikely to create similar problems. The United States has achieved its strategic goals and is no longer involved in East Asia’s tactics and strategy.

The interests of NATO (considering its individual Member States) in Afghanistan are fewer than those of the United States. As a military alliance with the United States, the achievement of US strategic goals means that NATO’s equal strategic goals have also been achieved. Hence, rather than continuing to run the risk of confronting the Taliban and al-Qaeda after US military withdrawals, NATO is more willing to remove the “political burden” as soon as possible.

While announcing the terms of the withdrawal, the White House has stated that the threat of extremist organisations such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab and ISIS is spreading globally and it is therefore meaningless to concentrate forces in Afghanistan, with a steady expansion of its military cycle. At the same time, however, the White House has stated that after withdrawal, diplomatic and counter-terrorism mechanisms will be reorganised in Afghanistan to face security challenges. Hence, from the US perspective, there is currently a greater terrorist threat than al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The prospectsfor advancing the Indo-Pacific regional strategy to oppose China also means that it would be counterproductive for the United States to remain in Afghanistan any longer. Even after the troop withdrawal, there will be insecurity in Afghanistan. That being the case, however, the United States will still find ways and means to support the Afghan regime and the armed forces of the Kabul government.

The Washington Post has also reported statements by a Pentagon official who has stressed that Afghanistan is a landlocked country: consequently, once US and NATO forces withdraw, one of the biggest challenges will be how to effectively monitor and combat extremist organisations and resist threats to US security: at that distance it will be even more difficult without sea landings.

According to Reuters, the CIA predicts that the possibility of a further US-Afghan peace deal is little and has warned that once the United States and its allies withdraw, it will be difficult to stop the Taliban.

The Afghan government forces currently control Kabul and other large cities, but the Taliban are present in more than half of the country’s territory and rural areas. In the future, the possibility of a Taliban counter-offensive cannot be ruled out.

Great Britain’s The Guardian has commented that the years of war have generally made Afghans feel a strong sense of insecurity and the withdrawal of troops will not bring much comfort to the local population. According to the London-based newspaper, for the United States this is yet another war that cannot be won.

According to experts, there are two extreme possibilities in the future situation in Afghanistan. The excellent situation is the one in which the less extremist wing of the Taliban mediates so that, once the United States withdraws, the Taliban can gradually move from being an extremist organisation to being an internal administrative one and then negotiate with the legitimate government supported by the United Nations: this would mean a long-term peace after forty-two years of war.

Under extremely unfavourable circumstances, instead, the Afghan government forces would overestimate their military strength and intend to continue the war alone against their traditional opponents, at which point peace negotiations between the two sides would break down.

This would mean falling again into a prolonged civil war and into eternal war.

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Bhashan Char Relocation: Bangladesh’s Effort Appreciated by UN

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Bhashan Char. Image source: dhakatribune.com

Bhashan Char, situated in the district of Noakhali, is one of the 75 islands of Bangladesh. To ease the pressure on the digested camps in Cox’s Bazar and to maintain law and order, Bangladesh has relocated about 18,500 Rohingya refugees from the overcrowded camps to the island since December last year. The Rohingya relocation plan to Bhashan Char aligns with the Bangladesh government’s all-encompassing efforts towards repatriation. The initial plan was to relocate 100,000 of the more than a million refugees from the clogged camps to the island. From the onset of the relocation process, the UN and some other human rights organizations criticized the decision pointing to remoteness and sustainability. UNHCR showed their concern over the island’s susceptibility to seasonal storm and flood. They proposed for a “technical assessment” of the Bhashan Char facilities.

An 18-member UN delegation visited Bhashan Char Island on March 17 this year to have a first-hand assessment of the housing facility for the Rohingya forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs). Shortly after the UN’s visit, a team with 10 diplomats including heads of missions of embassies and delegations from Turkey, the EU, US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands also went to the island on April 3 to appraise the facilities. All the members of the technical team opined that they are ‘satisfied’ with the facilities in Bhashan Char. The experts of the UN told, they will hand over a 10-page report of their annotations and they have already submitted a two-page abridgment. On April 16, they released the two-page synopsis after a month of the visit.  After the three-day study of Bhashan Char by the UN delegates, they recommended the Bangladesh government to continue the relocation process to the island in a ‘phased manner’. The team twigged three points – education for Rohingya children, increasing heights of the embankments and better communication system. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A. K. Abdul Momen concerted to take the necessary measures to create a safe and secure environment for the Rohingya refugees until the repatriation takes place. The relocation is not the solution of the Rohingya crisis rather the over emphasis of the relocation and facilities inside Bangladesh is protracting the crisis and distracting the attention from the broader emphasis on the repatriation to Myanmar.

The UNHCR and other concerned parties should plan for a long run repatriation process. Repatriation is the only durable solution, not the relocation of the Rohingya refugees. For the time being, resettlement under the Asrayan-3 project is an ease for the FDMNs but in the long run the Rohingya crisis is going to turn as a tremendous threat for regional peace and stability. Besides, resentment in the host community in Bangladesh due to the scarce resources may emerge as a critical security and socio-economic concern for Bangladesh.  It is not new that the Rohingyas are repatriated in Myanmar during the Military rule. Around 20,000 Rohingya refugees were repatriated to Myanmar in the 2000s. The focus of the world community should be creating favourable conditions for the Rohingyas to return safely regardless who is in the power seat of Myanmar-civilian or military government. The UN should largely focus on repatriating the Rohingya refugees in a “phased manner”, let alone deciding their concern in the camps and the Bhashan Char. After the praiseworthy relocation plan, they should now concentrate on implementing speedy and durable repatriation. Proactive initiatives are essential from all walks for a safe and dignified return of the FDMNs. To be specific, the relocation is a part of the repatriation, not the solution of the problem. 

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Afghan peace options

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President Biden’s decision to withdraw unconditionally all foreign forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 will leave behind an uncertain and genuine security concerns that ramifications will be born by Afghanistan as well as the region.

The Taliban seems least interested in peace talks with the Afghan government and appear determined to take control of the entire afghan government territory by force during post-withdrawal of American forces. Short of the total surrender, Afghan government has no possible influence to force the Taliban to prefer talks over violence. Resultantly, the apprehensions that Afghanistan could plunge into another civil war runs very high.

The consequences of yet another civil war will be deadly for Afghanistan and the whole region as well. Among the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan will bear the severe burnt of an escalation of violence in particular. A civil war or possible Taliban takeover will surely upsurge and reinvigorate the Islamic militancy in Pakistan, thus threatening to lose the hard won gains made against militancy over the past decade.

The afghan and Pakistani Taliban, nevertheless, are the two sides of the same coin. Coming back to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan is surely emboldened and revives Pakistani Taliban and other militant outfits. Moreover, spread of violence not only reduce all chances of repatriation of refugees but possibly increase the inflow of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

Furthermore, worsening of the security situation in Afghanistan will jeopardize the prospects of  trade, foreign investment and economic development initiatives such as china-Pakistan economic corridor. The chances of Gawadar and Karachi port to become a transit trade route for the region and link the energy rich region of central asia will become bleak until a sustainable peace and stability is achieved in Afghanistan.

It is against this background that the successful end of the intra-afghan talk is highly required for Pakistan, for its own sake.  Officially, Islamabad stated policy is to ensure the afghan-led and afghan-owned peace solution of the afghan conflict. It helped in bringing the Taliban on the negotiation table, which finally resulted in the signing of the Doha deal between US and Taliban. Further, Pakistan has time and again pressurized the Taliban to resume the dialogue. Moreover, Islamabad holds that, unlike in the past when it wanted a friendly regime in Kabul, it aims to develop a friendly and diplomatic relation whoever is on the power in Kabul.

Notwithstanding the stated policy and position of the Islamabad, the afghan government and the many in the US remains dubious of Pakistan’s commitment. Against these concerns, Islamabad categorically stated that it does not have complete control over the Taliban.

The success of the peace process will require coordination and cooperation among the all regional actors and the US and afghan government. Pakistan’s role is of an immense significance because of its past relation with the Taliban. There is no denying of the fact that Pakistan has not complete control over the Taliban. Despite, it has more leverage than the other actors in the region.

The Islamabad’s willingness to use its influence over the Taliban is her real test in the achievement of peace process. However, Pakistan has successfully used its leverage and brought the Taliban on negotiations table. Although, history is the testimony of the fact that mere cajoling won’t dissuade the Taliban from unleashing violence.

The prospects of intra-afghan talks will develop in success when the cajoling strategy is backed up by with credible threats of crackdown which may involve denial of safe heaven to militant leaders and their families, stopping medical treatment, and disruption of finance etc. on the other hand, strong arm tactics fail to bring the Taliban to the table, then Pakistan should make sure that its territory is not used to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

The afghan peace process has an opportunity for Pakistan to bury its hatchets with Afghanistan and start its diplomatic journey with a new vigor. While Kabul every time attach its failure with the Pakistan and shun away from its responsibility of providing peace to people of Afghanistan, it has a fair point about our pro Taliban afghan policy. Now that the US is leaving Afghanistan, it is high time that Pakistan bring forth a shift in its Afghanistan policy. Sustainable peace in Pakistan, especially Balochistan and ex-fata region is unlikely to achieve without Pakistan contributing to peace in Afghanistan.    

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