16 Oct

Afghanistan, a landlocked country, has been the focus of great powers since 19th century due to its strategic  locations. Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S, led West with the support of Muslim countries compelled the Red Army to withdraw in 1988. The country became a battle field of proxy wars among the regional and extra regional powers, creating instability in entire region. In aftermath of the 9/11, Afghanistan once again attracted attention of the world powers. Nature and complexity of Great Power's rivalry in Afghanistan has changed overtime. Instead of fighting against a nation state the world powers are fighting against the potential threats of extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking that makes the war more complicated, problematic and challenging. Currently, apart from Al-Qaeda and Taliban, Islamic State (IS) is also becoming an active stakeholder in Afghanistan. These developments make the Afghan problem more complicated and ripening the grounds for another civil war. The study argues that since  Pakistan not only shares long borders but also history, culture, interest, happiness and sorrows with Afghanistan, therefore situation is Afghanistan always have direct  bearing on the security matrix of Pakistan.

A Brief Introduction to the Pak-Afghan Relations :

Afghanistan is the only country which voted against Pakistan membership of the United Nation in 1947. The two countries had tensed relations with each other's for almost quarter of a century but tensions were kept under control. During the wars of 1965 and 1971, Afghanistan remained neutral and neither supported Pakistan nor India. Bhutto sought to improve relations with Afghanistan but Dawood made provocative  statements about Pakistan and entered into close relations with Russia. However he soon realized that Soviets had their own agenda and by providing assistance to Afghanistan they had find access to the internal politics of the country. So consequently he tried to improve relations with Pakistan. Now the communist coup in 1978 put an abrupt end to the efforts towards reconciliation. Now Tarakai came to power who worked for enforcing socialist system in Afghanistan but he was replaced  by Hafiz -Ullah Amin.

The Advent of Soviets into Afghanistan and Response of Pakistan :

On 27 December 1979, Russian troops entered its armed forces on a large  scale in Afghanistan. Hafiz-Ullah Amin was further replaced by Babrak Kamal. Now resistance within Afghanistan against Soviet intervention and Soviet sponsored Kabul regime began to take shape. Under pressure from Soviet troops millions of Afghans migrated to Pakistan and Iran  for protection and organizing resistance groups in order to wage a guerilla war against Soviet army. The Soviet invasion caused a serious threat to the neighboring countries of Pakistan Iran. The main cause of the Soviet invasion was to secure its frontier by surrounding it with a set of neutral or friendly states and established Communist regimes in these countries. The next important reason was access to Afghanistan resources and expansion towards the warm water ports in the south. In this context the Pakistan became vulnerable to Communist expansion and President Zia-ul-Haq saw it as a threat to Pakistan itself and decided to as he put it 'to fight the battle for Pakistan' inside Afghanistan. Zia sought to internationalize the issue and in this context he was able to secure a resolution from the Organization of Islamic Conference  and support from the Non Aligned Movement and US general Assembly. His aim was to enlist worldwide economic and military support for organizing Afghan resistance groups against Soviet invasion.

The Response of United States towards the Intervention of Soviets in Afghanistan :

The US was aware of the threat posed by the Soviets invasion, because they had a vital strategic interest in Afghanistan so they could not ignore the threat to the Pakistan security. In order to hold back the apparent Soviet expansion towards the warm waters, the US and Saudi Arabia decided to support Pakistan to backing the growing popular resistance  in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation. Pakistan also had acquired strategic importance after the fall of the phavely dynasty in Iran. The Carter administration, who had described Pakistan as a "frontline state" in the Cold War, offered US$400 million in military  and economic aid to Pakistan but it was rejected by General Zia describing it as a 'peanuts'. However Pakistan refusal to accept US aid did not affect its policy and it continued to support its policy of resistance for more than a year. Now when the Ronald Reagon administration took office he revived the offer of cooperation with Pakistan and significantly increased the level of assistance. The Reagon administration said that we will give you three and a half billion dollars for the first five years plus all the loans that you want and we will stop bothering you as far as your nuclear program is concerned and we will let you have operational control of the war that is being fought in Afghanistan. So in matters of days Pakistan received $3.2 billion aid equally divided between economic and military assistance. A separate  arrangement was also made for the purchase of forth F-16 fighter  aircraft. The military was a major beneficiary of the Zia rule. Zia government  benefited form the aid to keep itself in power and also to change Pakistan society and economy.

Impact and Consequences of the US Aid to Pakistan :

Now during this period the Pakistani government with the assistance of US and Saudi Arabia created a very vast and resilient network. This network had four main points.

  1. Smuggling of drugs.
  2. Smuggling of arms.
  3. Using the religious institutions and seminary institutions in particular as well as the refugees in order to create a guerrilla force that would fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
  4. The control mechanism through which all of this was to be don was Pakistan military in particularly the military intelligent agency. The influx of arms drugs, Islamic radicalism, the growth of seminary etc was very lucrative for the Zia government in the sense that it was receiving billions of dollars of aid but it had a very powerful impact on the Pakistani society, One was the phenomenal growth of drug abuses; another was the accumulation of the weapons created very serious problems in terms of maintaining law and order. The most dangerous results of the Afghan war were the development  of drug, trade, Sectarianism, Kalashnikov culture and the arm race in the region particularly Pakistan had to suffer a lot.

End of the Soviets :

Babrak Kamal was removed from the office on May 4, 1946, and Najibullah came to power but he was unable to crush the activities of the activities of the afghan mujahedeen's. In the meantime the Geneva talks began to progress  and on April 16, 1988, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States and Soviet Union serving as guarantors, finally signed the Geneva Accord. Now Mujahidin won and Soviets withdrew from the Afghanistan and tow years later the Soviet Union itself collapsed  because of the economic crisis. Now with the disintegration of the Soviet Union the Cold war came to an end and the USA is now the sole super power. It has achieved its objectives.

Pakistan paid a very heavy price for its involvement in this conflict. For years to come it had to suffer the consequences of its effort to the mujahidin.

For Pakistan, the Afghan war brought much harm to society and polity. It brought a Kalashnikov culture into Pakistan, narcotics became a popular commodity, and the economy struggled to bear the burden of refugees. In fact, Pakistan became a transit route for the illegal trade of weapons and drugs.

Fast forward a few decades, and the effects of the Afghan war and how it crept into public life in Pakistan have become starker. Pakistan is now facing a war with the Taliban on its soil. Never before has such a situation prevailed in the country.

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