Pakistan's Taliban gamble can be ruined by Pashtuns, says think tank

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Islamabad [Pakistan], July 16 (ANI): Pakistan's ride on the Taliban tiger could turn out to be short and fatal due to Islamabad's habit of missing crucial minefields of its own making, according to a think tank.

As per International Forum For Rights And Security (IFFRAS), Pakistan's "ride on the Taliban tiger could turn out to be short and fatal due to Islamabad's habit of missing crucial minefields of its own making."

"The Taliban gamble of Pakistan can be ruined by Pashtuns owing to the Durand Line Question that is inhibited by the community," it said.

Close to 35 million people from the Pasthun community live in Pakistan and the Durand Line which divides their "nation", has always been a sore point, says IFFRAS, which points out that they could turn out to be a difficult bone stuck in Pakistan's gullet.

Pashtuns no longer express blind loyalty to Pakistan as they did in the past and there is rising anger among members living in the tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reports IFFRAS.

For the past three years, Pashtuns have been waging a peaceful battle of nerves with the Pakistani state, especially its army. Pashtuns blame the country's army for the brutal destruction of their homes in successive military operations supposedly targeting terrorists hiding along the Durand Line.

Millions of Pashtuns had to flee their homes and find shelter in distant cities or worse in tent colonies set up by the government.

When the Pashtuns began raising their voices against this colossal human right violation, their voices were brutally suppressed.

Countless young Pashtuns are abducted, tortured and most often killed by the army and its intelligence agencies, reported IFFRAS.

Failing to get any justice from the state, the Pashtuns organised themselves under the Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement (PTM) which has over the past two years organised large-scale protest movements across Pakistan. During the protests they raise anti-army slogans, an unheard-of event in Pakistan.

There is also an organic link between Pakistan and the 15-million Pashtuns living in Afghanistan and successive Afghan governments emphasise that the border drawn by the British is artificial and unacceptable.

In fact, many staunch Afghan leaders have called for a "Greater Afghanistan" or "Pashtunistan", a demand which still finds resonance in the heart of majority of Pashtuns, reported IFFRAS.

The Taliban, when it ruled Kabul, had also refused to recognise the Durand Line as an international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Although the PTM has time and again raised its voice against the Taliban and other terror groups, it is not clear how things will turn out if the Taliban were to extend an olive branch in a Pashtun wrapping.

This should worry Pakistan the most, for this will have the potential of making their worst nightmare of Pashtunistan come true, says the think tank.

Moreover, an immediate fuse that could light up a bigger conflagration over the Durand Line could be the border fence being constructed on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line since 2018. Afghanistan has strongly opposed the construction and there have been frequent armed clashes between the two countries since June 2016.

In July this year, there were reports of Afghan forces pushing back Pakistani soldiers on the outskirts of Kandahar.

With such a history of clashes and animosity between the two countries, it is highly unlikely that the Taliban, if they manage to seize control of Kabul, will make any territorial concessions to Pakistan, especially since the issue is more emotive than political for Pashtuns, said IFFRAS. (ANI)

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