Pakistan's pro-Taliban stance rooted in 'fear of India' despite spillover jihadist threat at home, say analysts

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Islamabad [Pakistan], August 20 (ANI): Islamabad's reaction to the Taliban's victory was the opposite of the despair in Western capitals. Their triumph showed that Afghans had "broken the shackles of slavery", Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan asserted.

Tom Wheeldon, writing in France24 said that experts are of the view that geostrategic concerns about its enemy India motivate Pakistan's pro-Taliban stance - making it unlikely to change course, even amid fears that the militants' control of Afghanistan accentuates the jihadist threat at home.

New Delhi's backing of Afghanistan's pro-Western governments under Hamid Kharzi and then Ashraf Ghani was anathema to Islamabad - as three wars and repeated skirmishes over Kashmir have marked Pakistan's relations with India.

"Under Ghani, Afghanistan was seen as particularly close to India, and this of course caused a great deal of consternation because Pakistan's entire foreign policy is shaped by fear of being encircled by India to the east and by a pro-Indian Afghan government to the west and north," noted Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistan specialist at Chatham House in London, speaking to France 24.

Many analysts and journalists - notably then New York Times Afghanistan correspondent Carlotta Gall in her 2014 book The Wrong Enemy - have accused the Pakistani state of surreptitiously backing the Taliban, pointing the finger especially at Islamabad's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, wrote Wheeldon.

Moreover, concerns persist that Pakistan is deceitful in the fight against jihadism, many observers also questioned why recurrent allegations of Pakistani support for the Taliban never prompted US sanctions, says Wheeldon.

Meanwhile, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - a Paris-based multilateral organisation that combat terrorist funding and money laundering announced in June that it was giving Pakistan another four months to enact an internationally agreed plan to stop the financing of jihadist groups on its territory.

But now, analysts say the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan is what risks destabilising Pakistan - and that the exultation in Islamabad is myopic, says Wheeldon.

The Taliban's win poses a security "risk" for Pakistan, a member of Khan's cabinet admitted to the Financial Times under the condition of anonymity. The Afghan terrorists' closeness to Pakistani jihadist group the TTP (also called the Pakistani Taliban) is a particular source of concern, reported France24.

The TTP has carried out scores of deadly attacks since their inception in the 2000s, including the infamous 2014 Peshawar school massacre.

Pakistan, meanwhile, sees China as its strategic partner now - as demonstrated by the intensifying flows of weapons and economic investment from the communist superpower to the Islamic Republic, reported France24. (ANI)

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