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Pages: 05-20

Against all Expectations: Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations after the American Withdrawal

Ido Gadi Raz

Category: Regional/Country Studies

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Many researchers, policymakers, and officials in Pakistan and abroad assessed that the Taliban's renewed rise to power in Afghanistan in August 2021 would strengthen the relations between Kabul and Islamabad. For about two decades, Pakistan assisted the Taliban economically, politically, and intelligence-wise, believing that the organization's transformation into a sovereign in Kabul would serve Pakistan's political interests and strengthen its regional position. Some even claimed that Pakistan saw itself as a "patron" of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. However, contrary to expectations, after it retook power over Afghanistan, the Taliban government turned its back on Pakistan, strengthened its ties with India (Pakistan's historical rival), and supported organizations seeking to carry out a coup in Pakistan. The crisis between the two governments reached the point of exchanging well-publicized threats and localized military frictions in the border areas. The article suggests that the Taliban’s institutionalization process from a non-state violent actor to a state actor, in addition to Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan, led to the "surprising" cooling in the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan the day after the American withdrawal. Firstly, the Taliban pragmatically chose to warm its relationship with India (over Pakistan), which it sees as a long-term strategic partner. Secondly, Pakistan’s violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty led to tensions and mistrust between the two governments. Thirdly, the Taliban continued to support the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), an organization with a similar ideology to its Afghan counterpart, which seeks to overthrow the government in Pakistan and turn it into a ‘Muslim state’. Fourthly, the lack of recognition of the Durand line by the Taliban led to incidents along the border with the Pakistani forces.

Keywords: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban, India, TTP, terrorism, jihad, foreign relations, al-Qaeda


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DOI: 10.47362/EJSSS.2023.4101

DOI URL: https://doi.org/10.47362/EJSSS.2023.4101