Considered Chaos: Revisiting Pakistan’s ‘Strategic Depth’ in Afghanistan

by CIGA Staff

Brief:

The author analyzed the influence of Pakistan over Afghanistan during the Cold War (1979-89) and the Post-Cold War eras. The article states that the State of Pakistan has since 1979 considered Afghanistan its ‘Strategic Depth’ in its rivalry with India. But the Tribal Belt along Durand Line (i.e. the Pak-Afghan Border) was too fertile for the respective task. The ideological basis of this ‘Strategic Depth’ was explained in this study. Furthermore, the Islamization process during Gen. Zia ul-Haq’s regime in Pakistan had enabled the religious elites to manipulate the politics and social fabric of the society. The madrassas in Pakistan became recruitment and training centers of the Taliban which provided human fuel to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Taliban struggle that was sponsored by Pakistan and the United States against the Soviet Union in the 1980s increased their popularity on both sides of the Durand Line. The author also provided evidence regarding the support of the Pakistani state to the Taliban by detailing the guerrilla training by law enforcement agencies of the Peshawar 7 (i.e. seven religious organizations including Hezb-i-Islami, Jamiat-i-Islmai, Itehad Islami, Hezbi Islami, Mahaz-i-Milli Islam, Jabha Nijat-i-Milli, Harkat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami). Although the concept of ‘Strategic Depth’ has been transformed after Pakistan became a nuclear state, Afghanistan is still relevant today in the policy making corridors of Islamabad. The report concludes that the contemporary Afghan Peace Process is incomplete without taking into account the role and security interests of Pakistan.

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