By Umair Jamal
September 20, 2021, the CACI Analyst
After the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence agencies are seeking ways to maintain its intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism presence in the region. One of few options is Pakistan, which has previously provided U.S. intelligence agencies with bases for counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. After the recent attack by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) at Kabul Airport that killed scores of U.S. soldiers and Taliban fighters, Pakistan may open its airspace for U.S. counterterrorism operations against ISKP in Afghanistan. However, for any such deal to become possible, Pakistan would want the U.S. to only target the ISKP after getting the nod from the Taliban – Islamabad’s longtime allies and the new rulers of Afghanistan.
By Umair Jamal
August 25, 2021, the CACI Analyst
For more than two decades, India has openly opposed any prospect of the Taliban returning to power in Afghanistan. New Delhi has continued to oppose the Taliban even in the face of the international community’s ongoing effort to engage the group to find a negotiated settlement. Pakistan, on the other hand, supports efforts to engage the Taliban in an attempt to bring the Taliban back to power. After the collapse of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, Islamabad believes that it has scored a major win against India as it can isolate New Delhi’s political influence and interests in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s return to power risks turning Afghanistan into an India-Pakistan proxy battleground.
By Umair Jamal
December 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The visit of Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, to Pakistan in late September was considered a major shift in Kabul’s approach towards Islamabad. This was Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in his new role as the Afghan government’s top negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace talks. When serving in the previous administration as the Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government, Abdullah declined several invitations to visit Pakistan. During the visit, Pakistan promised to push the Taliban to reduce violence and to support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process” – which Abdullah has demanded for years. The ongoing push from both sides is intended to build trust and could prove to be a game changer for the Afghan peace process.
By Niranjan Marjani
July 23, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The U.S.-Taliban deal has generated large amounts of analysis on stability and security in Afghanistan, the role of the Afghan government and Pakistan-Taliban relations. However, another important dimension of the deal is its impact on Iran-Pakistan relations. Pakistan’s relations with both Iran and the Afghan government are unstable, but Pakistan enjoys good relations with the Taliban. Iran has also sought to build contacts and relations with the Taliban. Thus, the recognition accorded to the Taliban in the deal could both improve Iran-Pakistan relations and give Iran an important role in Afghanistan. The increasing significance of the Taliban could worsen instability not only in Afghanistan but also across Central, West and South Asia while completely sidelining the Afghan government.
By Umair Jamal
July 21, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The growth of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Afghanistan poses a formidable challenge to India and Pakistan’s security interests in the region. Recently, an ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Afghanistan involved a suicide bomber from India. On April 4, Afghan security forces arrested a Pakistani national and a high-ranking ISIS commander in Afghanistan, who authorized the Gurudwara attack. Reports indicate that ISIS is rapidly gaining recruits from India and Pakistan for its Afghanistan and Central Asia operations. The emerging threat in this regard would require close counterterrorism cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi if the group is to be successfully defeated in Afghanistan. However, given Pakistan and India’s competition and record of undermining each other’s interests in Afghanistan, ISIS is set to gain exponentially in the coming months.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.