Afghanistan-Neighbors Dilemma

“The world will see changed Taliban. We want to keep workable relations with the world in general and friendly relations with our neighbors in particular,” said the Taliban Spokesman in a press conference after the Taliban’s quick blitz over the Capital Kabul. He further committed to keeping the trade activities unhindered.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and China. Its geographical importance has witnessed numerous military campaigns making it a graveyard of oodles of empires. Any upheaval in Afghanistan will undoubtedly affect the whole region.

After the lightening take-over of Kabul by the Taliban against all expectations of the defense analysts, Afghanistan’s neighbors are under dire pressure. All of them are looking towards Pakistan with hopeful but skeptical eyes. Pakistan’s establishment has allegedly successfully buoyed up the Afghan Taliban into victory against ever-increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan. Some defense analysts, nonetheless, fear this Afghan Taliban’s success may ultimately backfire into encouraging Pakistan’s Taliban, the TTP, which is savoring safe havens along the Pak-Afghan border. However, the Afghan Taliban are always at odds with its Pakistani version and has pledged not to let Afghanistan’s land be used against any other nation. This victory and success is just a preface to a long untold story being unfolded for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and only the upcoming chapters of this story will look at how much they control these different groups.

Iran, which has a Baluch population along its Afghan borders, fears a new influx of Afghan refugees, and probable Baluch insurgency. It has concerns over the increased flow of opium also contributes to nearly 20 percent of the Taliban’s income.

This fear and uncertainty extend to many Central Asian nations, especially to Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors. They will be concerned about the instability and incursions from Afghanistan. For instance, under the last Taliban rule, there were serious incursions into southern Kyrgyzstan, support for the civil war in Tajikistan, and Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, was rocked by six bomb explosions.

China though is the foremost nation that immediately showed positive gestures to establish economic ties with the current Taliban regime. During the previous Taliban era, China also witnessed a series of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang though their connection with Afghanistan was unclear. Xinjiang’s Uyghur activists have cross-border relations in Afghanistan. China is now trying to find a place to live with the new Taliban regime. Late last month, Chinese officials met with a Taliban delegation including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban co-founder and a may-be future Head of State.

Fears of all concerned nations apart, Taliban in Afghanistan are a reality now and, this time, they are there to stay and mean business. They seem to be committed to forge friendly relations with neighbors, would not let others use their land against other nations, and above all, allow a certain degree of human, especially women’s rights.

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