Tahir Ali assesses Pakistan's draining popularity among Afghanistan's power circles and the Taliban, both of whom are fed up with Islamabad's double-standards
Pakistan's double game in Afghanistan is deteriorating its relations with both Hamid Karzai-led government and the Mullah Omer-led Taliban.
During his recent trip to Kabul, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that his visit was aimed at reaching out to the Afghan public with a message that Pakistan was a well wisher of Afghanistan and would continue supporting it to attain political stability.
But Afghanistan has been suspicious of Islamabad, owing to the latter's hidden support for the Afghan Taliban.
Afghanistan has always blamed Pakistan's Inter Services intelligence for supporting the Afghan Taliban, especially the notorious Haqqani network (the Al Qaeda-linked Taliban subgroup) that operates from Pakistani tribal areas.
Concurrently, Islamabad is also rapidly losing favour amongst the Afghan Taliban. Unlike in the past, no other Afghan militant factions, excluding the Haqqani network, are looking towards it for help and are independently leading their struggle.
Earlier the Afghan Taliban were against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e Jhangvi, who targetted Pakistani security forces and other installations, as they believed that there was no 'jihad' in Pakistan and that the focus should only be on NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan.
Today, a majority of the Afghan Taliban are turning their back on Pakistan. On one hand, Gilani's government supports the Karzai government in Kabul but at the same time it tells the Taliban that Islamabad is their well wisher.
At the early stage after 9/11, Afghan Taliban needed Pakistan's support, especially during the winter season they needed hideouts in the tribal areas of Pakistan. But now they enjoy good enough support inside Afghanistan.
After fighting for almost 10 years, the Afghan Taliban are emerging as an invincible power; they could lead their war against the US-led forces without Pakistan's help. Earlier, they were silent but now the Afghan Taliban openly speaks against Pakistan and its policies.
They think that it was difficult for the US to invade Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan. All allies of the US should be treated as the same -- whether they are Muslims like Pakistan or non-Muslims, says the Taliban.
'Fight Pakistanis like you fight Americans'
Recently, a jihadi book Shamseeri Bay Niyam (a sword without scabbard) has emerged amongst the Afghan Taliban. The book is widely distributed amongst the fighters, which sheds light on the situations under which jihad should be waged and against what type of enemy.
The book reveals that jihad against Pakistani forces is to be fought in the same manner as it is fought against the Americans.
In a chapter of the book, titled Addo Wasayel (confronting enemy), a question is raised by the author on the difference between fighting against the Afghan forces and Pakistani forces.
The author then explains that there is no difference between the two, as both are fighting for the sake of the US.
The book reveals, "Under Shariah, there is no difference in fighting against Afghani forces or Pakistani forces. Both obey the same master (US). Both are committing the same crime and have played havoc with innocent people's lives. There is no such Shariah that terms jihad in Afghanistan valid and in Pakistan invalid."
The book further reveals that in Islam, there is no concept of a boundary when it comes to jihad.
The chapter is concluded stating, "Afghani, American and Pakistani forces are involved in the same crimes. So the fate of all should be the same. In this way, jihad is valid against Pakistani forces."