Uncertain & chaotic Afghanistan Repercussions for erstwhile FATA
TALIBAN have announced their interim government but the clouds of menace have been dominating the horizon of Afghanistan.
Uncertainty still looms over Afghanistan. The political calculation about the future of Afghanistan seems to be blur and dusty. The spillover effect of chaos on neighbouring States makes room for consensus.
Peace in Pakistan, somehow, hinges on the situation in Afghanistan. The erstwhile FATA will be a hot cake for the spillover effects.
It will manifest itself in many forms: Insurgency and rise of TTP, deterioration of already fragile economic situations of erstwhile FATA, constraints on women education and ban on recreational activities.
To begin with, the strength of TTP and other religious militants’ organizations depends on the situation of Afghanistan. TTP has its root in the Afghan Taliban and it has deep links with the latter.
The recent press release by TTP, in which they threatened journalists and activists, clearly demonstrates TTP’s high morale and motivation after the Taliban takeover.
In my recent visit to Waziristan, I had a discussion with a Taliban leader in which he confirmed that the Afghan Taliban is pressurizing TTP to go for settlement with Pakistan.
According to him, TTP demanding some areas to govern and enforce Sharia in erstwhile FATA, the way Afghan Taliban has been enforcing Sharia in Afghanistan.
He also added, “TTP demands power-sharing in Afghanistan as TTP claims that it had helped Afghanistan in suicide attacks against NATO and other adversaries of Afghan Taliban”. This reflects complex situation for Pakistan.
If the TTP is not satisfied, there are great chances in the escalation of brutal attacks on Pakistani soil-particularly erstwhile FATA.
Furthermore, the fall of Kabul and the hasty US withdrawal have been supplementing the Islamic fundamentalism and religious extremism in the area. The rise of the Taliban impacts the consciousness of tribesmen.
The religious parties and radical clergymen will use the forceful takeover of Kabul to propagate radical Islam to achieve their own aims and objectives.
They would use radical Islam to brainwash the minds of uneducated tribesmen. Afghan Taliban in power already promoted Islamic fundamentalism and vitiated the moderate world view which in turn left space for fault lines between nationalists and rightists.
In addition to the propagation of radical Islam and extreme views, chaos in Afghanistan will have a deleterious impact on the already fragmented economic conditions of erstwhile FATA.
An increase in violence, propagation of extremism, insecure border and a huge influx of Afghans will leave no space for the region’s economy to replenish and develop.
The rise of militants would force locals to pay them remittances and share their business profits with them.
Similarly, smuggling, illegal border trade and narcotics flow would also hamper the economic situation.
Most importantly, an insecure environment will badly disrupt the economic activities in the area.
Moreover, chaotic Afghanistan will, directly and indirectly, have impacts on women’s education. It is a harsh reality that women’s education in erstwhile FATA is at the lowest because of Talibanization and strict Tribal culture.
It is a bare fact that the Taliban and the religious conservatives subscribe to extremist and radical ideologies which see women’s education as unnecessary and limit women’s role to homes only.
Taliban takeover has been emboldening the religious clerics and militants to curb the political, social and economic rights of women. This, in turn, the brainwashed people, will demotivate women to get an education.
Unfortunately, chaos in Afghanistan would bring stentorious repercussions for recreational activities in erstwhile FATA.
In the past, there used to be musical, lughat (Extempore poetry), comedy, and other programs. But after the rise of the Taliban, such recreational activities were banned.
After Zarb-e-Azb operation these activities again got some inertia. However, the fear of Taliban and insecure environment will put restraints on the youth to engage in such activities.
Similarly, the motivated Taliban and their affiliates will keep check and balance on such activities to show their muscles and implement their own societal norms.
The above mentioned repercussions ring the alarm bells of threat and emergency. However, several steps can be taken to avert the effects of chaos.
Most importantly, Pakistan’s policymakers need to come up with pragmatic, long-lasting and plausible state policy to save erstwhile FATA from becoming the stronghold of Taliban (TTP) and extremists.
The state must formulate policies after several hypotheses which can sustain peace and state writ even if the circumstances go otherwise.
Secondly, the promotion of education will broaden the moderate world view of youth and prepare them not to be brainwashed and manipulated by the militants.
Similarly, awareness programs have the capacity to dither the threats and to aware people of how militants and extremists use their tactics to recruit them for lethal activities.
Lastly, the provision of jobs to unemployed youth can be very helpful to avert the effects of chaos in Afghanistan over erstwhile FATA. Unemployment and poverty contribute to the hopelessness and psychological illness of youth.
This gap is badly exploited by the militants. The future of erstwhile FATA hinges on the future of Afghanistan.. However, the effects can be averted by policymakers to come up with long-lasting, rational and inclusive policies. Otherwise, uncertain and chaotic Afghanistan will have ad-infinitum impacts on erstwhile FATA.
—The writer is a freelance contributor. He writes on erstwhile FATA and international politics.