PAKISTAN, INDIA AND THE SECRET WAR FOR AFGHANISTAN
By Parviz Azizi
10 Dec 14. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1978 helped to re-shape the politics of the Greater Middle East. The latter created the concept of Shi’a political Islam, both within Iran and other parts of the Mideast with significant Shi’a population. In the meantime, the occupation of Afghanistan by the Red Army resulted in the emergence of political Wahhabi Sunni jihadists – backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia, coordinated by the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan. In a sense, these two political events lead to the rebirth of the centuries-old Shia-Sunni conflict, and they also reinvigorated Sunni political Islam, or pan-Islamism ideologies in the Muslim world. Iran has become the base for Shia political Islam and the Sunnis wanted to defeat the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in order to establish a base for Sunni political Islam in Afghanistan. This Wahhabi/Sunni dream became truth with the emergence of the Taliban movement from 1994 to 2001. However, The NATO-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, with the assistance of the Northern Alliance, has ended the dream – at least for now.
Without regard to what happens in the near future in Afghan politics, the government of Pakistan, with the help of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is committed to dominating Afghan politics and shaping it in a way that favors Pakistani interests. For instance, the Peshawar Seven formed in 1985 with the assistance of ISI and Saudi Arabia aimed to promote Islamist fundamentalism in Afghanistan. This Peshawar Seven is a group of political parties within Afghanistan, all of which report back to ISI and seek its financial and military assistance. It is important to understand that Pakistan was created in 1947 on the basis of Islam and not ethnicity. Thus, promoting Islamist ideology in neighboring Afghanistan will balance the power of its long-term rival, India and also allow Pakistan to remain stable. Pakistan also has a large Pashtun ethnic group and maintaining Afghanistan under a Pashtun leadership will deter nationalism sentiment among the Pakistani Pashtuns. Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan aimed to create a safer border between both states and to integrate Pakistani Pashtuns in the Pakistani government. In other words, Pakistan sought to diminish Pashtun nationalism within Pakistan by giving them more political power in the Pakistani government and higher governmental positions.
Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan:
1. Limit and lessen India’s sphere of influence in Kabul.
2. Keep India from establishing a closer relationship with Afghanistan, which could in the long run encircle Pakistan and weaken the Pakistani central government in Islamabad.
3. Promote and finance the Haqqani network and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan to conduct attacks on Indian interests in Kabul. For instance, the Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked twice in 2008 and 2009 and the ISI was rumored to be behind the attacks.
4. Prevent Pashtun nationalism in Afghanistan, which could endanger Pakistani territorial integrity by promoting Pakistani disintegration along ethnic lines. For instance, a strong Afghan government under Pashtun leadership can re-claim the Durand line.
5. Establish economic relations with the oil-rich states of Central Asia by financing a government in Kabul that favors Pakistani interests.
6. Contain the neighboring states from projecting their sphere of influence into Afghanistan.
7. Make sure Pakistan plays an important role in the Afghan peace process, particularly in any post-2014 negotiations with the Taliban. For instance, Pakistan supported the idea of creating a Taliban office in Qatar, Doha in-order to maintain the presence of Taliban in Afghan politics after the NATO withdrawal.
The Indian government has been quite supportive of the NATO-led ISAF missio