Since Kabul fell to Taliban Sunday, critics have flamed President Biden for diminishing America’s global status, empowering the Taliban and their al-Qaeda partners, cold-shouldered U.S. allies and leaving Afghans risking their lives to work with Americans. Add a more likely consequence of the cheeky American withdrawal: a brave Pakistan whose Taliban-friendly generals and abundance of jihadist groups feel the wind in their sails.
In official statements, Pakistan says it supports a peaceful decision in Afghanistan. But if there is one global capital where the Taliban victory was met with barely disguised cheers, it was in Islamabad. On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised Afghans for “breaking the shackles of slavery.” On social media, retired generals and other Taliban boosters hailed the victory of Islam, no matter that the defeated Afghan government also called itself an Islamic republic.
Pakistani cheers shared a 2014 video clip with Hamid Gul, a former head of the army’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. “As the story unfolds, it will be reported that ISI defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America,” Gul told a raving TV studio environment. “Then comes another sentence. ISI defeated with the help of America America. ”
You can understand why Taliban fans will be happy. Between 2002 and 2018, the U.S. government provided Pakistan with more than $ 33 billion in aid, including about $ 14.6 billion in so-called Coalition Support Funds, which the Pentagon paid to the Pakistani military. (Donald Trump stopped almost all military aid and also cut non-military aid from its peak in the Obama years.) During the same period, Pakistan secured the failure of America’s Afghanistan project by hiding, arming and training the Taliban.
“We found ourselves in an incredibly bizarre situation where you pay the country that created your enemy so it will let you keep fighting that enemy,” said Sarah Chayes, a former adviser to the President of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a telephone interview. “If you want to win the war, you have to strike against Pakistan. If you wanted to perform operations [in Afghanistan] you had to degrade Pakistan. ”
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