The Afghan Leverage And Elections in Pakistan

360

Context

02-05-2013_Pakistan_Afghanistan_border1As the election date nears in Pakistan, the events there appear to be unfolding rapidly on both the domestic and external front.While TTP unleashes havoc on the secular parties (MQM, PPP, ANP) as it had threatened, the military does not want to be caught sitting in the barracks, and thus reinforcing the opinion that it wants the conservative and nationalist parties to win the election.

This may be the reason Gen Kayani decided to deploy 70,000 troops to provide security during the election period. The country will also to seal the border with Afghanistan during the actual voting timeframe. However, there is more to it.

In the present electrified and polarized atmosphere of the country, an unforeseen event could lead to serious backlash. The presence of military on the streets will mitigate the risks while also be a source of confidence for the voters.

While Pakistan struggles to keep the domestic front calm, Karzai seems to have ignited the western border. The perception of Pakistan’s security establishment is hardening regarding the negative role Afghan President Hamid Karzai may be playing to destabilize the country, and by supporting certain TTP elements. In the very same fashion, Pakistan has been blamed for backing the Afghan Taliban.

This is what makes the situation highly volatile, and the reason why PoliTact had alerted last week that Karzai might try to use nationalist fervor to shift the balance in his favor. And, this is exactly what happened on Thursday in the form of a border incident in eastern Nangarhar. Reportedly, Afghan forces had also arrested Maulvi Faqir from Nangarhar province back in February.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s position has been secured to such an extent that it feels quite comfortable talking about the integration of Afghan Taliban, in public and international forums. Just last week, Afghan Taliban launched the Spring Offensive and it is likely to be the deadliest season yet. With the reconciliation going nowhere, and with Karzai’s fate uncertain and intentions gradually more belligerent, much more fighting looms on the horizon.

Interestingly, all of this is occurring when the US is increasingly focused on the situation of Syria and Middle East, and while India is busy attempting to tackle the alleged Chinese intrusion in Ladakh.