Write Note on the Afghan War since 1979 and its Impacts on Pakistan. How Far the Emergence of the “Non-State Actors” and Non-Traditional Security Threats in Pakistan can be attributed to the Decades-long Warfare in Afghanistan?

Write Note on the Afghan War since 1979 and its Impacts on Pakistan. How Far the Emergence of the “Non-State Actors” and Non-Traditional Security Threats in Pakistan can be attributed to the Decade long Warfare in Afghanistan?

CSS 2016 Solved Pakistan Affairs Past Papers | Write a Note on the Afghan War since 1979 and its Impacts on Pakistan. How Far the Emergence of the “Non-State Actors” and Non-Traditional Security Threats in Pakistan can be attributed to the Decades-long Warfare in Afghanistan?

The following question of CSS Pakistan Affairs 2016 is solved by Quirat Khan under the supervision of Miss Nirmal Hasni. She learnt how to attempt 20 marks question and essay writing from Sir Syed Kazim Ali, Pakistan’s best CSS and PMS English essay and precis teacher with the highest success rate of his students. This solved past paper question is attempted on the pattern taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory and optional subjects for years, and uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Outline

1- Introduction

2- A timeline of the Afghan wars

3- Reasons for the wars in Afghanistan

4- Impacts on Pakistan

  • Economic impacts
    • The excess expense of refugees
    • Instilling economic dependency
  • Social impacts
    • Infiltration of weapons
    • Rampant drug culture
  • Political impacts
    • Compromised sovereignty
    • Disrupted image in the international arena

5- The emergence of non-state actors has disrupted security in Pakistan.

  • The haunting threat of TTP compromises internal security.
  • Radicalization of the youth by non-state actors

6- Non-traditional security threats have been exacerbated due to Afghan conundrums.

  • Rising terrorism destabilises internal security.
  • Extremism has become a cause of persistent worry.

7- Critical Analysis

8- Conclusion

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Answer to the Question

Introduction

“Pakistan’s stability has been gravely undermined by the twin blowback from Afghanistan.”

Maleeha Lodhi, former Ambassador to the US

The war in Afghanistan has not only destroyed the country but also created severe economic, political, and social consequences for Pakistan. The wars can be divided into two periods: the Soviet invasion and the War on Terror. These wars destroyed the economy of Afghanistan, displacing thousands of refugees who flung to Pakistan to seek refuge. With them, they entered the culture of drugs and weapons in the streets of Pakistan. Furthermore, the emergence of non-state actors became a menace for Pakistan as they continued to harm the security of Pakistan by plotting against the state and exploiting the fault lines of extremism and sectarian divide. Thereby, the war – like all other wars – has brought no good but the loss of millions of lives and thousands of dollars for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States.

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A Timeline of the Afghan War

In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, leading to a two-decade-long war in which Pakistan was a staunch contributor. After a few decades of instability and oppression under Taliban rule, the unfortunate War on Terror began and continued for another two decades.

Reasons for the Wars in Afghanistan

The cause of the Soviet invasion was their aim of expansion of communism; consequently, the US was dragged into the war. Pakistan, as a neighbouring country, supported the Afghans by providing training to jihadists to fight in the war. The war came to an end in the 1980s, leaving the jihadists aimless and abandoned by their creators. These armed militants gradually regrouped under the banner of extremist values towards Western ideologies. Blaming the West for Muslim oppression and the abysmal state of Afghanistan. They resorted to violence to advocate their message; subsequently, the event of 9/11 happened, compelling the US to declare War on Terror in Afghanistan. According to analysts, Pakistan became a forceful ally in this US mission. Thus, began the two-decade-long saga of violence in Afghanistan, creating severe consequences for Pakistan.

Impacts on Pakistan

You must keep in mind that Pakistan has suffered the aftermaths of Cold War and that Cold War had left deep imprint on our society. We are the worst sufferers from the ills of Afghan war.” 

– Asif Ali Zardaari

The wars in Afghanistan created grave impacts on Pakistan’s economic, social, and political stability.

Economic Impacts

1- The excess expense of refugees

In the wars, millions of people were displaced and fled towards neighbouring states to seek refuge. Pakistan received the highest number of refugees, amounting to a value of three million. The Afghans created a huge burden on the already scarce resources. In 2021, the International Monetary Fund estimated that Pakistan will have to bear an additional cost of $500 million due to the refugee burden. For a developing country like Pakistan, facing a dollar drought, the anticipations painted a very gloomy picture. 

2- Economic dependency on the West

Pakistan received economic assistance from the US during the war. Unfortunately, this developed a sense of dependency of Pakistan’s economy on the West. Since 1979, Pakistan has heavily relied on aid, grants, and loans from the US. According to the US Embassy in Pakistan, From the start of the war in Afghanistan to its 2021 conclusion, the U.S. committed more than $32.5 billion in civilian and military aid to Pakistan. This has also provided the US an advantage to exploit the economic needs of Pakistan.

Social Impacts

1- Infiltration of arms

The era of Soviet invasion introduced new tech weapons like Kalashnikov, which were widely copied and infiltrated into Pakistan with the jihadists. In the 1990s, a rampant Kalashnikov culture was observed, with weapons easily available on the streets. Thereby, criminal activities, such as kidnapping, murder, and robbery increased. The flood of cheaply available automatic weapons exacerbated the ethnic and tribal conflicts, disrupting the internal security of Pakistan. The situation had risen to such an extent that the then-prime minister had to cancel a foreign trip in order to deal with the violence.

2- Rampant drug culture

Another social problem created was the spread of drugs in Pakistan. Afghanistan has a narcotics-based economy; it is the world’s largest producer of opium and is responsible for producing 80% of it, according to the Washington Post.  The Pakistani borders have become porous due to the influx of refugees, and with them came drugs in the country. Anti Narcotics Force of Pakistan data shows Pakistan is on the front-line Afghan drug trade.

Political Impacts

1- Compromised sovereignty

One of the most significant impacts on Pakistan of the wars in Afghanistan is the development of a tangled relationship with the US. That which has been exploited by the US. For example, the US forcefully dragged Pakistan into the War on Terror and launched various drone attacks in Pakistan. Moreover, the US carried out an operation to assassinate Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil without informing the relevant authorities, an act that clearly showed the violation of territorial integrity.

2- Disrupted image in the international arena

Another impact of the wars is the blow to the image of Pakistan in the international arena. The country was blamed for harbouring and sponsoring terrorism. The Financial Action Task Force placed Pakistan on the grey list thrice in this regard. Countries remained short of recognizing the efforts of Pakistan and were quick to blame it. The US, too, blamed Pakistan for a lack of transparency in the utilization of the funds they provided. Therefore, the war brought no good but mere criticism of Pakistan.

The emergence of non-state actors has disrupted security in Pakistan.

The non-state actors like Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) emerged as a result of wars in Afghanistan. These actors infiltrated Pakistan with the mission of creating havoc by exploiting the ethnic fault lines existing in the tribal areas of the country. Consequently, terror activities increased in these areas, eventually spreading to other parts of the country. Many suicide attacks and target killings were carried out in other parts of the country. Therefore, non-state actors have been a significant challenge to the security of Pakistan.

1- The haunting threat of TTP compromises internal security.

Among the many non-state actors causing menace in Pakistan, TTP has been a nightmare. TTP has carried out hundreds of fierce terror attacks, which shook the country. For example, the soul-shaking attack on Peshawar School in 2014. The Pakistani military has launched operations like Zarb-e-Azb to drive TTP extremists out of Pakistan in the past; however, TTP actors continue to regroup and attack the country. Moreover, they also violated the peace pact brokered by the Taliban between Pakistan and Afghanistan, smashing another hope of Pakistan to curb terror.

2- Radicalization of the youth by non-state actors

The non-state actors are using their extremist religious ideas to exploit the destitute and helpless people. Moreover, they are also effectively using social media to spread ill information about the state, glorifying their acts of terror. For example, after a suicide attack by a member of the Baluchistan Liberation Army, social media was flooded with hashtags glorifying the bomber, Shari. In the age of disinformation, such practices pose a serious threat to the youth of Pakistan.

Non-traditional security threats have been exacerbated due to Afghan conundrums.

“The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from the terror attacks.”

Ned Price, US State Department Spokesperson

Among all the security challenges to Pakistan, Afghan conundrums have created the most severe threats for Pakistan. They have made Pakistan a victim of terrorism and extremism, leading to hundreds of casualties and harming the internal security of the country.

1- Rising terrorism destabilizing internal security

The Afghan crisis led to the spread of terror activities like wildfire in Pakistan. According to the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, more than 52,000 people, including civilians, personnel of law enforcement agencies, and troops, have been killed in terrorist attacks between 2002-2013. Although Pakistan hoped for a scale down in terror activities after the Doha deal, unfortunately, terror activities have risen. More attacks are launched on security offices and military cantonments. Despite the persistent efforts of the Pakistani military to curb the challenge, terrorist organizations are infiltrating deeper into the cities of Pakistan.

2- Extremism has become a cause of persistent worry.

Pakistan has many diverse cultures and ethnic groups that have often indulged in conflicts since independence. However, these conflicts have been exacerbated after the invasion of the US in the region. Violent extremism has gained momentum, resorting to terroristic means, causing damage to the social fabric of the country. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan, during the last fourteen years, Pakistan has incurred $106.98 billion in direct and indirect costs owing to terrorism. Extremism has always been a cause of worry in the entrenched sectarian society of Pakistan, and wars in Afghanistan have added fuel to the fire.

Critical Analysis

The War on Terror in Afghanistan has ended, but the crisis has not. In fact, the precipitous withdrawal of the US forces has created a power vacuum like the one created when the US forces pulled after the Soviet defeat. Similar to the challenges that sprung in the 1990s, once again, the non-traditional security threats are harming the security of Pakistan. The country has suffered severely from terrorism, yet it has been blamed for perpetuating terrorism. This unfortunate legacy continues for Pakistan due to its proximity with Afghanistan. However, earlier Pakistan has been able to curb the challenge of terrorism through effective counterterrorism operations; the same energy and strategy could be reinvigorated again.

Conclusion

The Afghan war since 1979 has severely destabilized the region, impeding socio-economic development not only in Afghanistan but also in nearby states. Pakistan as its eastern neighbor, has borne consequences the most. Much of the economic, social, and political distress in Pakistan has overflowed from Afghanistan. Moreover, the violent wars have unleashed the havoc of terrorism in Pakistan, which remains a monolithic hurdle for the country. Establishing relations with Afghanistan and dragging itself into the US wars brought nothing but problems for Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan must realize the significance of alienating itself from Afghan conundrums and work to secure its border in order to ensure peace and security in the country.

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