Pakistan is the only country that understands the Afghan issue comprehensively. As we are neighbours, we share a similar language, culture, religion, history and traditions. It is natural to develop in depth the understanding of the other. Pakistan is the worst victim of the unrest in Afghanistan for almost four decades. Pakistan’s sufferings and sacrifices for Afghanistan are more than any other country on earth.
Pakistan has always promoted the Afghan issue in the international community and advocated for Afghanistan on almost all major platforms. Pakistan has extended its full support including political, diplomatic, economic and humanitarian etc. Pakistan believes in a permanent Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and permanent solution. Pakistan has never interfered in the internal affairs of any other country and imposed its will on others.
Pakistan believes in the comprehensive sovereignty of Afghanistan and respects the Afghan people. Our relations are based on fraternity, good neighborliness, equality and mutual respect.
However, the recent statement by Afghan Defense Minister Mullah Muhammad Yaqoob at a press conference bluntly accusing Pakistan of allowing its airspace to US drone strikes in Afghanistan, and warning against this, surprised the whole nation.
Pakistan has taken note, with deep concern, of the allegation by the Acting Minister of Defense of Afghanistan regarding the use of Pakistani airspace in the context of the United States counter-terrorist drone operation in Afghanistan.
In the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan Minister himself, such speculative allegations are highly regrettable and defy the standards of responsible diplomatic conduct.
Pakistan reaffirms its faith in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States and condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
We urge the interim Afghan authorities to ensure respect for Afghanistan’s international commitments not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist purposes against any country.
It should be noted that before 2015, Mullah Yaqoob did not even have an official position among the Taliban. However, experts say the prestige of being Mullah Omar’s eldest son has elevated his standing among Taliban field commanders and ranks. He turned out to be an uninspiring personality, failing to appeal to ranks and record in the new Afghan setup. In fact, he has resorted to anti-Pakistan speeches to attract the attention and support of Western-inspired Indian and Afghan circles.
There are several visible fault lines within the Taliban with tensions between Mullah Yaqoob and the Haqqanis currently controlling Kabul. There is friction between the Haqqani Taliban and the Kandhar faction, just as there are differences between Pashtun and non-Pashtun tribes.
Mullah Yaqoob wanted to bring military elements into the cabinet rather than political elements pushed by Mullah Baradar. Mullah Yaqoob, who is also head of the military commission and deputy head, has openly stated that those who live in luxury in Doha cannot dictate terms to those involved in Askari’s jihad against the forces of US-led occupation. He has been consolidating his power since the death of his father, Mullah Omar, was revealed in July 2015. His ambition to control the Taliban factions, including Haqqani, seems to be realized in the coming years for the following reasons other than his penchant pro-American and pro-Indian: –
Mullah Yaqoob is popular among battlefield commanders and so they are ready to accept his leadership.
Yaqoob had close ties to commanders in the north of the country, which helped consolidate his military control.
Yaqoob is known to have ties to Saudi Arabia, which backs the peace deal and is believed to be funneling money to help him consolidate his power (since Mullah Omer’s death became public knowledge, Mullah Yaqoob controls the Taliban’s vast revenue streams).
Mullah Yaqoob is said to have links with the former Afghan government and the intelligence services. The Haqqanis are considered to have a soft view of Pakistan, while Yaqoob favors the peace process with the United States and rapprochement with India. Yaqoob’s rise therefore seems to be good news for Washington and India.
Apparently the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had problems with the Haqqani group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, leading to speculation that Mullah Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, leaked the location of Zawahiri to US authorities during his recent visit to Qatar.
Yaqoob’s main responsibility is security, which he described as “100% OK”, although later revelation that the al-Qaeda leader was living in central Kabul cast the statement in a different light.
There is speculation about the Taliban’s lack of confidence in Mullah Yaqoob as a leader. The Taliban strongly believes that Mullah Yaqoob provided information on Al-Zawahiri to the United States when he met with them in early July this year. The reason given behind this is that Mullah Yaqoob may have wanted to glorify his status over the Haqqanis within the TTA and in the eyes of the United States and its allies.
The possibility cannot be excluded that Mullah Yaqoob, following in his father’s footsteps, harbored Al-Zawahiri in a Taliban-secured area, then belittled the Haqqanis and shared information about the leader’s whereabouts Al-Qaeda.
Despite his high positions, Mullah Yaqoob does not appear to be widely admired among the militant group or its supporters.
According to reports, many Afghan intelligence officials described Mullah Yaqoob as a shrewd and self-absorbed young man.
There are also reservations that someone like Mullah Yaqoob who was raised outside his native country during the Afghan war might be well aware of the realities of Afghanistan.
It is believed that his efforts to damage Pakistan-Afghan relations will never succeed. His evil designs and evil motives will never materialize. The brotherhood between the two Muslim neighbors will remain unchanged and will ensure the stability and prosperity of the whole region.