Pakistan faces greater challenges from Afghanistan than wars with India, says Pakistani envoy

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, Asif Durrani, stated Wednesday that Pakistan has endured more hardships from Afghanistan’s internal conflicts than from its three wars with India, in terms of both human and financial costs.

Speaking at the one-day International Conference “Pakistan in the Emerging Geopolitical Landscape,” organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) and the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Durrani highlighted the severe impacts of the War on Terror on Pakistan. Over the past two decades, more than 80,000 Pakistanis, including 8,000 law enforcement personnel, have lost their lives, with the nation still tallying additional casualties.

“After NATO forces withdrew, there was hope that peace in Afghanistan would extend to the region. Unfortunately, these expectations were quickly dashed,” Durrani explained.

He noted a significant increase in attacks along Pakistan’s border, with incidents involving the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group surging by 65%, and suicide attacks rising by 500%.

“The intensified TTP attacks from Afghan territory pose a grave concern for Pakistan, particularly with Afghan nationals’ involvement in these attacks,” Durrani said.

Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan has faced geopolitical challenges, with post-9/11 global shifts further exacerbating the situation. The economic toll on Pakistan is estimated at $150 billion.

Despite being designated a non-NATO ally, Pakistan has suffered economically from travel advisories and heightened insurance costs imposed by NATO countries, leading to stagnant export levels.

“Moreover, Afghanistan remains a constant concern in Pakistan’s regional strategy for over four decades,” he added.

Looking ahead, Durrani expressed concerns over Pakistan’s eastern neighbor continuing its anti-Pakistan activities, while issues on the western border present a short to medium-term irritant.

“Through skillful diplomacy, Pakistan can navigate these challenges, including those posed by the TTP,” he asserted.

Durrani also touched on broader regional relationships, noting that both China and Iran are likely to remain supportive partners in security and economic matters.

“The burgeoning Indo-US relationship, shifts in Middle Eastern politics, and ongoing violence in Palestine present significant diplomatic challenges for Pakistan,” he concluded.

Conference speakers provided a detailed analysis of Afghanistan’s evolving situation and advocated for a proactive and inclusive approach to address the country’s ongoing challenges.