Over the past few weeks, tensions have risen between Pakistan and the Taliban. The Taliban’s acting defence minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, recently accused Pakistan of allowing the Americans to utilise its airspace, which resulted in the death of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri on July 29 of this year. Regarding the future of Pakistan-Taliban ties, his comment has generated a lot of doubts. The claims made by Mullah Yaqoob were promptly denied by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, which described them as “conjectural assertions.” The Foreign Ministry stated: “In the absence of any evidence, as acknowledged by the Afghan Minister himself, such conjectural allegations are highly regrettable and defy the norms of responsible diplomatic conduct.”

According to speculation in diplomatic circles, the Taliban’s marriage of convenience with Pakistan may have already expired. The Afghan Taliban’s questionable involvement in providing cover for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their unwillingness to impose restrictions on the movement of TTP members have further stoked doubts about the Islamic militia regime’s seriousness in forging a lasting partnership with Pakistan.

One wonders why Mullah Yaqoob made such claims since so many nations have established embassies in Kabul without endorsing the Taliban government. Is he taking a confrontational stance towards the US and Pakistan to strengthen his position among the Taliban, particularly against Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister who has fled the country since Zawahiri was killed? He is also aware of the rising power of moderates within the ranks of the Taliban, who are more exposed to the outside world and can strike far better bargains to help a lot of their fellow countrymen who are suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe in the nation. Whether he likes it or not, Mullah Yaqoob cannot escape the Taliban’s need to take counter-terrorism measures against Al-Qaeda by blaming Pakistan.

The Taliban are also misinterpreting the Doha Accord, which is another error. Soon after Zawahiri’s assassination, the Taliban said that Washington had broken the terms of the Doha Accord. The Taliban claimed in a statement that such operations are a replay of the failed experiences of the last 20 years and are against the interests of the USA, Afghanistan, and the region. Looking at the Taliban narrative during the past year, it seems as though they (the Taliban) have acquired immunity from any retaliation, especially in counterterrorism, because of their agreement with the US.

Read More: The Never-Ending War & Al-Qaeda

On the other hand, US authorities accused the Taliban of acting in violation of their promises to combat terrorism established in the same pact. In a statement, the State Department said: “By hosting and sheltering the leader of Al-Qaeda in Kabul, the Taliban grossly violated the Doha Agreement and repeated assurances to the world that they would not allow Afghan territory to be used by terrorists to threaten the security of other countries.”

The Doha Agreement’s intrinsic inability to clearly define the commitments of the signatory parties was brought to light by these charges and counteraccusations made by the Taliban and the US, respectively. The Haqqani network is believed by the US to have protected Zawahiri and other Al-Qaeda members, a claim to which the Taliban has never made a firm denial. The militant Taliban cannot agree to the international demands to capture Al-Qaeda members or deliver them to the US for legal proceedings. The 1267 Committee includes more than 130 Taliban figures, including some members of the provisional administration (now called the 1988 Committee). These individuals must answer in court for their part in aiding Al-Qaeda or engaging in terrorist actions.

The Taliban must remember that the 1267 Committee is bound by Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which requires all UN members to capture and bring charges against any Taliban and Al-Qaeda members on the Committee’s list. Additionally, there are rumours that Uyghur separatists from Xingjian and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are seeking refuge in Afghanistan with the knowledge of the Taliban leadership. The Taliban also believe they now enjoy worldwide acceptance as a result of the Doha Agreement.

Read More: US Failure in Afghanistan: Who to Blame?

The Taliban will need to explain their position on Zawahiri’s appearance in an upscale area of Kabul. Their claims of ignorance of Zawahiri’s presence are not very convincing given that Sirajuddin Haqqani’s home was only a short distance from Zawahiri’s. Haqqani, the interior minister and a terrorist sought by the world community, should not be allowed to live recklessly in a neighbourhood without doing the requisite background checks on the locals. If the Taliban don’t come clean about the matter, it’s unclear how many more Al-Qaeda commanders and agents are still present in Afghanistan with the Taliban government’s approval.

Second, even by their criteria of operating an Islamic Emirate, the Taliban failed to demonstrate statecraft while being able to demonstrate their military strength. Although the Taliban’s version of Islam may embody traditional Pashtun traits, it scarcely serves as an example for Pakistan’s other ethnic groups, let alone the rest of Pakistan. It is embarrassing for the Islamic world that they are so rigidly opposed to women’s rights in the name of Islam.

Third, the TTP is intensifying its attacks against Pakistani soldiers using Afghan territory. Any leniency shown by the forces would be expensive for the state’s writ in the nation. Therefore, the government of Pakistan would need to take significant action to curb the TTP’s expanding operations. The TTP’s exploitation of Afghan land must be explicitly stated to the Taliban administration by the government. The Pakistani government should also state unambiguously that, short of surrender, no deal with the TTP would be acceptable and that any assistance from the Afghan Taliban to the TTP would be viewed as hostile.

Fourth, Pakistan must inform Afghanistan’s near neighbours about the changing situation there and develop a plan of action to guarantee that the Taliban deal with the extreme terrorist forces there, or they risk suffering the repercussions. The Pakistani government should publish a white paper exposing Indian activities and investigate any connections between the Afghan Taliban and India in light of the TTP’s increasing attacks against the Pakistani military.

Finally, the Pakistani government should make it abundantly clear to the Afghan Taliban that while Pakistan values its relationship with Afghanistan as a brotherly nation, it also expects the Taliban regime to abide by international norms by taking action against the recognised extremists and terrorists hiding out on Afghan territory. The UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1267, 1368, and 1373 support whatever action the US takes against terrorists, no matter where they are, as the US has taken it upon itself to lead the worldwide operations against terrorists. The Taliban shouldn’t anticipate Pakistan opposing the US or other military action against Al-Qaeda militants, including Zawahiri and his associates. Mullah Yaqoob should thus consider his backyard before blaming Pakistan.

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