The Pakistani Government and global aid community can’t address the needs of these refugees; it could result in a large pool of people who could easily be recruited into the Taliban says Associate Professor Akbarzadeh.
“There is a big risk that public opinion could turn against the Pakistani Government because of its bad management of this war, these military advances have resulted into over a million refugees and the Pakistani Government and aid agencies are woefully under prepared for this,” he says.
Associate Professor Akbarzadeh says there is a very big chance that the offensive will also be a long one, as Pakistan troops have been trained for conventional warfare and not guerrilla style tactics as is expected from the Taliban.
Associate Professor Akbarzadeh says the Pakistani Government has had a difficult relationship with the Taliban ever since they began allowing them into Pakistani Territory for “their excursions into and eventual victory in Afghanistan in 1997”.
“The Pakistan Government allowed this because the Islamist have serviced a useful purpose for Pakistan foreign policy. Pakistan has wanted to expand its area of influence and the Islamists have served its purpose in this regard,” he says.
“So when the Taliban were pushed out of Afghanistan following US offensive and settled in the northern territory of Pakistan, this created a challenge to their sovereignty. For a time they were trying to appease the Taliban forces and allowed Sharia Law to be implemented as a way to appease the Taliban, but this was a major mistake.”
“In Pakistan public opinion was very uncomfortable that Islamic Law was being implemented, and there was a swell in public opinion against it as well as pressure from the US who were wary that the Taliban now had the territory to regroup, retrain and prepare for further excursions into Afghanistan.”
Associate Professor Akbarzadeh says that while it was a combination of these factors which made Pakistan launch its offensive to eliminate Taliban forces, their short sighted approach could be counter-productive if the offensive drags out and refugees become disillusioned.