#SanctionPakistan Trends Globally On Social Media; Many Slam Pakistan For Backing Taliban

Diksha Yadav

Aug 11, 2021, 07:54 PM | Updated Aug 12, 2021, 12:10 PM IST

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani (left) and Pakistan PM Imran Khan (right)
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani (left) and Pakistan PM Imran Khan (right)
  • Earlier, Afghanistan at the UNSC briefing had claimed that Pakistan was providing a safe haven to the Taliban.
  • Following this people living across the globe supported the hashtag trend #SanctionPakistan, and some even came out on the streets to protest against Pakistan for their involvement with the Taliban.
  • Afghanistan has constantly been pointing out that Pakistan's jihadis are joining the Taliban and attacking the Afghans with them.

    Not just the Pakistani jihadis, but sometime back, in mid-July, Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh had said in his tweet that the Pakistan Air Force was providing close air support to the Taliban.

    He tweeted, "Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas".

    Besides this, Afghan Defence Ministry has claimed to have killed multiple Pakistani nationals linked with Al Qaeda, who were along with the Taliban, several times in the recent past.

    Even yesterday (10 August), Afghan Defence Ministry claimed to have killed 12 Taliban terrorists through an airstrike conducted by the US Air Force in Kapisa province, of which two were Pakistani terrorists. (Similar claims made recently by the Afghan Defence Ministry can be read here, here, and here)

    Afghan Defence Ministry's official, Fawad Aman, on 6 August had also posted a video on Twitter of four arrested terrorists and said, "The truth is never hidden! 4 #terrorists who were recently arrested in Logar province by #ANA frankly admit that they received military training in #Pakistan, and also receive weapons, ammunition and money from Pakistan."

    However, these are not just mere claims; last week (6 August), at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing on "Situation in Afghanistan", Ghulam M Isaczai, who is the permanent representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations pointed out the role of Pakistan in the Afghanistan-Taliban conflict and said, "Taliban continues to enjoy a safe haven in Pakistan in supply and logistic extended to their war machines from Pakistan."

    "Graphic reports and videos of the Taliban fighters congregating close to the Duran Line to enter Afghanistan, fund raising events, transfer of dead bodies for mass burial and treatment of injured Taliban in Pakistani hospitals are emerging and are widely available", Isaczai added.

    Afghanistan has pointed out on several occasions about Pakistan's role in adding fuel to the fire and supporting the Taliban; Pakistan, however, has been denying these claims, so much so, that Pakistan's National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf reported to have said in a press briefing, "We are beginning to see a very conscious, deliberate effort by the Afghan government to scapegoat Pakistan".

    While Pakistan may choose to deny the claims of Afghanistan as much as it wants, a recent hashtag trend of #SanctionPakistan over social media globally shows that in public perception, Pakistan is being held accountable for supporting the Taliban.

    On Monday (9 August), #SanctionPakistan was trending on social media globally, and majorly it was trending in Afghanistan, Canada, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sweden, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Germany.

    In each of these countries, more than three lakh tweets were recorded using the hashtag trend #SanctionPakistan, except in Germany, where the tweet counts for the trend was more than two lakh.

    Even the Canadian diplomat Chris Alexander tweeted using the #SanctionPakistan and said, "Pakistan's invasion of Afghanistan constitutes an armed attack and act of aggression under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The international community must take action under Articles 41 or 42 to uphold international law and the rules-based international order."

    #SanctionPakistan was not just a Twitter storm or a social media trend; people living in various parts of the world, including Afghans, came out on the streets to protest against Pakistan, calling out United Nations to impose sanctions on Pakistan for their involvement in Afghanistan-Taliban conflict. Images of these protests emerged on social media from Sweden, Sacramento and Paris.

    Lately, on 9 August, Vice President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh responded to Canadian diplomat Alexander's tweet which urged that Pakistan's invasion of Afghanistan deserved the same response as the Soviet's invasion of 1979 with armed resistance, international condemnation and sweeping sanctions, to which Saleh said, "Minister Chris Alexander, it is just the beginning. We needed time to get passed from the "shock period". It is on the way. The Afghan way."

    Vice President Saleh's response hint that Afghanistan sooner or later will consider sanctioning Pakistan if Islamabad continues to provide assistance to the Taliban.

    But, if at all Afghanistan sanctions Pakistan, is Pakistan, in these challenging times of pandemic, prepared to bear the impact of any sanction, with their already crumbling economy?

    Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the past, too, had put restrictions and reduced trade with each other. For example, in FY16, Pakistan's export to Afghanistan was around $1.43 billion, which reduced to $1.27 billion in FY17. During this period, Afghanistan developed its trade relations with India, Iran and others. In fact, in 2018, Pakistan had lost about 50 per cent of its market share in Kabul to India, as India successfully penetrated the market.

    But, if we look at Pakistan's overall export to Afghanistan during July-June 2020/21, which was recorded at $983.295 million as against the previous fiscal year during July-June 2019/20 recorded at $890.052 million, we witness an increase of 10.47 per cent.

    Moreover, Pakistan was further looking to increase its trade with Afghanistan this year. Abdul Razak Dawood, the commerce adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said in an interview reported by Bloomberg in May 2021 that Pakistan has been looking to increase its trade with Afghanistan and other countries in Central Asia.

    Dawood mentioned that Pakistan was looking forward to growing its trade with five landlocked Central Asian nations — Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan—to about $1.5 billion a year from less than a billion in the past decade.

    If Afghanistan, the landlocked country which provides transit routes to Pakistan to reach other Central Asian countries for import and export of goods, decides to close these routes for Pakistan and also decrease their trade with Pakistan, which otherwise had been increasing since 2019, it would be quite a blow to the country's flimsy economy.

    Diksha Yadav is a senior sub editor at Swarajya.

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