Pakistan's Afghan Policy "The world must stop Pakistan from helping the Taliban." Those are the words neither of Afghan President Hamid Karzai nor the NATO commander in Afghanistan. They are the title of a recent piece by a Pakistani journalist, the world-renowned expert on Taliban and Afghanistan, Ahmed Rashid. According to Rashid the Pakistani province of Baluchistan is the nerve center of the Taliban movement. ISI-run training camps, ammunition dumps, meeting places for the shura (leadership council) and tacit connivance of the Pakistani border guards form the basis of Pakistani help. A host of madrassas provide new fighters to the Taliban cause and whenever things get too hot in Afghanistan Taliban "recuperate" across the border. The October 2006 USIP (United State Institute of Peace) report on Afghanistan reinforces what Rashid says. The report talks about "sanctuaries and support networks" for the Taliban present in Pakistan. The roots of the Pak-Afghan tensions lie in history. Afghanistan was created as a buffer state between the British and Russian empires. The international boundary line between Afghanistan and the British empire, inherited in 1947 by Pakistan, is the Durand line. This line divided ethnic Pashtun tribes into two separate countries. Afghan governments never really recognized the Durand line and have always laid claim to the Pashtun and Baluch regions of Pakistan. The newly independent Pakistani state in 1947 faced tensions and conflicts on both its borders - the war and conflict with India over Kashmir and the conflict over the Durand line with Afghanistan. As an answer to this problem the Pakistani military came up with the concept of 'strategic depth' - the belief that Pakistan's elongated geography and the lack of a hinterland hindered its military from fighting a prolonged war with India and thus the need to fall back on a friendly neighboring country. The need to be able to stand up to India in any future conflict became tied up with the necessity of having a friendly ally (read 'pliant state') in Afghanistan. As part of this belief and policy, and even before the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Pakistan government and military started providing refuge to opponents of the pro-Soviet communist government of Kabul. The Pakistani policy was to aid and support the anti-Soviet Afghan Mujahideen by allowing them to function from Pakistani territory. The support given by the United States, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf helped Pakistan move towards its goal. A whole jihadi infrastructure of madrassas, training camps and large ammunition dumps came up as a result. 1989 saw the Geneva Accords and the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan and America lost interest in Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, had still not achieved its goal of a friendly government in Afghanistan. In the civil war which followed the new character that emerged was an ISI protégé, the Taliban. The Taliban were preferred to other mujahideen because they were Pashtuns, were united and were willing to support Pakistani military's aims not just in Afghanistan but even in Kashmir. After fighting and not winning three wars with India the Pakistani military establishment believed that covert war, of the kind used to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, was ideal for adoption in Kashmir. Camps used to train the Taliban and other mujahideen along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border were now used to also train jihadis for Kashmir. Whenever things became too hot for Pakistan i.e. whenever the Indian government protested against 'cross border terrorism' or there was international pressure (especially from the United States) these camps were simply shifted across the border. Ties with international jihadi groups started with the ties developed with the Al Qaeda. Over the years this jihadi infrastructure has grown and spawned more terrorist organizations, the majority operating in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen, Harakatul Mujahideen, Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Muhammad are just a few names. Taliban's links within Pakistan extend beyond the military to the political parties. The Taliban studied in Deobandi madrassas run by the the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, a political party which is part of the Islamist ruling coalition, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the North West Frontier Province. The costs of Pakistan's Afghan policy have been immense. Strategic depth and covert war were supposed to help Pakistan stand up to India, have friendly relations with Afghanistan and win back Kashmir with the least cost to Pakistan itself. Instead what happened was the 'Talibanization' of Pakistan - a massive jihadi infrastructure which provides succor to both international and domestic jihadi groups and a 'Kalashnikov-drugs culture' in its North West tribal regions. Domestically Pakistan has seen the rise in popularity and support of Islamist parties in the North West tribal regions of Pakistan and the rise in sectarian violence. Tensions with Afghanistan and India have increased not lessened. International pressure on Pakistan, especially since 9/11, to stop aiding Taliban and other jihadi groups has increased. It is possible for Pakistan to change its Afghan and Kashmir policies, to stop aiding the Taliban and to seek diplomatic and political ways to solve the conflicts with its neighbors. However, if the Pakistan' military and ISI still believe that the only way to stand up to India is by a covert war in Kashmir and a friendly regime in Afghanistan; and if they believe that the United States and Europe do not have the staying power in Afghanistan then Pakistan might continue with its present policy.