Taliban takeover doesn't end anti-Pakistan sentiments among Afghans

During the previous regime in Afghanistan, led by President Ashraf Ghani, anti-Pakistan slogans echoed on the streets of Kabul, with Islamabad accused of fomenting violence and instability in the country by supporting, harbouring, and facilitating terrorists groups in their operations.

The Ashraf Ghani government was also rigid with its consistent blame on Pakistan for working towards instability and unrest in Afghanistan.

While Ghani has been ousted from power by the Afghan Taliban and the US-led NATO forces have also left the country in haste, anti-Pakistan sentiments still prevail among the Afghans.

Thousands of Afghan nationals, who have been evacuated from the Kabul airport to foreign countries, as well the ones who are still present inside Afghanistan, do not agree to giving Islamabad an appreciating shoulder tap on its role over the years.

Soon after the Afghan Taliban took over Afghanistan, social media was abuzz with #SanctionPakistan demanding the international community to hold Islamabad accountable on what they called "supporting the Taliban militants and spreading chaos".

"Pakistan has been an ally to the US. Its given its bases to operate drones. It has facilitated NATO forces and the invaders of Afghanistan. And it has also been aligned with the terror groups. It is because of Pakistan that thousands of innocent lives have been lost and this country has remained as war-wracked graveyard for us. How can we appreciate such a country?" said a local resident of Kabul, speaking on the basis of anonymity.

"We have not forgotten the time of the Soviet invasion. We have not forgotten how youngsters were being trained for militancy by Pakistani forces. Today, we are happy that the foreign invaders are gone. They have been defeated. And because Pakistan was an ally to the US and NATO forces, it has been defeated too," said another local.

While many locals express their disregard for Pakistan, there is a healthy number of people who appreciate the country for giving refuge to over 3.5 million refugees for decades.

"Pakistan has been the world's largest facilitator of Afghan refugees. This has to be appreciated. Almost every Afghan here has relatives in Pakistan. So Pakistan is important. Being a neighbour, we expect Pakistan to help Afghanistan in standing back up on its feet," said Amin Khan, a local resident of Kabul, who has family members living as Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

On the other hand, Afghan nationals in many countries have taken out anti-Pakistan rallies. They have accused Pakistan's military establishment and the intelligence agencies for supporting unrest in Afghanistan which has led to the current Afghan Taliban takeover.

"Pakistan has always supported the Taliban. And it became even more evident when Pakistan refused to open its borders and allow Afghans to flee the country in the worst humanitarian crisis," said Mujtaba Mutamaeen, an Afghan national living in Berlin.

While the Pakistan government maintains that it wants an inclusive government in Afghanistan that is established as per the will of the people of the country, a future strategic or development role in Afghanistan may be a much bigger challenge for Islamabad then it is being anticipated.

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