August 10th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The battle between the Afghan Taliban and Afghan security forces for control of territory in the war-ravaged country is also being replicated on the ground of cyberspace.
Hashtags in support of the Taliban and counterwise against Pakistan’s proxy war are trending on a daily basis on the social media feeds of users in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The cyberwar between users is picking up steam with reports of Afghan Taliban advancement in several towns and provincial capitals following withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“Expose disruptive role of spoilers i.e. lndia, corrupt Afghan Political leadership and Trans National Terrorist organisations (Al Qaeda, TTP, ISKP) working on the behest of RAW-NDS nexus,” writes twiiter user named Muhammad Zaman with hashtag #PakistanGuarantorOfPeace, which is tending in Pakistan along with another hashtag #SanctionPakistan.
“Pakistan must stop its proxy war in Afghanistan,” writes twitter user Arman, sharing a picture of Afghan Taliban fighters with hashtag #SanctionPakistan.
Earlier, the hashtag #WeStandWithTaliban was trending on the top with 7846 tweets on Pakistan feeds. Another hashtag #UN Security Council where twitter users expressed anger on Pakistan’s exclusion from the United Nations Security Council urgent meeting on the grave situation in Afghanistan. Interestingly, the twitter users claimed that Pakistan was excluded by India, who assumed the presidency of the United Nations on August 1.
“India is playing deadly with their President for UN security Council denied Pakistan’s request in a session to discuss situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is the key actor and route to peace in Afghanistan runs from Pakistan,” twitter user Usman Zulfiqar Ali says in his tweet under #UN Security Council.
“UN Security Council has refused #Pakistan to participate in a meeting about #Afghanistan, despite of that fact Pakistan has suffered a lot due to #Afghan un rest,” another twitter user named Shah says in his tweet.
“Big slap on India’s face by UN Security Council,” writes twitter user Book Smart while sharing a press statement of the UNSC condemning that attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that caused deaths of 9 Chinese nationals and three Pakistani nationals on July 14.
According to renowned author and expert on Taliban affairs Ahmed Rashid, the cyberwar is the result of the extreme nationalism of a segment of society in both countries.
“Some people on both sides are suffering from adherence to an extreme form of nationalism which is undermining relations between the two countries,” Rashid told Voicepk.net.
“Pakistan’s continued support tithe Taliban and the sanctuary they enjoy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has naturally infuriated many Afghans while Pakistan is angry at the confusing presence of Tehrik Taliban Pakistan in Afghanistan who are protected by both Afghan Taliban and Afghan government,” he said.
In view of senior analyst Mubasher Bukhari, the daily top trends concerning the situation in Afghanistan is reflective of an ongoing social media warfare between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The non-Pashtun community in Afghanistan consider Pakistan responsible for the growing power of Afghan Taliban in their homeland,” Bukhari told Voicepk.net.
He warns that the cyberwarfare would increase with time. “The Afghan news channels and social media is seen projecting the successes of Afghan National Defence Secutity Forces in repulsing attacks of the Taliban while social media and news channels in Pakistan report capturing of a district and provincial capital by the Afghan Taliban on a daily basis,” Bukhari points out.
“The main problem for the Afghan Taliban this time is that they were able to take control of territories without any resistance in the past generally except from the late Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Masood and Gen Dostum,”he said.
However, Bukhari said this time around the Afghan security forces who have international support as well, would give a tought fight to the Afghan Taliban.
According to him, things are getting complicated for the Afghan Taliban as they try to retain public support in their heartland. “In a new development, the Afghan Taliban had asked Pakistan to keep the Chaman border open for ease of movement of the impoverished residents living along on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border. Otherwise, the Afghan Taliban threatened that they would completely shut the border crossing,” Bukhari said, adding that the Taliban threat was aimed at winning the hearts of the Afghan population.
On the other hand, Bukhari said, Islamabad wants to allay the anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan. In this regard, Pakistani Prime Minister recently stated he was looking into the matter of the alleged kidnapping of Afghan ambassador’s daughter as his own daughter.
According to the experts, nothing would come out of such peace gestures unless the two neighbouring governments hold negotiations for lasting peace in the region.