1st Edition

The Troubled Triangle US-Pakistan Relations under the Taliban’s Shadow

By Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai Copyright 2022
    192 Pages
    by Routledge India

    192 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book is a comprehensive analysis of the Taliban, and how it has affected post-9/11 U.S.-Pakistan relations. It analyzes the genesis of the Taliban, the rationale behind their emergence and how they consolidated their rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. It examines the U.S. policies towards the Taliban in the post 9/11 era and Pakistan’s role as an ally in their efforts towards dismantling Taliban rule in Afghanistan—from Obama’s ‘fight and talk’ policy to the Doha peace agreement in 2020. It also discusses the outcomes of the Global War on Terror (GWoT), as well as the Taliban’s response to the U.S.-led ISAF and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The volume brings into focus Pakistan’s policies vis-à-vis the Taliban following the start of GWoT and how it pushed the U.S.-Pakistan relations to its lowest ebb; and then its role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table which resulted in the U.S.-Taliban deal in Doha in February 2020.

    The author introduces a ‘new balance of threat’ theory and expands on its applicability through the Taliban case study. The book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of U.S. foreign policy, international relations, peace and conflict studies, strategic studies, history, diplomatic studies and South Asian politics.

    1. The U.S.-Pakistan Troubled Relationship: A Historical Overview, 2. Genesis, Rise, Struggle, Rule and Organizational Structure of the Taliban, 3. U.S. and the Taliban: Tracing the U.S. Policy, 4. Pakistan’s Tilt towards the Taliban: Ins and Outs, 5. The U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement and Pakistan, 6. U.S.-Pakistan and the Taliban: From a Delicate Balance to a New Entente


    Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai is Senior Research Associate for South Asia and Central Asia at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad-based think tank, Pakistan. He has widely published on South and Central Asia, Taliban, Pakistan foreign policy, U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan, terrorism, great power politics in the region, Afghan peace process, Pak-Afghan relations, and China’s interests in Afghanistan. He regularly contributes pieces to various national and international newspapers and magazines. He is regular columnist at Daily Times, Pakistan. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from University of Malakand (Dir), M.A. in Political Science from University of Peshawar, Peshawar, and M. Phil in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

    "As Afghanistan enters a yet more brutal phase in its long running civil war this brilliant new study gives us an in depth look at the politics and motives of the major players. A timely and comprehensive study of all the moving parts and personalities that have constituted the long civil war in Afghanistan. Zafar Yousufzai brings fresh insight, analysis and detail into his excellent study of the origins and continuation of the Afghan wars. I highly recommend this book."

    Ahmed Rashid, Author of Taliban, The New York Times bestseller


    "Zafar Yousafzai assesses an extremely important topic in this book — the relationships between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. It’s particularly interesting to read Yousafzai’s examination of the seemingly constant revisions of these relationships. His discussion of terrorism is also an important contribution. This is an important book for those interested in South Asian politics and conflicts and the complicated relationships between the United States and Pakistan. The author argues that the U.S. has consistently overlooked key aspects of Pakistan and their regional positions. Students, scholars, diplomats and military personnel will find this book to be a valuable contribution to the study of South Asia."

    Thomas Johnson, Author of the Taliban Narratives and Director Program for Culture and Conflict Studies Naval Postgraduate School, California

    "The book contributes to debate and discussion on went wrong in Afghanistan and how the Taliban forced the United States to seek a negotiated withdrawal, leading to collapse of the regime they had cultivated for two decades. As focus turns on ‘defeat’, strategic blunders and wrong political choices, scholars and policy makers may not miss the Afghan fault-lines and interplay of regional geopolitics. This work is timely, insightful and helps getting answers of some of the troubling questions about the longest war in modern history."

    Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Professor of Political Science, LUMS and Author of several books on Pakistan and Afghanistan

    "This book, as rightly claimed by the author, presents a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Taliban on Pakistan’s relations with the United States. This bilateral relationship is an important one considering Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace processes but also to understand the degree to which Islamabad has been able to influence the Afghan Taliban. After examining the evolution of the US-Pakistan relations since 1947, the author has devoted much-needed attention to the central focus of his research, i.e., post-9/11 relations between the US and Pakistan. In my opinion, a key contribution of this book is regarding Pakistan’s tilt towards the Taliban which the author has done by analysing a variety of factors, including Pakistan’s historical connection with the Taliban. I strongly recommend this book for not just the students of South Asian Studies but also policymakers in South Asia and beyond."

    Zahid Shahab Ahmed, Deakin University, Australia

    "In the aftermath of 9/11, America filled the skies over Afghanistan with thunderous warplanes, and statements from U.S. officials dominated global airwaves. The so-called war against terrorism almost overwhelmed history itself, for a time, as the people who write the storyline of events — journalists, academics — navigated a new world of "with us, or against us." Too many writers sided with the official narratives, and too many voices from the countries downrange of American firepower were omitted. Now, in the wake of America's humbling exit from Afghanistan, new histories are emerging. Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai’s fascinating analysis is an exemplary case in point, written on the cusp of the Taliban takeover, with a matter-of-fact accounting of how the last two Decades looked from Pakistan's point of view. He explains why Pakistan backed the Afghan insurgents in their successful campaign against the United States and its allies, and describes Islamabad’s efforts to keep good relations with Washington, D.C., despite their differing views about Afghanistan. Yousafzai’s ambitious work encompasses a broad sweep of events, and deserves its place on the bookshelves of revised narratives that will emerge as South Asians recover from this violent chapter of their history."

    Graeme Smith, Author of The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan and Senior Consultant, International Crisis Group.

    "Yousafzai's book is a timely and valuable addition to an important subject that has seen extensive scholarship of late, but missed diverse indigenous perspectives. He brings one such voice, and presents fresh insights and sharp analysis on the origins of the Taliban, the inception of what is called neo-Taliban, as well as the effects the group has had on the Pakistan - U.S relationship. Interestingly, Yousafzai outlines the circumstances that have either assisted or hampered the transformation of the Taliban, which makes it all the more relevant for today's political climate. The scholarship is also significant because it provides an authentic and ingenious touch which has largely been missing from contemporary analyses on Afghanistan, and one can see in his analyses a deep awareness and sense of belonging that gives us a fascinating look into a topic we usually see from the perspective of outsiders."

    Amina Khan, Director, CAMEA, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan


    "It is not easy to address the four decades-long complexities of Afghan history, regional dynamics and great power rivalries. It is even more difficult to do it diligently as a Pakistani analyst given the constraints on freedom of information and access to sensitive data. But Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai has climbed the rough mountains and pierced the armor of confidentiality to give us a close-up look at Pakistan and Afghanistan, the strategic shifts, policy drivers and raw results. With the Taliban back in the saddle after 20 years of trying, an American pullback, regional hedging and uncertain future, Yousafzai provide food for thought as well as insights that will help researchers and policy wonks try to learn and make sense of a convoluted story still unfolding."

    Omar Samad, Former Ambassador of Afghanistan and Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council


    "The Troubled Triangle is a timely and comprehensive guide to one of the most pressing issues in global politics today. It thoughtfully illuminates the lengthy and contentious history of Pakistani and American efforts to manage relations with one another and to shape the future of Afghanistan. Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai has written an important book on a critical subject."

    Robert D. Crews, Stanford University