The potential collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s return to power following the US withdrawal could have severe implications for Pakistan, and the region at large. To assess these potential consequences of the US withdrawal, Wikistrat launched a series of three simulations. We are happy to share with you the first installment of the series, assessing the implications on Pakistan.
From June 14 to June 19, 2021, Wikistrat ran an online simulation exploring the impact of different post-US withdrawal scenarios on Pakistan. Over 50 South Asia experts took part in the simulation, which explored the potential implications of different scenarios and assessed their probability and risk for Pakistan and the region.
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A Refugee Crisis on Pakistan’s Borders is highly likely. Most experts believe that a refugee crisis on Pakistan’s borders six months after the US withdrawal is a highly likely scenario. This would pose major economic risks to Pakistan and would force it to face a difficult decision about how many refugees to let in.
The majority of the experts assess that it is unlikely that the Peace Process will come back to life, but it would be advantageous for Pakistan if there is an actual peace settlement. In addition, if Pakistani facilitation would indeed be part of future talks, Pakistan-US relations could improve as Washington would likely praise Islamabad for moving the peace process forward.
Most experts believe that it is plausible that India would reach out to the Taliban given New Delhi’s recognition that the Taliban is a powerful actor. However, any India-Taliban engagement is unlikely to advance very far due to deep strategic and ideological differences.
China’s outreach to the Taliban could benefit Pakistan and boost Pakistan-China relations. Such a move would deliver a political boost to Pakistan, as most Pakistanis support CPEC and want it expanded to Afghanistan and would provide economic opportunities for Pakistan by strengthening connectivity with Afghanistan.
Many experts believe a Taliban takeover of Kabul would poison US-Pakistan relations as Washington and Islamabad would blame each other for an outcome that is damaging to the interests of both countries. Such a development would also present problems for Pakistan.