What happens next in reaction to the gruesome terrorist attack in Peshawar is the question that continues to confound all stakeholders. Here’s a quick assessment of the short term prospects in Pakistan and Afghanistan post the attack.
First, the Pakistan army is likely to ask its domestic proxies like Lashkar-e-Janghvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba and others to layoff for a while in order to prevent taking a further hit to their authority.
Second, Nawaz Sharif’s position will improve relative to his other political opponents like Imran Khan. His stock will also rise vis-a-vis Raheel Sharif who will now have to face a backlash questioning the purpose and effectiveness of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Third, there is a possibility of a truce between Kabul and Islamabad as a result of which Pakistan will be asked to reign in the Haqqani Network in exchange of getting Afghanistan’s buy in for going after Maulana Fazalullah, believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. But this truce is likely to remain temporary as the Pakistan army will have to consider the entrenched interests of its agents in Afghanistan at a later point of time. In the event that such a truce does not shape up, tensions will rise between all the combatants (state and non-state) along the Durand border.
Fourth, acceptance of the US drone strikes as a measure to eliminate terrorists will now increase. This is because their legitimacy will be pitched against the horrendous acts that the Taliban perpetrates.
Fifth, genuine strikes against the terrorists along the Durand Line will worsen the security situation in that region. This is likely to divert Pakistan’s attention from its border with India for a short period.