Pakistan: With friends like these …

The Taliban safe-haven across Afghanistan’s southern border was crucial to the group’s longevity and eventual military success.

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Editorials

August 19, 2021 - 9:27 AM

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

American strategists will be studying for some time how Afghanistan’s U.S.-trained security forces crumbled so quickly before what appeared to be an inferior Taliban militia. One place they should look for answers is Pakistan, whose leader on Monday cheered the Taliban takeover of its northwestern neighbor.

Afghans “have broken the shackles of slavery,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to Indian media. The offhand celebration of the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan came as Mr. Khan denounced English education in Pakistan as promoting cultural control.

That a U.S. security partner would say this out loud certainly raises eyebrows. But the sentiment should not surprise. As Walter Russell Mead notes nearby, a key obstacle to American success in Afghanistan was “unrelenting support for the Taliban from our ‘ally’ in Islamabad.” The Taliban safe-haven across Afghanistan’s southern border was crucial to the group’s longevity and eventual military success.

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