- Policy on Taliban
1996 was crucial for Bhutto’s policy on Afghanistan when Pakistan-backed extremely religious group Taliban took power in Kabul in September. She continued her father’s policy on Afghanistan taking aggressive measures to curb the anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan. During this time, many in the international community at the time, including the United States government, viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilise Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian Republics, according to author Steve Coll.
He claims that her government provided military and financial support for the Taliban, even sending a small unit of the Pakistan Army into Afghanistan. Benazir had approved the appointment of Lieutenant-General Naseem Rana who she affectionately referred to him as “Georgy Zhukov”; and had reported to her while providing strategic support to Taliban. During her regime, Benazir Bhutto’s government had controversially supported the hardline Taliban, and many of her government officials were providing financial assistance to the Taliban. Fazal-ur-Rehman, a right-wing cleric, had a traditionally deep influence on Bhutto as he convinced and later assisted her to help the regime of Taliban she established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In a reference written by American scholar, Steve Coll in Ghost Wars, he dryly put it: “Benazir Bhutto was suddenly the matron of a new Afghan faction—the Taliban.”
Under her government, Pakistan had recognised the Taliban regime as legitimate government in Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to open an embassy in Islamabad. In 1996, the newly appointed Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef presented her diplomatic credentials However, in 2007, she took an anti-Taliban stance, and condemned terrorist acts allegedly committed by the Taliban and their supporters.