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Tuesday July 16, 2024

Battling terror

By Editorial Board
September 08, 2023

Two recent incidents and a statement by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar point to the fact that the Taliban government in Afghanistan is answerable for a lot of things, including the rise in terrorism in Pakistan. On Wednesday, the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham was closed after an exchange of fire between the security forces of the two countries over the construction of a bunker on the Afghan side. Reports indicate that Pakistani authorities had requested the Afghan side to stop the construction as it was a violation of international law but they did not entertain the request. In another incident, heavy clashes took place between Pakistan’s security forces and militants in a border town of Chitral Valley after a large number of militants affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and apparently equipped with the latest weapons entered the border villages and attacked two Pakistani military posts located close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the general area of the Kalash Valley. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), 12 terrorists were killed in clashes with the security forces but in the course of the attack four soldiers were martyred. Earlier this week, caretaker PM Kakar had said that US military equipment left behind during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan had fallen into militant hands and ultimately made its way to the TTP. From night-vision goggles to firearms, the TTP is said to be using this equipment to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

This is all very alarming for a country that has had to see through years of military operations against terrorists, losing thousands of soldiers and civilians alike in the process. The Torkham incident is a clear reminder that the Afghan Taliban are not bothered about any international law and, while Pakistan has so far shown a lot of restraint, the Afghan Taliban regime’s attitude has been wanting. The attack in Chitral is equally if not more worrying. The TTP returning to haunt the country is not a good omen, and for this too the Afghan government needs to realize that the safe havens provided to the TTP on Afghan soil are directly responsible for terror in Pakistan, with the TTP and its affiliated groups seemingly try to make headway into settled areas of Pakistan. The ISPR has explained that terrorists’ movement and concentration in the Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had “already been picked up and were timely shared with the interim Afghan government”. Unfortunately, no action was taken by the Afghan side to stop the terrorist movement. Experts have also wondered how the TTP could have gotten their hands on Nato equipment without the knowledge – some would say collusion – of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

The solution to this is not strikes inside Afghanistan as some are suggesting, but to perhaps get other countries on board like China, the US, Saudi Arabia and others that have influence in the region and also on Afghan finances so that the Afghan regime is made to understand that this cannot continue much longer. At the end of the day, it is Pakistan that is still paying the price of the war on terror and then the fall of Kabul. The US and Nato forces’ hasty withdrawal strengthened terrorist groups in the region while giving the Afghan Taliban carte blanche to do anything both inside their own country and at the border areas with Pakistan. While Pakistan strengthens its resolve to take on terror – as has been articulated by both the civilian and military leaderships – it needs the Afghan side to choke off air supply to the TTP. There is no other way.