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Top Story

July 15, 2016
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Sanctuaries for Afghan militants to be squeezed

Top Story

July 15, 2016

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News analysis

While inexperienced subcommittees in the US Congress level wild and outrageous accusations against Pakistan, the military leadership here is moving towards addressing the persistent problem of militant attacks inside Afghanistan that may have originated from Pakistani soil.

As the army chief Gen Raheel Sharif closes in on three years in office, is this the final step in the long-pledged action against militants of ‘all hues and colour’?The corps commanders’ conference in Rawalpindi this week has made headlines for what has been deemed the military’s resolve to act against militants using Pakistani soil for attacks inside Afghanistan.

According to the ISPR, “To scrutinise cross-border movement and ensure a strict check on terrorists’ movement, theHowever, it was a statement by the Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on the Eid, during a visit to the frontlines in South and North Waziristan agencies, that signaled the beginning of a new phase in the war against terrorism.

According to the ISPR, Gen Raheel said: “As consolidation goes on and operational dividends optimised for the Pak-Afghan Border region, Pakistan will not allow anyone to use its soil against Afghanistan and directed all commanders, int agencies and LEAs to take concrete measures against the violators.”

The army chief’s words were significant in the context of recent events and in background conversations with security officials were explained in the following way.  “This is the direction we are going to move now, without provoking them [Afghan Taliban and affiliates] to war here,” a senior official said.

“We have to deal with them and stop bloodshed which brings increased pressure and defame Pakistan. It will take time.” The official added: “The Americans are speaking better than before,” referring to the recent visit by a US senate delegation led by John McCain. 

“The Afghan government is impatient and so are Indians but we have chosen this course to move away from old doctrines.” Also quietly welcomed in security circles is the decision taken at the Nato summit in Warsaw to effectively ensure that the Afghan security forces will be fully funded until at least 2020 and to keep roughly 12,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Contrary to opinion in Kabul, the Pakistani security establishment has been apprehensive about what could happen in Afghanistan if the US and Nato troop and funding commitments are withdrawn immediately.

The concern in military and political circles here is that Afghanistan can in no way itself financial support the massive Afghan security forces, but that without those forces being in place, the country could be engulfed by chaos and civil war.

Regarding the decision to squeeze the space for Afghan-centric militants inside Pakistan, the official hope is that the Afghan Taliban will feel the heat as a result and themselves accept that peace talks must be re-started.

With every bombing in Kabul bringing added pressure onto Pakistan, a limit appears to have been reached to the space militants will find here. Militants who do no toe the new line will be punished, while those who do will be judged at the negotiating table.

However, the security official warned: “They (Afghan Taliban) have made inroads here over the decades. Refugee presence means social space for them. We must look at this relationship in new cost-benefit perspective.”

 

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