Wednesday April 17, 2024

Cross-border attacks

By Editorial Board
February 09, 2022

A latest report by UN experts has highlighted that Al Qaeda’s past ties to the Afghan Taliban have the potential of making Afghanistan a safe haven for extremists. The report to the UN Security Council by the panel of experts monitoring sanctions against Al Qaeda and IS – circulated on Feb 7 – says that some terrorists groups are now enjoying greater freedom in Afghanistan than at any other time in recent history. The report is wide-ranging and should be taken seriously as it is not from Nato or the US that occupied Afghanistan for twenty years. If extremists linked to both Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State are operating in Afghanistan, this does not spell an auspicious future for peace in this region. We have seen in the past couple of weeks various terrorist attacks in Pakistan whose links are said to be based across the western borders of the country. On February 6, five Pakistan soldiers lost their lives after terrorists inside Afghanistan opened fire on troops in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district. The use of Afghan soil by terrorists for activities against Pakistan is highly condemnable and it is time the Afghan government looked into this seriously.

If the TTP are able to further cement their foothold in this region, the prospects of peace will be doomed – and will quite contrary to what we have been led to believe. This region has remained turbulent for over 40 years now, and after the Taliban takeover in Kabul in August 2021, we were informed that now all will live happily ever after. The Afghan Taliban were supposed to take care of all terrorist groups in Afghanistan and we hoped they would not allow the use of their soil for terrorism. Then after six months it dawned on us that terrorist groups are still operating from across the border. The TTP has been leading an insurgency in Pakistan for at least 15 years, and Pakistan has conducted numerous operations to root them out. The government of Pakistan had seemingly expected that once the Afghan Taliban were in full control of Afghanistan, the problem of terrorism would be eliminated. But it seems that the TTP is making significant gains in Pakistan too by staging repeated attacks at will. Alarmingly, their operational capability does not seem to have diminished in any way.

Moreover, the UN report says that “there are no recent signs that the Taliban have taken steps to limit the activities” of terrorist fighters in the country. This is a disturbing situation; if terrorist groups are enjoying freedom in Afghanistan – under whatever pretext – its immediate fallout reaches Pakistan. Since the Afghan Taliban are making efforts to gain legitimacy and international recognition, they must fulfill their promises to root out safe havens of terrorists in their country. A continued ability of terrorist groups to mount attacks in Pakistan should be a major cause of concern for the Afghan Taliban too, as Pakistan has been their vocal supporter on international forums and has repeatedly asked the world community to offer humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The security situation in the region is becoming more complex by the day and is also a diplomatic nightmare that needs swift solution before further damage is done and lives lost.