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EDITORIAL: Four FC soldiers were martyred and six others wounded while busy constructing border fence in Zhob district of Balochistan when they came under attack from Afghanistan-based terrorists. The same day, a group of militants clashed with security forces in the North Waziristan district. Two of them were killed, while a captain and two soldiers also embraced martyrdom. Even though Pakistan has cleaned up its border regions of terrorist outfits, for a while there has been an upsurge in cross-border attacks. In fact, the 27th Report of the UN Analytical Monitoring Team issued last February highlighted the presence of various Pakistan-centric terrorist groups in Afghanistan, noting that the so-called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) based in Afghanistan had carried out more than 100 cross-border attacks between July and October of 2020. The report also expressed concern over the “reunification of [TTP] splinter groups” inside Afghanistan, revealing that “five entities pledged allegiance to TTP in July and August (2020), including the Shehryar Mehsud group, Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA), Hizbul Ahrar, the Amjad Farooqi group and the Usman Saifullah group (formerly known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi).”

Reacting to the latest outrage, the Foreign Office spokesman said the Afghan Embassy has been asked to convey Pakistan’s concerns to the relevant authorities, emphasizing the need to undertake effective measures against organised groups of terrorists operating from the Afghan soil. Furthermore, he said, the Afghan side has been told to follow mutually agreed protocols and standard operating procedures, and avoid recurrence of such incidents in future. However, at this point in time, the Kabul government has worries about its own survival. The US and NATO troop withdrawal from that country is under way. They will be gone by September 11. Hence even if it wants, the government is in no position to take action against TTP terrorists. In fact, considering likely escalation in intra-Afghan fighting, Pakistan needs to prepare better to deal with the spillover effects of another conflict. The border fence being built to check illegal movement of people is about 90 percent complete; it will take a few more months to finish the project. Meanwhile, the impending chaos in Afghanistan will make it more difficult to neutralize Pakistan-specific terrorists.

As regards the overarching issue of returning peace to that war-ravaged country, Pakistan is working alongside big powers: the US, China and Russia. Those countries have their own trepidations about extremist groups using ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan to disturb the peace of this region and beyond. Pakistan is confronted by another problem. As acknowledged by the UN monitoring team’s report, following the merger of five terrorist groups TTP has increased cross-border attacks. It is no secret that Indian intelligence agency, RAW, brought about the unification of TTP splinter groups for the achievement of its declared objective that is to destabilise Pakistan. The member international community, in particular the US, need to take serious notice of this nefarious activity, and stop India from sponsoring terrorism against this country, which holds disastrous consequences for the peace and security of this entire region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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