EDITORIAL: Islamabad understands the UN’s (United Nation’s) concerns about TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and other Taliban and AQ (al Qaeda) affiliated terror groups undermining Afghanistan’s neighbours all too well.
According to a report discussed at a Security Council meeting in New York recently, the UN has also finally acknowledged the marriage of convenience, of sorts, between TTP and IS (Islamic State) – even as the Afghan Taliban support one and oppose the other – and, more importantly, that they are now in possession of “Nato-calibre weapons”.
And that some such outfits, especially IS, are looking to further upgrade their strike capability by scouring the black market for high payload drones.
It’s good that these developments are being highlighted at the level of the UN, but if the global body had only consulted with the countries that it is suddenly so worried about, it would’ve been able to gather much more accurate information much sooner.
For, Pakistan has been aware of and crying out loud about, just such things ever since TTP went active again shortly after the Taliban’s victory in Kabul. It turned out that the terror organisation – which found welcome sanctuary in Afghanistan after successive military operations smashed its activities and network in Pakistan – was not sitting idle all these years.
It had also worked out an arrangement with Baloch secessionists, on Afghan soil, and used those “Nato-calibre weapons”, especially night vision goggles and sophisticated sniper rifles, with deadly effect inside Pakistan. Pakistani intelligence also pointed out at the time that these weapons were not only seized from the crumbling Afghan army, but also left behind by fleeing American forces for anybody to find.
The UN report, for whatever reason, did not mention the US contribution, it just pointed to the former Afghan military that melted as the Taliban inched closer to the capital.
The Afghan government has denied all this, of course, but then it’s also ruled out any TTP activity in Pakistan even as the latter has been openly attacking security forces and promptly taking credit for its strikes. This is very worrying because it doesn’t just imply that the Afghan Taliban are not honouring the commitment made to Pakistan, in Doha, ahead of the US withdrawal. If the UN report is to be trusted, Kabul isn’t just looking the other way, it might well be facilitating these militias, whose number one target at this point is Pakistan.
Even IS, which was supposedly concentrating on taking over Afghanistan, has stepped back into the Pakistani theatre. And now we have a very potent security threat to deal with; on top of all the economic/financial problems.
Interestingly, the US government has been mum about these matters for a while. It was Washington’s war-on-terror, after all, which un-bottled this genie in the region. And it’s a bit rich of Uncle Sam to wash its hands of this problem now that the war is over, especially since the Taliban are back in power and now there are dozens of other groups for the neighbourhood to deal with as well.
It seems America and its Nato allies are far too occupied with the Ukraine war to spare any time, much less any resources, for the mess they have left behind here.
This is, ironically, a case of history repeating itself. Washington did the same thing after the last Afghan war, and just packed up and left when the Soviets were defeated; leaving Pakistan to deal with all the volatility across the border.
General Musharraf, president of Pakistan when we hopped onto the war-on-terror bandwagon, reminded then US president George W. Bush of this, and got an assurance that it would not happen again. Yet here we are; the only difference being that the Americans went back with their tail between their legs this time. And now the whole region – Afghanistan as well as its neighbours – are far more vulnerable than last time.
Now that the UN has also sounded the alarm, the big question is what the world’s largest, richest and most powerful countries are going to do about it.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023