Incompetence or Complicity? Kabul’s Role in controlling TTP leadership living in Afghanistan

DND Thought CenterIncompetence or Complicity? Kabul's Role in controlling TTP leadership living in Afghanistan

DND Report

Two more sons of soil sacrificed their lives for the motherland on May 26, 2024, when leading his troops from the front, Captain Hussain Jahangir along with another brave son of soil, Havildar Shafiq Ullah embraced martyrdom (Shahadat). Since January 1, 2024, more than 60 sons in uniform have traded the future of the country with their lives. The latest incident took place in Hassan Khel, Peshawar District.

   

According to credible information, the Hassan Khel Operation was conducted after receiving information that terrorists came from Afghanistan and were present at the location and troops effectively engaged the terrorists’ location, as a result of which five terrorists were sent to hell, while three terrorists got injured. This was not the first and may not be the last event of such nature when the security forces of Pakistan eliminated terrorists and our brave soldiers laid their lives.

Circumstances indicate that Pakistan is now losing hope that the Afghan Interim government would help to solve the problem of the usage of Afghan soil against Pakistan and the press talk and ‘off the record talk’ of Pakistan Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi in Lahore after the news of the martyrdom of more sons of soil was flashed in the media. He was firm and strongly demanded that Afghanistan take “action” against the terror group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and hand over TTP chief, Noor Wali Mehsud who is living in Afghanistan and launching attacks on Pakistan from Afghan soil. Naqvi said that the TTP was behind the attack on Chinese nationals in Besham. Naqvi voiced serious concerns about the use of Afghan soil for attacks on Chinese nationals. “This is a matter of grave concern for us,” he stated. He warned the Afghan interim government that terrorists are exploiting the weaknesses of Afghanistan’s interim government, creating escalating threats to Pakistan’s security from across the border and cross-border threats are increasingly complicating Pakistan’s national security.

Several foreign and local security experts always claim that the Afghan Taliban since the 90s used cross-border terrorism as leverage for negotiations with legitimate governments

The skyrocketing surge in terrorist attacks has become a reality and it can be linked with the resettlement of terrorists in Pakistan under the PTI’s regime but an unbiased and neutral investigation of 100 plus Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) reveals stressful and disturbing indicators and one of such revelations is a rise of terrorism took place when the Pakistan’s interim government took action against smuggling of edibles as well as of USD currency to Afghanistan. A study reveals a strong linkage between border management; the abolition of the old border crossing system and the introduction of a proper documentation regime (visa/passport); sending illegal foreigners to their country of origin and control over abuse of Afghan Transit Trade and instant rise of infiltration of terrorists from Afghan soil. Several foreign and local security experts always claim that the Afghan Taliban since the 90s used cross-border terrorism as leverage for negotiations with legitimate governments and countries of Central Asia bordering Afghanistan in the past also expressed the same opinions. Sources in intelligence networking believe that an attack on Chinese citizens in Besham and an increase in infiltration of terrorists from Afghan soil might be linked with this strategy. Experts are of the view that the exodus of terrorists from Afghanistan to Pakistan could be part of the same strategy to put pressure on Pakistan to open borders for smuggling and keep abusing Afghan Transit Trade and to compel Pakistan to accept the Afghan Interim Government as the legitimate government.

Another development that is also quite weird is the role of certain political parties within Pakistan having strong links with Afghan Transit Trade and Afghan Interim Government that are also demanding the abolition of the visa regime between Pakistan and Afghanistan and opening the border without proper checking for goods transports that is more or less a demand to legitimize smuggling of edibles to Afghanistan. Many of such political parties are part of protests at the Chaman Border which is the biggest point for illegal transportation of goods (misuse of Afghan Transit Trade as well as huge smuggling of wheat, edible oil, sugar, grains, and meat to Afghanistan). Can we say that the Afghan Interim government is putting multipronged pressures on Pakistan to get desirous results —- open trade without checks and entry of everybody without visa and passport?

Why is Pakistan losing hope for support from the Afghan Interim Government?

Attack on Chinese citizens in Besham earned a bad name for Pakistan which is in the phase of inviting foreigners to invest in Pakistan under the SIFC initiative. On March 26, 2024, Chinese engineers were traveling in the Besham area and they were en route to their camp in the Dasu Hydel Project location. Their vehicle was hit by an explosive-laden vehicle, coming from the opposite direction, on the Karakoram Highway resulting in the death of all boarding the vehicle. A massive crackdown was started after this grave incident and top intelligence agencies supported the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in unearthing the culprits behind this suicide attack. Within a week, CTD confirmed that the attack was the work of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) living in Afghanistan. CTD successfully got hold of the main facilitator who brought the suicide bomber from Afghanistan. It was revealed that an explosives-laden vehicle was brought through the Chaman Border (where now law enforcement agencies are checking everybody and politicians are crying for such checking) to Dara Zinda town in Dera Ismail Khan district and a sum of Rs250,000 was paid for this work. The vehicle was non-custom paid and was parked at a petrol station for a fee of Rs500 per day. Interrogation of arrested persons revealed that one terrorist namely Hazrat Bilal who was already wanted in prior attacks on Chinese engineers that took place in 2021 in almost the same area where the recent attack took place was in contact with Adil Shehbaz, Muhammad Shafiq Qureshi, Zahid Qureshi and Nazeer Hussain of district Mansehra. Further interrogation of Adil Shehbaz confirmed that the attack was planned in Afghanistan and the Afghan Taliban had prior information of this operation. Adil Shehbaz confessed his direct role in the execution of the Besham attack. According to sources, all information was shared with the Chinese embassy and consulate general in Pakistan and the Chinese appreciated the swift action of intelligence agencies for nabbing the culprits of the unfortunate incident. Sources in the foreign office confirmed that all information was also shared with the Afghan Interim Government but Afghan officials categorically rejected the investigation of Pakistani counter-terrorism networking and Afghan Defence instantly released a statement rejecting Pakistan’s claim that Afghans were involved in an attack on Chinese engineers. Instead of accepting the findings of the investigation, the Afghan minister refused to take any action against those whose names were provided by the government of Pakistan to the Afghan government.

On the other hand, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major (now Lt. General) General Ahmed Sharif confirmed that suicide bomb attack was planned in Afghanistan, and that the bomber was an Afghan national. He expressed his concerns that despite repeated demands and sharing of evidence, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continued to operate from Afghanistan although Pakistan shared credible evidence, but no action was taken.

This is very unfortunate that Pakistan not only took the burden of Afghan Jihad in the early 80s and faced huge economic and social losses rather Pakistan also played a pivotal role in securing peace for Afghanistan always and helped the Afghan interim government at all levels but the Afghan government seems careless or a part of the problem what Pakistan is facing in the shape of terrorism.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorist incidents orchestrated from Afghan soil, wherein, terrorists from Afghanistan attempt to infiltrate through the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border and target Security Forces as well as innocent civilians but security forces are pushing back terrorists and only in one month 21 April to 21 May) 29 terrorists were killed and our sons in uniform sacrificed their lives but fought gallantly. The nation understands that Pakistan’s security forces are determined and remain committed to securing the borders and ensuring the safety of its citizens against the menace of terrorism. However, the Afghan Interim government instead of helping Pakistan is expressing explicitly that it does not care what Pakistan is facing and its demands from Pakistan are opening up transportation while forgetting what trucks are carrying to and from Pakistan, reversing the old system of border crossing in which there is no need of visa or passport, recognize Afghan Interim Government as legitimate Afghan government and let Afghans enter Pakistan without proper checking.

The grave situation that Pakistan is facing and the response Islamabad is receiving from Kabul is surely compelling many in the corridors of decision-makers that the Afghan government is not incompetent to control TTP leadership living in Afghanistan rather Kabul’s Interim Government is part of the problem and is the the the the encouraging terrorists to enter Pakistan and attack vital interest of Islamabad. This may be a misunderstanding but it could be a real understanding of the situation that Pakistan is facing. In both ways, the Afghan government is losing the trust of Islamabad which had been the strongest support for the Afghan Taliban since the first rule of the Afghan Taliban in 90s.

 

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