A Hard Choice to Kabul: Afghanistan to Decide Between a Friend and Terrorists

Thu Nov 16 2023
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Haq Nawaz Khan

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By Haq Nawaz Khan

The villagers were gathered to offer condolences and share the grief of assistant sub-inspector Muhammad Ali killed in a terrorist attack on Saturday last in the district. People were busy digging a grave for another son of the soil, who sacrificed his life to protect his homeland.

The slain police officer left behind a widow and four children; 3 sons and a daughter. There was complete silence in the village Garo Shah, Takht Bhia, district Mardan. He was not the first or last one to lay his life in the line of duty.

Pakistani Taliban or the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the attack on the police party in district Tank on Saturday last where 3 policemen including the station house officer Abdul Ali Khan and the ASI Muhammad Alam were killed in the shootout. Terrorists are targeting soldiers, intelligence officials, and police daily. Many children were made orphans and women widows, but there is no slowdown in the terrorist incidents, rather increasing with each passing day. Many terrorist attacks were foiled by the security forces on timely intelligence.

The spike in terrorism in the last two years has strained the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Based on some solid evidence, Pakistan has been asking the interim government of the Afghan Taliban to check cross-border attacks, but their response is too cold or ignored them. This is a serious issue and serving none, but it could create problems for Afghanistan as well. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a long border of over 2400 kilometers, and is a land-locked country, mainly relying on Pakistan.

Reports say there is an unprecedented 80 percent rise in terrorist attacks since the Taliban takeover government in Kabul. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar recently stated a 500 percent increase in suicide bombings during the last 2 years. Pakistan sees Afghan land is being used for terrorist attacks. Time and again, Pakistan has asked the Taliban to act against the terrorists on the Afghan soil.

However, the Taliban has been denying the allegations, arguing that Pakistan’s internal security was not their responsibility. Pakistan should tackle the issue internally by using its forces.

The presence of the banned TTP or other terrorist organizations is posing a serious threat to the security and stability of the region. Mere denial of the issue is not enough to move forward, but it could have serious implications for regional and international peace.

Pakistan says it has shared concrete proof with the Taliban that the terrorists have been using Afghan land to carry out terrorist activities. Some Afghan nationals were sad to be involved in such attacks in Pakistan. In such a scenario, it could not help either side to move forward. The Taliban is facing a number of challenges to strengthen its control over the war-ravaged country. Political Instability and security are the major goals to be achieved, however, the Taliban’s non-serious approach could make them hard to achieve.

Why the Taliban taking the risk of losing a trusted friendly neighbor, who always stood by its side at the most difficult times? Millions of Afghans have been welcomed by Pakistan. Pakistan suffered from the unrest in Afghanistan in the past sacrificing thousands of lives of civilians and security forces.

However, the cold shoulder response from the Afghan side reflects that they are more inclined to the TTP than Pakistan. Another issue is that the Taliban may have little control over the regions along the border. The Islamic State of Khorasan or DAESH Khorasan is another challenging task for the Afghan Taliban, fearing any action against the Pakistani militant groups may defect to join IS-K. However, IS-K is not only a threat to the security of Afghanistan, but to regional and international security as well.

DAESH Khorasan has carried out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan that could be fought jointly. The Taliban claims that it had defeated IS-K in the past and could eliminate it alone. They have rejected offers from a number of countries to help Afghanistan defeat IS-K.

Pakistan is fighting against terrorism and is taking care of the internal threats on its own. Intelligence-based operations or IOBs have been successful as the TTP and other groups could not have any influence or control over certain areas. The TTP policy is attack and run, and here the Afghan Taliban’s role is important as either to fight them or neutralize them.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed a couple of months ago to relocate the militants from the areas close to the Afghan border to other parts of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban faced resistance from some of the militants in TTP. There was no progress on the issue of relocation of Pakistani militants from the regions close to the border.

The prevailing tense situation in the region is not in the interest of both the neighboring countries. Let us there should be serious discussions on the militant threat politically and diplomatically. Finally, both sides will sit across the table to resolve all outstanding issues. Why not now? It is in the interest of both countries to address and resolve each other’s concerns.

How do the Afghan Taliban respond to Pakistan’s calls for controlling these cross-border attacks? The option is given to Kabul to take on the terrorists or face its implications. The Taliban government has not been recognized by the world yet. The major issue is seen as the ambiguous policy of the Taliban.

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