By Sajjad Shaukat
Even in the modern world of today, if any country accuses any other country of supporting terrorism or militancy, there is some logic. But, it is quite surprising that Afghanistan continues illogical blame game against Pakistan in this respect. Therefore, Kabul’s such a policy needs analysis.
On May 31, this year, a massive truck bombing of the Afghan capital’s diplomatic section killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds of others, including foreigners. It was the deadliest terror attack in the 16-year-old conflict.
Taliban denied responsibility for the terror attack. But, Afghanistan’s intelligence service accused the Haqqani network by saying that a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan, carried out the attack. Addressing the conference-the “Kabul Process on Peace and Security Cooperation”, held in Kabul on June 6, this year, which was attended by representatives from 26 countries and international organizations, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he would not be drawn “into a blame game.” But, he left no stone unturned in reviving the old blame game against Pakistan. Ghani, criticized Pakistan for a lack of cooperation in promoting Afghan peace and alleged that Taliban insurgents are using sanctuaries on Pakistani soil to wage the insurgency in Afghanistan.
In the same speech, President Ghani offered peace talks to the Afghan Taliban by reiterating his preconditions such as recognition of the Afghan constitution, continuity of the reforms of educating and advancing the rights of women, and renunciation of violence and linkages with terrorist groups.
A Taliban spokesman rejected Ghani’s latest offer of a peace dialogue by stating that it is another attempt to endorse and prolong foreign occupation of Afghanistan.
The Taliban unofficially maintains its political office in Qatar, but Kabul does not recognize it and has been pushing Qatari authorities to close it down.
Notably, on the same of the conference, a powerful bomb went off at a main mosque in the western city of Herat, killing at least 10 people and wounding many more. Again, Taliban spokesman denied its involvement in connection with the explosion.
However, Pakistan’s special Corps Commander Conference took the stern notice of Afghanistan’s allegations and threats and vowed to defend the country the with full forces.
According to the press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), issued on June 6, 2017, the “Special Corps Commanders Conference presided over by Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa has called for Afghanistan to introspect and not allege Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism…the conference reviewed the security situation under the backdrop of recent terrorism incident in Afghanistan…Strongly condemning the Kabul blast…meeting has expressed complete solidarity with Afghan government…instead of blaming Pakistan, Afghanistan needs to look forward and identify the real issues…Armed forces will defend the country from each challenge and will continue work to establish peace in the region.”
ISPR statement further reported that the meeting took exception to the unwarranted accusations and threats against Pakistan in the aftermath of Kabul blast. While reaffirming continued support to regional peace and stability, the forum reiterated military’s resolve to defend the motherland against all types of threat.
In fact, the US and India do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Owing to America’s double game, trust deficit has deepened between Islamabad and Washington. Therefore, on June 10, last year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met the Pakistan’s former Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz separately.
During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Pakistan’s former Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists. He elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges-inter-tribal linkages and decades—old presence of over three million refugees—blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate”.
In this context, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these groups are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities to destabilize Pakistan. As part of the double game, American CIA, Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan, including Afghanistan through various acts of terrorism in order to fulfill their covert strategic aims against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.
In the recent past, the capture of secret agents of RAW and NDS by Pakistani intelligence agencies might be cited as an instance. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become center of the Great Game due to the ideal location of Balochistan. With the tactical assistance of CIA, particularly Indian RAW is trying to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
While, India, the US and puppet rulers of Afghanistan have always blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan to divert attention from the acts of sabotage, which they have been arranging in Pakistan. Main purpose behind is also to pacify their public, as the US-led countries have failed in their fight against the Taliban who are waging a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In this connection, besides the previous false accusations against Islamabad and Pakistan’s security agencies, blame game of these countries could be judged from some new development.
In this regard, on January 10, 2017, an explosion took place in Governor House Kandhar (Afghanistan) where diplomats of United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also present along with the Governor, Deputy Governor, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other dignities. The blast killed 12 people—five UAE diplomats and injured 18 persons, including Governor of Kandhar and UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan. IGP Abdul Razziq went outside the hall few minutes before the blast. IGP Razziq put blame on Pakistan’s Haqqani network and its primary intelligence agency, ISI on the very next day. The matter was investigated by two committees, consisting of NDS and Afghan government and UAE, including Scotland Yard. IGP Razziq did not cooperate with the investigation teams, even though he was responsible for the security of Governor House.
Online reports disclosed that IGP Abdul Razziq did not enjoy good relations with the Governor over custom collection issue. All illegal taxes were collected by IGP’s dedicated persons, instead of custom officials. Governor wanted to streamline the system to benefit the Afghan government which was not liked by IGP Razziq and developed enmity with the Governor. All this led to blast at Governor House. These developments indicate that explosion could not have occurred without facilitation by IGP Razziq and his men employed at Governor House.
The reports also revealed that Abdul Razziq is a staunch enemy of Pakistan and a dedicated planner and supporter of anti-Pakistan activities. The attack was planned by him to blame Pakistan-based anti-Afghan government group’s involvement in the incident, while the planning was done by Indians who control Razziq, and aim of the incident was also to deteriorate Pakistan and UAE relations.
It is notable that after the recent terror attacks in Pakistan, a statement by the ISPR said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists, living in safe havens in Afghanistan.
The army, which took the lead in dealing with Kabul over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan, citing security reasons.
According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had called Gen. John Nicholson, commander of America’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan, perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.
Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organizations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.
In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.
Taking cognizance of the terror assaults, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies (Tribal areas).
It is mentionable that the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.
Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border and to control the border crossings. In this context, the strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.
Meanwhile, during his visit to the Pak-Afghan border regions in Mohmand and Orakzai agencies, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Bajwa who was given a detailed briefing on security arrangements, cross-border terrorist threat and recent terrorist attacks from across on the Pakistani posts (From Afghanistan) stated on March 25, 2017 that fencing on the Pak-Afghan border has commenced and the border areas of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies will be given first priority, as they are high-threat zones. He further added that Pakistan Army would employ all resources required for the defence of the country.
It is noteworthy that during the sixth Heart of Asia Conference which was held in the Indian city of Amritsar on December 3 and 4, 2016 proved fruitless in achieving its goals due to secret diplomacy of the US, India and Afghanistan owing to the blame game, especially of New Delhi and Kubal against Islamabad.
During his opening remarks, following American secret strategy in Asia, in his frenzy and ferocious speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at Pakistan on terrorism as the central subject of the moot.
Speaking in the Indian tone, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists and cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan. By snubbing a $500 million pledge from Pakistan for development projects in Afghanistan, he said, “This amount can be spent to contain extremism…Afghanistan suffered the highest number of casualties last year.”
Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz who also participated in the conference slammed baseless accusations of Modi and Ghani on Islamabad and called for evolving a joint and purposeful strategy for lasting peace in Afghanistan and to combat terrorism in the region. He explained, “It is simplistic to blame only one country for the recent upsurge in violence. We need to have an objective and holistic view…peaceful resolution to all the longstanding issues is the only way forward for regional cooperation and connectivity…Pakistan is ready to extend every kind of cooperation for lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
The adviser added that peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban had not produced positive results, adding that Pakistan was making a serious effort to facilitate peace talks through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG). He urged all QCG members to continue their efforts for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban.
Addressing the conference, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan allegations against Pakistan. He stated that Afghanistan is the pivot of the conference and the agenda of the conference should not be hijacked. He added that being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together. He also said that Sartaj Aziz’s speech at the conference was friendly and constructive.
It is of particular attention that the armed forces of Pakistan have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad which have also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.
Besides, since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in Balochistan.
Nevertheless, peace has been restored in Karachi, Balochistan and other provinces of Pakistan, including the tribal areas. But, recent blasts in Balochistan and other regions of the country show that the US-led India, Afghanistan and Israel have again started acts of sabotage in to destabilize Pakistan and to sabotage the Pak-China CPEC project.
Returning to our earlier discussion, in pursuance of anti-Pakistan agenda, President Ashraf Ghani has only revived Afghanistan’s illogical blame game against Pakistan in order to conceal the reality that external secret agencies, including Afghan intelligence are sponsoring acts of terrorism in Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations