Dated: November 27, 2015
In the wake of intensive military operations i.e. Zarb-e-Azab in North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies and Khyber 1&2 in Khyber Agency, miilitants groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mahsud Taliban, Lashkar e Islam, Jamaat ul Ahrar, Al Qaida,Turkistan Islamic Party(TIP), Islamic Movement of Uzbakistan shifted to safe heavens in Khost, Paktika, Paktiya and Nangarhar provinces of Afghanistan. Resultantly terrorist incidents have subsided during the past few quarters of 2015, illustrating the significance of military offense in debasing militant networks of both local and foreign militants operational in tribal areas of Pakistan. However, looking deep into the conflict one gets to know that improvement in security situation is short lived as the Pakistani militants who have fled to Afghanistan are not only welcomed in Afghanistan but Afghan government is helping them in regrouping and re-establishing their networks, which may trigger a massive wave of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in the near future.
The reluctance of Afghan government to opt for hardcore military action against Pakistani militants taking refuge in safe heavens in the above mentioned provinces of Afghanistan is also significantly helping the Pakistani militants to regroup and re-establish their networks in these abodes. FRC field reporter for South Waziristan Agency who paid a visit to Afghanistan in October 2015 where he met TTP’s and Mahsud Taliban militants in Khost bazaar, revealed that tribal families and militants who have migrated from Pakistan to Afghanistan after the military operation by the Pakistani army against Taliban militants in North Waziristan are enjoying full support from Afghanistan government. For instance, Afghan government has been providing militants with tents and mud compounds for residence in Khost and Paktika province of the Afghanistan and has also allowed them to keep AK-47 guns for their security purposes.
According to Khan Marjan a resident of Bermal Paktika province, peace comes with Pakistani militants and refuges when they enter into their areas from North Waziristan. “There is no fighting in our area from the past several months because Afghan Taliban are not attacking Afghan security forces due to the presence of Pakistani refuges in the area and in return Afghan army is also not challenging Pakistani militants living in these areas with their families. But the peace is short lived because once the militants get successful in establishing their network in the above mentioned areas they along with the Afghan Taliban will initiate massive attacks against Afghan security forces thus making the area a battle ground again”.
In the context it is important to mention that Afghan Taliban are ruling majority of the areas in Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban commander Jamshad Khan while speaking to FRC field research, Sailab Mehsud in Bermal area of Paktika province of Afghanistan said that, “Afghan taliban control 2/3rd of area in Afghanistan; while Afghan government and army rule is only confined to the main highways and few major Afghan cities”.
Afghan Talibans have not only welcomed Pakistani Taliban and refuges in Afghanistan but have also extended all out support for them to ensure access to basic necessities of life i.e. Shelter, food etc. For instance, according to Jamshad Khan, a commander of Afghan Taliban, “we have enough areas under our control to facilitate our Pakistani brothers. At the moment a small number of Pakistani tribals families have taken refuge in Afghanistan; if the whole tribal population of Pakistan shifts to Afghanistan even than we will not leave a single stone unturned to facilitate them on Afghanistan soil”.
Moreover, responding to a question regarding ISIS growing presence and influence in Afghanistan, Jamshed Khan said that, “ISIS is a new group with very limited operational capacity but what Islamic State is doing in Afghanistan is not right and is not according to Islam and if they try to penetrate into our areas then we will teach a lesson to them”.
Khan Sayed alias Sajna head of Mahsud Taliban of South Waziristan Agency, who is currently taking refuge in Afghanistan, told Sailab Mahsud that the Mahsud Taliban will continue fighting against the Pakistani army till the last drop of blood and till the last Mujahid alive in their ranks.
TTP senior Commander Hazratullah Mahsud affiliated with Hakimullah Mahsud group told Sailab Mahsud that our fight with Pakistan is for the implementation of Islamic laws in the country and for this purpose we have sacrificed hundreds of our valiant soldiers and if Pakistan government think that they will counter our cause with military action then they are mistaken. Whatever the consequence be we are ready to sacrifice our lives for the implementation of Islamic laws in Pakistan and after shifting to Afghanistan we are in better position to achieve this goal.
Although Afghan officials agreed to enhance border coordination between Pakistan and Afghanistan to impede the cross border movement of militants but ground realities depict altogether a different story. For instance, Abdul Wadood Afridi affiliated with Lashkar Islam of Mangal Bagh who has shifted to Afghanistan few months back from Khyber Agency to avoid the consequence of military operation against his group in Khyber Agency told Sailab Mahsud that most of the time Afghan forces do not stop them even on the main highway of Nangarhar.
Likewise, Wadood said that entering into Pakistan is not difficult task either, “we enter in to Pakistan regularly and mostly we cross the border into Khyber Agency from Afghanistan on foot. It’s impossible for the Pakistani government and army to close those hidden routes being used by us. During Pakistan military operation in Khyber Agency most of our fighters who belong to Zakha Khel tribe joined Pakistan army for the purpose of spying against us, they knew us, and this is the reason we’ are not using main highways inside Pakistan”.
Moreover, Haji Barkatullah a businessman at Kabul city told FRC field Researcher, Sailab Mehsud that, “In Afghanistan, it is very common opinion among local people that Pakistan is busy in the destruction of Afghanistan with the help of Afghan taliban while India and other countries are trying to built Afghanistan that’s the reason that after each attack in Kabul city if responsibility is claimed by Afghan taliban, people start protest against Pakistan by burning their flags not against Afghan taliban who has claimed responsibility for the attack”.
In the backdrop of the above mentioned events it is imperative for Pak-Afghan governments to co-ordinate and collaborate with each other to abridge the long standing trust deficit between the two countries and also initiate sincere and effective sharing of intelligence information and better border coordination for they are pre-requisite for resolving the decades long turmoil which has brought havoc to entire region.