India may be using Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan with a string of violent terrorist attacks to make it look unable to deal with terrorism in the eyes of the United States and its new President Donald Trump.
As India renews its push for the international community to declare Pakistan a “terrorist state,” Pakistanis blame India for the brutal terrorist attacks in the country this week, including Thursday’s deadly attack at a Sufi shrine that killed 88 worshippers and Monday’s explosion in Lahore that killed at least 16 people.
In response to the violent terrorist attacks on its territory, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said India was involved in terrorist activities to destabilize the country. The Pakistani government was quick to respond to the bombings by closing border crossings with Afghanistan and firing rockets into two Afghan provinces. Pakistan also launched a crackdown against terrorists, killing more than 100 militants across the country as a retaliatory move for allegedly providing safe havens to Pakistani Taliban terrorists.
The violent and deadly terrorist attacks across Pakistan come amid heightened tensions with India. The two neighbors just weeks ago flexed their nuclear muscles by testing missiles on the same day, further fueling tensions in their already war-like relations.
In what is viewed by many Pakistanis as India’s attempt to make their country appear weak in its struggles to eradicate terrorism and possibly motivate U.S. President Trump to add Pakistan to his infamous travel ban order (a move that would fortify India’s efforts to get the international community to declare Islamabad a terrorist state), India could actually be behind the string of terrorist attacks in Pakistan this week.
After the deadly terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said India has been involved in terrorist activities. Zakaria added that while the investigation is underway, the Pakistani government has taken the issue of India’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan to the UN Secretary General.
Zakaria also insisted that planning for the Lahore attack was done in Afghanistan. After carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan, many terrorists flee the country across the border into Afghanistan, where Islamabad’s security forces can’t enter and make arrests or punish the terrorists. And while Zakaria says the ongoing instability in Afghanistan allows terrorists to find a foothold there, many Pakistanis believe India is providing safe havens in Afghanistan to Pakistani Taliban terrorists.
A bloody week for Pakistan
The death toll in Thursday’s terrorist attack was said to be 88 with another 343 wounded, but the Sufi shrine attack wasn’t the only attack on Pakistani soil this week. A string of terrorist attacks in the country has targeted specific religious groups, including Sufis, Shia Muslims and Christians. On Monday, an explosion at Chairing Cross in Lahore killed at least 16 people and left 73 injured. The bombing took place when hundreds of pharmacists were protesting a new regulatory law.
On Wednesday, at least seven people were killed when suicide bombers targeted villages around Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack. In retaliation for this week’s terrorist attacks in the country, Pakistani armed forces killed more than 100 militants and arrested many others across the nation. The operation took place less than 24 hours after the Sufi shrine attack.
Pakistan demands extradition of terrorist suspects
In response to the terrorist attacks, Islamabad sent Afghanistan a list of 76 suspected terrorists who could be responsible. Islamabad is demanding immediate action by Kabul and wants the suspects extradited to Pakistan for investigation. However, Afghanistan has so far ignored the repeated demands from its nuclear-armed neighbor to take action against the suspected terrorists.
The list of suspects was handed over to Afghan officials at the Pakistan Army’s headquarters, but the Pakistani military didn’t specify who was on that list. It has long been suspected that the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Mullah Fazlullah, and other vital elements of the group have been hiding in Afghanistan and regularly unleashing violence inside Pakistan. Less than 24 hours after the Sufi shrine attack, Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan in an attempt to force Afghan authorities to take action against the suspected terrorists on its soil.
Islamabad and Kabul are no strangers to engaging in a war of words and accusing one another of sheltering militants who foment chaos and terror in the two countries.
China warned India would “increase military pressure” on Pakistan
This week’s brutal terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil come a little more than a week after the UN Security Council’s counterterrorism committee attempted to ban Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohamed Chief Masood Azhar in the UN. It could be a mere coincidence that the failed attempt to ban Azhar in the UN was followed by the string of violent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, but China’s state-run Global Times warned that India could “increase its military pressure on Pakistan” under the pretext of “the counter-terrorism crusade.”
While China was the only member of the committee to oppose the ban, the Chinese daily warned that such actions from India pose a risk of escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations, which have stood on the brink of war on several occasions since the Uri attack in the disputed Kashmir region in September.
It makes the whole situation even more volatile and chilling that both Islamabad and New Delhi are reportedly expanding their nuclear arsenals to be able to destroy one another in a possible confrontation. As if having a nuclear advantage isn’t enough, the two nations have also been boosting their military spending lately.
Earlier this month, it was reported that India had signed a series of arms deals with several countries, including Russia, France and Israel, totaling nearly $3 billion in the last four months.
Why would India target Pakistan with terrorist attacks?
An article published by Pakistan Defense earlier this week argued that India could be responsible for the Lahore terrorist attack and that it could be aimed at preventing the city from hosting the PSL final on March 5, according to the Daily Pakistan. The timing of the brutal Lahore attack came just days after the Pakistan Super League announced that the final match would be played in Lahore in March. The article argued that India doesn’t want sports to return to Pakistan.
“Why would India allow normalcy to return to Pakistan when its pumping billions into terrorism to create the opposite in Pakistan?” the article argues, adding that India was responsible for the “brutal terrorist attack on the Sri-Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009 in order to deny Pakistanis the sense of stability and normalcy which would have arrived with co-hosting the cricket world cup.”