Pakistan has moved heavy weapons to the Pak-Afghan border and tightened security measures at the border with Afghanistan, but which should Islamabad really be fighting: Afghanistan, India or ISIS?
On Monday, the Pakistan Army started moving heavy artillery, including tanks, to the border with Afghanistan in retaliation for Afghan’s refusal to extradite 76 suspected terrorists for their alleged involvement in a string of terrorist attacks in Pakistan last week.
More than 100 hundred people were killed in the string of violent attacks across Pakistan last week, including a deadly attack at a Sufi shrine that killed 88 worshipers on Thursday.
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As Islamabad seeks to punish those responsible for the brutal attacks on its soil, it closed its borders with Afghanistan and launched a countrywide crackdown on terrorists, killing more than 100 militants across the country. It has also been pounding militant hideouts inside Afghanistan and killing militants belonging to Jamaat ul Ahrar.
The news comes amid a former U.S. defense secretary’s statements claiming that India has been using Afghanistan against Pakistan for many years.
Is Afghanistan to blame for the terrorist attacks in Pakistan?
As Pakistan continues to carry out shelling along the Pak-Afghan border, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Syed Abrar Hussain, informed the Afghan Foreign Office that Islamabad security officials have evidence proving that terrorists based in Afghanistan are responsible for last week’s terrorist attacks.
Afghanistan still refuses to hand over 76 suspected terrorists to Pakistan, further fueling tensions with its nuclear-armed neighbor. Meanwhile, the United States urged Kabul and Islamabad to agree on any military action inside Afghanistan against militants to prevent a military confrontation between them.
But while the Pakistani government has taken steps to stop the terrorists’ infiltration at the border, many experts believe India could be responsible for the recent string of attacks by using Afghan soil to perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan in an apparent attempt to destabilize its long-time nemesis.
India using Afghanistan against Pakistan: former U.S. defense secretary
India has been using Afghan soil to send terrorists into Pakistan to wreak havoc in the country, according to The Nation, which cites defense analyst Dr. Muhammad Khan.
Dr. Khan says the United States, which largely supports India’s stance in the international community, is aware that New Delhi is “supporting terror groups in Afghanistan against Pakistan.” Dr. Khan also urged Washington to use its “influence” on New Delhi to “stop this dirty game.”
Dr. Khan is not the only expert and who believes India is using Afghanistan to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan. A former U.S. defense secretary revealed that India has been using Afghanistan as a second front against Islamabad.
Chuck Hagel, who served as U.S. defense secretary under former President Barack Obama for nearly two years, said during a debate on Afghanistan that New Delhi has “always” used Afghan soil for its own military purposes. A video of Hagel’s claims was recorded at the Cameron University in Oklahoma in 2011, but it was released only recently by Washington Free Beacon Website, according to The News.
The Indian Embassy in Washington was quick to dismiss Hagel’s statements accusing India of creating and financing problems against Pakistan from Afghanistan for many years. Hagel’s statement came as a surprise, considering the fact that he had been a vocal supporter of close India-U.S. relations. Hagel served as Obama’s defense secretary from February 2013 through February 2015.
Is India behind the terrorist attacks in Pakistan?
Many Pakistanis seem to agree that India could be behind the string of terrorist attacks last week, claiming that New Delhi is interested in making Islamabad appear weak in its efforts to eradicate terrorism and possibly give U.S. President Donald Trump one more reason to add Pakistan to his infamous travel ban list barring citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
last week’s terrorist attacks in Pakistan came amid India’s renewed push to get the international community to declare Islamabad a terrorist state. They could make the country appear unable to deal with terrorism and would fortify New Delhi’s efforts to turn it into a pariah state and prevent foreign investors from going there to benefit from the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which runs through some of the disputed Pak-India areas.
Shortly after last Monday’s terrorist attack in Lahore, which claimed the lives of at least 15 people and injured 87 others, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria accused India of being involved in terrorist activities in the country. Saying that planning for the terrorist attack was done on Afghan soil, Zakaria added that Islamabad has taken the issue of New Delhi’s alleged links to terrorism in Pakistan to the United Nations Secretary General.
After carrying out terrorist acts and bombings in Pakistan, many terrorists flee the nation across the border into Afghanistan, where Pakistani forces can’t follow to punish them. Many Pakistanis believe India is providing safe havens to terrorists, including the Pakistani Taliban, on Afghan soil.
ISIS brings devastation, ruin and suffering
Taking responsibility for the Sufi shrine attack, which killed at least 88 worshipers and injured another 270, the Islamic State (ISIS) sent a clear message: it’s coming to cause devastation, ruin and suffering in Pakistan and all of South Asia.
Pakistan has a long history with ISIS. Last year, the militant group, which killed more than 33,000 people around the world between 2002 and 2015, took responsibility for a suicide blast at a Pakistan hospital that killed 73.
Islamabad has been fighting Islamist insurgency since after it became allies with the United States following its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. In 2007, Pakistani jihadists formed their own umbrella organization of Sunni militant groups based along the Afghan-Pakistani border, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has deep ties to al-Qaeda, the mail rival of ISIS.
Last week’s terrorist attacks, including the one claimed by ISIS, prompted Islamabad to take immediate action to punish terrorists and prevent any possible terrorist activities in the future. The Pakistani government said it killed more than 100 terror suspects in less than 24 hours after the Sufi shrine attack.
But whether the recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan were carried out by ISIS, India or Afghanistan, one fact remains clear: Islamabad showed its unpreparedness to deal with terrorism. Or, as leading Pakistani news outlet Dawn asks – why were those attacks allowed to happen?