Is militant groups activating

Is militant groups activating and stimulating harm to US led peace efforts?

Shamim Shahid

Amidst changing scenario in Afghanistan due to Doha Qatar accord between United States and Afghan Taliban, the hardcore militant groups like banned Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, IS-also called Daaesh and other groups are activating in Afghanistan’s border regions along with Pakistan. Reactivating these militant groups and stimulating its terror focused acts and action seems to be detrimental to US led peace efforts as well as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s desire for strengthening of bilateral diplomatic, trade and political relations with Afghanistan.

The onetime beleaguered banned Tehrik Taliban Pakistan is being stimulating its activities by claiming responsibility for each and every violent act inside Pakistan. Even the banned TTP has recently claimed responsibility for mortar shelling on Pakistan’s border security check posts in Bin Shahi of Lower Dir , for which Islamabad has directly charged Kabul. Though Kabul has rejected Pakistan’s charges but banned TTP through its spokesperson claiming responsibility, states, “we targeted Pakistan’s eight security forces check posts in the area.

Similarly, the IS-Daesh which was badly suffered in November-December 2019 US-Afghan forces joint operation, has made a surprising emergence by attacking a prison house in Jalalabad city, situated near to Pak Afghan border. At least 29 persons mostly personnel of Afghanistan security forces were killed and over 40 injured, the attack enabled IS-Daesh to get release of its 180 activists including hard core commanders. Even the IS claimed attack also proved beneficial to Afghan Taliban as its 120 persons also made their good in escape. It seems that all these 120 persons were on the list of 5100 prisoners, whose release is demanded in the Doha Peace Accord. So far the Afghan government released around 4900 prisoners but has made reservations for over 400 to 500 persons and these 120 are among them.

On the other hand, the IS besides suffering a lot in November-December 2019 joint military actions in several districts of Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, bordering with Pakistan was destabilized when its top commander Aslam Farooqi was arrested along with two close aides and other family members from Southern Qanadahar city on April 5 last. He was arrested when IS claimed responsibility for attacking a non-Muslim religious place in Kabul city. But early in July the IS leadership unable to pick up Dr. Shahab Ud Din Al Mohajir as new chief of IS and its 40-member Shura. Shahab had brought back some of the dissidents like Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost and Zia Ul Haq Arabi. And within weeks, the IS attacked the Jalalabad prison. The attack was conducted through 11-member suicide bombers squad for the release of 180 prisoners. The Afghan government confirmed 29 casualties including three prisoners in the attack. Besides releasing 180 prisoners, the IS militants helped 120 Afghan Taliban prisoners in getting. Almost of these 300 prisoners are considered high profile terrorist commanders, whom release in accordance with the Doha Qatar Agreement was refused by the Afghan government.

Former TTP and its splinted group TTP Jamaat Ul Ahrar spokesperson Qari Ihsan Ullah Ihsan in his recent posted article on his page, jubilated the re-unification of banned TTP and termed it what he called positive towards their what he called “holy goals.”

Qari Ihsan in according  to an agreement surrendered to Pakistan law enforcing agencies in April 2017 last but “mysteriously escaped” from security forces custody on January 11, 2020 last. In fact, Peshawar High Court through a writ petition made bound the government to release Qari Ihsan without permission of  court. Qari Ihsan himself contradicted but parents of kids students killed in a deadly terrorist attack against Army Public School Peshawar on December 16, 2014 accused him for master-minding the act. The banned TTP spokesperson on July 28th informed about return of fighters associated with Hakim Ullah Mehsud group headed by Mokhlisyar. These militants, according to the TTP spokesperson, met with Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud and announced allegiance. And on August 5th announced that Maulana Khooshi Muhammad Sindhi also joined the banned TTP. Maulana Khooshi Muhammad was close aide of Lashkar Janghavi commander Usman Saif Ullah. Usman was close to Al Qaeda’s then commander Ustad Ahmad Farooq.

Qari Ihsan in his article (in Urdu) states that rifts amongst the banned TTP ranks emerged when Hakim Ullah Mehsud became the chief. During this period, the banned TTP was divided into Hakim Ullah Mehsud and Mufti Wali Ur Rahman groups. The rifts, according to Qari Ihsan, caused lives  to over 100 top commanders and leaders from both the groups. Later the groups further widened when Mullah Fazal  Ullah became chief of the banned TTP and states, “Mullah Fazal Ullah didn’t make any attempt for reconciliation amongst TTP ranks.” However, now “Mufti Noor Wali alias Abu Asim initiated steps for reconciliation amongst the banned TTP ranks, which now yielding positive outcomes.”

No doubt that since assuming office in August 2018 last Prime Minister Imran Khan is making his best for strengthening bilateral relations with Afghanistan. But all of his efforts seem nothing else than a futile exercise as the ground reality at Torkham, Chaman and all other crossing points with Afghanistan is different whereas not only Afghan nationals but all those travelling or trading are being humiliated and insulted. Even all these people are treated like slaves. This inhuman and hostile attitude towards Afghans are raising stock of questions, amongst the minds of all those who favour cordial and friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries. Reactivating both the militant groups is alarming and dangerous for all those either desirous for peace in the region or apparently making contribution in efforts aimed at ending terror and violence. For a long time, the  people from war stricken Afghanistan, irrespective of their internal rifts and divisions, unanimously held Pakistan responsible for all of their odds. Whatever might be reaction or justification on the part of US led allies but across the border there is a common impression regarding IS.

The IS-Daesh is considered a joint project like of Afghan Jihad against former USSR, Al Qaeda and Tehrik Taliban Afghanistan. And ultimately, banned TTP is the brain-child of Afghan Taliban which is eyeing on what its leaders claim is “Islamic Emirates in Afghanistan.” In such a case, this time the war flames couldn’t be controlled inside Afghanistan but it would definitely affect almost all of South Asian region.  

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