Business Standard

Containing terrorism in Pakistan's own interest: Expert


ANI Islamabad [Pakistan]
It is in Pakistan's own interest to cooperate with Afghanistan and the international community to contain terrorism and other forms of violence, an expert has said.
In an article written for the Dawn, writer-cum-journalist Zahid Hussain says, "It is imperative for us (Pakistan) to clean up our home in our own national security interest."
Accepting that the surge in militant violence and growing instability in Afghanistan is a major challenge that Pakistan has to deal with from a security perspective, Hussain also does not hesitate to nail the United States for its continued belief that the terror threat from Afghanistan and Pakistan should only be dealt with militarily.
Kabul's ineffective and fragmented administration is also cited by him as a key factor for the "deepening Afghan crisis".
Commenting on the latest wave of terror attacks in Kabul that have claimed dozens of civilian lives, Hussain says that this is clearly indicative of a shift in strategy by insurgents, wherein, they have taken the war into Afghanistan's capital.
"From gaining territorial control to focusing more on the capital to test the mettle of the Afghan security forces, it seems that the Afghan Taliban and IS are competing when it comes to carnage in the besieged capital and other towns and cities in Afghanistan. The chaos resulting from the violence serves the objective of these militant groups - to undermine the confidence of the Kabul administration," he opines.
He further states, "While the Taliban control vast swathes of territory, the increasing presence of IS in Afghanistan is extremely worrisome...The rise of IS has brought greater devastation and caused a spike in the number of civilian casualties."
He claims that the IS are fighting both Kabul and the Taliban, and has made some inroads in eastern and northern Afghanistan.
Hussain warns that the situation is likely to get worse with the approach of the fighting season.
"The weakening writ of the Afghan government in the hinterland has given further impetus to the insurgents," he adds.
He expects the Trump Administration to intensify military action in Afghanistan, but finds it "hard to believe that the massive use of air strikes alone could bring this festering war to an end."
"There is also a strong possibility of the U.S. slapping economic and military sanctions on Pakistan and using its influence to persuade multilateral financial institutions to squeeze assistance..There could also be a move to get the country declared as a terrorist haven. Surely such radical moves cannot succeed. Still, they would put greater diplomatic pressure on Islamabad to crack down on suspected militant sanctuaries and take action against the Taliban leadership allegedly operating from Pakistan," Hussain says.
Pakistan, he concludes, faces a very serious challenge; almost comparable to what it had faced post the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and adds that Islamabad's case will continue to remain weak so long as it allows proscribed militant groups to operate with impunity from its soil.

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First Published: Jan 31 2018 | 1:35 PM IST

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