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Posts Tagged Afghans

The emergence of ISIS Threat in South Asia By Sajjad Shaukat

The emergence of ISIS Threat in South Asia

By Sajjad Shaukat




With the support of some state actors and after its defeat by the Russian-led coalition of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon-based Hezbollah in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL) is rapidly spreading its tentacles in South Asia.


It is also due to the dual policy of the US-led some Western powers, Israel and India that ISIS which is most dangerous terrorist group than Al-Qaeda has accelerated terrorism-related attacks in the US, Europe, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Iraq etc. and some African countries where besides Muslims, the outfit also targeted the Christians. Now, its tentacles have reached other regions of Asia, especially South Asia.  Hence, the emergence of ISIS threat in South Asia needs attention.


In this context, the Daily Mail Online reported on February 22, 2015, “The terrifying rise of ISIS…tentacles now reach from Algeria to Afghanistan”.


According to online sources, “On January 26, 2015, Abu Muhammed al-Adnani chief spokesperson of the ISIS released an audio statement in which he declared the establishment of Wilayat Khorasan, a branch of the group encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nearby lands. Since then, Wilayat Khorasan has pursued a campaign of expansion and consolidation in the region, with most of its activity centring in eastern and southeastern Afghanistan.”


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Some other online sources disclosed, “ISI activities in Afghanistan are known as IS’s Khorasan Province (ISKP) or an Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP).”


These sources revealed, “ISKP’s control of territory in Nangrahar reached its peak in summer 2015 when it became the dominant insurgent group in eight of the province’s 22 districts…Since then, the Taliban have fought to take back territory…ISKP then dug in through 2016 in all its remaining districts, that is, Achin, Kot and Nazyan in the south-eastern districts…as well as Deh Bala in the south-west…ISIL-KP maintained a presence in southern Nangarhar Province despite increased military operations carried out by the United States of America and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. SIL-KP continued its attacks against the civilian population and military and foreign military targets, and unverified local sources claimed that ISIL-KP reinforcements and recruitment continued…IS Khorasan gained its new strength through forging alliances with local sectarian pro-al-Qaeda or Taliban militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al Alami (LeJ-A), Lashkar-e Islam (LeI), or disgruntled Taliban factions like Jundallah and Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuA), which have been active in the region for many years. It has also reportedly recruited operatives from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). The success of this strategy is manifest in the geographical distribution of the recent attacks, which suggests a logistical penetration and influence that extends from Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Quetta and Peshawar in neighbouring Pakistan.”


It is mentionable that the militants attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery (Restaurant) in the diplomatic district of Dhaka-capital of Bangladesh on July 2, 2016, and killed at least 20 hostages and two police officers. It included nine Italians, seven Japanese and one American. The ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror attack on the restaurant. Top officials of Bangladesh Government claimed the existence of ISIS in the country. ISIS has also accepted responsibility for several past attacks in Bangladesh.


Taking cognizance of various terrorism-related assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the ISIL, as its terrorists also entered Pakistan from Afghanistan, Pakistan has, repeatedly, been expressing concerns over the growing unrest and violence in Afghanistan, reiterating support for a dialogue-based settlement of the Afghan issue. Islamabad is supportive of an Afghan dialogue, recognizing Taliban as a legitimate party in the conflict. Similar stance has been adopted by Russia, China, Iran and even the Central Asian Republics.


While Pakistan has expressed concerns over the emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan from where it has rapidly been spreading its terror-network in other South Asian countries. Islamabad’s worry is also shared by all the countries of the region. The dreaded terror outfit is being projected by the US, India, and some Western countries as a counterweight to Taliban. Therefore, the story of ISIS in Afghanistan is viewed carefully by the regional countries. Russia has repeatedly aired concerns about the possibility of tacit US approval or her inability to control the ISIS. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and few other Afghan leaders have also aired such apprehensions.


In this connection, a news item was published by all the leading dailies of Pakistan on October 8, 2017 regarding the statement of Afghanistan’s former Afghan President Karzai who, while dismissing criticism of Moscow’s ties with the Taliban and echoing Russian claims of American support to the ISIS terrorists, told Voice of America (VOC) that the United States has links with terrorist ‘Islamic State’, also known as Daesh…Daesh a tool of US…After it [the US] dropped the [mother of all] bomb on Afghanistan, it did not eliminate Daesh…the terrorist group has been supplied weapons by the United States forces…The US Army helicopters and army bases are being used to provide assistance to ISIS terrorists…I do not differentiate at all between Daesh and America…Reports of American assistance to the terrorists are coming from all over the country.” (It also includes Karzai’s revelations to VOC of April 20, 2017, and Newsweek’s report of the same day). 


Particularly, based in Afghanistan, secret agencies such as American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are in collusion, and are using the ISIS in destabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan as part of the double game of their countries.  India and Israel want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan which has become the centre of their covert activities against Pakistan, Russia, China, and Iran. American President Trump is also doing the same in connivance with New Delhi and Tel Aviv. Now, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the special target of these foreign intelligence agencies.


It is notable that Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and ISIS which are being backed by RAW, CIA and Mossad have claimed responsibility for several terror assaults inside Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the recent ones.


While, Pakistan has repeatedly pointed out ISIS’s involvement in anti-Pakistan violence and terrorism, and Islamabad has also shared credible information about the presence of ex-TTP militants inside Afghanistan, many of whom have switched sides to join ISIS. Therefore, Islamabad expects Afghanistan and the US-led forces (NATO) in Afghanistan to check the activities and projection of the ISKP activities.


Notably, ISIS has suffered heavily on accounts of its confrontation with the Afghan Taliban. Taliban have successfully undone ISIS influence from most of its controlled and contested areas. ISIS has lost most of its leadership in these fights and has been virtually squeezed to a few pockets of Nangarhar province. Taliban have been successful in checking ISKP’s (ISIS) ideological outreach by projecting the linkage of the brutal organization with extra-regional elements and thus discrediting them in the eyes of common Afghans. Most Afghans consider ISKP’s display of cruelties and inhuman behaviour against Afghan culture and do not buy group’s ideas of violence.


Meanwhile, Pakistan has successfully purged FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of militants through successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasad. Lately, the country is focusing on improving border management and fencing project to address the cross-border movement of the terrorists. Pakistan is making concerted efforts to address extremism in all its forms. Recent steps by the country, including the nationwide agreed upon ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ (Message of Pakistan), are efforts to address the menace of terrorism and extremism on the ideological front.


In the same context, in the recent past, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Munich Security Conference was a polite reminder to the US-led international community, especially the Western powers of their past practices in the region.


We can conclude that reality of ISKP is well known to the regional powers. People like the ex-President Hamid Karzai and countries like Russia have been quite vocal in expressing their concerns about who supports ISKP? For ISKP in Afghanistan, the onus rests on the American- led NATO forces as well as on the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) who need to carry out a reality check. America, India, and Israel should also abandon their double game with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia in order to cope with the emergence of ISIS threat in South Asia.


Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


Email: sajjad_logic_pak@hotmail.com

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The gate of the ‘graveyard of empires’ Asad Khan Betini

The gate of the ‘graveyard of empires’

Asad Khan Betini

Fifteen years of US invasion will soon be completed and soon become the stuff of the history of this region. In Afghanistan, ‘lost and gained’ will be assessed later but the insurgency is indeed still in question. Yet another suicide attack in central Logar province killed 12 security personnel and wounded eight others, a sure sign of the dreadful hold of the insurgents. The Taliban still claim to have control of over 40 percent of the areas in Afghanistan, excluding the capital and other major cities in Afghanistan. Territories under the grip of the Taliban are declared as no go areas, leaving the whole world wondering whether the war on terror has achieved victory or a fiasco. Many observers are now vocal as to who will be up next for the ‘graveyard of empires’. 
aria09040220090401085210Hamid Karzai declined to sign any security deal with the US and left it to his successor to decide. The newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has signed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which will allow 9,800 US troops and at least 2,000 NATO troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Generally, mindsets with two opinions have lingered on in Afghanistan: one supported the invasion while the other defied it. In fact, we observe that Afghans failed to get what they expected from the US intervention since 2001. Rather, this invasion put the land in turmoil just like the former Soviet Union did. Our controversial ally, the US, and its war against the former jihadists who were once called ‘soldiers of God’, declared them terrorists following the 9/11 incident. Indeed, the ashes of war brought catastrophe to Pakistan too.
Pakistan has suffered over $ 107 billion in economic setbacks since the war broke out, leaving a bad impression on the international community. Apart from that, thousands of people have been killed due to the ‘do more’ mantra. Yet, hoping for development for Afghanistan, the Chinese government has pledged 1.5 billion Yuan ($ 245 million) in aid to Afghanistan over the next three years, as well as greater support for Kabul in the struggle against terrorism. Ghani, while bewildering his neighbours, warned all not to interfere in the affairs of Afghanistan. This statement was released as soon as this aid was received in Afghanistan. 
But what plagues the mind is the fact that the warmongers are still in position. The withdrawal of US and NATO forces will leave the Afghan National Army to its own fate. 
Throughout the entire 13 years of war in Afghanistan, corruption and opium production remained a worrying issue. Observers believe that poppy cultivation has become a lucrative business for international dealers, as it was not brought to an end despite the US spending $ 7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan. The UN’s office on drugs and crime reports: “Afghan farmers grew 209,000 hectares of opium in 2013, surpassing the previous record of 193,000 hectares in 2007.” Poppy production is a major source of revenue in Afghanistan, which produces an estimated 90 percent of the world’s opium. At the start of 2018, it is expected to double. 
This is a problem that all the stakeholders avoided discussing throughout the entire Afghan war. The value of poppy cultivation and opium products produced in the country in 2013 was about three billion dollars, a 50 percent increase over the two billion dollars estimated in 2012. Reports now indicate that farmers grew 210,200 hectares of opium in 2014. 
Let us pretend Afghans will decide their own fate post-withdrawal but staggering questions of poppy cultivation and the presence of the former soldiers of God are being left unresolved. To date, $ 753.3 billion have been spent on the war in Afghanistan, including $ 89.1 billion in fiscal year 2014. Despite spending billions of dollars and the sacrifices of thousands of US and NATO soldiers, who spewed blood into the water and soil, the results are by no means comforting. The Afghans have now opened their gates for China, which has already stepped up its support to India and Pakistan. The recent Beijing Declaration has been signed between Afghanistan and China, agreeing to start 64 programmes covering issues such as trade, investment, infrastructure, disaster management and education. These projects will help Afghanistan develop and keep the peace without outside assistance. The corridor of South Asia, Afghanistan, is now in the arms of China, so the future of South Asia is now going to be in the hands of China, leading the US out the door in disgrace. 

(Asad Khan Betini is a Balochistan Based Journalist and Currently Chief Editor of Monthly Nawa-e-Qaisa Political Magazine)

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