While the third week of September saw an orchestrated verbal onslaught on Pakistan by the US policymakers and military brass, alleging it of providing support to the Haqqani network, there remains an eerie silence in US politico-military circles about the string of Taliban attacks on Pakistani border posts in Dir, Bajaur and Chitral. These large-sized attacks sporadically delivered during the last one year were launched from areas under the operational control of the US-led ISAF and their sidekick, the Afghan National Army (ANA), and were organised by well entrenched TTP and Afghan Taliban factions from bases maintained in border areas of Afghanistan.
The US desperate urgings for the overstretched Pak Army to commence operations against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan stand in marked contrast to its turning a Nelson’s eye to the anti-Pakistan witches’ brew viciously bubbling in the areas under US control on the Afghan side of the border. What is hard to stomach is that while the Kabul attack on the US Embassy, precipitating no casualty was treated as an act of war, Washington has persistently refused to accept responsibility for scores of casualties among Pakistani troops caused by the Afghan Taliban and the TTP fighters operating out of Nooristan and Kunar provinces.
While vicious attacks emanating from bordering provinces of Afghanistan have acquired a sickening frequency, two major incidents would amply reflect the pattern and perspective of such preventable aggression. In the beginning of June this year, 27 policemen were killed during battles in Shaltalu area in Dir when 500 terrorists belonging to the Maulvi Fazlullah-led group overran a police post. At least 16 policemen were captured and then brutally executed by the attackers, who released the video on the internet. Another major attack occurred in the last week of August when hundreds of armed militants from Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan, attacked seven FC check posts situated around Arund locality in Chitral. Some 40 personnel belonging to the security forces, including 26 personnel of Chitral Scouts, 10 border guards and four FC soldiers laid down their lives in defence of the motherland. The attacks had been organised by Malvi Fazlullah and Maulvi Faqir Muhammad employing terrorists flushed out by Pak Army operations in Swat, Dir and Bajaur, along with the Afghan Taliban. Just in these two incidents the Pakistani security services and police had sustained over 80 casualties, without the US accepting any responsibility or suffering any pang of conscience over its failure to prevent the attacks launched from areas under its control. It is not hard to visualise what the consequences would have been for Pakistan, had a fraction of these casualties been inflicted upon the US/NATO forces by a breach of the Pak-Afghan border from the Pakistani side.
For the obsessed American soldiers and diplomats, the presence of anti-Pakistan terrorist factions on the Afghan side evokes no concern, while the consequence for Pakistan are painful to the extreme. The Afghan based terrorists are attacking Pakistani posts with impunity and are extending their activities to the major cities in Pakistan. Lack of action by US forces has permitted the anti-Pakistan Taliban element to rule the roost in Nooristan and Kunar provinces. It is worth recalling that on the pretext of cutting down its casualties, the American Army has pulled out its troops from the former, while only maintaining a nominal writ in the latter. This has permitted Maulvi Fazlullah of Swat fame to fill in the vacuum, as a major warlord commanding a force of a thousand fighters equipped with advanced weapons and state-of-the-art communication equipment. The US-induced freedom of action has even allowed him to overshadow the local Afghan Commander Dost Muhammad, who is constrained to accept a subordinate position in an area considered the hub of anti-Pakistan activities.
The northern Kunar province is the domain of the TTP affiliated Maulvi Faqir Muhammad who, commanding around 400 terrorists, has led attacks in the Bajaur area of Pakistan. In fact, the area between Kunar River and the border has become the hub of anti-Pakistan operations. Faqir Muhammad is known to be operating FM radio stations on the Afghan side of the border to raise funds and recruits and create anti-Pakistan frenzy. In the southern parts of Kunar province where ISAF works in close conjunction with the local administration, injured terrorists of the TTP receive medical treatment in the government run hospitals. Wali Muhammad is the key TTP commander here, enjoying the support of intelligence agencies of India and Afghanistan.
Nangarhar province is the abode of Mangal Bagh, the infamous terrorist leading Lashkar-i-Islam, who is raking trouble in Khyber as well as Aurakzai Agencies. Qari Bashir operates from Logar and Kabul, Paktia-Paktika-Khost provinces are infested with TTP elements affiliated with Hakimullah Mehsud, while Brahamdagh Bugti supported clan stationed in Kabul is closely supervising and directing the activities of insurgents based in Kandahar, Helmand and Nimroz provinces.
Juxtaposed with the US demands upon the overstretched Pakistan Army to expand its operations into North Waziristan, is the amazing nonchalance with which the American military leaders in Afghanistan treat the presence of key anti-Pakistan terrorist commanders and their forces in the areas adjoining border with Pakistan. Sustained by liaison provided by intelligence agencies hostile to Pakistan, this presence is malignant, leading to the loss of Pakistani lives – among both civilians and those in uniform. Pakistan has all the right to demand of US to neutralise the presence of these anti-Pakistan outfits on the Afghan soil. If the US can hold Pakistan to ransom over the Kabul attack, it itself has a lot to explain for the failure to curb terrorism emanating from areas in Afghanistan where it holds the sole responsibility for control. Or does it think that Pakistani blood comes cheap?