Taliban leaders Moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan

By Sajjad Shaukat

The armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the Taliban and other militant outfits by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has also been extended to other parts of the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts.

Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in Balochistan. In these circumstances, Taliban leaders have moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan.

This fact has also been verified by a feature story of the Associated Press (AP), under the caption, “Leaders of the Taliban may have moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan,” Published on November 26, 2016.

The AP wrote, “After operating out of Pakistan for more than a decade, the leaders of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement may have moved back to their homeland to try to build on this year’s gains in the war and to establish a permanent presence…if confirmed, the move would be a sign of the Taliban’s confidence in their fight against the US-backed government in Kabul. It could also be an attempt by the militants to distance themselves from Pakistan.”

The AP reported, “The Taliban’s leaders have been based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar, since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion after the 9/11 attacks.”

According to this news agency, “Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who said that the leadership shura, or council, relocated to Afghanistan “some months ago,” although he would not say to where…one Taliban official said that the shura had moved to southern Helmand province, which the insurgents consider to be part of their heartland and where most of the opium that funds their operations is produced. The official refused to be identified because of security reasons…other Taliban sources said the justice, recruitment and religious councils had also moved to southern Afghanistan. The statements could not be independently confirmed…Mujahid, however, said Kabul officials were aware of the moves, prompted by battlefield gains that the insurgents believed would put them in a strong position once talks with the Afghan government aimed at ending the war were restarted. Dialogue broke down earlier this year.”

The AP wrote, “The insurgents have spread their footprint across Afghanistan since international combat troops scaled down in 2014. They have maintained multiple offensives and threatened at least three provincial capitals in recent months: Kunduz, in northern Kunduz province; Lashkah Gar, in Helmand in the south; and Tirin Kot in Uruzgan…the US military has conceded the insurgents have gained ground, although definitive breakdowns are difficult to verify. This year, Afghan security forces are believed to have suffered their worst losses since 2001, with the military estimating 2016 fatalities at more than 5,000 so far.”

It added, “A permanent Taliban presence in Afghanistan would send a message to followers and fighters that the insurgents now control so much territory that they can no longer be dislodged by government security forces, said Franz-Michael Mellbin, the European Union’s ambassador in Kabul…but such a move could also be part of the Taliban’s attempt to try to create a more independent position, as parts of the Taliban would like to be under less direct pressure from Pakistan.”

The AP reported, “Ghani has failed to bring them into a dialogue aimed at peace. After a year-long diplomatic offensive, Ghani in late 2015 cut ties with Islamabad and has since openly accused Pakistan of waging war on Afghanistan, using the Taliban as its proxy. Pakistani authorities deny accusations that their powerful ISI intelligence agency supports the insurgents…with the major councils based in Afghanistan.”

It said, “If the move is confirmed, it could also indicate a unity among leaders, who have recently been portrayed by some observers, including the US military, as suffering widening divisions and struggling for cash—even though the opium production under their control has an annual export value of $4 billion, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.”

The news agency mentioned, “The Taliban’s leadership shura consists of 16 elected officials who oversee activity across Afghanistan, give permission for any changes in planning and strategy, and mediate disputes among military commanders…the military commanders include Mullah Yaqoub, the son of the movement’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar—who was declared dead last year—and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the brutal Haqqani network and a co-deputy leader with Yaqoub…the Afghan Taliban are led by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, who took over after the death of Mullah Omar’s successor, Akhtar Mansoor, in a US drone strike this year. High-ranking Taliban officials say Haibatullah is not engaged in day-to-day decision-making. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to reporters.”

The AP disclosed, “A senior Taliban commander, Asad Afghan, told The Associated Press the move would consolidate the insurgents’ military gains and help lay the ground for a dominant position if and when peace talks resume…we are in the last stages of war and are moving forward, said Afghan, who is closely involved in formulating the insurgents’ war strategy..we are the real government in Afghanistan, he said. The move across the border would give the movement more focus at a time it needs to be quick, clear and more secure about our decisions.”

However, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially Balochistan have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect by rejecting Islamabad’s positive proposals.
Notably, as part of the dual strategy, based in Afghanistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. Based in Afghanistan, operatives of these foreign agencies who are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups are using their militants to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this connection, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. The militant groups have conducted several terror attacks in various regions of Pakistan, especially the recent ones in Balochistan province which has become center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

There is no doubt that as part of the double game of their countries, escalation of tension at Pak-Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements such as CIA, RAW and Mossad which are opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hence, their countries always shift the blame game to Pakistan.

Undoubtedly, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality, despite of its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Although Taliban leaders have moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan, yet especially America, India and puppet rulers of Afghanistan will continue blame game against Islamabad, because, despite the prolonged war of more than 15 years, the US-led entities or NATO have failed in coping with the resistance of those Taliban who are fighting for the liberation of their country. America, India, Israel and some Western countries are also against Pakistan, as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

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