Mitigating IS threat

PAKISTAN has expressed concern over growing activities and presence of IS (Daesh) in neighbouring Afghanistan and reiterated its commitment to take all necessary measures to mitigate the threat. During the weekly briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria pointed out that IS and other terrorist outfits are establishing their foothold in swathes of areas ungoverned in Afghanistan and are involved in activities against both the countries.
Similar resolve, as expressed by the spokesperson, was earlier maintained by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and in fact, practical steps are underway for effective border management and control. These include fencing, creation of infrastructure at crossing points, setting up of check posts and aerial surveillance and in this regard the Army has designated some of the areas as top priority to tackle the threat of cross border terrorism. Pakistan was forced to go for this costly project despite financial constraints because of non-cooperation by the Afghan government, which has not so far paid heed to frequent requests by Islamabad to take necessary steps on the other side of the Durand Line. Instead, there is evidence that Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies are funding, arming and training terrorist outfits and they are used for acts of terrorism and sabotage in Pakistan. There is, therefore, little hope that the other side would cooperate in border management and instead different tactics are being employed to either thwart, undermine or at least delay implementation of the border management programme by Pakistan. This is despite the fact that effective border control would help address oft-repeated allegation of Afghanistan that terrorists cross the border from the Pakistani side to attack their targets in Afghanistan. But Pakistan has no option but to go ahead as it cannot afford deployment of huge number of troops on the Western border at the peril of ever-increasing threat on the Eastern front. Pakistan must have concrete proof of the growing presence and activities of IS in Afghanistan and it should share the evidence with countries like China and Russia that have genuine reasons to be alarmed on this development. The United States may also be sensitised that it would be unfair to expect more from Pakistan without mitigating the threat to Pakistan from Afghan soil, as this would mean diversion of both attention and energy.

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