Dr Muhammad Khan
UNITED States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 to hunt Al-Qaeda concentration and to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. As per Pentagon official reports, the task of elimination of Al-Qaeda was completed by 2010 and OBL was killed in Abbotabad raid on May 2, 2011. That should have been an end of US mission in Afghanistan and thereafter it could have packed up. But, US lingered on till 2015 for its drawdown, leaving behind nine strategically located military bases with approximately 10,000 Special Forces troops. As a late thought, US has recently decided to increase the troop’s level by adding another 3000-5000 troops. All this speaks of US long-term engagement in the region and its strategic objectives, other than Al-Qaeda and OBL.
A former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai has raised some fundamental questions over the US prolonged stay in Afghanistan and particularly the process of stabilisation, which it mandated for itself in 2001. On the occasion of its invasion US also promised peace, stability and economic prosperity for this country after bringing an end to Al-Qaeda and OBL. Today, after 17 years of US military presence, there is no worthwhile improvement in the security situation of Afghanistan and worst thing happened, there has increased militancy and number of militant organizations in that country.
Hamid Karzai questions, “The US came to Afghanistan to bring peace and stability and defeat extremism — [yet] we have more of it today. Why?” This is true that, neither there has been a defeat to terrorism nor could the peace and stability restored in Afghanistan. Even peace in Kabul remains at the mercy of Taliban. They can terrorize it whenever they want. In the wordings of Kazai, “Clearly bombings, killings, prisons and the harassment of people [in Afghanistan] have not worked.” Indeed, through bombing and killing of innocent masses, US added more militancy and sympathy for the militants among the masses. Perhaps, US wanted militancy as an excuse for its more military inflow and prolonged stay in Afghanistan. A very direct question, Karzai asks about the emergence of IS over the past few years. “Who did this under the watch of US intelligence and military in Afghanistan and how come?” “We have the right to ask these questions and the US government must answer.” General Nicolson, the incumbent US military commander in Afghanistan has accepted presence of IS in Afghanistan and also accepted that, TTP is providing nursery for Islamic State. This means that, TTP has its presence in Afghanistan with a free movement to do anything. This all is being done in presence of US surveillance, its military presence and a very robust intelligence network.
But, there are alarming information about the IS activities and their systematic expansion. As per locals of various areas of Afghanistan, the IS people are being logistically supported by US military bases. So much so, their logistic are being provided through the use of helicopters, coloured in non-military colours. Karzai disclosed that, “[They have told me about] how unmarked, non-military coloured helicopters supply these people in not just one, but many parts of the country.” It is worth mentioning some Western and US scholars have already disclosed that, US and NATO have been supporting the IS and Al Qaeda in Syria, against the Asad regime. Some even relate that, ISIS has been created by CIA during US invasion of Iraq for its strategic usage both in Middle East as well as elsewhere in Muslim world.
In summary, there is not only a presence of IS in Afghanistan, but a rapid expansion too. Although, officially Pakistan Government has denied any presence of IS in its territory, however, this terrorist network (IS) is being directly supported and controlled through a concert of; RAW, CIA and MI6 in Afghanistan. IS presence and expansion in neighbouring Afghanistan is a direct threat for Pakistan. Already it has claimed responsibilities of some incidents, occurred recently in Pakistan. Besides, there have been seen some posters of IS in the capital of Pakistan. After announcement of new US policy for South Asia (Afghan Policy) on August 21, 2017, one can easily relate the future usage of IS in this region. The Indo-US strategic confluence against Pakistan and some of the threatening statements from US and India clearly depicts the usage of IS. If the nuclear Pakistan was the target of this alliance, today, China Pakistan Economic Corridor is another yet another target. Through IS and other militant networks, Indo-US alliance would endeavour to sabotage the CPEC Project in the first instance. There is a need that, Pakistani security apparatus and strategic planners should concentrate towards this most likely threat perception. The revelations of Hamid Karzai are real and need immediate counter measures. At this trying time, should the political leadership of Pakistan realize its responsibilities for a political stability within Pakistan?
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.
Dr Muhammad Khan