Pakistan’s deadly airstrikes on Kunar and Khost provinces have provoked widespread reactions. Former Vice President, Amrullah Saleh has criticized it as strongly, saying that Pakistan has dared to attack Afghanistan for the first time in its history. The attacks were carried out by Pakistan after a period of turbulent domestic political turmoil. According to experts, this is the second Pakistani airstrike on Afghan territory in the 75-year history of this country. Some believe these attacks could be the beginning of a new “crisis” between the two countries, but others say Pakistan is not afraid of the consequences of the attacks and the Taliban will not be able to respond, as the Taliban are the Pakistani proxy soldiers with a different uniform.
The attacks are carried out to avenge the blood of Pakistani soldiers killed in an attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters. Experts analyze the recent crisis in Pakistan and the consequences of Pakistan’s proxy policies on supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Although it is not clear what will happen after the attacks, Ferdows Kawish, a journalist and familiar with the regional affairs, believes that the Taliban in Kabul and the Pakistani Taliban are not ideologically opposed to each other and that it is unlikely that they will go to war. Pakistani officials have previously said they have promised the Afghan Taliban to take action against armed opposition groups. Clashes and a “full-scale war” between the Taliban and Pakistan are also out of the imagination.
How the Attacks Took Place?
According to local sources, Pakistani fighters attacked the villages of Mirspar, Mandatah, Shidi and Kani in the Spiri district of Khost province at 2:00 am on Saturday with resulted in causalities of 30 residents o the respective districts, including women and children. According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the attacks took place in areas where migrants from Pakistan’s Waziristan region reside. Earlier in the day, clashes broke out between the Taliban and Pakistani forces in the Masterbell area of Khost province.
At the same time, the Pakistani Air Force carried out attacks in the village of Chugam in the Sheltan district of Kunar province. According to local sources, five members of a family, including four children and a woman, were killed in the airstrike. Earlier, Kunar residents complained that Pakistan had launched rocket attacks in several districts of the province.
It is for four years that Pakistan has been carrying out rocket attacks on areas in Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia and other border areas for years. Some news sources have reported 45 casualties as result of Pakistan’s airstrikes on Kunar and Khost provinces. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has raised concerns over the civilian causalities. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has declared that the organization will investigate the facts and casualties of the attacks.
Motivation Behind Strikes
In contrast to the reactions by the Afghanistan citizens, this issue did not provoke any reaction in Pakistan. Pakistani media have ignored to cover and none of the Pakistan’s military authorities have yet commented. Pakistan’s only reaction was to say that it was reviewing the reports.
A few days ago, in an attack allegedly carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, about 10 members of the Pakistani army were killed. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Baloch Liberation Army have been carrying out bloody and deadly attacks on the Pakistani army for some time. In response, Pakistan summoned the charge d’affaires of the Taliban embassy in Pakistan, saying the attacks were carried out from Afghan territory.
Many in Afghanistan believe that the operations were carried out in response to bloody attacks by the Pakistani Taliban. Because the Pakistani army and officials have repeatedly said that the group is planning and organizing attacks using Afghanistan soil. Negotiations led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s Acting Interior Minister, led to a month-long ceasefire between Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban.
Ferdows Kawish says that Pakistan believes the Pakistani Taliban are using Afghan territory against Pakistan and all the attacks in Pakistan are being designed and planed in Afghanistan. He suggested the attacks may have been carried out in retaliation for the killing of Pakistani soldiers by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Ahmad Saeedi, a former Afghan diplomat in Pakistan, also said the attack was in response to attacks by the Pakistani Taliban. Although Saeedi believes that Pakistani military strikes could be the beginning of a “crisis”, he does not rule out full-scale clashes between the Taliban and Pakistan.
Reactions to Pakistani Army Attacks
The Taliban, who are allegedly the Pakistani soldiers in different uniform in Afghanistan, have called the attacks “cruel” and have condemned it, but have taken no responsive actions. Zabihullah Mujahid says the attacks were carried out against Pakistan refugees, residing in Afghanistan. The Taliban spokesman warned that Pakistan to avoid creating tensions by challenging the tolerance of the Afghan people in such matters and must not repeat it again. He has emphasized that issues should be resolved through dialogue.
Rahmatullah Nabil, the former Directorate of National Security has challenged Taliban spokesman’s warning nothing more than show off on media. “Those who have read the history of Pakistan, have respected the Pakistani flag and chanted the Pakistani national anthem, ‘Pak Sarzamin’ and have always acted as the mighty arm of the ISI, expecting them to resist against Pakistan aggression, is more like self-deception,” Nabil said.
The Taliban’s Foreign Ministry summoned Pakistani ambassador to Kabul, Mansour Ahmad Khan in to seek declaration on recent tensions along the border. The Taliban’s Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Mottaqi has strongly protested the airstrikes by Pakistani forces.
Afghanistan’s mission to the United Nations has also condemned Pakistani airstrikes in Kunar and Khost. After Pakistan’s attack on Khost, residents of the provinces protested against the attacks calling it a clear violation of sovereignty. Protesters chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and condemned the attacks.
Former Vice President, Amrullah Saleh, has said that for the “first time” the Pakistani Air Force has bombed several parts of Afghanistan. He claims that Kabul is invaded by a group of “mercenaries and proxies who are basically Pakistani army men in different uniforms.” Saleh further urges ironically that perhaps the best solution would be to facilitate a political office and address for Pakistani Taliban in Doha, the capital of Qatar, to motivate the Pakistani Taliban aggression as the international community did for Pakistani backed Taliban in Afghanistan. “If this version of peace negotiating was applicable for Kabul, it is not bad that it should be repeated for Islamabad too.” He added.
Former President Hamid Karzai and a number of other political figures have also condemned Pakistan’s attacks on Afghanistan territory. Simultaneously, the public, calling Taliban as the Pakistan army in different uniform, has criticized Taliban’s stands in the recent incidents. The people expected similar response by Taliban; while, Taliban have condemned the attacks only.
What Do We Know about Pakistan’s First Airstrike in Afghanistan?
Ferdows Kawish analyzes the current situation as a consequence of the policy of supporting a “jihadist” group pursued by the Pakistan Establishment. He is referring to support for the Taliban who is now threatening the security of Pakistan and the region.
According to Kawish, during the course of 75-year history of Pakistan, the attacks in Kunar and Khost are the second air force attack on Afghan territory. According to Ferdows Kawish, the first Pakistani invasion took place on June 12, 1949, with very serious consequences. On this day, the newly formed Pakistani Air Force bombed the village of Mughalgi, which was part of Paktia province. In response, Shah Mahmud Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, convened a Loya Jirga in which the 1893 Durand Treaty and the rest of the documents signed by the Kabul kings with British India.
Ferdows Kawish says the dispute over the Durand Line has been one the main reasons behind the tensions along the borderline time to time. It is interesting to note that Pakistan’s first air strike had a similar purpose as the second one. According to Kawish, at that time a guerrilla movement led by Mirza Ali Khan, known as the poor Epi, was fighting against the Pakistan government. Epi’s claim was to create an independent Pashtun state. “Faqir Epi wanted an independent Pashtunistan with an extremist Islamic state regime, similar to current extremist regime in Afghanistan,” Kavosh wrote.
According to Ferdows Kavosh, Faqir Epi started the war with British India in Waziristan in the second decade of the 20th century and has been using the territory of Afghanistan as a base ever since. The Nazi German embassy in Kabul has been a sponsor of Epi in the war against British India, according to Kawish. Faqir Epi rejected the “violence and secularism” movement of the servant Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan. Afghanistan supported Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan at the time, but when the north-western British Indian border state was not allowed to hold an independence referendum, it allowed Faqir Epi to use Afghan’s territory to fight Pakistan. Finally, the Afghan government of the time supported Abdul Ghafar Khan and his “non-violent ideology” and called on Faqir Epi to leave Afghanistan. The Epi Front has been in decline since 1950, but Pakistan has failed to detain him.
Ferdows Kawish says that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is now favored extremist terror among the Mehsud and Wazir tribes, and that its founding fathers call themselves the heirs of Faqir Epi, except that they want rule over entire Pakistan.
According to him, there is still a claim that a group like the Epi is using the territory of Afghanistan. Kawish says that Faqir Epi in recent years of his life always said that Afghanistan deceived him and stabbed him in the back. He concluded: “The rulers of Afghanistan at that time did not have a common ideology with Faqir Epi, but the ideology of the current rulers is a TTP ideology and it is unlikely that these rulers will fight this force. It is not clear where this story will end up. This situation is part of the side effects of the policy of supporting a jihadist regime in Afghanistan, which is being pursued by the Pakistani establishment.
Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily