Pakistan’s ‘Durand Line’ is Bloody, Perhaps Bloodier than LoC 

ISI seems to have formed a new group—Khattak Taliban—to fight Afghan soldiers and, if needed, other Taliban groups.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
A Pakistani border security guard stands alert at Pakistan-Afghanistan border post, Chaman in Pakistan.
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Attacks and clashes between Afghani forces and Taliban are now almost daily news, and so are the clashes between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani troops along the Durand line, the international land border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the last few weeks, the Afghan Taliban have claimed to have killed many Islamabad soldiers. The citizens of Khyber Pakhtoonqkhwa are, once again, sounding the alarm. The game is on, and the good old strategy of chaos so dear to Pakistan army and intelligence is becoming more and more complex and elaborate.

Not only in fact, according to locals, Islamabad is playing on the usual different tables, sponsoring both Taliban and ISIS -Khorasan. According to US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad these two organisations are each others’ “mortal enemies, and in the war against ISIS Taliban have played an important role”.

‘Khattak Taliban’ Raising Its Head in Pakistan

For more than a year the Taliban are regrouping in Pakistan and are being allotted areas of influence, as repeatedly stated by local citizens and members of PTM. They are also forming brand new groups: the latest one seems to be a ‘Khattak Taliban’ group.

List of names of people recruited from areas along the Durand Line.
List of names of people recruited from areas along the Durand Line.
Image Courtesy: Francesca Marino

“Immediately after the so called ‘peace agreement’ between the US and the Taliban, Pakistan’s ISI has formed a new jihadi group to fight in Afghanistan against the government forces and, if needed, against other Taliban groups. This group is called Khattak, and its members belong to the poorest districts of KPK,” local sources say.

These groups are trained, according to local sources, in training centers based in Upper Dir and Miran Shah in KPK and Kuchlak in Balochistan by the members of Jaish-e-Mohammed and Haqqani network and by the Taliban themselves.

They are then sent to Afghanistan against the government troops. Locals sources, however, maintain that the training of the fighters is so shabby that the “poor chaps are killed every day like flies”. They further add that thirty of the newly trained fighters, a whole brigade including their commander, were killed two weeks ago.

Recruiting Pakistan’s Poor to Fight in Afghanistan

The funeral, held with great display of people and means, was circulating on Facebook to recruit new fighters. “These people belong to the poorest areas of Southern KPK” maintain the locals. “Even though we are talking of an area very rich in resources: gas, uranium and even platinum, the region stays miserable as all of our natural bounty is used by Punjab. There are no jobs for local people, and the men are left with two options: joining the Frontier Corps and fight against Baloch, or joining the Taliban and fight in Afghanistan.”

امارات اسلامی خٹک گروپ کا امیر مجاہد #سفیر_اللہ_صفی شہید کا نماز جنازہ أج بہادر خیل نیکی صاحب میں ادا کی گٸی۔ ...

Posted by Afkar social media on Friday, July 24, 2020

“They (ISI) invite these jobless people, brainwash them, give them money, food and gifts for their families, and then they bring them to Kuchlak in Balochistan. The Army is paying them a monthly salary of 30,000 rupees and allotting other 30,000 for the families if they join the Taliban,” sources add further.

Pakistan’s Strategy to Counter ‘Rogue’ Taliban

These ‘fighters’ are not only meant, apparently, to fight the regular troops but also, in case of need, to fight other jihadi groups starting from the ‘regular’ Taliban, mainly from the Qatar faction. “In case the intra-Afghan dialogue really happens and the result is not to Pakistan’s wishes, they want to be ready” says a local analyst, requesting to remain anonymous. According to him, Pakistan does not want to take any chance of having a not-so-friendly government in Afghanistan.

Pakistani establishment is also planning ahead assuming that some member of the Taliban belonging to the Qatar group, the same people “kept safe” in Pakistan for years, might turn against their benefactors at some point.

“If this happens” adds the same analyst “Pakistani jihadis will go like a flood and storm Afghanistan”.

You don't change a winning team, they say, so Islamabad has no intention to change its main strategy and its primary resource: chaos. Breeding jihadi groups all trained and managed by the same masters but ready, if needed, to clash against each other. Good terrorists ready to become bad ones and to be officially dropped when the pressure is too high.

After all, lives of citizens in KPK and Balochistan are worth less than nothing for the central government. While the Durand line becomes a line of blood and border provinces are changed into a factory of different jihadi groups, Pakistan’s show goes on.

(Francesca Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse Pakistan’ with B Natale. She tweets at @francescam63. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quintneither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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