TTP and ISIS deadly alliance emerges against Pakistan, China and Russia

ISLAMABAD - Growing convergence between defunct Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Khorasan, the franchise of Islamic State in Afghanistan, remains a major threat to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries especially Pakistan and regional powers Russia and China. Since quite long Islamabad has been raising its concern with Kabul over the way Afghan soil is being used by the militants of TTP and Khorasan Afghanistan against Pakistan and sought Afghan government action. So has been the case with Moscow which has also been raising its concerns over the presence and activities of the Islamic State elements in Afghanistan.

Both the outlawed terror outfits have been trying to destabilise Pakistan by mounting terrorist attacks across the country over the past four years. On its part, the Afghan government and the US-led NATO forces have been occasionally trying to targeting the hideouts of Islamic State as well as TTP but at very low scale.

Both the forces have killed the TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah and some other low profile fighters, there has been no dedicated effort to eliminate their hideouts and kill their fighters. Media reports suggest that Afghan authorities have killed several militants including a key commander of the Islamic States last month.

Islamabad looks at this as a positive development and hopes that Afghan government should launch a major offensive not only against Khorasan but also the TTP.

It looks at the US and Afghan Taliban engagement positively and expects that Afghan government and US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan take decisive actions against TTP and Khorasan outfits.

On its part, Pakistan is working on war footing to fence its border with Afghanistan to forestall the threat and this effort is greatly contributing in tacking the menace of cross border movement of the terrorists on Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan has constantly remained engaged with the US, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, China and other regional countries in seeking a lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

In a related development, Russia has strongly rebutted and described as a ‘slip of tongue’ the reported remarks by a senior government official regarding the movement of terrorists belonging to the militant Islamic State by helicopters from Pakistan to the Tajikistan border.

During her media briefing this week, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Maria Zhakharova said the comment by Russian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Zubov was a ‘slip of tongue’.

She also reiterated that Moscow is “closely cooperating” with Islamabad in the fight against terrorism and negotiating a political settlement in Afghanistan. Zhakharova added that both countries share common concerns regarding the momentum being gained and the expansion of the militant Islamic State (IS).

“Great contribution is being made by all the countries bordering Afghanistan and Russia is a reliable partner of those countries in every effort to ensure the security of the borders,” said Zhakharova.

On January 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and emphasised on the importance of Islamabad’s role in bringing peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

Kabulov had appreciated Pakistan’s efforts towards working for a political solution in the region and was assured by Qureshi that Pakistan will keep striving for peace in neighbouring Afghanistan, as that is the only way to bring prosperity to the region.

Highlighting the role of neighbours and the regional countries in the peace process, Foreign Minister Qureshi had also lauded the important contributions Russia had made including the “Moscow Format of Consultations”. Ambassador Kabulov had further stated that Russia and Pakistan were important stakeholders in peace and stability in Afghani

In December, Islamabad and Moscow agreed to continue efforts through “Moscow Format of Consultations”, for supporting what they called the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Analysts who closely follow developments about Afghanistan are pinning high hopes that the ongoing US- Afghan Taliban engagement would lead to end the decades old Afghan war.

They believed that era of proxy war is over and cautioned that all the stakeholders in Afghan peace should chart a common action plan to purge Afghanistan of all manifestations of terrorism and shape including the TTP and Khorasan, the franchise of the Islamic State in the larger interest of regional peace and security.

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By: Maqbool Malik