Cross-border cooperation: Ties that bind militants persist

Published: July 8, 2011

Afghan Taliban deny they host, assist or work with Pakistani counterparts. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

As reports surface confirming the presence of senior Pakistani Taliban leaders hiding in and operating from within Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban vehemently deny that they are hosting, assisting or taking any assistance from their Pakistani counterparts.

A series of interviews revealed that two senior Pakistani Taliban leaders who fled to Afghanistan after military offensives, are now using their cross-border bases to launch attacks on Pakistani border posts.

Deputy chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Maulvi Faqir Muhammad is currently operating from Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, which borders Bajaur Agency where he fought Pakistani forces during 2008-9, an Afghan journalist Nematullah Karyab, who interviewed Faqir, told The Express Tribune.

Faqir is being hosted by Qari Zia-ur-Rahman, an infamous Afghan anti-government commander who was sheltered by Faqir in Bajaur for years, sources close to Afghan Taliban said.

Pakistani militants from  Mohmand Agency are also operating from Nari district in Kunar, Karyab added.

Meanwhile, Maulana Fazlullah, head of the Pakistani Taliban in Swat, is believed to be based in the remote and poverty-stricken Nuristan province with the local Afghan Taliban leader Sheikh Dost Muhammad.

Reports earlier surfaced that Pakistani Taliban and remnants of al Qaeda aided the Afghan Taliban when they attacked and briefly took control of Doad district in Nuristan province in May. Nuristan Governor Jamal-ud-Din Badar had claimed that he had intelligence reports that close to 500 Arabs, Chechen, Pakistani and Afghan fighters wanted to attack and take over the district.

‘No foreign assistance’

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected as ‘enemy propaganda’ the claim that the Pakistani Taliban secured areas in Kunar and Nuristan provinces and handed them over to the Afghan Taliban.

“Pakistani Taliban have not taken part in any of our operations,” Mujahid told The Express Tribune in a telephone conversation and through emails. Dismissing reports of foreign militants fighting with them, Mujahid said it is “part of the propaganda from the Afghan administration to blame the Mujahideen for seeking foreign help.”

He denied the possibility of Pakistani Taliban setting up bases in Afghan Taliban-controlled areas saying: “We cannot host guests in the current situation … there is no safe place in our country.”

Former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef also denied assistance of Pakistani Taliban to their Afghan counterparts.

“I do not believe that Afghan Taliban need any help from Pakistani Taliban,” Zaeef said in a reply to emailed questions by The Express Tribune.

“It is the weakness of the Afghan government to quickly point fingers at Pakistan for whatever happens in Afghanistan,” Zaeef said, adding that the resistance in Afghanistan was purely local.

Meanwhile, Afghan defence experts corroborate the liaison between Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.“Jihadi elements in both countries helped each other during the 10-year resistance against the former Soviet forces and the same cooperation is continuing today,” former Afghan defence minister Shahnawaz Tanai told The Express Tribune on phone from Kabul. Tanai, who now leads the Afghanistan Peace Movement, said that Pakistani and Afghan forces cannot secure the whole border without the help of foreign forces.

He added that the Afghan government has no control in eastern parts of Kunar and that militants from both sides freely move in areas where the government has no control.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2011.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Frankk
    Jul 8, 2011 - 9:20AM

    Tahir Khan

    As reports surface confirming the
    presence of senior Pakistani Taliban
    leaders hiding in and operating from
    within Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban
    vehemently deny that they are hosting,
    assisting or taking any assistance
    from their Pakistani counterparts

    Whoa! Easy there, cowboy! Pakistani counterparts? The Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are two entirely different organizations with entirely , different leaderships, memberships and objectives.Recommend

  • Bammbaayyaa
    Jul 8, 2011 - 9:22AM

    Looks like its the same situation as in Kashmir …. People and Families are divided in Pakistan and Afghanistan by Durand line …
    I wonder what would be wrong if India supports the Afghan people who are in Afghanistan and want to unite … same as Pakistan supports the Kashmiries in POK… what say ,,,??Recommend

  • Mirza
    Jul 8, 2011 - 9:59AM

    It is not a rocket science to understand that there are no good or bad Taliban. They are all the same and are looking to impose strict fundamentalist rule. An arbitrary line does not change the culture, mentality and hundreds of years of common customs and relationships.Recommend

  • Haider
    Jul 8, 2011 - 10:15AM

    @Frankk:
    Different in a sense that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan is funded and trained by CIA.Recommend

  • N M JAVED
    Jul 8, 2011 - 12:10PM

    The Afghan Taliban deny having relationships with the TTP operating from Afghanistan. Really? Of course they will deny such a shame because if they don’t they will be in real trouble; their fugitives in Quetta will be kicked out or may be sold out to Americans, the financial and logistical support channel from Pakistan will be shut down and their fighters injured in battles with the Afghan government and the Coalition Forces will be no longer privileged to get treatment in Jelani Hospital in Quetta.

    Why do you think the Afghan Taliban would announce their secretly-open relationship with the TTP and invite the anger of the Pakistani state-runny folks upon them?Recommend

  • Mr. Nobody
    Jul 8, 2011 - 1:35PM

    @Frankk and haider,dont u guyz get tired of living in ur cocoon of conspiracy theories?im sick and tired of people claiming that TTP is funded by the cia,mossad,raw etc.. even when they have no tangible proof.wasnt baitullah killed by a cia drone?Recommend

  • Farukh Sarwar
    Jul 8, 2011 - 2:04PM

    Whether it’s Afghanistan or Pakistan, Taliban represent an extremist ideology and they intend to forcefully enforce it on other people. This is wrong and if the Taliban really want to gain public sympathies, then they should come up with a different solution to the problem and participate in the political process.Recommend

  • Salman
    Jul 8, 2011 - 4:17PM

    Baitullah Mehsood was already surrounded by Pakistani forces during South Waziristan operation and it was impractical for him to find his way out in other words, he was to be taken out by Pakistani forces any time. Anyways that’s an old story but for now that Fazullah, TTP’s Swat commander is hiding in Afghanistan as well.Recommend

  • faraz
    Jul 8, 2011 - 5:13PM

    TTP and Afghan Taliban are graduates from the same madrassas and thus have the same ideologies. There is some difference over the area of operations, objectives and methodologies. And TTP is considered closer to Al-Qaida which is its main financier so its tactics are more brutal. Otherwise Afghan Taliban are no angels, they display the same kind of sectarian hatred as Pakistani Taliban do. Afghan Taliban closed down all female education facilities and expelled thousands of women teachers and students. The difference in perception is because state television was the only source of information back in the 90s. Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jul 8, 2011 - 7:43PM

    No surprise —- the Taliban have just figured out that they can manipulate the “sanctuary” thing in both directions. Unfortunately for the Taliban the USA doesn’t care which country is hosting you.

    Recommend

  • frank
    Jul 8, 2011 - 9:15PM

    Faraz

    And TTP is considered closer to
    Al-Qaida which is its main financier
    so its tactics are more brutal.
    Otherwise Afghan Taliban are no
    angels, they display the same kind of
    sectarian hatred as Pakistani Taliban
    do.

    The point is not that one is a devil and the other is an angel. The point is that they are two entirely different organizations with entirely different goals and methods. The Afghan Taliban are fighting against the Americans in Afghanistan while the TTP is fighting the Pakistani state. The Afghan Taliban is only interested in establishing an Islamic state in Afghanistan while the TTP is an Al Qaeda affiliate that share’s Al Qaeda’s global jihad ideology and its methods.

    The difference in perception is
    because state television was the only
    source of information back in the 90s.

    In actual fact the difference in perception is directly proportional to the IQ of the perciever.

    Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Jul 8, 2011 - 9:52PM

    You guys wanted to erase the Durand line and make Afghanistan your 5th province – looks like you are getting your wish. Good luck for the future.

    Recommend

  • faraz
    Jul 9, 2011 - 9:08AM

    @Frankk

    How did you figure out after watching 6th september defence day celebrations on state TV that we actually lost the war of 1965?

    Recommend

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