'Some elements of Afghan government may be backing Tehkreek-e-Taliban'

Published: August 5, 2012
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Some of elements (of Afghan govt) are supporters. Maybe state actors, maybe non-state actors, says Rehman Malik. PHOTO: FILE

Some of elements (of Afghan govt) are supporters. Maybe state actors, maybe non-state actors, says Rehman Malik. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said elements of the Afghan government are likely supporting a senior leader of Tehkreek-e-Taliban Pakistan who is fighting to topple the Islamabad government, accusations which could further raise tensions over cross-border raids by militants.

Pakistani officials say the Taliban commander known as Fazlullah has been orchestrating raids on Pakistani security forces from Afghanistan, where he fled several years ago after a Pakistani army offensive against his stronghold in the Swat Valley.

Pakistan has repeatedly called on Afghanistan to hunt down Fazlullah, whose fighters cross the border in their hundreds, set up ambushes and attack army checkpoints.

“If somebody is living in somebody’s house and you ask him ‘who is giving you food, who is giving you all this shelter?’ You know he is in Afghanistan,” Malik told Reuters in a weekend interview.

“I think some of the elements (of the Afghan government) there are supporters. Maybe state actors, maybe non-state actors.”

Afghan officials see Pakistan’s suggestion that Afghans are supporting cross-border attacks as an attempt to distract attention from what they say is Pakistan’s long history of supporting Afghanistan’s Taliban movement and other insurgent factions.

US and Afghan officials say there is no comparison between the relatively small and recent presence of Fazlullah’s men in eastern Afghanistan and what they describe as long-standing ties between elements of Pakistani intelligence and the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan’s intelligence agencies backed the emergence of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement in the mid-1990s and Western officials believe that parts of the security establishment continue to tolerate or actively abet Afghan insurgents.

Malik provided no evidence to support his assertion that elements within Afghanistan were supporting Fazlullah, nor did he give further details.

“These comments made by the Pakistani Interior Minister are irresponsible and a baseless allegation,” said Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

“Afghanistan has been under attacks from safe havens of insurgents inside Pakistan, and we are quite sure that Mullah Fazlullah is somewhere in Pakistan.”

Trading accusations

Fazlullah and other militant leaders based along the frontier complicate US efforts to stabilise the region before most Nato combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The issue has strained ties between Islamabad and Kabul.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of backing militants said to be based on its soil who cross the border to attack Afghan and Nato forces, including the Haqqani network, blamed for a series of high-profile attacks on Kabul.

Islamabad denies the allegations.

Pakistan’s reluctance to bow to US pressure to take tougher action against sanctuaries used by Haqqani insurgents and other Afghan fighters has been one of the major reasons for a sharp deterioration in relations with Washington.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday he accepted parliament’s decision to dismiss the country’s two top security ministers for failing to stop cross-border shelling blamed on Pakistan, in what could be a blow to Nato plans to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

The fractious parliament voted on Saturday to remove Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi over a series of recent insurgent assassinations of top officials, as well as the cross-border fire incidents that infuriate many Afghan voters as well as politicians.

Afghanistan has rushed additional troops and artillery to the mountainous border with Pakistan as tensions continue to rise over cross-border shelling which Afghan officials blame on Pakistan’s powerful military.

Pakistan’s military has said it only responds to attacks by militants, including Pakistan Taliban operating from what it says are havens in Afghan territory.

In his heyday, Fazlullah was known as “FM Mullah”, for his fiery radio speeches broadcast in Swat, which was a tourist resort before he and his men imposed a reign of terror there.

A burly man in his thirties with a heavy black beard, Fazlullah dispatched his men to publicly flog and behead opponents, or anyone they deemed immoral.

Fazlullah has re-emerged as a major security headache for the Pakistani military, which is already stretched fighting other Taliban insurgent leaders.

“He is as dangerous (for Pakistan) as the Haqqanis are dangerous for Afghanistan. He is energising terrorism now. He is recruiting people, he is planning,” said Malik.

In June, about 100 militants loyal to Fazlullah sneaked across the border and ambushed Pakistani troops. The fighters later released a video of what they said were the heads of 17 ambushed soldiers.

It was a reminder that despite army offensives, militant leaders can simply melt away and reappear to take on Pakistan’s army, one of the biggest in the world.

“Unfortunately he is enjoying his life in Afghanistan,” said Malik. “I appeal to Afghanistan to look into it and make sure (his) people don’t come to us.”

Greater cooperation on border security could be hard to achieve. There are no signs that either side will back down.

Asked if Pakistan would be willing to go after the Haqqanis, Malik said: “They are not our babies, they are no longer anyone’s babies. They have become independent.”

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Reader Comments (19)

  • afzaalkhan
    Aug 5, 2012 - 5:56PM

    For once I agree with Malik :)

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  • Ninja
    Aug 5, 2012 - 6:06PM

    It’s obvious Fazlullah has support from Afghan government, the question is what should we do about it?

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  • Aug 5, 2012 - 6:31PM

    Pakistan is feeling the heat , You can not blame Afghanistan for not controlling Fazallulah as you have been doing the same over the years. This blame game without real sincere concern will not yield any positive result.This statement is aimed for NATO /US forces rather than Afghanistan.

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  • stenson
    Aug 5, 2012 - 8:40PM

    @p r sharma: India has been fomenting problems and sending agents from their base in Afghanistan to cause trouble in Pakistan for decades. It is very hypocritical to hear such comments from Indians. I agree with Malik but I feel he is not forceful enough in pushing ISAF to make a big barrier separating Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the US can make a wall to keep out illegal Mexicans, why shouldn’t Pakistan have a wall to keep out Afghanis.

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  • hamza
    Aug 5, 2012 - 8:51PM

    o.O malik sahab you okay..?
    this is the second time in 4.5 years that i agree with youRecommend

  • amjad khattak
    Aug 5, 2012 - 8:54PM

    not some, the whole afghan govt support ttp. they want to use it to destablize pakistan. if nato is conducting drone strikes , we should also conduct air strikes in the hideouts of ttp in afghanistan. its a matter for the people of fata. they are losing their lives for the terrorists of ttp.

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  • vasan
    Aug 5, 2012 - 9:37PM

    Now that is one way to teach Pakistan in a manner that it can understand, Understand the follies of supporting state actors to spawn terrorism in the neighbourhood. Well done Afganistan.

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  • Raj - USA
    Aug 5, 2012 - 9:41PM

    Just like Pakistan is refusing to accept that Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan or that terror groups are operating from its territory, Afghanistan is refusing to accept presence of Fazullah is in Afghanistan and that any terror groups are operating from its territory. Just like Pakistan is asking of its State and Non-State support for terror activities, Afghanistan is asking for proof of its State and Non-State support for terror activities. Just like Pakistan’s courts have refused to accept proofs submitted to it, Afghanistan’s courts shall also refuse to accept any proofs submitted to it. India may be providing training for Afghan forces but it is Pakistan that has provided the real learning experience for Afghanistan. Afghans are quick learners and some recent comments from Afghans in other sections of ET show that they are now thinking of Radio Afghanistan, Lahore.

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  • stenson
    Aug 5, 2012 - 11:08PM

    @p r sharma: Not only is the Afghani government supporting te TTP but also the Indian government because both of them are using Afghanistan as a base for their war against Pakistan.

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  • Khalid
    Aug 5, 2012 - 11:10PM

    @amjad khattak
    My friend how about the afghan taliban safe heavens in KP, Fata and Balochistan. They have been killing us for the last 10 years, so your argument that TTP has safe heavens does not compare with the afghan argument. Pakistan needs to stop interferring in Afghanistan. Pakistan needs to learn to live peacefully with its self. Peace in afghanistan means that ppl from KP and Balochistan will benefit alot comapred to the rest of pakistan, but this does not go well through the eyes of punjabi establishment and therefore they always try to sabotage the peace in afghanistan. If pakistan continues with the same policy towards afghanistan then afghanistan will push for pashtunistan issue and this around afghans have learnt the game of strategic depth, double game and diplomacy(lies) thanks to pakistan. For us afghans an independent balochistan is more important than independent Fata or KP as it would provide us greater economic advantage. Afghanistan will soon sign a friendship treaty with independent balochistan.

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  • k. Salim Jahangir
    Aug 5, 2012 - 11:39PM

    And you are siting watching all that ?

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  • Mohd Butt
    Aug 6, 2012 - 4:08AM

    Malik rahman first time you said any thing which is fact,
    see I told you one day he will speek truth, although you waited almost 5 years, yes he is slow, some people are and he is one of them.

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  • American Desi
    Aug 6, 2012 - 4:12AM

    Tsk. tsk. Please don’t mention of Haqqani now. Please, pretty please?!

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  • Pashtun voice
    Aug 6, 2012 - 7:19AM

    NEVER EVER trust an Afghan. He will sell you twice before you even know what happened.

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  • Iqbal
    Aug 6, 2012 - 8:47AM

    You have been harboring the terrorists for 30 years on your soil who kill our soldiers and our people if we started doing so, it means that it is also our right to follow suit. The only solution to these would be the relinquishment of the double standard policy and filthy outdated strategic depth ph
    enomenon about Afghanistan. You and your soldiers are not of the blue-blood.

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  • KillaGpaki
    Aug 6, 2012 - 1:32PM

    @stenson: The reason being for having a wall or a fence is because the border isn’t recognized by either side of Afghans (Pathans/Pashtun). The real problem is that Pashtuns can’t be divided or both sides will pay heavy price.

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  • Zalmai
    Aug 6, 2012 - 8:46PM

    @PashtunVoice

    In Afghanistan they say never trust a Pakistani especially the Pashtuns because they sold out to the establishment.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Aug 7, 2012 - 6:30PM

    The dismissal of the Afghan defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and interior minister Bismillah Mohammadi revealed the incompetence of Karzai’s administration to secure law and order in Afghanistan. That the TTP enjoy safe haven in Afghanistan might have nothing to do with the allegation that some elements of Karzai’s regime were backing the TTP insurgents. The Afghan security forces themselves are simply corrupt and inept to handle heavy fightings.

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  • amjad khattak
    Aug 8, 2012 - 4:59PM

    it is the need of the hour to build a strong fence in the durand line and strictly control the immigration there. only then we can have a good neighborly relationship with afghanistan. tajikistan has done that and so is iran. its time to do it for pakistan . both tajikistan and iran share ethnic link in afghanistan and so is pakistan.

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