Pak terror sanctuaries anchoring Haqqanis pose major threat to war-torn Afghanistan

Kabul, Feb 27(ANI): Both Pakistan and Iran are known to be supporting the Taliban, and they play out their antagonism against the United States on Afghan soil, with safe terrorist havens in Pakistani tribal areas being a major factor behind the latest suicide terror attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"You have to see these attacks in the broader strategic context," The New York Times quoted Haseeb Humayoon, the director of a risk consulting firm in Kabul, as saying.

Underlying the latest attacks are the region's geopolitics, the report said, noting that a period of relative calm last year in Afghan cities coincided with an easing of tensions between the Afghans and Pakistan over reconciliation with the Taliban.

Now the Afghans appear to be trying to negotiate with the Taliban on their own, and there are also talks of permanent American bases in the country, which Pakistan and Iran see as a potential loss of their influence, the report added.

"Our neighbours interpret that as Afghans' seeking guarantors of security other than them," Humayoon said.

"Both the international military and our own government are distracted," he added. "Our government is not focusing enough on rallying people against these forces, and the international military coalition has not focused enough on Pakistan."

According to analysts in Kabul, while US troops have made clear gains in uprooting the Taliban from Kandahar and large areas of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, Pakistan has not made similar strides in ousting the Taliban from its tribal areas, the report said.

The Haqqani network, among the most brutal, still remains anchored in Pakistan's North Waziristan region despite a stream of drone strikes by the Central Intelligence Agency, it added.

"The suicide bombings are, we believe, predominantly requested and funded by Haqqani but facilitated by LET and AQ," said a senior American military official, referring to Lashkar-e-Taiba and Al Qaeda. "The latter groups provide bombers and material in exchange for money. Haqqani chooses targets."

The two largest underlying problems are the poor performance of the Afghan government, which makes many of the country's citizens reluctant to fight for it, and millions of Pashtuns in the tribal areas who feel they are unrepresented and even discriminated against, and are willing to cross the border to fight in Afghanistan, the report said.

"You still have two major factors," US Army veteran General (r) Keane said, "the ineffectiveness of the central government and the Pakistani sanctuaries." (ANI)

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