New Delhi: Afghanistan has been shaken by terror attacks as the Taliban has once again made an attempt to take over Helmand province. In a coordinated offensive, Taliban terrorists launched simultaneous attacks to take control over Greshk, Nawi, and Lashkargah cities of Helmand province on the intervening night of October 11 and 12.
After a few hours of the attack, terrorists took over the posts of Afghan security forces in the three cities. The Afghan security forces were quick to respond, leading to the failure of the offensive. Special Forces were also quickly airlifted to Lashkargah. Seeing the violation of the ongoing peace process, the US forces joined the Afghan forces in launching airstrikes over the positions occupied by terrorists.
Within 24 hours of the attack, the Afghan National Security Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) claimed to have neutralized around 126 terrorists and injured over 100 others. However, the investigation of neutralized terrorists highlighted an eye-opening fact as a number of them were found to be the operatives of Pakistan-based proscribed organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad.
It is believed that the mastermind behind the attack was Maulana Masood Azhar’s elder brother Ibrahim Azhar. Though Ibrahim Azhar’s well-coordinated plan to take over the surrounding 12 mobile towers and switch off the communication network before launching the attack as well as destroying the power substation to cut off the power supply was carried out by Jaish terrorists successfully, the operation failed due to timely air support from the US and bravery of Afghan force.
After the failure of the attack and getting injured, a number of terrorists are also returning to their respective bases in Pakistan. The funeral prayers of the deceased terrorists are being organised at Jaish Markaz located across Peshawar.
“The most noteworthy fact is that Jaish chose Helmand for the attack which faces one of the largest numbers of terror attacks and is dominated by the Taliban. It reflects the degree to which Jaish has penetrated within the Taliban. Taliban has made several attacks to capture the capital city of Lashkargah.” Sources told to Zee News.
The frequency and intensity of the attacks were so high that a couple of years ago, the then Vice-President of Afghanistan, Amarullah Saleh had to campaign in Helmand against Taliban and lead the security forces deployed there. The attempt to capture the capital city Lashkar Gah by Jaish reveals the fact that Taliban aspirations are now being driven by Jaish-e-Mohammad.
In fact, this is a part of a continuous trend wherein Jaish cadres have infiltrated the Taliban and are launching attacks at Pakistan’s behest. Amidst ever-changing dynamics with the Intra-Afghan negotiation and Afghan Peace Process going ahead, this trend reflects how things shall move in the future.
“The new trend might lead to serious repercussions for India. This organic relationship between the Taliban and Jaish was evident during the Kandahar plane hijack. This bonhomie has become stronger over the years. Taliban’s strengthening in Afghanistan will embolden Jaish to carry out more attacks in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a senior Indian security officer to Zee News.
Such attacks will also provide an opportunity for deniability to Pakistan on its role in directly controlling Jaish and at the same time using the outfit for its interests. Through this arrangement, Jaish can keep operating from Afghanistan to carry out attacks against India without troubling Pakistan at the global fora.
Over the years, Pakistan has developed a new strategy in which cadres from Pakistani terror outfits infiltrate Afghanistan based terror groups and operate from there. There are multiple reports in Afghani media about the presence of Jaish and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba camps in areas controlled by the Taliban.
While the Helmand attack spearheaded by Jaish indicates the future danger to India, the success achieved by Afghan forces gives hope that Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir and Afghanistan can only be defeated if India and Afghanistan come together.