Security beefed up after terror attacks in Afghanistan
Security beefed up after terror attacks in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has stepped up security and ordered strict implementation on National Action Plan (NAP) across the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its bordering areas in the wake of the latest terrors attacks in Afghanistan. This was revealed by a senior security official to Business Recorder on condition of anonymity.

Following two terror attacks in Afghanistan -twin blasts on September 20 in Nangarhar targeting Taliban members with 35 casualties, and Friday's Kunduz suicide attack in a mosque with 100 fatalities - the Pakistan government has ordered strict security measures and increased vigilance including conducting regular search operations to foil any possible resurgence of terrorism.

He further said that law enforcement agencies have increased surveillance in high-risk areas and have searched 50,000 hotels, 25000 education institutions, 3970 bus stands and 41000 houses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During the raids and checks, he said that a number of suspected persons were taken into custody for investigation.

In Punjab and federal capital, the source said that security agencies have commenced collecting data of Afghan nationals to ensure that no anti-state elements have crossed into Pakistan under the garb of ordinary Afghan nationals.

However, Afghanistan remained the top agenda item during deliberations between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and top Pakistani civil and military officials during her two day (7-8 October) trip to the country.

Sherman held meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf, but not with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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The emphasis of the talks was to hold the Taliban accountable to their pledge to have a stable and inclusive Afghanistan, inclusive in terms of ethnicity and gender, and an Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbour for terrorists.

The meetings came amid an array of unsettled issues between the two countries. What was particularly galling for Pakistan was the proposed bill in the US Senate moved by 22 Republican senators calling for sanctions on Pakistan for providing safe haven for the Taliban.

Pakistan during talks with Sherman focused on remaining engaged with Afghanistan to ensure humanitarian assistance and to enable the Taliban to give wages to state employees. Since the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021, nine billion dollars of Afghanistan central bank's reserves held in the US have been frozen as has the pledged multilateral and bilateral donor assistance of hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a video statement at the conclusion of her visit, Deputy Secretary Sherman stated Afghanistan was at top of the agenda, adding: "We discussed importance of holding the Taliban accountable to the commitments they have made because it is in all out interests to have a stable and inclusive Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbour for terrorists.

"The United States applauds Pakistan's 42-year history of hospitality in welcoming Afghan refugees fleeing violence and persecution. We will continue working together to support human dignity and human rights, including the rights of women, children and minorities."

In a bilateral context, the top US diplomat said that the United States and Pakistan have an important long-standing bilateral relationship. She said: "we also discussed our cooperation in other areas, including the climate crisis, geo-economics and regional connectivity, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic."

She said that the US has donated nearly 16 million vaccine doses to Pakistan so far this year and another 9.6 million are on the way. "We are providing these vaccines with no strings attached because it is simply the right thing to do [and] to protect the people of Pakistan from this terrible disease," she added.

She further stated that the United States believes that a strong and prosperous democratic Pakistan is vitally important for the region and indeed for the wider world. "We have had many years of productive partnership with Pakistan toward that goal and we look forward to many more to come," she added.

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However, senior analyst, Lt Gen Talat Masood told Business Recorder that the US has always unjustifiably shifted the blame of failure in Afghanistan on Pakistan without taking into account the ground realities.

He said that it was obvious that the top US official had arrived to share the Biden administration's concerns over the Taliban government and to discuss with Pakistan possible threat of global terror in case Afghanistan becomes a harbour of the international terrorist organizations such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.

He said that engaging with the Taliban is in the interest of both Pakistan and the US, adding that holding Pakistan responsible for everything that happens in Afghanistan would be counter-productive.

He added that economic stability of the new Afghan government is very important, adding that the international community and the US should take measures to unfreeze billions of dollars of funds of the Afghan government, frozen soon after the Taliban take-over.

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