January 11, 2018

Clues to Quetta attack point to Afghanistan: Diplomats briefed

ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, senior civil and army leadership sat together at the Foreign Office on Wednesday, to brief at length the representatives of important world capitals in a “comprehensive and detailed briefing” about the reality on the ground, arising after continuous pressure from the Trump administration to force Pakistan to do its bidding against terrorism, while trying to find an answer to 17 years of unrest inside Afghanistan.

However the Trump administration fails to mention and conveniently looks away from the countless sanctuaries inside Afghanistan under the nose of Nato and US commanders which are used to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan. In this regard, the diplomats were informed by Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, the Chief of General Staff, that Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Quetta has been traced back to Afghanistan.

The Trump administration’s strategy to win the war inside Afghanistan has boiled down to a confrontation with Pakistan in which Gen John Nicholson, the top US Commander in Afghanistan, says: "The senior (Taliban) leadership still resides in Pakistan. We have got to see movement on reduction of sanctuary and support for those insurgents and terrorists operating from Pakistan who are attacking our forces and our coalition diplomats and forces, as well as the Afghans, inside this country”.

Pakistan finds this to be a simplistic recipe to end decades of unrest in Afghanistan as ‘incomprehensible’, and decided to take into confidence the ambassadors and heads of mission of resident missions in Islamabad stressing its achievements and limitations while fighting the war against terror in its neighborhood.

The extensive briefing was given by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Bilal Akbar, Director General Military Operations Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Director General Military Intelligence Major General Nadeem Zaki Manj.

The message put across was very clear, outlining Pakistan’s achievements and challenges in counter-terrorism efforts, and combating violent extremism; unprecedented escalations of Indian ceasefire violations at the LoC and the Working Boundary; and the gross Indian atrocities in IHK.

Spokesman at the Foreign Office in a statement, pointed out that the foreign minister who has not been mincing his words in recent statements, updated the participants about the massive counter-terrorism efforts that Pakistan had undertaken in the last 16 years, more so the developments that had occurred in the last 4 years.

“They were provided details about the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Raddul Fassad which had eliminated terrorist presence in Pakistan. They were also briefed about the terrorist threat emanating from the safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan, which are resulting in loss of human lives and damage to infrastructure in Pakistan”, the spokesman added.

The Trump administration also last week, while further criticizing Pakistan put it on a list of countries which “violate” religious freedom, while initially charging it with “lies and deceit” before suspending security assistance.

Senior diplomats were also briefed extensively about the “New Normal” in ties with India which is bent upon destabilising the entire region. “Details were also provided on how the Indian belligerence and unhelpful posturing is distracting Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts and how an active RAW-NDS nexus is verifiably working to undermine Pakistan’s internal stability,”the statement added. Ambassadors were shown evidence of an Indian campaign of unprecedented ceasefire violations, provocations and insinuations including terrorism in the form of IED attacks against innocent civilians on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

While these Islamabad-based diplomats must be familiar with the details of Wednesday’s briefings, the government did well to send a clear message that the civil and military leadership were on one page and spoke with one voice.


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