Saturday January 19, 2019

Afghan Taliban studying in Balochistan: Pakistan

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Student studying at a madarsa in Balochistan, image from Facebook

New Delhi, March 21, 2017: Sarfaraz Bugti, Balochistan’s minister for home and tribal affairs, has spoken to the Voice of America (VOA) radio that thousands of Afghan Taliban were still studying in seminaries across Balochistan. The province infamous for the headquarter of Afghan Taliban at Quetta. It was an open secret. “There are many seminaries where Afghan Taliban are studying, and many are owned by the Afghan Taliban group”, Bugti speaking to VOA’s Deewa Afghan service.

According to report, Pakistan consisted of more than 30,000 madarsas, of which some were legal adhering strictly to religious teaching. But thousands of them were not registered with the government. These were the potential places for recruiting points for militants and Taliban’.

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Ihsan Ghani, chief of the National Counter Terrorism Authority stated that as part of a new national counter-extremism policy the government had vowed to register all unregistered madrassas. Amin-ul-Hasnat Shah, the minister of state for religious affairs, admitted that these madrassas are mostly funded by Arab countries. The VOA stated that it is because of thousands of unregistered madrassas, they have been consequent of accruing militancy in Afghan-Pakistan region.

The schools nurture militants’ ideology and provide foot soldiers for the Taliban,’ who have been engaged in a bloody insurgency with the US-backed Afghan government for more than a decade. Much of the militant activity was accrued in Balochistan, oblivious of government scrutiny, where 5,500 madrassas operate as boarding schools, many of them breeding spots for terror.

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Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, spoke to VOA about last month’s terrorist attack in Kandahar that killed five UAE diplomats, was planned in Mawlawi Ahmad Madressah in Chaman. Balochistan government’s statistics estimated that more than 5,000 Afghans were studying at madrassas there with Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah, himself operating a seminary in Kuchlak, Quetta. The Balochistan government in Pakistan has never paid an iota of attention to shut these Madrassas, run and funded for Taliban. It always coming out with some great excuse to justify this.

Pakistan army, self-proclaimed best security force of the world, has never taken any action against these madrassas under the National Action Plan (NAP). It seems the incumbent government is very much comfortable with these cash cows and offer them several extensions provided the mess is in other provinces but not in Punjab specially Lahore. Afghan Government does not need any proof and evidence to present. The registration of religious schools was undertaken many years ago and still not finished as Pakistan government is probably not interested. All the funding must be halted immediately and the teaching needs to be monitored.

Pakistan tells the world that there isn’t any Taliban there and then issues statements like these that make the country a laughing stock. Pakistan allows its soil to be used for such violent acts both domestically and abroad and promulgates cave age extremism.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

Next Story

Pakistan Increases Efforts To Save The U.S.-Afghanistan Peace Talks

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington.

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Imran going around world begging for funds: Sindh CM, VOA

Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track, but official sources in Islamabad maintain the responsibility for the “success or failure” of the fledgling peace process rests “exclusively” with the two negotiating sides.

The caution comes as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, landed in the Pakistani capital Thursday amid expectations a direct meeting could take place between his delegation and Taliban negotiators during his stay in the country.

Prior to his departure Wednesday from Kabul, Khalilzad told reporters that talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon. That’s what we’re working toward.” He did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile, in a significant move, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday and discussed the efforts being made for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

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U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led their respective delegations in talks in Islamabad, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khan’s office said in a statement that Ghani expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s “sincere facilitation” for Afghan peace and reconciliation.

It said the prime minister “assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility.”

Official sources in Islamabad expected “important developments” over the next two days but they would not share further details. “There is no room for missed opportunities” under the circumstances, they insisted.

Pakistani officials maintain in background interviews with VOA that the U.S.-Taliban talks are being facilitated in the hope that they would ultimately lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. All sides in the peace process will share “the credit and benefits of a success,” they insisted.

“Similarly, given sincere desire and efforts of everyone, no one should be exclusively blamed if the main interlocutors fail to agree due to own lack of flexibility that is very much required from both the U.S. and the Taliban at this stage,” a senior official privy to the Pakistani peace diplomacy told VOA.

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U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan where he briefed Ghani and other top officials of Afghan government on the U.S.-led peace initiative.

The Taliban has held several meetings with Khalilzad’s team in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates but the insurgents have persistently refused to engage directly with the sitting administration in Kabul. Their refusal is blamed for a lack of progress in negotiations that started last summer, after American diplomats gave in to a major Taliban demand and met them directly.

Khalilzad, however, made it clear on Wednesday the insurgent group would have to engage with the Afghan government for the process to move forward.

“The road to peace will require the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government. There is a consensus among all the regional partners on this point,” the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy told reporters in Kabul.

He went on to warn that if the Taliban chose to fight over peace talks, the United States would support the Afghan government.

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A general view of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, May 2, 2015, site of several past negotioations with the Taliban. VOA

The Taliban threatened earlier in the week to pull out of all negotiations if the United States backed away from discussing the key insurgent demand for a troop withdrawal plan and pressured the insurgents into speaking to the Afghan government.

Diplomats privy to the peace process support the U.S. effort for the Taliban to speak directly to the current administration in Kabul to resolve internal Afghan matters. They see the Ghani-led National Unity government as a “legitimate” entity possessing official representation at the United Nations and maintaining diplomatic missions in world capitals.

The last substantial talks between Khalilzad and Taliban officials took place in Abu Dhabi about a month ago and Pakistan took credit for arranging it and bringing an authoritative team of insurgent negotiators to the table.

Officials in Islamabad say that Pakistan’s “biggest contribution” has been that it has “broken the political stalemate that was there in Afghanistan for several years.”

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly stated that finding a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for his government. While speaking to Khan on Thursday, Ghani invited him to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience and the Pakistani leader reciprocated by inviting the Afghan president to visit Islamabad.

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U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering Taliban leaders and covertly helping them orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects.

U.S. officials, however, acknowledge the “positive role” Pakistan has played in the current Afghan peace effort. The thaw in traditionally mistrusted bilateral ties was visible earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he intended to maintain a “great relationship” with Pakistan.

Also Read: Peace Talks With The U.S. Stalled: Taliban

“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future,” said Trump.

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington, though the Trump administration has so far given no such indication. (VOA)