Just when the phenomenon of terrorism in the country seemed to have been checked in its tracks as a consequence of operation Zarb-e-Azb and the implementation of NAP, the sudden recurrence of a flurry of terrorist attacks in the country has again shaken and shocked the nation and given a clear message that the crusade against the scourge is not yet over and we still have a long way to go. I have in my discourses invariably maintained that the fight against terrorism was going to be a long drawn out war because of its internal and external dimensions, more so the latter factor which makes it extremely convoluted and challenging.

Regrettably both India and Afghanistan are linked to these terrorist attacks. The TTP leadership is based in Afghanistan and most of the terrorist groups have their training camps in the areas bordering Pakistan from where they are planning and executing the attacks with the connivance of their local supporters and facilitators. The facilitator of the Lahore attack in his confessional statement has admitted links with Afghanistan. The nexus between RAW and NDS is a well established fact in regards to their support for TTP, which is acting as their poodle to further their nefarious designs to create chaos and instability in Pakistan. The arrest of Kalbhushan Yadav is a testimony to Indian covert attempts to carry out acts of terrorism in Pakistan and foment insurgency in Balochistan; a fact divulged by Kalbhushan himself after his arrest. Reportedly Jamat ul Ahrar a splinter group of TTP which now owes allegiance to Daesh and has claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack, is operating its website from Chenai in India, a connection unraveled by the intelligence agencies.

The Modi government in India and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani are on the same wavelength in regards to their efforts to malign and isolate Pakistan though for their own different reasons. They have made it a common cause to hurt Pakistan, notwithstanding the fact that it has been making relentless efforts to promote an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process in Afghanistan and also extended an olive branch to India for recalibrating bilateral relations by peacefully resolving the issues between them including the core issue of Kashmir.

Both are treading a very dangerous path as far as peace, security and tranquility in this region are concerned. India has not only been sponsoring terrorist attacks in Pakistan since long but has also been continuously violating the ceasefire agreement along the LOC in Kashmir and working boundary between the two countries, which very rightly have been befittingly responded to by the Pakistani forces. India in fact is trying to subdue the vibes emanating from the current wave of uprising in Kashmir and the grave violation of human right by its security forces through excessive use of force and inhuman machinations. It fails to realise that freedom struggles cannot be subdued through use of brutal force. The use of guns furthers the fire as is quite evident from the on-going struggle in Kashmir and also corroborated by the world history. The resolution of the Kashmir dispute is not the only imperative for peace and progress in the region but also for both India and Pakistan. The continuation of confrontation between the two nuclear neighbours on this issue will scuttle the efforts of both of them to change the fate of their teeming millions. Sooner this reality sinks in the minds of the Indian leaders the better for them as well as all the stakeholders in peace and security in the region. India therefore must see the ultimate reality and respond positively to peace initiatives from Pakistan instead of upping the ante against her and further aggravating the security situation in the region, to avoid the boomerang effect of its shortsighted antics. Neither the Kashmiris are going to live under the subjugation of India forever nor is Pakistan going to end its solidarity with the people of Kashmir and support to their right of self-determination. The resolution of the Kashmir conundrum is the only way to peaceful co-existence between the two countries. The International community, UN and more so the US which is trying to prop up India as a regional super power to counter the Chinese influence need to wake to the lurking dangers and play their role in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Unfortunately Pak-Afghan relations are also marred by mistrust and all attempts by Pakistan to prove its credentials as an honest broker of peace in Afghanistan and the flag bearer of indiscriminate crusade against the terrorist outfits, have fell on the deaf ears. Afghan leadership is actually trying to use Pakistan as a fall guy for its own failure in establishing its writ all over Afghanistan, to hide the rampant reported corruption and internal dissentions that mar its ability to govern. Indian influence on the Afghan leadership and collusion between RAW and DNS is also a very strong contributory factor in shaping the narrative of the Afghan government about Pakistan. Yet another overriding ingredient is the enigmatic US position on the situation in Afghanistan and its strategic interests in the region. It wants to promote peace but at the same time also is striving to inflict military defeat on the Taliban. The US though, has acknowledged the successes achieved by operation Zarb-e-Azb but it remains glued to its contention of Pakistan providing sanctuaries to some militants outfits like Haqqanis. Former US ambassador Olson has said that there was a permeating syndrome of what he called ‘Pakistan-Fatigue’ among the US administration. So what Ghani is and has been saying is his master’s voice. The Afghan regime is entirely dependent on US military and economic support. How can it ever think of going against it?

Whatever the compunctions of the Afghan leaders, the fact remains that peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked to each other and both the countries will have to cooperate with each other in fighting against the common enemy i.e. terrorism. The Afghan leaders must adopt a futuristic approach. If they continue to pursue their current strategy they will push their country to becoming a perennial battle-ground for the conflicting interests of the regional and global powers. The arrival of Daesh in Afghanistan and in the region has added a new dimension to the already volatile situation. The regional countries like Russia, China and Iran who are also affected by terrorism in one way or the other are also very serious and willing to help Afghanistan in finding a way to end the decades old conflict in country and save the region from the disastrous consequences of instability created by terrorism. They all have a stake in peace in Afghanistan and eliminating the menace of terrorism. However Pakistan enjoys a pivotal importance in regards to any peaceful settlement in Afghanistan which is recognised by all of them as well as the US. This reality must not be overlooked by any one, especially the Afghan government. It has to find a way of ending animosity with Pakistan and develop a collaborative approach in dealing with terrorism.