Militancy in Pakistan is not solely the provenance of Afghan-based militants
The Afghan army on Friday fired mortars into Pakistani territory from across the Durand Line near the Chaman border crossing, killing Pakistani nationals despite prior notice from Islamabad about the movement of troops guarding a census-taking team. The bilateral equation, never really good, has dived again, signaling to the world that Pakistan remains prickly toward its neighbors. In what has now become a kneejerk response to such incidents, talking heads on Pakistani news channels accused Kabul of taking its cue from rascally India and killing Pakistanis just like the Taliban and other terrorists.
The truth is that Kabul is not being supported in its anti-Pakistan stance by India alone, but by an international coalition of states headed by the United States. And it is that international community that thinks negatively of Pakistan and its isolationist policies regarding its neighbors. There was a time not long ago when Pakistan was actively involved in Afghanistan, backing Taliban forays into it while being harassed by “unfriendly” Taliban at home. Unsurprisingly, both types of Taliban soon turned on Pakistan and started acting in concert with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Pakistan then made amends by attacking militants in North Waziristan where the Afghan Taliban had its terror workshops. The world applauded but soon discovered that not all the safe havens had been purged. Pakistan denies this, and many Pakistanis uphold this position despite knowing otherwise.
Unfortunately, as relations with Afghanistan spiraled, Islamabad’s ties with Tehran were also dealt another blow this week. According to Iran, a Pakistani gang of terrorists fired across the border and killed Iranian guards. Islamabad has denied any involvement. But it is hard to convince our neighbors of our sincerity when past incidents of terrorism in Iran have been linked to Pakistan-based Jandullah. An Iranian militant commander was even found to have graduated from a Karachi madrassa.
It is not enough to blame Kabul for the attacks militants are launching across Pakistan. The world knows what is going on and wants Pakistan to do a better job of cleaning up its house. This was spelled out in the Dawn Leaks story last year—and the Nawaz Sharif government has been in trouble since.