“From 17 to 19 August the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed Maulana Masood Azhar, accompanied by his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and by Maulana Amaar, was in Kandahar busy coordinating with Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in order to estabilish an operational set up. During the meetings Masood Azhar argued that instead of getting involved in achieving political targets in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan, it should continue to focus on “India-centric” operations and sought Taliban’s assistance to facilitate JeM’s operations in Kashmir once Taliban regime is fully established in Afghanistan”. Local sources are swearing on it, and, after all, it should not come as a surprise. The best and the mightiest of terrorist groups are in fact gathering in Afghanistan since days. Altough the Haqqani Network is still on the UN and CIA terrorist list, Mohammed Nabi Omari, an Haqqani leader with closed ties with Al Qaida who was detained at Guantanamo, has been officially appointed by Taliban as governor of Khost. Anas, Sirajuddin Haqqani's son, will most likely sit into the official government and Sirajjudin itself has been given political clearence by Americans. He has been portraied as a 'poet and author' following the actual guidelines of the western press at the moment: 'humanize' terrorists, showing them while eating ice creams, playing at amusement parks, quoting poems. In the end, these poor chaps are slaughtering civilians because “they never had a childhood”. Hitler loved dogs, was a vegetarian and painted in watercolors, for what it matters. Having a bunch of terrorists formally sitting in the presidential palace in Kabul and most probably at UN later, does not bother so much Washington. Which is even less bothered by Masood Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammed altough they clearly have, unlike Taliban, a global jihad agenda. Is an open secret that JeM, trough its ISI handlers, has maintained close ties with the Afghan Taliban, and has been providing them with a continuous stream of Pakistani recruits from the provinces of South Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. The JeM’s training camps, including the one at Balakot, have supplied a sizeable number of battle-hardened fighters that have aided the ground successes of the Afghan Taliban. Further, the JeM has also provided suicide bombers to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network for executing attacks in Afghanistan. In February 2019, a delegation of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network commanders held a meeting with JeM leader Masood Azhar at Markaz Subhan Allah in Bahawalpur, where the Taliban have been offering to shift Azhar to a safer location in Afghanistan. However, Masood Azhar declined to leave Pakistan, while assuring the Taliban of his continued support from Pakistan. A significant number of hardcore JeM cadres were anyway shifted to Afghanistan after India’s strikes on their training camp in Balakot the 26 February 2019 and the Taliban and the Haqqani Network accommodated a number of these cadres. There are several reports, coming from different parts of Afghanistan, that many Taliban speak 'a foreign language': a language which is not one of those commonly spoken in Afghanistan. There are several reports also that in the first days after Kabul's fall there's been a steady stream of military vehicles, equipment and weapons taken from the Afghan regular army going overnight in the same direction: Pakistan. The same Pakistan rejoicing with various degrees of madness for the victory of Taliban on the West and helping Taliban, giving intelligence inputs, to prepare the lists of those Afghans who were collaborating with various foreign Embassies, including the Indian one. Despite what Taliban claim on media and social media, Embassies have been searched and people hunted down. “Islamist parties in Pakistan have celebrated the victory in Afghanistan. Undoubtedly the ISI is hailing the fall of Kabul as their humbling of a second superpower, but it is savvy enough to do its gloating in private”, wrote recently Bruce Riedel. But scary reports about ISI and its proxies are not only coming form Afghanistan but from the other side of the border too. Starting from the land of Azadi, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: “A campaign has been going on on social media and in various WhatsApp groups regarding the release of Waqar, a member of the (in theory) banned Jaish-e-Muhammad, from Kabul and the preparations for his reception in Rawalakot Azad Kashmir. Preparations have been made to welcome not only Waqas but all those released from Afghanistan, and a rally has been staged on August 21. There was an atmosphere of fear and terror, since the 'welcome commission' was fully armed and was firing shots in the air to keep people at bay. Useless to say, the State remained silent. After more than 50 years, Pashtun are going to invade Kashmir once again and local people will be once more drenched in blood”. According to locals, while a section of the state institutions is busy compiling lists of members of JEM, Sipah-e-Sahaba and other Deobandi-affiliated militant groups fearing they may restore their old ties with the TTP, the majority is more keen to use those lists to welcome the 'heroes' coming back home after years in prison. After all, if the strategy worked until now and fooled the whole West, why should they change it? Call civilians killed in bomb blasts 'collateral damage' (as Taliban did on TV talking of journalists they had slaughtered until the day before) and go on. The future is just round the corner, for the rest of the world, and does not look bright.
(this article appeared on The Quint)Francesca Marino