Violence Upsurge in South Asia
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 16 Dec , 2022

(Map Courtesy:

There is a sudden spurt of violence in South Asia. The Afghanistan-Pakistan border is afire. Pakistan had reported seven civilians killed in the recent incident of exchange of fire between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani forces at the Chaman-Spin Boldak border but actually seven Frontier Force personnel of Pakistan were killed.

The Afghan fighters are coming to Pakistan with a vengeance and fighting has flared up. Heavily armed cadres and suicide bombers of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are streaming into Pakistan. The latest arrivals include fighters of the Akhtar Mohammad Khalil group affiliated with the TTP who have entered different areas of North Waziristan and Bannu districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). 

If the above was not enough, the TTP has announced on December 14, 2022 that three Emirs of groups in KPK along with dozens of fighters have announced their allegiance to Mufti Noor Wali, Emir of TTP. The three Emirs of KPK who have joined TTP along with their fighters are Ahmed Sahib from Kurram Agency, Saeedullah Sahib from Lakki Marwat and Jameel Madakhel from North Waziristan.

The Pakistan establishment is therefore in for some heavy fighting. The recent admission of Pakistan suffering one killed and 15 injured appears an understatement.  The news is that with hospitals in Chaman being full with casualties from the border clashes with Afghans, emergency has been declared in all hospitals of Quetta to cater for casualties from the ongoing fighting. The Pakistani army is facing huge losses and has deployed Mi-17 gunship helicopters to support their ground operations.

The TTP apparently do not have shoulder fired air defence weapons to shoot down Pakistani helicopters but their tactics on ground are more than a match to the Pakistani security establishments. A disturbing input is that in order to defeat the Pakistani army the TTP is developing bio weapons or are trying to acquire these from external sources. Also, the monitoring team of the Taliban sanctions committee, formally known as the Security Council Committee, mentioned in its report released earlier this year that three of the eight terrorist camps run by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are now directly controlled by the Taliban and Taliban officials have been visiting these camps.

In a recent incident, massive fire erupted in the diesel and fuel depots in Kutani Hor area of the coastal city of Jiwani of Gwadar district, Balochistan. Many boats and vehicles were burned to the ground. The cause of the fire has not been ascertained. The general impression is that the Baloch rebels caused the sabotage although none of the Baloch liberation groups have claimed responsibility for the sabotage. However another view, which appears quite plausible, is that this was the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI to cause more misery to the Baloch population by denying them fishing at sea.   

In Afghanistan, the Islamic State (IS) recently attacked the ‘Kabul Hotel’ (having Chinese signages in front) in Shar-e-naw area of downtown Kabul. Five Chinese nationals were badly wounded and an Italian-run emergency hospital less than a mile away reported it had received 21 patients from the attack, three of whom were found dead on arrival. China has expressed shock and asked its nationals to leave Afghanistan. The Taliban’s ministry of foreign affairs has issued a statement saying China has asked for more attention to be paid to security of the Chinese embassy in Kabul.     

In September, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Russian Embassy in the heart of Kabul, killing two Russian diplomats; obvious handiwork of the IS. It requires no intelligence to discern that the CIA is behind the attacks on Chinese and Russians in Afghanistan. The rise and arming of IS was supported by the US, the US inducted IS cadres from Iraq-Syria into northern Afghanistan, the IS Khorasan Province (ISKP) was established in Peshawar (Pakistan) comprising cadres of both the Taliban, Pak-based terrorists and the ISI, and the US has been “using” cadres of the IS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations world over, even airdropping weapons to Al Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq-Syria.

It is becoming more than apparent that not only will Afghanistan remain a haven for terror groups, it will continue to be the playfield of competing global players like the US, China and Russia with terrorists available for a price, previous afflictions with these countries and even fluctuating allegiances.

In the recent rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on the Sarhali Police Station in the border district of Tarn Taran in Punjab, Inda, the grenade did not explode. So there were no casualties; only glass windows were shattered. This was sixth in a series of terror attacks on police and the army establishments reported in the past 13 months, including a similar RPG attack on the police intelligence headquarters in Mohali on May 9 this year. The Khalistani terrorist organization Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack on the police station in Taran Taran.

Much before the then Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa proposed opening of the Kartatarpur Corridor at the swearing in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 18, 2018, the SFJ office was established in Karachi with blessings of the Pakistani army. The ISI provided full support to publicize SFJ’s demands and assisted in managing SFJ websites from Karachi. In 2020, Pakistan formally aligned the SFJ with Chinese intelligence. 

Pakistan continues to terror attack J&K, especially targeting non-Muslims and migrant labour. The Resistance Front (TRF), offshoot of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recently released a hit list with the names of 57 Kashmiri Hindus working as teachers in the Kashmir Valley and has pledged to continue targeting Kashmir’s Hindus.

Sri Lanka remains in the grip of an economic crisis. Bangladesh is facing massive protests by the opposition and is also seeking loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Notably, the rise of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) which is also training Islamist terrorists in the Chittagong Hill Tracts should of serious concern to Bangladesh and its neighbours with the right wing opposition aligned with Islamist forces. The nexus of China and Pakistan with insurgent-terrorist outfits in Myanmar and Bangladesh with large presence of Rohingyas in Bangladesh adds another dimension.    

China’s aggressive actions astride the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are on the rise. In addition to the new locations occupied in Eastern Ladakh during 2020, this region is being ramped up as a springboard for further offensive action. In Arunachal Pradesh, China has established a new village at Lognju (same as Chinese villages in Bhutan) and Chinese troops are periodically venturing across the LAC in strength. This is resulting in face offs. India recently tested the Agni V missile by night. But only a proactive physical action (s) on ground can send a strong signal to China; we have the capability for this but lack the political resolve to do so.

Finally, indications are that the warmongering West would like to destabilize South Asia on lines of what it has been doing in the Middle East. In addition, the US would love an India-China war and India becoming the Ukraine of the Indo-Pacific.    

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army.

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