Originally published on The Times of India (Mar 09 2017)


Bring Taliban to the table to nip IS, says Afghan NSA
New Delhi
The so-called Islamic State terror group (or Daesh) and the Taliban in Afghanistan are not opposed to each other. They have “a symbiotic relationship“. “People who are now saying that Daesh is the enemy of Taliban and Taliban will fight Daesh are wrong,“ said Hanif Atmar, national security adviser of Afghanistan in an exclusive chat with TOI.

Atmar said, “No Daesh has come from Syria or Iraq, it's the morphing and mutating of Taliban, TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) into Daesh. They are the same people, but there is a lot of re-branding here.“ They may be fighting in Nangarhar, but they are collaborating against the Ashraf Ghani government in north-eastern Afghanistan, he added. The next round of meetings in a few weeks with Russia, India, the US and other players, Atmar added, would work out what he said would be “regional and global strategies“ to tackle the growing instability in Afghanistan. Having been given four attack choppers to Afghan forces, what is Afghanistan's “wishlist“ from India?
“Rather than going into details of our defence cooperation, I would say the most important objective here is strengthening of the Afghan National Security Forces. We have demonstrated our will and capability to fight. The enemy we are fighting is three times bigger than that we were fighting in 2009-14.Then, we had 1,50,000 international soldiers. There are much less now. They need tools and resources. For this, we invite India as one of our most strategic partners, the US, Nato. But we will keep details away from public conversation.“ The security situation in 2017 is far worse than it was in 2009-10.

Taliban, supported by Pakistan, now provide sanctuary to groups like LeT and JeM that threaten India, and ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) that threaten China, among others, Atmar said. The Hafiz Saeed-led terror group may be largely (Pakistan) Punjab-based, but staying true to its birthplace in Kunar, Afghanistan, LeT, Atmar indicated, had found safe haven under Taliban.In other words, the situation is back to the time when Taliban played host to al-Qaeda.

Therefore, the “peace and reconciliation“ project, now being bandied about by Russia and China can't happen in the way they want it, which is using Taliban against Daesh.“First of all, the violent extremist organisations that we are confronted by are not just Taliban. There are four groups-Taliban and Haqqanis; second, Pakistani groups, including LeT, JeM, LeJ, TTP . The third are regional groups like ETIM and IMU. The last are international terrorists like Daesh and al-Qaeda.“ Atmar said, “Our response cannot be peace and reconciliation. We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but can't reconcile with the other three...Rather than getting Taliban to fight Daesh, bring Taliban to the negotiating table, you will never have Daesh.“

(For the full interview, visit http:www.timesofindia.com)

Uri attack: 2 POK `guides' released

The NIA released on Wednesday the two “guides“ from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as initial charges against the duo that they helped terrorists in the attack on the Uri Army camp on September 18 couldn't be substantiated. They have been handed over to the Army who will facilitate their return to PoK. As first reported by TOIon February 26, NIA decided to file the closure report after its probe did not find evidence to corroborate the initial “confessional statement“ the two youths made to the Indian Army.

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