Western Pakistan jittery over Afghan militant threats

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New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has come up with a report on Afghanistan which indicates highest civilian casualty numbers over any two-month period since the records began in 2009.

The report specifically mentions that in spite of peace and stability desired by the Afghan people, the Taliban and other non-state armed groups are continuing their ongoing assault.

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The report further claims that groups such as the Al Qaeda, ISIS and others will continue to remain a threat to Pakistan. It also mentions that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is likely to carry out attacks inside Pakistan from Afghanistan.

The report further states that there are militants in about 15 provinces of Afghanistan who are a big threat to Pakistan and also to peace in the region.

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As per the report, the TTP is raising funds through smuggling and extortion. It goes on to mention that there are disputes between the TTP and Jamaat Ul Ahrar over recoveries/financial matters in Kunar province in Afghanistan.

Sources said the report has evoked strong reactions from Pakistani vernacular media, especially those from Western Pakistan with suggestions that given this situation in Afghanistan, the government should seriously consider moving out of the country.

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Their main emphasis has been to rather consider ways and means of protecting the border areas and ensure security and stability in Pakistan.

The UNAMA perceives that, given the increased activities of the Taliban and likely rise in clashes between the Afghan government forces and the Taliban, civilian casualties are bound to increase in the coming months.

As per the report, more women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since the records began in 2009.

The report mentions that a particularly sharp rise in casualties took place in May 2021 when international military forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan. As per the UNAMA, 1,659 civilians were killed and 3,254 were wounded — an increase if 47 per cent compared to the same period last year.

The UNAMA report warns that without a significant de-escalation in violence, Afghanistan will likely witness the highest ever number of documented civilian casualties in a single year since it began keeping records in 2009.

The most notable aspect of the report is that this is the first time that there have been no civilian casualties caused by international military forces as the fighting has now become exclusively civilian in nature.

While anti-government elements were responsible for 64 per cent of the total casualties, pro-government forces were responsible for 25 per cent civilian casualties.

The report specifically mentions about children being deliberately targeted on at least one occasion. The most shocking incident was the May 8 attack outside a school in Kabul which resulted in 300 civilian casualties, mostly school girls.

Also, resurgence of sectarian motivated attacks against Shia Muslims came to notice in the first half of 2021.

–IANS

san/arm

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