The perils of hybrid war on Afghanistan

Following a recent series of deadliest attacks, Kabul was again shaken with heinous terrorist bombing on 27 January when an ambulance loudened with explosive materials was detonated on busy road near the city hospital. According to the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan (MoPH) 95 civilians have been killed and more than 191 others have been injured. Responsibility behind this attack was claimed by proxy Taliban militants.

Another such deadly attack has occurred at Intercontinental Hotel Kabul killing 25 people, almost 14 were foreign nationals, included nine from Ukraine, two from US and others from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan when gunmen in army uniforms entered the hotel. It was also claimed by the Taliban, the shadow of Haqqani Network. In the course of such soft targeted attacks, yet another terror attack was carried out on British run aid agency ‘Save the Children’ in Jalalabad on 23 January where at least four people were killed and dozens injured.

The gist of the above reports is that in the modern warfare strategy, the adversaries make use of irregular and covert means, in other words unconventional dimensions of war strategy to achieve their strategic and political designs which is called hybrid war. For more than four decades Afghan people are victimized and winced in this excruciation of undeclared war, which represents the essence of hybrid war, imposed upon them from neighbouring states, particularly from Pakistan due to Afghanistan unfortunate strategic location and political importance in the region. In military warfare, this undeclared war is the most sophisticated warfare strategy against an adversary.

Hybrid warfare has non-standard methods or tactics used to combat the adversary through indirect war such as terrorist actions, indiscriminate violence, criminal activity, changing perceptions and propaganda. The strategic calculations of hybrid war are more lethal, potential and cheap allurements to belligerent state due to the use of non-state actors, as forefront liners in the combat ground against the rival. In the same way, the Pakistani military elite and intelligence agency ISI have launched proxy war against Afghanistan for its so-called strategic abyss, containment of Kabul for future retribution and bulwark against New Delhi.

For disrupting and destabilizing Afghanistan and the region as whole, Pakistan military establishment uses and calculates the Taliban, Haqqani network and other militant groups as foreign policy tools for many years and now by nurturing, recruiting, financing and sheltering these goons under aegis of Islamic sentimentalities in religious madrassahs and masques where they get Islamic edict or fatwa issued by Pakistan clerics to legitimize holy war in Afghanistan and where else.

The Haqqani network is most qualified, veritable arm and sophisticated militant group for Pakistan military establishment in Rawalpindi backing and sponsoring against Afghan, US and allied forces in Afghanistan. The group is led by Siraj Haqqani, the son of the famous anti-Soviet Jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani, who also led deputy command of Afghan Taliban after death of Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor in US drone attack in Pakistan July 2016. Since the recent past the Haqqani network preserves huge command and control lines of Taliban operations which prove more extreme, disastrous and fatal for innocent civilians of Afghanistan and its national security forces. The recent atrocious and barbaric attack in Kabul via explosive ambulance has crossed and ashamed humanity and civility at all.

However despite much confirmation of sponsoring and sheltering terrorist groups, Pakistan repeatedly denies these allegations about collaborating with Islamist proxies against Afghanistan. While on the other side, for interval of times, suspected U.S. drones find and kill high profile commander level militants of Haqqani network or Taliban in missile strikes. Even the world most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan.

In the recent months, sources close to the Haqqani Network confirmed to media that drone missiles had killed two militants of the Network in the compound in Dapa Mamuzai village of Kuram Agency Pakistan who were mid-level Afghan commanders. In response Pakistan clamours for condemning U.S. drone strikes and pursues the violation of its sovereignty and integrity while in sagaciousness, isn’t it being considered as the transgression of the territorial by Pakistan officials when its military establishment harbours, assists and foreign militants in safe havens within Pakistan soil? No, because it depicts the reality that these militants are the strategic assets the Pakistani state uses as policy tools against Afghanistan and India.

Even the US President Donald Trump’s tweets about Pakistan’s duplicities and lies in international war on terror didn’t fall on the deaf ears of Pakistan ruling elites and military establishments. Its world prospects are even narrowed down to the level that Pakistani state confronts an isolation and diplomatic failure internationally for its double standards and carries on the same covert suicidal policies of harbouring and sheltering Islamic proxy terrorists and extremists at home and abroad and making denials officially.

Through these remarkable evidences, it’s an open message for the US, international community and Afghanistan that this strategy of Pakistan via proxy groups is much worth and more prohibitive for it. Its behaviour can’t be changed unless and until the steps of international sanctions and declaration of terror sponsor state are imposed on Pakistan.

Habib Khan is an M.Phil Student of International Relations at QAU Islamabad.

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