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Pakistan security forces killed eight terrorists

18 March, 2017

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Islamabad: Pakistan's security forces have lost three officials, killing eight militants in consecutive attacks within twenty-four hours on Friday. Pakistan Army's media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed the loss of at least one soldier in an attack on a Frontier Constabulary's training facility in Minchinai area of Shabqadar. In another attack on the Pakistan military border post in Khyber Agency, two Pakistani soldiers lost their lives while the six attackers were killed.

The JuA spokesperson, Asad Mansoor, however claimed four attacks at different security posts along the Pak-Afghan border. He claimed three attacks on the posts in Lui Shalman area of Khyber Agency. JuA says that they set on fire one post, took control of another killing several of Pakistani soldiers. A claim that is difficult to verify from independent sources.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a faction of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is a lethal group pitted against the Pakistan Army. For the past two years JuA has committed a number of fatal attacks in Pakistan. These include bombings in Bacha Khan University, Lahore's Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Church in Youhanabad, Quetta City Hospital, multiple attacks in FATA including in Mohmand Agency and district courts in Shabqadar. Most recently JuA took responsibility for attacks in Charsadda, Sehwan Sharif in Sindh and Lahore's Mall Road.

JuA splintered from its parent TTP when Pakistan opened talks with the latter. Another TTP faction Ahrar-ul-Hind joined hands with JuA. After the launch of Zarb-e-Azb, these groups formed a five-membered joint council to launch coordinated attacks in Pakistan. This council was dissolved, when Mullah Fazlullah, the head TTP central, refused to claim the attack on Bacha Khan University.

Over time, the TTP further fragmented and its capacity dwindled during 2015. But since August 2016, TTP factions have been regrouping. Pakistan's security officials blame Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) behind this re-organization, which Afghanistan denies.

The attacks on posts on Pakistani side of Pak-Afghan border have increased considerably ever since Pakistan's security establishment has started emphasizing border management. The border - the Durand Line - has been a cause of bitterness between the countries historically, on account of Afghanistan's refusal to accept it international border.

The devastation caused by TTP factions necessitates a comprehensive strategic dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan including the issue of border management and dismantling the proxies that both sides accuse each other of nurturing. Resumption of strategic dialogue must include fresh discussions on ISI-NDS agreement that Afghanistan did not sign after initially agreeing to it. The anti-Pakistan groups in Kunnar and anti-Afghanistan groups in Pakistan as claimed by Sartaj Aziz a year ago, cannot be allowed indefinitely to play havoc with the lives of people in both countries.

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