Badhaber to Kabul

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Strain all around

The Pak-Afghan diplomatic strain following the Badhaber attack marks a bigger win for terrorists, since it is now clear that neither country can win its war against militancy without complete cooperation from the other. Zarb-e-Azb has done a good enough job of securing the Waziristan sanctuary. It has successfully degraded the enemy’s command and control structure. But, since the TTP’s new leadership continues to inflict heavy damage since relocating across the Durand Line, the operation will clearly not come full circle till the Afghans help with the final sweep. And it is a matter of great concern that not only are they not helping, but for years there has been increasing evidence of the NDS helping TTP with logistics, etc.

The Afghans have similar concerns, of course. Yet they too desperately need Islamabad’s help to wind up the insurgency. And just how crucial Pakistan can be became apparent not too long ago, at the time of the Murree talks. If it hadn’t been for the untimely disclosure of Mullah Omar’s passing, there was enough international push to salvage something meaningful from the conference. Unfortunately, though, President Ghani has been forced back from his outreach, and Islamabad and Kabul are back to exchange accusations.

For Pakistan, especially the military, the Badhaber attack is a moment for serious soul searching. Once again security agencies have been unable to prevent a complex attack. That means they failed, again, to pick up chatter at any point of the operation’s planning; which is usually spread over months, if not years. This is a different matter than the Afghan irritation. This exposes loopholes in the network within the borders. NAP clearly demanded greater cohesion in the scores of intelligence agencies that litter our security landscape. Obviously such integration is still far from reality. The security apparatus, despite the success of Zarb-e-Azb, needs to improve its functioning urgently if the momentum generated so far is to be maintained. Surely the government realises the cost of being behind the curve in such circumstances. Both internal security and foreign policy, especially with regard to Afghanistan, need to be revitalised to counter strains in all directions.