By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
Bannu jail is situated at a distance of 8 kilometers from Bannu cantonment and 7 kilometers from FC camp. There are few police stations in the nearby area too. But it creates questions in the minds of many that why, after hearing sounds of explosions, the police and army refrained from reaching there in time. According to a guard of the nearby institute, Taliban came in ordinary vehicles and completed their operation very easily without any casualty. The locals of Bannu are also wondering why army, FC and police could not reach there in time.
After this sad incidence Taliban early in the morning claimed the responsibility of the event and in the afternoon also announced the safe arrival of the prisoners to Mir Ali. Now someone can argue that may be the operation was very secret and quick and security agencies could get there in time but wasn’t it possible to chase the fleeing Taliban and the prisoners on their way to Mir Ali.
The same day Afghan Taliban attacked different buildings in Kabul and some other cities of Afghanistan and claimed that it was the start of attacks of spring season. This time these events on both sides of border cannot be labeled as ‘tit for tat’ but it seems that these events were of the same origin.
The expected withdrawal of foreign troops, US negotiations with selected Taliban and Pakistan’s aggravating concerns after US attack on Salala Check post has started a new game of confronting interests in the region. May be I am wrong but I think Bannu jail episode and Pakistani establishment silence is a start of buying the loyalties of different Taliban activists. US is doing the same but under the cloud of reconciliation and negotiations with Taliban in Afghanistan.
The recent wave of early elections in Afghanistan has also added fuel to the apparent and hidden clash between different sections in Afghanistan. US wishes to impose Taliban faction in the next government to secure its vested interests in Afghanistan, while Pakistan also wants to secure its position in Kabul by injecting its own defined ‘Good Taliban’. The recent US pressures regarding Pak-Iran gas pipeline has also cautioned Pakistan not to loosen its grip on Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan’s new stance to come closer to regional powers like Russia also shows that these regional powers have hidden consent in Pakistan’s efforts to make its hold strong on Afghani Taliban. I have not heard so far Russian or Chinese point of view about Pakistan’s support for Afghan Taliban. Russia and China never raised a voice against the safe heavens in North Waziristan for Afghan Taliban. This silence shows their untold ‘keep it up boy’ remarks for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s stance on NATO supply issue, its efforts to seek Russian help in Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, Iranian interest in providing gas and electricity and Pakistan’s firm stance in this regard, Chinese interests in starting new projects in Pakistan, and Indian willingness to find a solution to its differences with Pakistan and the recent visit of president Zardari visit to India and Nawaz stance of calling back army from Siachen, are all factors that testify the loosening grip of US in the region politics.
Pakistani judiciary has also set free many terrorists because of lack of proofs. What I see in the future is a scenario in which there will be a wide spread demand of ‘pardon’ and ‘acceptance’ for selected Taliban. Gul Badar group of Taliban in Miran Shah has taken the initiative by cautioning the members of Tehriq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to live peacefully in North Waziristan and warned Pakistan army not to launch any operation in the N. Waziristan. They have also appealed to the locals of North Waziristan to resist against any army operation.
It shows a new development of forming stronger Taliban groups that can intensify operations in Afghanistan to pressurize the foreigners and opposing groups in Kabul for having a fair share in next Afghan setup. Unusual events like Bannu Jail may happen again in future to buy the loyalties of hesitating Taliban. The prisoners kidnapped by Taliban are taken as captives for ransom and now Taliban has also demanded the release of their other companions. These demands will compel the relatives of the prisoners to pressurize the government to release the terrorists.
In Afghanistan US has no card left to exploit the situation except for pressuring Pakistan on Pak-Iran gas pipeline issue. The reins of power politics are no more in US hands. Increasing Anti-American Taliban influence and the sententious silence of the regional powers will ultimately lead to a situation where US will feel lonely in the region but we all must keep this fact in mind that nurturing the nurseries of extremists may also burn our own hands in future.