Al-Khorasan launched to replace al-Qaeda?
Mian Saifur Rehman
Looking closely at the developments in the post-American/Nato drawdown, one gets an impression that Al-Khorasan has been launched by global vested interests to replace al-Qaeda for prolonging a more perfidious battle and violent terrorism in and around Afghanistan whose logical spillover will impact Pakistan, China and the periphery.
These views were expressed by academicians and analysts Muhammad Saeed and Muhammad Hafeez while talking with The News.
The two analysts went on to explain Al-Khorasan and said, “This (al-Khorasan) is an IS outfit for Afghanistan and the adjoining region. Coincidentally, with the impending drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan, the IS has also ‘announced’ its organisational structure in Afghanistan by naming this extension as al-Khorasan (Khorasan theoretically includes Iran and Central Asia, in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan), although its commitment is confined at present to certain Arab and African countries. Of course this proclamation suffices to mean more nuisance in the region.
In view of this imminent but predictably overplayed threat of IS arrival and the anticipated antagonist posture towards Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, these three countries have showed their willingness to carry out active and defensive counter-terrorism cooperation with the international community under principles of UN charter and other basic norms governing international relations to preserve regional as well as global peace, stability and security. The three have in fact embarked upon an arduous journey but objective of the journey is to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan and its surroundings.
China, in this particular case, has shown extra concern for the security environment in the region with greater focus on Pakistan’s solidarity and stability. Beijing, through its foreign ministry, has consistently maintained at regional and international channels that Pakistan has remained the major victim of terrorism. America has also most of the time acknowledged the contribution of Pakistan for playing an imperative role as a non-NATO ally in war on terror yet has frequently been pushing the country for doing more to a level of bitterness. As regards the Chinese leadership at all levels, it possesses the logical wisdom about subsistence and root causes of extremism and terrorism in the region as well as within their territory. It is because of this reason that they have adopted a reasonable standpoint of showing concerns with Pakistan as well as other countries with a sincere view to overcome the issue. Pakistan in turn has constantly responded to China with the same esteem to defeat violent extremism in its true perspective.”
The analysts are also quite concerned about the reports (which though still fall short of complete confirmation) about fresh recruitment and positioning especially in the wake of several radicals taking a liking for the sprouting IS particularly in the liberal Western countries as well as from other former European colonies, as is evident from the increased incidents in certain European countries to include France. They opine, “The kind of jihad marketing that the stage-managed IS has done in other regions of West’s interest would attract many more unerringly similar to the CIA’s operation of hoarding them together after recruitment for pouring into Afghanistan during Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan down the history. Drum beating of IS footprints in Pakistan and Afghanistan is on the increase and likely to catch further impetus in the Indian as well as Western media. In this context Indian and British newspapers while quoting Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim of Afghan spy agency and British journalist John Cantlie, have even mentioned incidents substantiating the presence and recruitment spree of ‘black flags flying IS’ in far-flung areas like Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan and Helmand of Afghanistan. Control over or fomenting trouble in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is immediate neighbour of China and also means of critical access to the water resources, precious gems and trans-Asian trade between Pakistan, China and Central Asia besides access to warm waters, by such radicals will be beneficial for extra regional players rather than regional countries. Hence the challenge before Pakistan, Afghanistan and China as well as Iran and Central Asian countries with Russian influence, would be to ensure that there is no spillover into their territories from extra regional players.
Interestingly in the same context EU foreign ministers have recently pledged to counter “radical Muslims” returning from Syria and Iraq with a better strategy at home and abroad. This ministerial level meeting was to lay the groundwork for a string of meetings that culminated into an EU leaders’ summit during mid February 2015 in Brussels that has set out the EU strategy to deal with what they term “the Muslim (not specifically IS) extremism”. Indian and Israeli inclusion in the EU’s strategy was also an integral part while the US was overarching.
China, Pakistan and other countries including Russia and certain non-aligned countries across the globe must anticipate radical changes in the US and EU policies specific to bilateral agreements on extradition treaties or exchange of criminals in foreseeable future. These efforts in most of the cases may be aimed at extraditing legally or exporting illegally the radicals and criminals to disturb the countries of interest in line with the “improved strategy” to deal with ‘Muslim radicals’ and terrorism. More attacks, preferably lone wolf, on EU countries and more caricature type arm twists to perpetuate the breeding ground for radicals may also be expected in future.
Against the backdrop of newly emerging reconciliation and peace and security initiatives collectively started by Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, the current Afghan unity government led by President Ashraf Ghani, without compromising on the core interests of his country, has arranged arrest and handing over of several Uighur militants from China’s west in recognition of the sincere peace and reconciliation efforts of China in addition to seeking tangible cooperation for rebuilding Afghanistan that has repeatedly been ravaged for the last several decades.