• publish: 25 May 2021
  • time: 10:43 am
  • category: Excerpted
  • No: 17839
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America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan: Will Pakistan pay a high price?

Amid the group’s re-unification efforts and an uptick in activity, many security analysts believe Pakistan will experience more terrorist attacks after the US pullout.

While the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, aimed to be completed by 11 September, is expected to intensify instability in the country, there are also fears of volatility shifting to neighbouring Pakistan.

In late April, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle in the parking lot of the Serena Hotel in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing five and injuring 13 others.

The alleged target of the attack was the Chinese ambassador, who was not present in the hotel when the bomb exploded.

It was claimed by the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also referred to as the Pakistani Taliban, who had largely fled to Afghanistan since Islamabad launched a counterterrorism offensive, Zarb-e-Azb, or Sharp and Cutting Strike, in 2014.

Amid the group’s re-unification efforts and an uptick in activity, many security analysts believe Pakistan will experience more terrorist attacks after the US pullout. Both the TTP and Baloch separatists have identified Chinese interests as one of their immediate targets.

Since US and NATO troops have begun to withdraw, Afghanistan has already experienced an increase in violence. In one of the worst incidents, more than 85 people were killed when a bomb attack targeted a girl’s school in Kabul in early May.

Pakistan is now worried that surging violence could spill over.

In the most recent incident on 5 May, militants opened fire at Pakistani soldiers in the southwestern Balochistan province who were installing a fence along the Afghan border, killing four.

In a separate incident, a shootout in North Waziristan saw three Pakistani soldiers killed during a raid on a militant hideout. The area used to be the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban.

Both incidents indicate the presence of terrorist groups who are now able to operate from ungoverned regions with more freedom due to the withdrawal of US forces. Many now fear a return to the violence of the 1990s, when bomb attacks across the country were a frequent occurrence as militant groups mushroomed.

Pakistan is also worried about an influx of refugees if fighting in Afghanistan escalates because of power struggles between Afghan factions.

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