South Asia

Pakistan attributes resurgent terror attacks to hasty US troop withdrawal

The caretaker prime minister of Pakistan, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, has attributed a concerning surge in militant attacks targeting the nation’s security forces to the utilization of military equipment left behind by the United States in Afghanistan.

Speaking on state television, Kakar pointed to the abrupt withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2021 as the root cause of the recent resurgence in terrorism, particularly affecting the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan provinces that share a 2,600-kilometer border with Afghanistan.

The remarks were made on a day marred by a suicide bombing targeting a military convoy in the Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, resulting in the loss of nine soldiers’ lives and injuries to several others.

“The rushed withdrawal has had an impact not just on Pakistan but also on Central Asia, China, Iran, and the whole region,” Kakar lamented.

Kakar said that Pakistani leaders had long advocated for a “responsible withdrawal” from Afghanistan, emphasizing the importance of securing and accounting for military equipment to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Anti-state organizations such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and ethnic Baluch insurgents are reportedly among those now armed with sophisticated weaponry, including thermal devices, assault rifles, and night vision goggles, originally left by U.S. forces.

“This equipment has significantly bolstered the combat capabilities of terrorists and non-state actors in the region,” Kakar emphasized. “Previously, they possessed minimal capabilities, but now they can target my soldiers with precision.”

The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 left behind a substantial inventory of military equipment, estimated at more than $7.1 billion, when the Afghanistan government, backed by the US, fell to the Taliban, according to a US Defense Department report from last year.

Pakistan contends that terrorist activity has sharply increased since the Taliban assumed control in Afghanistan two years ago, citing the power shift in Kabul as emboldening fugitive TTP leaders and other insurgent groups sheltering in Afghanistan.

Taliban has consistently denied allegations of allowing their territory to be used for threatening neighboring nations, including Pakistan, and they reject claims that U.S. weapons seized by the Taliban have been disseminated.