Amid regional threats of terrorism, military leadership from China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan formed a Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism (QCCM) to counter terrorism that held its inaugural meeting in Urumqi, Xinjiang in China on August 3.
The four countries unanimously agreed that terrorism and extremism are a serious threat to regional stability. They pledged to cooperate with each other in tackling terrorism and extremism.
Sources close to the inaugural session said that the growing threat of Daesh was also discussed in detail.
QCCM will coordinate and provide mutual support limited to four countries only in the fields of counterterrorism, situation evaluation, clue verification, intelligence sharing, capacity building, joint training exercises and personnel training
In a separate development, on the occasion of ninth political consultations between Pakistan and Iran last week, the threat from Daesh was echoed and close cooperation was stressed. The consultative meeting was held in Tehran between Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister on August 6.
Soon after these two important meetings, suicide attack in Quetta Civil Hospital killed 72 people and injured over 100. Tehrek-e-Taliban Splinter group Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, which has allegedly joined hands with Daesh in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack. While on its website, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant also known ISIS or Daesh claimed responsibility too. The claims seem to be increasing coordination and presence of Daesh in the region as allegiance to it has started.
Earlier, Daesh first ever attack in Kabul killed 80 people and injuring over 200 in July. This was a suicide attack and the local chapter of Daesh known as Islamic State of Khorassan Province claimed responsility. Before the IS attack in Kabul, it was believed that Daesh activities are limited to Nangahar province only and they cannot move ahead due to their antagonism with powerful Afghan Taliban. These are instances of growing Daesh influence in the region.
No doubt, IS is posing threats to the region stretching from Central Asia to South Asia. As a result of the US-led actions against Daesh, the later has lost parts of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it was capturing . The development is making Daesh militants to return to their homes. After the world focus on Iraq-Syria, IS seems to be interested in establishing sleeper cells in different regions to be operated on Al-Qaeda pattern if it lost all of its seized areas.
Hundreds of IS members returned to their countries in Central Asia while several of them were arrested in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others. But many of them are at large. Several militants returned to Afghanistan too. Over 100 militants from China and some from Iran are reportedly still in Syria or Iraq.
IS doesn’t believe in geographical boundaries, and dubs the governments and people who don’t agree with their ideology as infidel. Therefore IS is prone to carry out sabotage activities inside the regional countries as soon as it gains ground in any of these. The situation is perturbing for Russia as well.
Officials in Pakistan and India used to deny any immediate threat by Daesh to their internal securities, however, concerns did exist.
There are significant evidence that the IS is moving for establishment of sleeper cell in the sub-continent. Home Ministry of India has been issuing alerts of Daesh threats. Indian security forces also have made some arrests in connection to Daesh in 2014.
In November last year, the Indian home ministry issued advisory warning that the Islamic State’s succeeded in radicalising some youth and attracted certain sections of the local population and the Indian diaspora to physically participate in its activities. Earlier, Indian security agencies finalized list of around 20 Indians who are currently fighting for Islamic State in Iraq-Syria. There are rumors that the number is higher than explored.
Arrests of Daesh activists in Pakistan was reported from Lahore and Peshawar too .The reports of an educated female from Lahore Bushra Cheema along with her four children and 20 others leaving for Syria to join IS, attracted attention in Pakistani society.
Dozens of TTP and Lashkr-e-Jhangvi fighters, already involved in terrorism in Pakistan, who are now fugitive in Afghanistan have joined IS. Videos were released in 2014 and 2015 showing several of the TTP former commanders pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, IS Chief. Saeed Khan, Chief of Daesh in Afghanistan, is from Orakzai agency and he fled to the country to avoid consequences of the operations in FATA.
Daesh controversial claims also observed in Bangladesh cafe attack. The emerging threats are worrisome for the terror hit region and its people. Amid the dangers, it is feared that alliances against Daesh/ terrorism in the region likely to face challenges posed by the traditional rivalries and mistrusts that exist among the regional countries.
Pak-Afghan ties are still filled with mistrusts and bashing game is going on. Pak-India rivalry is not a secret and Islamabad as well as New Delhi never consider each other a well wishers. In fact future of peace in all these countries are at stake due to growing influence of militancy.
Regardless of any player’s self-styled conclusion, the mistrusts and non-cooperation serve interests of the forces for instability that would finally prove harmful for all the countries in the region. The cooperation among the region’s neighbor like Middle East is also vital for early victory against terrorism. The status quo would halt the countries to go for final punch against terrorism, which mostly victimizes common people and poor population in the regional countries. Lacs of people lost their lives and property in face of terrorism.
Overcoming the mistrusts by taking concrete steps would change the situation in the national interests of all the regional nations and it would be a great service to humanity, Kashmiris and Afghans.
The author Imdad Hussain is a senior research fellow at the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).