By Aamir Latif
In a rare development, Pakistan’s army chief has extended hand towards neighboring Afghanistan for “security cooperation” to contain the brewing threat of Daesh.
“Threat continues to reside across the border in Afghanistan with ISIS [Daesh] gaining strength there,” General Qamar Javed Bajwa said while addressing the tribesmen on Friday in northwestern Kurram Agency near Afghan border.
Three different militant groups, including Daesh, claimed responsibility for the latest suicide attack in Parachinar — the only Shia-dominated town of the country’s seven semi-autonomous tribal agencies — that killed over 70 Shia Muslims earlier this week.
“A greater Pak-Afghan border coordination and security cooperation is required in this regard,” the army chief said referring to reports that the militant network has got roots in some parts of loosely-governed Afghanistan.
“We need to remain, united, steadfast, prepared and vigilant against this (Daesh) threat, which has an agenda of exploiting sectarian fault-line”, he added.
Analysts see the army chief’s call, which came for the first time since the Middle Eastern militant network found some ground in the region, as “significant”.
In the past, Islamabad insisted that Daesh had no presence on its soil, in response to Afghan claims that hundreds of Pakistani Taliban fighters were now loyal to Daesh.
The network, however, has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks across Pakistan in recent months, including a suicide attack on a Sufi shrine in southern Sindh province earlier this year that killed over 80 people.
On June 4, Pakistan security forces had claimed killing over a dozen suspected Daesh fighters during a security operation in southwestern Balochistan province that was aimed to recover a Chinese couple kidnapped by the terrorist network last month.
The couple was later reportedly killed, according to a video posted on a pro-Daesh website.
Though fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan have sworn allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, experts say they are not directly controlled by the group.
They have also struggled to gain a foothold in the region, facing opposition from the Taliban, U.S. drone strikes and local populations.