In the wake of a brutal terror attack that claimed the lives of 23 security personnel in the northwest of Pakistan, Jan Achakzai, the interim information minister of Balochistan, has proposed a bold strategy aimed at combating terrorism.
According to multiple reports, Achakzai has called for the establishment of American drone bases as part of a multifaceted approach to counter-terrorism operations.
Terror Strikes Northwest Pakistan
The bomb and gun attack, which occurred in the restive region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on December 12, prompted Achakzai to outline several measures, as reported by Dawn.
An attack on a military post in Daraban, northwestern Pakistan, resulted in at least 23 deaths, as confirmed by the Pakistani military.
The assault involved a vehicle loaded with explosives ramming into a police station gate, followed by a suicide bombing, causing the building’s collapse and numerous casualties.
Pakistani Army’s media also reported the death of six attackers, as Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) claimed responsibility.
Following the attack, in a now-deleted post, Achakzai brought up measures in a post via X (formerly Twitter), including reprisal attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, specially targeted operations, air strikes, border closure with Afghanistan, repatriation of Afghan refugees, and a political opposition gathering in Islamabad aimed at countering the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Bold Proposal: US Drone Bases for Counter-Terrorism Operations
One of the most significant proposals made by the Pakistani official was the offer of US drone bases to target sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and other militant groups operating in Afghanistan.
“Last, offer US drone bases to target AlQ [Al Qaeda] and other militants sanctuaries in Afghanistan,” Achakzai noted.
This proposition underlines the severity of the situation and the urgency felt by Pakistani authorities in tackling the growing threat of terrorism, particularly along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
As mentioned, the attack in Dera Ismail Khan, claimed by the TJP, targeted a military checkpoint and involved six terrorists using an explosive-laden truck.
While Pakistani officials consider TJP to be an alias for the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the TJP denies any affiliation with the outlawed group.
The TTP, an umbrella organization formed in 2007, comprises various armed Islamist factions entrenched along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Sharing ideological ties with the Afghan Taliban, the TTP has historically collaborated with them in their resistance against the US-led international coalition, often hosting Afghan Taliban members in Pakistan.
In his now-deleted post, Achakzai also emphasized the importance of sending a message to the Afghan Taliban, saying:
“We will not tolerate this double game. Enough already.”
Call for Bilateral Cooperation
In response to the attack, Islamabad has urged the interim Afghan government to apprehend the perpetrators and take swift and verifiable actions against anti-Pakistan militant outfits operating from Afghan soil.
“[The] terrorist attack is yet another reminder of the terrorist threat to peace and stability in the region. We must act resolutely with all our collective might to defeat this menace,” its press statement read. “On its part, Pakistan remains steadfast in its commitment to combat terrorism.”
This call for cooperation emphasizes the need for bilateral efforts in curbing cross-border terrorism, underscoring the complex and volatile nature of the security situation in the region.
At least 23 security officials were killed and several others injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack on a police station in northwest Pakistan. Islamist militants used an explosive-laden truck for the attack claimed by a Pakistani Taliban group. https://t.co/9eTEuIYbQb
— DW News (@dwnews) December 12, 2023
The proposal to establish US drone bases in Pakistan for targeted strikes against militant sanctuaries in Afghanistan evokes memories of the extensive drone operations conducted by the United States from 2004 to 2018 in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
These strikes aimed at Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives resulted in significant civilian casualties, fueling widespread anti-American sentiment within Pakistan.
Critical Considerations and Regional Dynamics
As Pakistan grapples with the repercussions of escalating terrorist activities, the proposal for US drone bases raises critical ethical and strategic considerations.
While such a move might offer tactical advantages in targeting militant groups, concerns regarding sovereignty, civilian casualties, and the broader impact on regional dynamics must be thoroughly evaluated. Not to mention the country’s close ties to China.
The evolving security landscape in South Asia underscores the imperative for collaborative efforts among regional stakeholders to address the menace of terrorism effectively.
The proposal for US drone bases in Pakistan represents a pivotal development in the ongoing discourse on counter-terrorism strategies, demanding careful deliberation and international cooperation to navigate the complex challenges posed by extremist threats in the region.
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