New Delhi: Pakistan’s nefarious role in aiding the Taliban to seize power in Afghanistan is becoming clear with the exposure of the identity of militants trained and dispatched by the Pakistan Army.
A large number of them are from Punjab (Pakistan), who were dispatched by the army after a short stint of training at camps run by the Lashkar-e-Taiba to beef up the ranks of the Taliban.
Punjab is home to two of the most notorious Pakistan Army-supported terrorist groups — Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Although the exact number of Punjabi militants, mostly from the LeT, is not known, various estimates suggest a figure of over 10,000.
In Kandahar, the LeT cadres were seen fighting alongside the Taliban. Scores of LeT cadres have also been killed.
The LeT team was led by Saifullah Khalid, who was killed in the fighting in Nawahi district of Kandahar along with 11 of his accomplices.
Khalid was replaced by another LeT commander from Punjab named Imran. He had previously operated in Kashmir, where he was involved in terrorist activities.
It is also known that Pakistan had arranged for transporting the bodies of slain militants to their native places.
Pakistan also set up makeshift hospitals for the injured LeT and other Pakistani cadres fighting in Afghanistan.
Reports of the army forcing young men to join the Taliban war machine have also been coming from different districts of Pakistan. Places where maximum recruitment, in many cases forced, have taken place include Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Karak, Hangu, Kohat, Peshawar, Mardan and Nowshera.
These reports are corroborated by the incidents of a large number of young men fleeing these towns to Karachi to escape forced recruitment for fighting in Afghanistan.
In fact, the active role of Pak-based militant groups in Afghanistan has been known for quite some time now.
The LeT has had strongholds within Afghanistan since the 90s and the group continued to train and fight alongside the Taliban even after 2001.
With the active support of the Pakistan Army, the group had started to consolidate its position in at least over eight districts in Afghanistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Likewise, Jaish-e-Mohammad too had found a few bases in Nangarhar province which the Pakistan Army was using to train cadres for Kashmir.
JeM leader Masood Azhar has a close association with the Taliban leadership and has sent cadres from his Punjab-based outfit to support the Taliban fighters.
Both JeM and LeT had also been using training sites abandoned by al Qaeda to recruit and train new cadres from Pakistan, mostly from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.