By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – The Pakistan army on Monday alleged that the terrorist organization Daesh/ISIS is using the Afghan territories to operate against Pakistan with India's backing.
The terror group Daesh/ISIS is flourishing in neighboring Afghanistan with "Indian backing" due to the loose control of the Kabul government, Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, the Pakistani army's spokesman said, addressing a news conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
"Yes, there is Daesh footprint over there [Afghanistan] and it's being supported by RAW [the Indian intelligence agency]. There is a lot of evidence available on that count but we are in contact with the Afghan government. We keep conveying our issues to them, concerns, we keep continuously keep engaging with them and it's a very positive level of acceptability on both sides of what's happening.
"But we also understand that there are some capacity issues on the Afghan side, so whenever their soil used against Pakistan we don't always blame the Afghan government for that," he noted.
His remarks echoed a similar charge leveled by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday accusing New Delhi of backing Daesh/ISIS to "inflame" sectarian violence in Pakistan.
The Middle East-based terrorist network claimed the responsibility for the killings of 11 Shia miners in the southwestern Balochistan province earlier this month.
Nonetheless, Iftikhar added, Islamabad does not blame the Kabul government for the growing Daesh activities on the Afghan territories due to its "capacity issues".
"There are capacity issues on Afghan sides that is why Afghan land is being used against Pakistan," he maintained.
Citing the "successful" military operations against the terrorist network, he said: "Thankfully, there is no organized terrorist infrastructure today in Pakistan like in the past."
During the last 20 years, he said, Pakistani security agencies arrested, killed, and repatriated 1,100 al-Qaeda terrorists, apart from killing over 18,000 suspected militants in over 1,200 security operations.
"We lost about 83,000 citizens and conceded economic losses of $126 billion in the war against terrorism," he further said.
– Opposition will be served with snacks
Responding to questions about opposition parties' threat that it could turn the direction of its proposed anti-government march towards the army headquarters, Iftikhar said in a lighter vein: "We will offer them tea and snacks."
An 11-party opposition alliance — Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — accuses the country's powerful army of bringing Imran Khan into power through "rigging" in the 2018 general elections.
The PDM plans to hold a long march on Islamabad to oust the government if Khan does not resign by Jan. 31.
The army spokesman said he does not see any reason for the opposition alliance coming to the army headquarters. "[But] if at all they want to come, we will offer them chai Pani [refreshments] and look after them. What more can I say?"
"The allegations being leveled have no weight," he added.