The withdrawal of American troops has finally revealed the true essence of the so- called Afghan conflict – this is the Pakistani-Afghan hybrid war that Islamabad is waging against the government and people of Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban militants.

Pakistan government needs Taliban to solve a strategic task – to overthrow the current President and the Government of Afghanistan and replace them with politicians controlled by Islamabad. Pakistani generals see the future of Afghanistan only as their colony or a vassal state and are busy recruiting thousands of militants from Pakistani cities and madrassas for the same. The relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan government remains mainly based on friendship and ideological sympathy.

Pakistan’s terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have assured Mullah Yaqoob, deputy leader of the Taliban, of their full support in recruiting enough fighters for his group. They have already set up three new major camps in Tera Agency area in Pakistan to mobilize their fighters for fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistani military itself is providing training to around 5000 Taliban fighters in LeT’s training camps in Hyderabad, Punjab.

While some Pakistani terror groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), LeT, JeM, Lashkar-e-Islam, Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Tanzim-ul-Badr and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are involved in fighting in eastern provinces like Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar, the Haqqani Network is fighting in Ghazni, Logar, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Zabul, Kandahar and Helmand provinces. LeT has deployed around 7200 of its fighters in eastern Afghanistan. In Kunar province, the group’s military commander, Amer Saqib, has set up 6 camps under Al Qaida’s name. These fighters are being dispatched in groups of 200 members which include 3 to 8 suicide bombers and 5 to 10 Pakistani military officers. Around 300 fighters of LeT, JeM, Tanzim-al-Badr and other radical Pakistani groups have proceeded in three separate groups to Achin, Nazian and Bor Baba districts of Nangarhar province. Besides, 800 newly recruited fighters from LeT and Mojahidin-Al-Badr training camps have been sent to the military commission of Taliban out of which 600 will be deployed in eastern and northern provinces.

While Islamabad has been denying that “jihadis” from Pakistan are going to Afghanistan, the country has been receiving dead bodies of its citizens from across the border on the Chaman-Spin Boldak and Torkhum border crossings. According to locals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, dozens of Pakistanis have been killed in Afghanistan in the past few months while fighting alongside the Taliban against the Afghan forces. Hundreds of people, locals said, had attended the funerals of the Pakistani fighters in various parts of the two provinces.

In mid-July, 22 year old Adul Rasheed was laid to rest in the suburbs of Peshawar city in the northwest. Rasheed, according to his family members, had gone to Afghanistan in May for ‘jihad’ and was recently killed in the Nangrahar province. His uncle Maroof Khan called Rasheed a source of inspiration for other young Pakistani jihadis fighting in Afghanistan. “Many of his young friends want to be martyred like him,” he said.

In Balochistan, funerals and prayers are frequently held in the Pashtun-speaking areas along the border with Afghanistan upon the arrival of dead bodies of local militants. “Funerals are held. The Taliban make speeches at funerals and congratulate families for their martyrs,” said a resident of the Panjpai town in Balochistan.

Though, Zahid Hafeez Chuadhary, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson, rejected reports about Pakistani jihadis fighting alongside the Taliban, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed recently admitted that the dead bodies arriving to the country were of the Afghan Taliban as families of many of them reside in Pakistan.

The Pakistan government must be held accountable for the mayhem it is orchestrating in Afghanistan. The FATF needs to watch closely as to how these terror groups, whose existence has been consistently denied by Pakistan, have come out in the open and in full force to support the Taliban in destroying the once magnificent country, Afghanistan.