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‘6,500 Pak terrorists among foreign fighters in Afghanistan; LeT, JeM play key role’

New Delhi: There are some 6,500 Pakistani nationals among foreign terrorists operating in Afghanistan and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) play a key role in bringing foreign fighters into the war-torn country, according to a UN report.

The report, from the UN Security Council’s analytical support and sanctions monitoring team and issued late last month, indicated Pakistani terrorists formed a significant part of foreign fighters that pose a serious threat to Afghanistan’s security because of their activities and permanent presence in the country.

Lashkar and Jaish, the report said, have approximately 800 and 200 armed fighters, respectively, co-located with Taliban forces in Mohmand Darah, Dur Baba and Sherzad Districts of Nangarhar Province. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also maintains a presence in Lal Pura District, near the border area of Mohmand Darah, Pakistan, the UNSC team said.

In Kunar Province, the report said, Lashkar retains a further 220 fighters and Jaish has a further 30, all of whom are dispersed within Taliban forces. The UNSC monitoring team said that TTP, Jaish and Lashkar, are present in the eastern provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan, where they operate under the umbrella of the Afghan Taliban.

Even as a number of significant al-Qaeda figures were killed, “the senior leadership of al-Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban,” the report said.

Relations between the Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network, and al-Qaeda remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage, the UNSC monitoring team said.

The Taliban, the UNSC monitoring team said, also appears well prepared for the 2020 fighting season and raising the tempo of its attacks on Afghan government targets while trying to avoid provoking the United States.

India’s External affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “This vindicates India’s long-standing position that Pakistan remains the epicentre of international terrorism. That proscribed terrorist entities and individuals continue to enjoy safe havens and recruit, train, arm, finance and operate with impunity from Pakistan with state support. They inflict violence and spread terrorism in the region and other parts of the world.”

The report also highlighted the presence of Pakistani terrorists in the Islamic State’s Khorasan chapter, such as commander Abdullah Orakzai alias Aslam Farooqi, who was captured with 21 others in Kandahar in March. Twelve Pakistani nationals were captured along with Farooqi.

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