As the battle rages in Afghanistan between Taliban and Afghan forces, support for the Taliban is growing in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
There is also evidence that Pakistani citizens are fighting in Afghanistan, some of them returning wounded and some of the bodies being sent back. This has further spurred the sentiment of local youth in the region offering their services to fight in Afghanistan.
Intelligence sources say that when the bodies of local youths are returned to Pakistan, a well-thought-out ceremony is held with the participation of community elders and religious leaders. This procedure was perfected by local Afghan leaders based in Pakistan, at the request of the Pakistani army, in order to generate strong sentiment in favor of the so-called “martyrs” and ensure their recruitment.
Some local leaders, who had grown tired of war over the years, were opposed to such activities as they felt it was another attempt by the Pakistani army to create a narrative that would get several young people to participate in a new war in Afghanistan on behalf of the Pakistani army. Some of these people believe that they should not lose another generation to the war in Afghanistan.
Many ulama in different parts of Pakistan have also been involved in the process of creating a narrative in support of the Taliban and encouraging people to donate to the Taliban. This feature is especially noticeable in the Quetta and Pishin Baluchistan, where the Taliban enjoy strong support. However, locals claim that all the work to motivate young people to join the Taliban and raise funds for the Taliban through the ulema is done behind the scenes and appears to be led by Pakistani army officials.
They fear exposure of their role in this process and therefore even banned public demonstrations in favor of the Taliban. Likewise, unlike in the old days, when the ulema asked for funds by announcing them from their mosques on a public address system, they now began to approach the houses for fundraising.
In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, a pro-development opposition MP Mohsin Dawar said the Taliban’s actions are openly continuing in Quetta and many other cities in Balochistan, which is impossible without state support. He mentioned that the Pakistani army has recently established safe zones at various locations in Baluchistan where they can possibly receive wounded Taliban fighters or provide them with funds, weapons and resources, in addition to allowing them to have a temporary base of operations.
On the other hand, government officials considered all such reports about the collection of donations and alms for the Afghan Taliban baseless. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafiz Chaudhary called all such reports fabricated and untrue. It is important to note that although the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been declared banned by law, the TTP’s support for the Afghan Taliban is gaining approval in some quarters.