Afghanistan

Pakistan’s Invisible Hand

The leadership of the National Resistance Front gave up its fight for the Panjshir capital last night and retreated to the surrounding mountains. A spokesman, in a tweet reported by the Panjshir Observer, said it was either this or die.

Last night we had to make a hard decision in the face of furious enemy attacks and depleted ammunition. Make a last stand in Bazarak and risk the total elimination of our leadership, or retreat to higher ground in order to continue the resistance. We chose the latter.

Another comment, later, said the top leadership was safe.

Taliban are in Bazarak, the provincial capital of Panjshir. Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Saleh are both safe. NRF have pulled back to the surrounding mountains and vow to continue fighting.

The world is silent as Pakistani drone strikes were crucial for Taliban’s advance.

Other NRF leaders were not so fortunate. Among them, Major Wazir Akbar Mohamand was killed in a Pakistani drone strike and the NRF’s main spokesman, Mohammad Fahim Dashty, died in fighting for the provincial capital.

The key reference in these tweets is the involvement of Pakistani drones. These strategic assets, parked high in the sky over the Panjshir gave the Taliban real time observation of NRF positions, troop movements and supplies. The traditional advantage of the high ground was nullified by the even higher ground of the drones, Pakistan’s invisible hand in the clear mountain air.

This, of course, isn’t the only Pakistani involvement in the fighting. NRF spokesmen said many of the Taliban fighters were from Pakistan, even though the Pakistan border is half way across the country. Also Pakistan’s notorious ISI Inter-Services Intelligence Agency has been a long-time supporter of the Taliban, going back to before America’s involvement in the country.

China sold Pakistan 50 armed drones last year and the country has its own domestic drone program. Here, now, in Panjshir, we see how these weapons have been used.

Whatever you used to think of Pakistan in the past, consider what has just happened, a nuclear-armed Muslim nation has just infiltrated a neighbour, fomented revolution, physically attacked the only opposition and has done so without getting its hands dirty. Are you worried about this?

You should be. It could do this again, and certainly will.

Update

A video has emerged on Twitter showing a Pakistan Air Force jet doing a tight turn deep inside the Panjshir valley. The obvious inference is that it was attacking NRF positions. Even as little as a month ago, who would have imagined Pakistan bombing Afghanistan at the request of Afghan rebels it organized?

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