ISLAMABAD: Pakistan quietly helped Iraq in its fight against the militant Islamic State (IS) group, which reached a major milestone this week with the liberation of Mosul from the terrorist group’s control after three years of occupation.
Pakistan was among a number of countries that supported Iraq in fighting the IS, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, said Ambassador of Iraq Ali Yasin Muhammad Karim at a press conference at the embassy. The presser was held to brief Pakistani media about the eviction of the IS from Mosul.
Pakistan’s contribution to the fight against the IS in Iraq has never been mentioned earlier either by Pakistani officials or Iraqis.
Ancient Assyrian town Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city and was used by the IS during years of occupation as the seat of its proclaimed caliphate, was freed after a gruelling nine-month-long military campaign by Iraqi security forces that was backed by several countries.
Talking about Pakistan’s help, the ambassador said Iraq, besides getting intelligence on terrorists, also received arms and ammunition and military medical assistance from the country. He recalled some of the Iraqi pilots, who took part in action against the IS, had been trained in Pakistan.
The ambassador said the continuing intelligence cooperation between Iraq and Pakistan could help the latter deal with the expanding footprint of the IS in the region.
Underscoring the IS threat, he said, the outfit was the most dangerous terrorist group and likened its threat to “time bombs” and “booby traps”.
“We share the same enemy,” Mr Karim said.
While responding to a question, the envoy played down involvement of Pakistanis with IS activities in Iraq, saying that “the bad guys” represented a very small proportion of the population of Pakistan. People of over 100 nationalities, he added, were part of IS ranks.
The people of Pakistan were generally very supportive of Iraq in its war against the IS, he remarked.
He praised Pakistan’s policy of neutrality towards the Middle East.
After Mosul, Ambassador Karim said, Iraq was about to make a final push against the IS from its territory.
Mosul’s liberation has, however, come at a huge cost.
The city after remaining under the IS occupation for three years during the fight for its liberation is in complete ruins and almost a million of its population has been displaced. The same is the case with other areas that Iraq has succeeded in liberating from the IS. Reports from Mosul warn of an emerging humanitarian crisis.
The Iraqi ambassador called for support for reconstruction and restoration of services in the cities devastated by the war.
“We need help for rebuilding infrastructure, which is the next important task,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2017