Balochistan minister deletes post after suggesting offering ‘drone bases’ to US to target militant hideouts in Afghanistan

Published December 13, 2023
A file photo of Balochistan caretaker Minister for Information Jan Achakzai. — APP/File
A file photo of Balochistan caretaker Minister for Information Jan Achakzai. — APP/File

Balochistan caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai on Wednesday deleted a post on X (formerly Twitter) in which he had proposed a set of counterterrorism measures, including offering the United States “drone bases to target militant sanctuaries in Afghanistan”.

The minister’s suggestion had come a day after at least 23 Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred and more than 30 troops wounded after militants belonging to the Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) stormed a compound used by the military in Dera Ismail Khan’s Daraban area. Six militants who stormed the building were killed.

The TJP claimed responsibility for the attack and also released a two-minute video, purporting to show militants targeting security personnel with thermal scopes. Security officials, however, claimed the video was not authentic.

Later, Pakistan demanded immediate and verifiable actions from the Afghan government against militant outfits fomenting terror in Pakistan, as it issued a demarche to Afghan Charge d’Affaires Sardar Ahmad Shakib.

Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi, who summoned Shakib, stressed the urgency and gravity of the situation, calling for a comprehensive investigation and decisive action against the perpetrators of the recent attack.

Pakistan demanded action against all terrorist groups, including their leadership and sanctuaries. The foreign secretary insisted on the apprehension and extradition of the perpetrators as well as the leaders of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from Afghanistan.

In the now deleted post, Achakzai had shared a series of counterterrorism measures. He had noted that issuing a demarche to the Afghan government was insufficient and stressed the need for more stringent measures.

Achakzai had said the DI Khan attack had crossed “all national security red lines of Pakistan”.

“We must consider reprisal attacks in Afghanistan,” he had declared, as part of the seven measures he proposed.

He had said “special targeted operations, air strikes, border closure with Afghanistan, return of Afghan refugees, anti-TTA political opposition gathering in Islamabad” must be considered.

The minister had added: “Last, offer US drone bases to target AlQ [Al Qaeda] and other militants sanctuaries in Afghanistan.”

He had also stressed the need to convey a message to the Afghan Taliban, stating, “We will not tolerate this double game. Enough is enough.”

Surging terrorism in Pakistan

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in recent months, especially in KP and Balochistan, after the TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.

On Nov 3, a bomb blast targeting police personnel killed five people and injured over 20 others in DI Khan.

On Oct 31, a policeman was martyred after unknown militants opened fire on a police camp in Dera Ismail Khan. That same day, two soldiers were martyred in an IED blast in the South Waziristan district.

According to data released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, the country experienced a 34 per cent increase in anti-state violence last month. It showed KP as the most affected province, documenting 51 attacks, causing 54 fatalities and 81 injuries.

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