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Will Taliban hand over Bagram airbase for CT ops to China or US?


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With a number of international terrorist groups now operating from Afghanistan rising, the Taliban cabinet is convening on Friday to examine if Bagram airbase, north of Kabul, could be handed over to a third country for helping the Sunni Pashtun Islamists to launch counter-terror operations in the country. The two countries in reckoning are Pakistan backed China and the US, which left the airbase on July 5, 2021, after two decades of operations.

The jostling of power within the Taliban government with defence minister Mullah Yaqoob on one side and Pakistan ISI backed interior minister and global terrorist Sirajuddin Haqqani on the other side has led to total chaos in governance as a consequence of which terrorist groups have homed in Afghanistan as a base for operations. It is precisely because of this unfolding scenario that Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa differed with outgoing ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed as the former felt that there would be a huge Islamic fall-out on Pakistan. While both Pakistan PM Imran Khan and DG ISI gloated over the Taliban occupation of Kabul, army chief Bajwa differed from them as the fear was that Pakistan would turn into a rabid Islamic state like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

At present, the US is worried about al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network whose boss runs the Taliban government, and the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan Province growing in numbers in Afghanistan and exporting terror to the west, China is worried about three terrorist groups operating in Af-Pak region that have taken explicitly anti-Beijing positions and followed through violence. India specific groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba who have ideological affiliations with the Taliban vis Deobandi and Ahle-Hadith platforms have also started using Afghanistan for launching operations across the Radcliffe Line.

While China has decided to open another military base in Tajikistan to monitor the Wakhan corridor that juts into highly restive Xinjiang province, it is courting the Taliban regime via Pakistan to ensure that Uighur terrorists do not start launching operations against the Xi Jinping regime from Afghanistan. Even for the safety of its Belt and Road Initiative, China is worried about three terrorist groups. They are:

· Balochistan Liberation Army: They attacked the Chinese consulate In Karachi with three suicide bombers in 2018/

· Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan: An offshoot of Taliban, they claimed responsibility for the April 2021 car bomb explosion next to a hotel in Balochistan’s capital city where the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan was due to stay. The bomb exploded just minutes before the ambassador arrived.

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