Leader of Jammat-ul-Ahrar killed in US drone strike

Jammat-ul-Ahrar

News Analysis |

The leader of Jammat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), Umer Khalid Khurasani, has reportedly been killed in a US drone strike conducted on Tuesday in Afghanistan’s Paktia province. Immediately after the attack, the terrorist commander was taken to a hospital in a nearby village where he succumbed to his injuries.

The commander of the banned militant group hails from Mohmand Agency and goes by the alias, Abdul Wali. The JuA based in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan has been involved in more than 100 terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

In July this year, Pakistan welcomed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) decision to include JuA in the list of entities subject to travel bans, arms embargos and freezing of assets.

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US drone strikes against terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan

At least 31 people have died in three drone strikes near the Pak-Afghan border in Afghanistan over the last 72 hours. On Tuesday, the US conducted a drone attack in the Khanachi area of Paktia, and killed five people and injured one.

According to sources, the strikes targetted hideouts of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Haqqani Network and a total of 10 missiles were fired.

Later in the day, another drone attack killed at least six people and injured one other in the Ghuzdari area of the same province. On Monday, 20 people were reportedly killed and 10 injured in a drone attack near the same area. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reportedly fired six missiles during the strike.

According to sources, the strikes targetted hideouts of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Haqqani Network and a total of 10 missiles were fired.

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Drones will hurl missiles 

The strikes do not come as a surprise to keen watchers and pundits of the region. Even before the announcement of the new South Asia policy, an increase in the scope and scale of drone operations was on the cards. This is the second strike after the promulgation of the new policy; the strike in Kurram Agency last month killed three suspected militants.

The Pakistani military who had earlier taken exceptions to drone strikes has not issued a statement till now. Previously, COAS Gen Bajwa had been quoted as saying by the ISPR: ”Drone strikes are counterproductive and against [the] spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being diligently undertaken by Pakistan.” He had asserted that “Pakistan Army is capable of taking effective measure if actionable intelligence is shared.”

Pundits are optimistic that better ties at the military level can lead to closer cooperation between the two countries. However, experts believe that events at the tactical level can only translate into improvements at higher levels only through continuous and meaningful engagements.

Despite recent offers of joint military operations against the Haqqani Network, such outrageous jointness is untenable as analysts believe that it would be marred by mistrust and issues of sovereignty. The rescue of the Coleman-Boyle family amplified the importance of cooperation between the two countries.Analysts are positive that slowly both countries are coming to grips with each other’s concerns.

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A possibility of new arrangements on drone strikes cannot be ruled out; it is believed that if US drones target anti-Pakistan militants in Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamat ul Ahrar in Afghanistan, Pakistan may soften its stance on the drone program. Pundits are optimistic that better ties at the military level can lead to closer cooperation between the two countries. However, experts believe that events at the tactical level can only translate into improvements at higher levels through continuous and meaningful engagements.

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