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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

US weapons falling into hands of militants – Pakistan

Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has lamented that equipment left behind in Afghanistan has strengthened the Pakistani Taliban

Much of the American weaponry abandoned during Washington’s chaotic 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan has fallen into the hands of Islamist fighters, including the Pakistani Taliban, Pakistan’s prime minister has warned.

The US weapons have boosted the firepower of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), “emerging as a new challenge” for Islamabad, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar told reporters on Monday. American military equipment has enhanced the capabilities of TTP fighters, contributing to increasingly fierce attacks on Pakistan’s security forces in recent months, he said.

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The TTP is allied with the Afghan Taliban, which seized Kabul and returned to power as US forces were evacuating from the war-torn country in August 2021. Kakar did not provide details on how the abandoned US weapons had wound up in the hands of Pakistani militants.

More than $7 billion worth of US military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon assessment released last year. The gear, which had been given to the US-backed government in Kabul during Washington’s 20-year occupation of the country, included aircraft, military vehicles, communications equipment and firearms. Government forces surrendered or lost their US-supplied weapons as they were overrun and routed by the Taliban.

Critics of US President Joe Biden’s administration have pegged the value of abandoned equipment much higher. For example, former President Donald Trump claimed that US forces had left $85 billion worth of weaponry and equipment to the Taliban. US troops also jettisoned some of their own equipment, such as helicopters and Humvees, but the Pentagon said much of that gear was destroyed or “retrograded.”

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Kakar called for a “coordinated approach” to dealing with the leftover weapons. US equipment, such as guns with laser sighting systems, have reportedly enabled TTP fighters to target Pakistani security forces from greater distances. Those government forces are charged with defending “our home, children, mosques and places of worship,” the prime minister said.

Kakar was installed as Pakistan’s caretaker PM last month, bridging the leadership gap until the country’s next parliamentary elections are held, possibly early next year.