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The Azadi Briefing: Taliban, Pakistan Continue To Wrangle Over Militants

On August 6, Taliban Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob called on his fighters to obey a recent decree by their supreme leader that forbids them from engaging in jihad outside Afghanistan.
On August 6, Taliban Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob called on his fighters to obey a recent decree by their supreme leader that forbids them from engaging in jihad outside Afghanistan.

Welcome to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Abubakar Siddique, a senior correspondent with RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

Erstwhile allies Pakistan and Afghanistan's hard-line Islamist rulers continue to spar over the Taliban's alleged support to militants fighting Islamabad.

"It is the responsibility of the security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan to carry out their duties properly and not to blame Afghanistan," chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on August 9

His statement was an apparent response to an August 7 speech by General Asim Munir. The head of Pakistan's powerful military said Islamabad was concerned "over sanctuaries available to banned outfits and the liberty of action they enjoy on Afghan soil," vowing that his country will dismantle terrorist organizations.

"The involvement of Afghan nationals in terrorist incidents in Pakistan is detrimental to regional peace," Munir said.

On August 6, Taliban Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob called on his fighters to obey a recent decree by their supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, which forbids them from engaging in jihad outside Afghanistan.

"If mujahedin (Taliban forces) continue to fight despite orders from the emir to stop, then it is not jihad but rather hostility," Yaqoob said.

The decree is part of the Taliban's response to Islamabad's accusations that Afghan fighters are involved in attacks on Pakistani forces by the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other jihadist groups who shelter inside Afghanistan.

Why It's Important: The public bickering indicates that Islamabad now sees Taliban-ruled Afghanistan as a major security threat after abandoning efforts to end the TTP's insurgency through peace talks brokered by the Afghan Taliban.

Since the Taliban returned to power, partially enabled by Pakistani support for its two-decade-long insurgency, the TTP dramatically escalated its attacks on Pakistani forces.

Islamabad's efforts to end the violence by offering concessions to the group in talks mediated by the Taliban backfired as the TTP violence turned into an expanding insurgency. The group is trying to regain control of large swathes of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province bordering Afghanistan.

But under Munir's leadership, the Pakistani military is pressuring the Afghan Taliban to rein in the TTP because of its close organizational and ideological alliance with its Afghan hosts.

What's Next: There are no signs that the TTP is stepping back from its violent campaign against Pakistan.

With elections looming, Pakistan will be governed by an interim caretaker government in the near future.

The continuation or increase in Pakistani Taliban violence will prompt Munir to exert more pressure on the Afghan Taliban in this sensitive period, further tearing apart the two former allies.

What To Keep An Eye On

Humanitarian aid groups operating in Afghanistan warn about the dangerous consequences of severe funding shortfalls as they grapple with one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

The UN estimates that nearly 30 million Afghans out of a population of 40 million need humanitarian assistance as they struggle with the consequences of a collapsing economy.

Afghanistan is still reeling from the loss of development and financial aid after donors stopped funding one of the world's most aid-dependent countries following the Taliban's return to power two years ago.

"We need some $110 million immediately to store food for the winter for nearly 3 million people," said Wahidullah Amani, a spokesman for the World Food Program in Afghanistan.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a U.S. NGO, expressed concern over diminishing funds to respond to Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis.

The IRC says that only 23 percent of the $4.6 billion humanitarian appeal has been funded this year. By the same time last year, 40 percent of the previous plan was funded.

Why It's Important: This is a vital issue, as the Taliban's cash-strapped, unrecognized government is unlikely to fund humanitarian operations or pull an economic miracle.

Western donors are unlikely to shower aid on Afghanistan in a world struggling with multiple humanitarian crises because of the Taliban's harsh policies and extensive human rights abuses.

This will expose more of the most vulnerable Afghans to extreme hardship in the near future.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have. You can always reach us at

Until next time,

Abubakar Siddique

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    Abubakar Siddique

    Abubakar Siddique, a journalist for RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, specializes in the coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key To The Future Of Pakistan And Afghanistan. He is also one of the authors of the Azadi Briefing, a weekly newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan.

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Radio Azadi is RFE/RL's Dari- and Pashto-language public service news outlet for Afghanistan. Every Friday, in our newsletter, Azadi Briefing, one of our journalists will share their analysis of the week’s most important issues and explain why they matter.

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