The organic links between Pakistan-sponsored terror groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Taliban and Haqqani network have surfaced once again with an audio message being released by Talha Saif, the younger brother of JeM chief Masood Azhar.
In the audio message for JeM cadres, Talha who heads the operational arm of the global terror outfit, remembers the contribution of leaders of Taliban and HQN, including Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani to the Jihadi struggle and goes on to talk about Taliban's chief negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar and incumbent Taliban chief Mawlawi Hibatullah.
The timing of the audio coincides with US Taliban agreement and is learnt to have been released on March 2 to JeM cadres.
JeM is the first terrorist outfit to openly come out and gloat over the international media attention on Taliban at Doha by telling its cadres that Baradar was more sought after than US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The US-Taliban agreement in the Qatari capital on February 29 made way for withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan in return for insurgent guarantees.
Talha tells the Jaish cadres that not only has US acknowledged the defeat but the international community also has recognised the victory of Jihad. The narrative is that not only in warfare within Afghanistan but in international diplomacy at Doha also, forces of Jihad have been victorious against US.
Similarly, said the Jaish leader, forces of Jihad will defeat India in Kashmir and emerge victorious. The fact that the developments in Afghanistan can have a direct bearing for India becomes clear with Talha not missing any opportunity to remind the Jaish cadres that the war isn’t over yet and the victory will only come when the Jihadi forces are victorious in the valley.
A counter terror official who analysed the audio message said that the theme of the audio message is the victory for Jihad in Afghanistan and like Afghanistan, JeM feels that victory in Kashmir is bound to happen.
The ISI is the cementing factor in this link between Jaish and Taliban and HQN network, said the official.
Intelligence sources said that with Taliban gaining further hold in Afghanistan, Jaish fighters deployed there and Pakisiani/foreign jihadis working with HQN/Taliban would turn their attention to the wider region including Kashmir.
One thing is clear that JeM would get more ambitious with Taliban ascendancy in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's strategy would be to facilitate US withdrawal by overtly talking of peace in front of the international community and Afghan government, but the ISI will continue its support to Taliban to help it take control, the sources said .
The security establishment is worried that the ISI will help the Taliban to capture power gradually and the neighbourhood may witness a repeat of 1991-96 when Taliban supported by ISI had grown to become the strongest force .
Similarly in India, the ISI will try to recruit local Kashmiris and Indian nationals for terror activities so that the ISI hand will remain hidden unlike 2008 Mumbai attacks, said a security official.