In the second week of November 2023, The Economic Times published an analysis with reference to a statement by Anwaar-Ul-Haq Kakar, the caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, in which he had said that terrorists were using American-made arms against his country. He further highlighted that American-made weapons are being sold in the black market not just in Pakistan but also throughout the region, as well as in Gulf countries. Astonishingly, a few days back, the US authorities had rejected the idea of leaving behind any weapons during its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Earlier on April 28, 2022, Ellie Kaufman of CNN reported with reference to the US Department of Defense that approximately $7 billion of military equipment the US transferred to the Afghan government over the course of 16 years was left behind in Afghanistan after the US completed its withdrawal from the country. According to the report, ‘that equipment is now in a country that is controlled by the very enemy the US was trying to drive out over the past two decades: the Taliban.’ The US Defense Department asserted in an earlier statement to Congress that it ‘has no plans to return to Afghanistan to ‘retrieve or destroy’ the equipment.’
According to various reports discussed on different Pakistani and foreign TV channels, the ‘United States had delivered a staggering 427,300 combat weapons to the Afghan military, with 300,000 remaining at the time of withdrawal, contributing to a surge in terrorism in the region over the last two years.’ A few months back, the Pentagon had also disclosed that the U.S. provided $18.6 billion in equipment to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces between 2005 and August 2021. That equipment included aircraft, air-to-ground munitions, communications equipment, military vehicles, and other war materials. With reference to the use of American weapons by terrorists, Junaid Kathju had said, reporting for NBC News on January 30, 2023, “A major reason is a regional flood of U.S.-funded weapons that fell into the hands of the Taliban when U.S.-led NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021.” Earlier, after US-led NATO forces’ departure from Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Rob Lodewick, had said in a statement, “It is important to remember that nearly all weapons and equipment used by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan were either retrograded or destroyed before our withdrawal.” Despite all these reports and analyses, the bitter reality is still there that US-made weapons are being used by terrorists against Pakistan.
Particularly in the past two years, there have been many incidents of terrorism in Pakistan in which the investigation agencies pointed out the use of American weapons; the list of such incidents is very long. One such incident occurred in February 2022 when Frontier Corps camps in Nushki and Panjgur districts were targeted, allegedly by the Baluch Liberation Army, employing the same arsenal of weapons. In another terrorist attack on Zhob Garrison on July 12, 2023, the terrorists were found using American weapons. On September 6, 2023, the terrorists armed with the latest American weapons assaulted two army checkpoints in Chitral. On November 4, 2023, Mianwali Air Base was attacked by terrorists armed with foreign-made RPG-7s, AK-74s, M-4s, and M-16/A4 rifles. On December 12, the security forces of Pakistan succeeded in trapping a group of terrorists equipped with night vision goggles and American rifles in the Daraban area of Dera Ismail Khan. On December 15 of the same month, three police personnel sacrificed their lives in combat with five terrorists who had in their possession modern American weapons in the Tank area. These weapons included M16/A2 rifles, HE grenades, and AK-47s; the terrorists involved in this incident were also shot dead by the security forces.
The state of affairs, in short, is very confusing and complex; one can very easily feel the ‘to be or not to be’ type of situation. The US says it didn’t leave any weapons at the time of its withdrawal from Afghanistan; reports say that the weapons left behind by the US forces were simply ‘of no use,’ whereas circumstances prove that the terrorists are using US-made weapons in their war against Pakistan and other countries in the region. Must we hold the US responsible for the situation, or does the responsibility go onto the shoulders of the Afghan government for not being able to control the terrorists; that is an important point to be clarified. It seems there was some mismanagement on the part of the US troops and certainly a very serious mishandling of the situation by the Afghan government; otherwise, American-made weapons could never have come into the hands of the terrorists. This matter no doubt demands very strict vigilance by the Afghan government as the use of American-made weapons by the terrorists is defaming and damaging the immaculate repute and intentions of the US, which has spent trillions of Dollars on its war against terrorism. The credibility of the US has never been unblemished concerning its efforts for peace as well as its vibrant role in the war against terrorism all over the world. If American weapons are being used by the terrorists, the US Department of Defense must look deep into the matter.