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UNKNOWN INSURGENTS ATTACKED PAKISTANI SECURITY FORCES AND 80 FEMALE STUDENTS POISON IN AFGHANISTAN

June 1-7, 2023 | Issue 17 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM Team

Benedetta Bisaccia, Kyle Dillon, Christine Saddy, Pike Wipperfurth, Utsav Yadav

Evan Beachler, Editor; Álvaro Picón, Senior Editor


Map of Sistan and Baluchistan Province (Iran) and Kech District Balochistan (Pakistan)[1]


Date: June 1, 2023

Location: Kech Border District, Baluchistan Province, Near Pakistan/Iran Border

Parties involved: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif; Pakistan; Pakistani security forces; Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi; Iran; Arabian Peninsula regional alliance Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); Baluchistan separatist groups; unknown insurgents

The event: Unknown insurgents attacked Pakistani security forces, killing two military personnel. Following the attack, Pakistani security forces took immediate action to clear the area of any remaining insurgents and communicated with Iranian authorities to deny any chance of escape. The Iranian Embassy has condemned this attack and called for cooperation to combat the insurgents, despite both countries frequently blaming each other for the lack of preventative security measures on their borders. This attack comes in light of Raisi and Sharif aligning to create a marketplace and power transmission line in the border region[2] including the southern maritime border, a hot spot for illicit fuel smuggling between the two countries.[3] Baluchistan separatist groups are continuously active in Pakistan as part of their insurgency to gain independence from the Pakistani government.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • There is a roughly even chance that these attacks will influence joint counterinsurgency measures between Pakistan and Iran. This partnership will very likely include increased border security, sharing intelligence, and conducting counterinsurgency exercises, very likely strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries. A non-response by the Iranian and Pakistani governments will very likely encourage further attacks, destabilizing the border region. Destabilization will likely increase weapons and resources smuggling across the southern maritime border.

  • The attack will likely prompt Iran and Pakistan to seek support from neighboring countries and international partners. Iran and Pakistan will likely engage in discussions with other participating nations and regional forums such as the GCC to garner support to combat cross-border terrorism. Strengthening existing alliances will likely enhance regional security, creating a unified front against separatist groups operating in the border region.


Date: June 4, 2023

Location: Sar-e-Pul Province, Afghanistan

Parties involved: Afghanistan; Afghan school girls; Taliban; Taliban supporters; Head of provincial education department Mohammad Rahmani; Provincial education department heads

The event: Two separate attacks at two elementary schools in northern Afghanistan left nearly 80 female students from grades 1 to 6 poisoned and hospitalized. Rahmani offered no specific details but said the perpetrator behind the attack had a personal grudge. Rahmani said an investigation is ongoing and initial reports suggest that the perpetrator paid a third party to commit the attack. So far, no schoolgirls have died in this attack; almost all are reportedly healthy. Since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, girls can only attend school up to sixth grade and cannot participate in secondary or university studies.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • It is very unlikely that the Taliban will stop girls from attending elementary school. The Taliban will very likely come under intense pressure from the international community to make schools safer for girls. Provincial education department heads will almost certainly crack down on future attacks by enhancing security around schools, issuing harsh punishments for perpetrators, and assuring the international community in addressing security concerns. There is a roughly even chance that additional school attacks will further isolate the Taliban from the international community, likely resulting in increased economic sanctions.

  • The current gender rights situation in Afghanistan for women has likely inspired fervent supporters of the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam to associate with or conduct these attacks themselves. There is a roughly even chance that the current instability in Afghanistan has made it difficult for the Taliban to control potential lone-wolf attacks and monitor security threats against women’s schools. In response to this event, the Taliban will very likely issue a statement to disassociate from this attack and its perpetrators, likely advocating for more male chaperones in women’s schools to increase personal security.

 

[3] More Iranian fuel being smuggled to Pakistan, petroleum dealers say, Reuters, May 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/more-iranian-fuel-being-smuggled-pakistan-petroleum-dealers-say-2023-05-09/

[4] Pakistan’s military says 2 soldiers killed in militant attack near border with Iran, AP, June 2023, https://apnews.com/article/pakistan-iran-border-militant-attack-a6bad9b1710a4a8b6c7c046633888594

[5] Official: Almost 80 schoolgirls poisoned, hospitalized in northern Afghanistan, AP, June 2023, https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-schoolgirls-poisoned-9c3a542e345ea3d5caec20f3481fc744#

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