US military equipment left behind during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has made its way into the hands of Pakistani militants, the country’s prime minister claimed Monday.
The high-tech gear, which may include firearms with laser and thermal sighting systems, is reportedly being used by the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in clashes that have intensified in recent months with Pakistan’s security forces.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said the development was “emerging as a new challenge” in a meeting with reporters in Islamabad on Monday.
Kakar argued that a “coordinated approach” must be taken to tackle the threat that abandoned US military equipment poses to Pakistan, adding that Pakistani security forces will continue to “defend our home, children, mosques and places of worship.”
The Pakistani Taliban are an ally but not affiliated with the Afghan Taliban.
Pakistani security officials believe the militant group was either given the equipment or purchased it from its Afghan allies.
The Pakistani Taliban fighters have been able to target security forces from a distance with their new weaponry, which they couldn’t do before, a Pakistani official told the Associated Press.
More than $7 billion worth of US-provided military equipment – including Humvees, mine-resistant MRAPs, military aircraft and munitions – was in the hands of the Western-backed Afghan government when it collapsed in August of 2021 amid the Biden administration’s withdrawal from the country, according to the Defense Department’s inspector general.
Some 316,260 small arms — including rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and howitzers — as well as communications, explosive detection, night-vision and other surveillance equipment was also in the Kabul government’s inventory when the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan.
Islamabad has also expressed concern that Pakistani Taliban fighters have been given shelter by the Afghan Taliban across the border, allowing them to evade capture by Pakistani security forces.
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