Pakistan hosted an unprecedented meeting Saturday of intelligence chiefs of regional countries in Islamabad to discuss the Afghan situation. According to Voice of America (VOA) the meeting particularly focused on the buildup of Islamic State in turmoil-hit Afghanistan.
Official sources in Islamabad were quoted by the VOA as saying that participants held detailed discussions on joint measures to stop Afghan-based loyalists of the ISIS group from threatening the territorial boundaries of the four (neighboring) nations.
The Frontier Post said Spy chiefs agreed to enhance intelligence sharing to counter terror threats emanating from Afghan soil .
According to the VOA, a spokesman for Moscow's Foreign Intelligence Service has also confirmed that the emergence of IS in Afghanistan prompted the deliberations in Islamabad.
"The conference reached understanding of the importance of coordinated steps to prevent the trickling of IS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, where from they would pose risks for neighboring countries," Sergei Ivanov told the Russian news agency TASS.
He said the director of the Russian spy agency, Sergei Naryshkin, attended the Islamabad meeting along with Chinese and Iranian counterparts. They all "stressed the need for a more active inclusion of regional powers in the efforts" to end the war in Afghanistan.
The discussions followed months of Russian allegations that the United States is behind growing IS influence, particularly in northern Afghan provinces next to the border with Central Asian countries.
Russian envoy to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, while addressing a Security Council meeting on Afghanistan last month, asserted that IS is creating training camps in the country for its fighters, including those who come from Central Asian states.
"This is a group, which has up to 10,000 fighters in its ranks, and it is already active in at least nine out of 34 provinces ... and is constantly consolidating its positions in the north of the country, turning it into a springboard for its expansion into Central Asia," Nebenzya said.
Chairman of the Russian Security Council
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said in an op-ed published by the Gazeta.Ru news website on Saturday that tens of thousands of Islamic State militants (IS, outlawed in Russia) are located in Afghanistan, including the provinces on the border with Central Asian countries.
"According to the intelligence services, now the region numbers tens of thousands of the IS militants and their followers, with the significant part of them concentrated in the northern and eastern provinces bordering the Central Asian countries. The leadership of the Islamic State openly announced plans to spread its influence to the entire region," the article dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks said.
According to Medvedev, the US during its almost 20-year-long operation in Afghanistan "could not offer anything against the Islamic State militants who massively relocated from Syria to Afghanistan." "The US pulling out of Afghanistan is only heating the activity of the terrorist organization which remains an enormous threat to Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe," he thinks.
Medvedev pointed out that the Americans did not attain the main goal which was expressed by the country's then-President George Bush after the September 11 attacks - the victory over terrorism in Afghanistan. "Due to many US' miscalculations, including in the Middle Eastern policy, the terrorists continue to operate in the country's territory," he thinks.
He also named drug production among unresolved problems in Afghanistan. Medvedev noted that Afghanistan's drug industry reached peak production figures during the presence of US and its NATO allies in the country. According to data cited, over the past 20 years the volume of the illegal production of opiates increased from 17 to 40 times compared to the 2001 level. The share of Afghanistan in the global production of these drugs makes up about 85%.