August 3, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10119

Editorials In Pakistani Dailies On Killing Of Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri: 'Can We Then Expect A More Persistent Policy Of U.S. Attacks On Afghanistan?'; 'Until... The Core Issues [Of Kashmir And Palestine] Are Addressed, Many More Zawahiris Will Continue To Emerge'

August 3, 2022
Special Dispatch No. 10119

Following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in a U.S. drone strike on July 31, 2022, in Kabul city, Pakistani dailies wrote editorials, giving mixed reactions to the elimination of the jihadi terror mastermind.[1] Editorials titled "End Of Zawahiri" and "Zawahiri's End" in the English-language dailies The News and  Dawn, respectively, noted that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban jihadi organization now in power) has continued to host Al-Qaeda, which threatens the region.

"Terrorism Is A Global Threat But The Presence Of Al-Qaeda Leadership In Afghanistan Is Also A Threat To The Region; Pakistan Will Need To Be Ever More Vigilant"

Following are excerpts from the editorial in The News:

"There is now the question of the impact this drone strike will have on the region. The Taliban have condemned the drone attack and called it a 'clear violation' of the Doha Agreement by the U.S. authorities. On the other hand, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused the Taliban of 'hosting and sheltering' Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan and 'grossly' violating the Doha Agreement.

"The Taliban have also invoked international principles and said that such actions are 'against the interests of the U.S., Afghanistan and the region.' For a very long time American drone attacks have also led to greater militancy arriving in the region. The U.S. says no other casualties occurred in the attack which killed Zawahiri...

"The other issue that comes up is whether it means that Taliban in Afghanistan are once again protecting Al-Qaeda leaders as they had done during their previous tenure in power before 2001. If this is the case, can we then expect a more persistent policy of U.S. attacks on Afghanistan? And does the U.S. intend to engage in the 'War on terror' in Afghanistan post-withdrawal from the skies. For the moment, we do not know if other Al-Qaeda targets have been located in Afghanistan and how the U.S. will respond if they are found, or if the policy of drone attacks will be expanded in some way.

"It is unfortunate that a country that is battling poverty, drought, famine, and many other issues, is under a regime that may have been 'hosting' a wanted terrorist on its soil when it needs the international community on its side so that some relief can be given to its beleaguered people. Terrorism is a global threat but the presence of Al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan is also a threat to the region. Pakistan will need to be ever more vigilant."

"Zawahiri's Killing Should Not Be Seen As A Great Victory Against Terrorism, Mainly Because Of The Largely Dormant Nature Of Al-Qaeda"

Following are excerpts from the editorial in Dawn:

"Ayman Al-Zawahiri... was one of the most recognisable faces in the world of transnational jihadism. Yet the Al-Qaeda Zawahiri led after his boss Osama bin Laden's killing had lost much of its bite, and had been superseded by even more bloodthirsty concerns, such as the self-styled Islamic State group.

"The Egyptian doctor-turned-terrorist is believed to have been one of the key ideologues of Al-Qaeda. However significant as it is, Zawahiri's killing should not be seen as a great victory against terrorism, mainly because of the largely dormant nature of Al-Qaeda, as well as the presence of even more violent groups in Afghanistan.

The house where Ayman Al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. drone attack

"The killing also raises questions about the Afghan Taliban's commitment to not host foreign terrorists. After the U.S. had withdrawn from Afghanistan last year, the de facto Afghan [Taliban] rulers in Kabul had promised that their land would not be used against others. Yet the fact that the Al Qaeda chief was found and targeted in a Kabul safe house – earlier intelligence reports had indicated that Zawahiri was operating in Afghanistan unhindered – exposes the Taliban's promise as hollow. It seems the Taliban have learnt nothing from history, as their earlier regime was also dislodged for hosting Al Qaeda.

"Moreover, the global presence of groups even more fanatical than Al-Qaeda shows that current counterterrorism policies are not yielding the desired results. While there is no doubt a military aspect to counterterrorism, and violent militants cannot be allowed to operate freely, many of the underlying issues that fuel terrorism have not been addressed. These include continued indecision on the Kashmir and Palestine questions, occupation of Muslim lands by foreign powers, as well as authoritarian regimes that hold sway over most Muslim states. As per some accounts, Zawahiri turned to extremism after he was tortured in Egyptian prisons. Until these core issues are addressed, many more Zawahiris will continue to emerge."


[1], August 3, 2022;, August 3, 2022. The original English of the editorials has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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