- As it launches a violent assault on Pakistani land, the TTP intends to impose its rule over that country in a similar way it did in Afghanistan.
- The most recent clashes reveal the TTP’s aspirations to seize control of some portions of Pakistan and set up a rival government in the country’s northern region.
- Analysts have been raising grave concerns about the state of affairs in the nation that has been involved in numerous proxy wars.
- Pakistan’s strategy of pitting one group against another has not worked and is unlikely to do so going forward.
As a result of politics between the jihadist groups in the aftermath of the US invasion of Afghanis tan in 2001, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was founded in 2007. TTP asserted affiliations with Al Qaeda and claimed to be an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban. Targeted assaults by the Deobandi-Wahhabi Sunni organization have been made against Pakistan’s military personnel and facilities. TTP has been concentrating on Pakistan’s repressive state policies. The acting prime minister of the Islamic Emirate, Mullah Akhund (Mohammad Hasan Akhund), served as a mediator between the leaders of the TTP and the government of Pakistan during the negotiations between the two sides’ officials when they travelled to Afghanistan. The TTP and the Pakistani government have been at odds for the past twenty years. The militant group, which is centred in South Waziristan, wants to establish a political office in a third nation, undo the Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ merger with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and impose an Islamic system based on Sharia law in Pakistan.
The two parties have been at odds since the Pakistani military began Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) in 2014. This operation’s goal was to drive out all terrorists from the area, with a focus on TTP members. While doing so, it also arbitrarily slaughtered and tortured innocent Pashtuns. Long-standing efforts by the Pakistani army have been made to counter the TTP’s influence inside the region’s vibrant religio-political ecosystem and among the young Pashtuns who have relocated there. The TTP’s steadfast resistance has challenged the Pakistani government’s claim to the province.
As it launches a violent assault on Pakistani land, the TTP intends to impose its rule over that country in a similar way it did in Afghanistan. The TTP and the Pakistani government ended their five-month cease-fire agreement on November 28 2022, and on November 30 a TTP suicide bomber injured many people in Baluchistan near a police truck. Attacks were more frequent in December. The Taliban used heavy crossfire to strike the Afghan-Pakistan border region, killing civilians in the process. One Pakistani civilian was killed and 12 others were hurt in another artillery fire exchange between the Taliban and Pakistan on December 15. Again, on December 23rd in Islamabad, a suicide bomber detonated himself, killing one police officer, injuring two civilians, and killing another four police officers. Such recurrent attacks show that Pakistan’s strategy against the Taliban has failed, and as a result, Pakistan has become the primary target of terrorism. The most recent clashes reveal the TTP’s aspirations to seize control of some portions of Pakistan and set up a rival government in the country’s northern region.
Rough Road Ahead for Pakistan
The Afghan Taliban and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan have trapped Pakistan in a quagmire. TTP-led armed groups have considerably boosted kidnapping and extortion in the Khyber Pashtun region. Unlike before, Pakistan was unable to rely on the US to stabilise the situation along its western border. Pakistan is now on its own to deal with these cross-border security risks while defending its strategic interests following the complete withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan. Dealing with Tehrik-i- Taliban Pakistan and other separatists in the Baluchistan region who have been fighting for their freedom for years presents the Pakistani force with its greatest task.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the foreign minister of Pakistan, declared he was unafraid of the militants’ threats. “We’ve already been facing terrorism. The students of APS (Army Public School) were killed (in Peshawar in 2014). I refer to them (TTP people) as terrorists and extremists. They aren’t even people in my eyes. We are dealing with their threat, but we will not change our stance,” he stated.
The TTP connection with Baloch Separatists
The federal government’s struggle with the conflict between the Baloch separatists, who feel ignored by previous governments, suffer from economic hardship, and call for independence from Pakistan, is not new. The TTP probably saw this separatist movement as a chance to sow discord in the area that the Pakistani government would have to keep cooperating with them in order to quell the escalating unrest and struggle to maintain peace.
On the other side, the Baloch fishermen’s organization “Haq Do Tehreek” in the Gwadar region was openly protesting against the Chinese high-speed fishing boat. Maulana Rehman and his followers may possibly decide to target the ongoing CPEC project in order to generate more issues for the federal government, which is already facing a number of difficulties. However, the strong actions taken by Pakistani soldiers are only going to fuel the region’s protests.
Analysts have been raising grave concerns about the state of affairs in the nation that has been involved in numerous proxy wars. In the past, Pakistan has been severely rattled by the wave of terrorism and has been forced toward grave political instability. Pakistan’s economy is contracting as a result of the weakening of its currency. To save the country’s economy, the government has asked that markets close at 8:30 p.m. and restaurants close at 10 p.m. Through these actions, the government expects to save about 62 billion Pakistani Rupees. The government will have a harder time dealing with the Chinese if TTP and Baloch attacks cause the CPEC projects that China supported to suffer.
Taliban Humiliates Pak Army
By posting a photo of Pakistan’s military capitulation to Indian forces in 1971, Taliban leader Ahmad Yasir made fun of Pakistan on January 2nd 2023 and warned Islamabad that if it attacked them militarily, it would suffer the same “shameful” fate.
In addition to the post, Yasir also posted a photo from December 16, 1971, showing Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi of the Pakistani Army signing the ‘Instrument of Surrender’ in Dhaka as the Chief Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). As the day India assisted in the freedom of Bangladesh, the day is commemorated as Vijay Diwas.
Possibilities for a Resolution
There is a need for reflection on the part of the armed group, which may contemplate disarming itself as a part of the process in the first place given that negotiations have failed to produce tangible solutions. The TTP is made up of numerous factions, so it must be made clear which one is prepared for reconciliation. The entire procedure will be absolutely pointless if the reconciliation is only partial. Finally, in order to address the core causes of the issue, all parties involved in the FATA region—particularly Pashtun leaders like Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) Chief Manzoor Pashteen, Pashtun Human Rights Activist Gulalai Ismail, and TTP members—must be included.
Given Pakistan’s poor background of counterterrorism success, there are various questions surrounding its efforts in this area. Pakistan’s strategy of pitting one group against another has not worked and is unlikely to do so going forward. There is no question that the Pakistani Army will fight the TTP with all of its ability. However, it is more likely that the issue of Pakistan and its anti-terrorism strategy would continue to be in question. The issue cannot be solved as long as Pakistan continues to back the Afghan Taliban and regards the two Taliban factions as distinct from one another. The fact that the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan helps the TTP is not a mystery because, in actuality, there is some ideological convergence between the Taliban and the TTP that seeks to enforce Sharia.
Additionally, neither within Pakistan nor in neighbouring nations like India can the problem of terrorism be handled until Pakistan ceases providing a home to terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. In order to protect its borders and maintain internal security, Pakistan should certainly eliminate its ties to the ecosystem of religious terrorism.
- Soumya Awasthi, “ TTP’s Recent Developments”, vifindia.org, June 11, 2022, https://www.vifindia.org/article/2022/june/11/tehreek-i-taliban-pakistan-versus-pakistan-government
(The author is pursuing MA in International Affairs at O P Jindal Global University, Sonipat. Views expressed are author’s own)