By Iftikhar Hussain Jazib
Terrorist organisation Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP has achieved resurgence with sharp increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, and some circles have got opportunity for threat exaggeration as well. However, this fact should not be neglected that security forces had already pushed TTP to the brink of defeat and current wave of its violence would be curbed with sustained intelligence based operations in similar resolve. The attack on Mianwali Airbase, ambush on convoy of security forces in Gwadar, and clashes in DI Khan and Tirah Valley resulted in precious losses but security forces also killed all terrorists involved in these attacks and they busted terrorist networks in follow up operations with success. Therefore, the beginning of the end for militants has started and Pakistan’s increasing pressure on Afghan Taliban to deny safe heavens to TTP leadership would certainly further shrink space for terrorists. As indicated by TTP’s main demand to restore former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan has already denied it support base on its land by bringing these districts in national mainstream.
There are number of factors behind recent surge in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The militants involved in these attacks were equipped with modern weapons and they were better train to conduct violence. It depicts that TTP and ISKP have got access to additional training resources, the fact supported by a UN report indicating establishment of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan was already stressing on the international community that American leftover weaponry could fell in the hands of terrorists if it was not disposed properly. It has further warned that these arms are not only a threat for Pakistan but terrorists would also use them in the attacks against the interests of other countries as well. Now, the arsenal recovered from the militants in recent attacks included RPG-7, AK-74, M-4, and M-16/A4 rifles, all of American origin, indicates that a worst case scenario has become a reality. The availability of these weapons have escalated terrorist threats making militants more lethal in Pakistan. A recent UN report further corroborated that Al-Qaeda, ISKP and TTP are thriving in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Taliban government’s inability to govern Afghanistan and lack of interest to check militant outfits are responsible for it.
The success of Afghan Taliban in forming a government in Kabul has reenergised militants and all terrorist outfits idealise it. TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud is exploiting this idealism to motivate terrorists for upsurge in violence in Pakistan. He identifies himself with top leadership of Afghan Taliban for his glorification and he also announced appointment of shadow governors for different regions of Pakistan copying the play book of Afghan Taliban for success. Mehsud is a veteran Afghan Jihadi, an expert of urban terrorism. It is his leadership style that TTP is once again a very potent terrorist outfit. His strong command on theology is a mean of a decisive leverage for full authority on TTP cadre, hence, he has been able to unite disgruntle elements of militants to halt infighting.
As Noor Wali Mehsud is adopting TTP to emerging scenarios, reportedly, he is also closely working with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to further complicate threats for Pakistan. Since Afghan Taliban assume power in Kabul in August 2021, there is 60% upsurge in terrorist attacks and 500% increase in suicide bombings in Pakistan. Around 2200 Pakistanis became the casualty of these violent incidents. The violent and criminal expertise of Noor Wali and his control on TTP groups is responsible for Pakistan’s these terrorist woes. When he was head of TTP’s Sindh branch, Karachi was suffering a lot due to his rampant terrorist and criminal activities. His militants were conducting bank robberies, kidnaping for ransom, and he was involved in extortion of money and car lifting in the city. Therefore, neutralising Noor Wali would only be a source of respite for Pakistanis.
As stated by Pakistan’s Special Envoy to Kabul, Asif Durrani, TTP has around 6000 militants in its command in Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan’s concerns, Afghan Taliban has demonstrated no will to check TTP activities due to former jihadi bond, tribal affiliations, perhaps some elements also consider TTP a bargaining tool in bilateral relations. Moreover, the attacks on border posts by TTP are aimed at achieving free movement across the border to perpetrate violence in Pakistan. This Objective coincide with Afghan Taliban’s design to move people and goods freely, therefore, they are doing little to check it. In this situation, for Pakistan, intelligence based operations, decapitation efforts, strong border defences and inflicting a very heavy price on Afghan Taliban for any lenient approach towards TTP would be apt strategy to counter terrorism.
As Pakistan needs to bring pressure on Afghan Taliban to check the activities of TTP militants in Afghanistan, it has started repatriation of illegal Afghan immigrants, which it had hosted for last 4 decades. Unfortunately, 15 Afghan suicide bombers and 64 Afghan militants were involved in recent attacks, therefore, the government choose this course for security of Pakistan. There are some reports that Afghan Taliban’s supreme commander Mullah Habaitullah prohibited terrorist attacks in Pakistan in a religious degree and Taliban government took some measures to limit the activities of TTP militants to conciliate Pakistan. However, Pakistan is cautiously observing the scope and actual ground effects of these steps on the border.
As Afghan Taliban eliminate the terrorist sanctuaries, Pakistan’s security forces would be able to dismantle TTP in a short span of time. With the mainstreaming of tribal districts in KP, reforms in Madaris system and Ulema’s consensus Fatwa against terrorism, Pakistan’s state and society are better prepared to defeat TTP and other militant outfits. Therefore, current wave of terrorism would be curtailed by the sustained efforts of security forces in Pakistan. Hence, Pakistan is very strong and resilient and terrorists do not pose a long term threat to its national security.
M.Phil international Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, the writer is a freelance contributor on the issues of violent extremism and militancy. He could be approached on X @radiant_j_007
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.