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TTP is back but with a more dangerous design

DND Thought CenterTTP is back but with a more dangerous design
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By Agha Iqrar Haroon

The year 2022 was heavy for Pakistan due to constant attacks from Afghan soil over civilian and military installations in Pakistan and several incidents of IED blasts had been costing the lives of men in uniform and civilians.

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The month of December 2022 was the bloodiest. The hostage scene in Bannu CTD Center and the IED blast near Kahan Balochistan testified that the war against terrorism has again gripped Pakistan after a lull of several years.

Overall law and order situation became grave in the post-TTP dialogue that was initiated in October 2021 at the suggestion of the Afghan Taliban. Many sane voices were raised in Pakistan when the state initiated dialogue with the dormant and defeated TTP in October 2021. By February 2022, the return of TTP foot soldiers was seen in Swat valley and erstwhile FATA areas and local people started protests against the government for negotiating with TTP that was almost dead due to successful military operations Zarb e Azb and Radd Ul Fasaad.  However, the state was of the view that few TTP members had arrived back home from Afghanistan for meeting their relatives. There had been big Aman (Peace) Rallies in Swat and other areas of KPK for raising the issue that “TTP is back” but the government kept saying that “nothing to worry about”.

Namaz e Janaza of Captain Muhammad Fahad Khan, who embraced shahadat yesterday in IED Blast near Kahan Balochistan, was offered at Army Graveyard Rawalpindi, today.CJCSC General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and a large number of senior civil and military officers, soldiers, citizens and relatives of shaheed attended the Namaz e Janaza. Shaheed was buried with full military honour.
Namaz e Janaza of Captain Muhammad Fahad Khan, who embraced shahadat yesterday in IED Blast near Kahan Balochistan, was offered at Army Graveyard Rawalpindi, today.
CJCSC General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and a large number of senior civil and military officers, soldiers, citizens and relatives of shaheed attended the Namaz e Janaza.
Shaheed was buried with full military honour.

As usual, Pakistan is not dealing with one odd but many and the TTP rise is mingled with the terrorist attacks on Pakistan claimed by separatists in Baluchistan. Pakistan would definitely hold India responsible for the recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan but authorities in Pakistan are shy to answer why the state go for negotiations with the dead TTP in October 2021.

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With the advent of the year 2022, the terrorism wave started gripping the country and the following incidents took place:

20 January – 2022 Lahore bombing

25 January – 2022 Kech District attack

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2 February – 2022 Panjgur and Naushki raids

2 March – March 2022 Quetta bombing

3 March – 2022 Sibi suicide bombing

4 March – 2022 Peshawar mosque attack

15 March – 2022 Sibi IED explosion

26 April – 2022 University of Karachi bombing

12 May – 2022 Karachi Saddar bombing

15 May – 2022 Miranshah suicide bombing

16 May – 2022 Karachi Bolton Market bombing

13 September – 2022 Swat blast

16 November – 2022 Lakki Marwat attack

30 November – November 2022 Quetta bombing

14 December – December 2022 Miranshah suicide bombing

18 December – 2022 Bannu CTD Centre attack

23 December – 2022 Islamabad suicide attack

25 December – IED blast near Kahan Baluchistan

There are unconfirmed reports that the Afghan Taliban are cutting the fence Pakistan installed at the Pak-Afghan border and the interim government has categorically refused to accept Durand Line as Pak-Afghan permanent border.

The situation is so grave that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the Afghan Taliban to prevent terrorist organizations from attacking Pakistan or any other neighboring country from Afghan territory.

“We consider that it is absolutely essential for the Taliban not to allow any form of terrorist activity that might have an impact in relation to Pakistan, as in relation to any other country of the region,” the UN chief said.

Last week Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto in the United States said that as far as the TTP is concerned, it’s absolutely a red line, it is something that Pakistan will not tolerate. He was of the view that Pakistan would be willing to consider each and every single option to ensure the safety and security of our own people.

My recent article titled “Made in Pakistan Jihad and TTP”, mentioned that I served in Afghanistan as a journalist during 1995-97 and then covered the so-called War On Terror from 2001 to 2006. These field assignments helped me to understand the currents and undercurrents of the Afghan war and the Afghan mindset. I believe the TTP could not be formed and could not be in the swing if it did not have support from the Afghan Taliban but the majority of writers had been claiming and blaming TTP as just an Indian product. Yes, it got financial as well as technical support from Indian intelligence agencies but its survival within Afghanistan was within the active support and cordial relations with the Afghan Taliban. TTP foot soldiers had been helping the Afghan Taliban to defeat the Afghan Army in the past.

In one of my articles, “A year after the fall of Kabul” published on August 7, I categorically mentioned that the TTP problem had not been solved and negotiations with TTP would ultimately enhance the confidence of terrorists who were virtually destroyed by the Pakistan Army when Ashraf Ghani was in power in Kabul. Afghan Taliban are cutting the iron fence Pakistan installed during Ashraf Ghani’s tenure at the Pak-Afghan border and which was intact till the Afghan Taliban did not come into power. I believe soon we will find parts of this iron fence in some iron melting plants in Pakistan.

Do we remember that today’s Afghan Taliban are the second and third generations of the “Mujahedeen” who were crafted to destroy the regular army of Soviet Afghanistan? Mujahedeen smashed the Afghan government and their second and third generations won the war against US-led alliance in Afghanistan and they are so confident that they can defeat Pakistan also later or sooner. To my understanding, the TTP is nothing but a form of the Mujahedeen of the 1970s and the Afghan Taliban of the 1990s, having the same philosophy and quest of destroying an established state and its army; the only difference is that the target is Pakistan and the Pakistan Army instead of Afghan Red Army that was working in Communist Afghanistan of 70s.

I will not go into academic discussion that we need a narrative to mitigate influence of purist religious forces in areas bordering Afghanistan because it is too shallow and too useless discussion when our country is again in the state of war rather in fighting a war that can endanger its survival. There should be only one narrative and that must a loud and clear message to Afghan Taliban that they must not play with fire. A new dimension I have seen that TTP and Afghan Taliban are now using ethnic card against Pakistan stating that Afghanistan will reclaim its land till Attock River. This is a dangerous development and the state must engage dialogue with peace loving elements in KPK and Balochistan who had been protesting against rise of radicalization since Afghan-Russo Jihad. The majority of residents of KPK and Balochistan are peace-mongers and they just need moral support of the state to stand against anti-Pakistan elements. I am of the view that all stakeholders, particularly those who had been raising alarms “TTP is back” should be taken into confidence by the state and the political leadership must initiate a debate in the Parliament over this grave situation.

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