The Return of Taliban Terrorism in Pakistan: A Challenge to be Addressed

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Pakistan has long been accused of supporting and harboring terrorist groups in order to further its own political objectives, particularly in regards to its disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir with India. This risky strategy, which involves differentiating between “good” and “bad” terrorism, has had devastating consequences for both Pakistan and the international community. It is a well-known fact that this approach has only served to fuel the ongoing conflict and suffering in the region.

Hillary Clinton once stated that it is not possible to keep venomous snakes in your backyard and expect them to only attack your enemies. Eventually, they will turn on anyone, including those who try to protect them.

Pakistan seems to be getting a taste of its own medicine, the snake it reared to attack India is coming to haunt it as TTP is gaining control of Pakistan’s soil, and on the other hand Balochistan liberation movement is getting bloodier day by day.

In 2021, Pakistan was eagerly welcoming the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in anticipation of building stronger ties and gaining profits in mining lithium metal, which is in demand due to the ongoing electric mobility revolution. Although Pakistan’s fate will open but after one and a half year it seems that the tables have turned.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan Taliban on Wednesday, the group plans to target leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said the group would focus on attacking the ruling government’s top leadership, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Contrary to false reports last year, Muhammad Khorasani is alive and well.

The TTP has called on citizens and religious groups to stay away from Pakistani leaders and warned that it will take action against the ruling government and security forces, whom it accuses of “serving the interests of the West” at the expense of the country. The statement comes after the Pakistani government’s recent announcement of “zero tolerance” towards terrorism. Pakistan also did not shy away from threatening Afghanistan saying that if it is necessary to bomb Afghanistan to eliminate TTP, they will do so.

Where did Pakistan go wrong in its handling of the Afghan issue?

After the entire Afghanistan peace process and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan made many assumptions based on the fact that since Afghanistan is a Muslim country like Pakistan, things would be better between the two countries. Although it turned out differently. Despite Afghanistan being a Muslim nation, they live in regional packs and are deeply loyal to their pack.

Pakistan did not mediate in the Afghanistan peace process by first officially resolving its border issue (Durand line) with the Afghan Taliban. Had they done so earlier and settled on a mutually recognized boundary, peace would have been achieved between the two countries.

Why are two Muslim nations not behaving well together?

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government are got strained due to an increase in cross-border terrorism. The Taliban administration in Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of making statements about targeting Kabul while claiming to take action against the TTP.

Critics argue that the TTP and Pakistan’s ineffective approach to Afghanistan are contributing to the resurgence of militancy in the country. Pakistan has been trying to influence the government of Afghanistan in order to have a friendly administration that is supportive of Pakistan’s interests. However their calculations have gone horribly wrong.

The killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by the US Army in Afghanistan last July further exacerbated tensions between the Taliban and the Pakistani government. The terrorist group believes that the attack on al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan was carried out by the Pakistani Army. Although there is no concrete evidence.

The phrase “zero tolerance for terrorism” was used during a recent National Security Committee (NSC) meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief General Asim Munir. Pakistan has a history of supporting and providing safe haven to various terrorist organizations in order to use them to wage proxy wars against the militaries of India and Afghanistan.

The National Security Council (NSC) stated in a release following the two-day high-level meeting last week that “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state would be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory.”

According to the statement, no country is allowed to offer refuge or assistance to terrorists and Pakistan “reserves all rights in that respect to preserve her people. However, this is in stark contrast to Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan when Afghanistan had a legitimate and democratically elected government and Pakistan sheltered Afghan Taliban fighters. This should help you understand why the “two superpowers” were forced to capitulate in Afghanistan.

According to reports TTP has carried out over 150 terrorist attacks in Pakistan, resulting in numerous casualties among civilians and security personnel. The number of terror attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the northwest region of the country, saw a 108% increase in 2022. The TTP’s deadliest attacks occurred in December of last year, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 Pakistani security officers.

Since General Asim Munir was appointed as army chief, Pakistan has witnessed a significant increase in terrorist attacks carried out by the TTP. The TTP ended its ceasefire with the government and called for full-scale attacks in response to the recent changes in the senior leadership of the Pakistani Army.

The Objectives of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

  • Overthrow the Pakistani government
  • Establish a strict interpretation of Islamic law in Pakistan
  • Carry out terrorist attacks in the country targeting civilians and security forces
  • Oppose the unification of the tribal regions with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest
  • Engage in a long-standing conflict with the Pakistani military
  • Responsibility for numerous deaths and acts of violence in Pakistan.

The Afghan government has advised Islamabad to avoid “provocative notions” amid the current rift between the Afghan Taliban administration and the Pakistani government.

The Pakistani Army was recently mocked by the Afghan Taliban in a tweet featuring a picture of the 1971 India-Pakistan conflict, in which Pakistan was defeated by the Indian Army and Bangladesh was formed.

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the publication.)

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