The spectre of a resurgent Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) haunts Pakistan's internal security space with the tribal belt of Khyber Pakhtoonwa facing the brunt of attacks. Locals are increasingly concerned over state inaction to check the rising menace arising from sanctuaries provided to the terrorist group in Taliban administered Afghanistan.
Tribal in Wana — the headquarters of South Waziristan tribal district — rallied demanding civil administration fulfil responsibilities to restore peace in the area. The “peace march” was organised by Wana Siyasi Ittihad (WSI).
Similarly a peace rally was also staged in Lakki Marwat after six policemen were martyred in a militant attack in Kurrup Par area demanding action against terrorists The Rally was organized by local welfare organisations who condemned terrorism in all forms. “The government should revisit its anti-terror policies keeping in view the recent surge in terrorism incidents in the province,” said Malik Riaz, a local ANP leader.
Rising violence is ascribed to the increased attacks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). As per Voice of America the violence has killed close to 500 Pakistanis, mostly security forces, this year. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has suffered the highest number of TTP attacks, claiming the lives of at least 100 soldiers and as many members of the police force. The U.N. estimates there are up to 6,500 TTP fighters operating out of Afghanistan as per the VOA.
TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan has been a major concern for Pakistan. This was evident with mysterious deaths of a number of TTP leaders in that country. Two TTP commanders were reportedly discovered dead in the eastern Afghan provinces of Paktia and Nangarhar. A TTP commander’s body was reportedly found in a water canal on November 17 by Khaama Report. Saifullah Babuji, a Pakistani Taliban commander whose body was discovered, was a resident of Malakand in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and was known to be close with Amir Mufti Mazloum, the TTP’s deputy.
Another TTP commander named Zakirain’s body was reportedly discovered in the province of Paktia, in eastern Afghanistan, according to the Afghan Islamic Press. On August 8, an Afghan roadside mine explosion killed Abdul Wali, also known as Omar Khalid Khorasani, a Tehreek-e-Taliban leader from Pakistan.
There are multiple strands of the issue which need deliberation. Firstly, the TTP presumes that takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban in August 2021 has paved the way for it to continue efforts to come to power in the Pakistani tribal belt of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Secondly the Afghan Taliban believes that the TTP can be supported with the same objective to gain influence in the tribal belt which is adjacent to the Afghan Pakistan border or the Durant line.
This has led to provision of sanctuaries by the Taliban to the TTP in Afghanistan. Thirdly talks have been initiated by Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI and the army with the TTP at the behest of the Siraj Uddin Haqqani who is the acting interior minister in the regime in Kabul.
There have been continued terrorist attacks in the tribal belt which are ascribed to the breakaway factions of the TTP which is allegedly not in talks with the government.
Baloch insurgent groups are also in a mode of asserting their presence in Balochistan, where a number of attacks have been launched in the recent past mainly on the security forces. In Karachi and Sindh the Sindhi extremists have reportedly joined hands with the Baloch and are carrying out random acts of violence.
Managing terrorist violence thus will remain a key challenge for the new Army Chief.