Pakistan has been the country on the frontline of the war on terrorism since 9/11, and has played a most crucial and fundamental role – for which it has paid a huge price in terms of the death of its innocent citizens and armed forces personnel. Keeping in view the extraordinary role of Pakistan, it is but logical to expect the world community to compel the Taliban government of Afghanistan to fulfill its promise and commitment that Afghan soil will not be used for launching attacks on Pakistan. Unfortunately, the Afghan rulers don’t seem to honour any agreements or deals with Pakistan. Cross border raids by the Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) have increased tremendously and now the latest attack on the check post of a Pakistani security force on 6 September is a cruel reminder that the Taliban Government of Afghanistan is in no mood to honour their commitments or to restrain the TTP militants and stop their attacks on Pakistan from the safety of their safe haven in Afghanistan. The spokesperson of the Taliban in Kabul has issued a denial that the Afghan Government has ever provided any assistance or encouragement to the TTP in attacking Pakistan but the ferocity of the attacks and the ease with which they are conducted with state-of-the-art modern weapons make it clear that the Afghan Government is hands in glove with the TTP in their nefarious activities and cross border incursions into Pakistan territory.
The agreement called the Doha Pact, signed by the leaders of the Afghan Taliban, was a guarantee that they will not allow any militant group to use its territory to attack another country. The Taliban have shown scant regard for the Doha Pact and Pakistan’s relations with the Afghan government have touched rock bottom because of the support of the latter to the TTP. The TTP have also revived the old thorny problem of recognition of the Durand Line because they refuse to honour the sanctity of the international border and claim that the land of Pashtunistan extends right up to Attock deep inside Pakistan. There have been numerous attacks across the fences on the Pak-Afghan border and the TTP seems to have revived the hatred against the Durand Line as symbol of division between the Pashtuns living on both sides of the line.
The TTP is a militant group of religious extremists hell bent on destroying Pakistan and fighting against the state security agencies since 2007 - first under the command of Baitullah Mehsud and then Hakimullah Mehsud and his successors. This motley group of extremists has one aim and that is to enforce the rule of Sharia in Pakistan. They do not recognise the constitution of Pakistan or its legitimate Government They have already killed over 80,000 Pakistanis and over 8,000 members of our armed forces, including hundreds of innocent children, in their heinous and cruel attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in 2014. The American withdrawal from Afghanistan has given a new lease on life to these terrorist militants and now armed with the stocks of arms and ammunition left behind by the American forces, they are attacking the Pakistani military to take revenge for the army action against them in the North and South Waziristan districts.
During their talks with Pakistani representatives, the TTP has made its aims and objectives crystal clear. They want immediate enforcement of the Shariah, undoing of the FATA merger with KP province, the release of TTP prisoners and a return to Pakistan with permission to bear arms. The TTP is now rejuvenated after the Taliban victory in Afghanistan in 2021, and faces no threat to its survival because of the heavy recruitment, strong finances and sophisticated weapons abandoned by the Americans. The fanatic extremists of the TTP are now ready to face the armed forces of Pakistan and establish their writ in some areas of Pakistan, especially in the soft underbelly of the border areas. For this approach, the best example is the fierce advance in Chitral during early September. The ferocious attacks on Chiral were personally led by the TTP chief Noor Mehsud and it was timed on the day when the nation was celebrating Défence of Pakistan Day. The Pakistani armed forces retaliated against the heavily armed militants of the TTP and forced them to run back to their sanctuaries after three days of fierce and bitter combat. The situation came back to normal but some areas are still not safe. The TTP is now very active in the KP province and is spreading its bloody tentacles to the province of Balochistan. Moreover, the sectarian tensions in Gilgit-Baltistan are another area of interest for the TTP.
After the launch of the military operation called Zarb-i-Azb in 2016, the Pakistani armed forces had very successfully broken the back of the TTP and their nefarious activities had been put down almost completely. The TTP was in disarray and splintered into many smaller factions with no central command structure. Luck favoured the TTP with the arrival of the Taliban government in Kabul. After that, the TTP struck gold when the PTI government of Imran Khan decided to release from prison many TTP militants as a goodwill gesture to the new regime in Kabul – and according to reports, over 10,000 Taliban militants were let loose. The government of Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire with the TTP, with the understanding that the situation will return to normal. Peace talks were just a sham and this period of calm benefitted the TTP to regroup, rearm and come back with greater confidence and more firepower.
There is an unholy alliance between Al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan: they are allies and partners in crime. As such, the Afghan leadership considers the TTP as an essential part of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban government is responsible for aiding and funding the TTP training camps in Kunar, Nangarhar, Logar, Paktia and Khost. Thousands of TTP militant fighters are training under the express orders and consent of the Afghan government of the Taliban.
As it continues to pay the price, Pakistan is increasingly becoming aware of the scope of this danger from its west.