With The TTP Resurgent, Is It Time To Revisit The National Action Plan?

Urgent and immediate efforts are needed to ensure the safety of life and limb of our citizens and to protect our national democratic institutions

With The TTP Resurgent, Is It Time To Revisit The National Action Plan?

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been  one of the deadliest and most blood thirsty religion-based militant organisations since its birth in 2007. For more than ten years this group terrorized the country with deadly attacks such as the 2014 massacre of innocent children in the Army Public School in Peshawar that extinguished the lives of over 160 innocent students and four teachers.

The recent increase in terrorist attacks in the frontier regions of the country is a sign that the country could be in the deadly grip of the forces of religious intolerance and bigotry once again in the shape of a reborn TTP. The two provinces of Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are once again bearing the brunt of the creeping menace of the forces of obscurantism called the Taliban and the national security agencies have so far been unable to prevent this resurgence of the terror machine that is hellbent on unleashing mayhem on the country for the promotion of their religious ideology. 

The latest brazen and audacious onslaught by the TTP in the border regions of Pakistan shows the efforts of the Pakistani Government. to eradicate religious militancy in the areas bordering Afghanistan have fallen short. It is now believed that the Afghan Taliban’s success in Afghanistan encouraged the TTP to launch their attacks on Pakistan and the TTP has been emboldened because they now have a safe haven inside Afghanistan from where they can operate with impunity and without fear of retaliation by the Pakistani forces. Pakistan now has a long history of struggling with the ever present deadly threat posed by the Taliban that is characterised by frequent cycles of bloodshed and many state efforts to control and suppress the creeping menace of the TTP.

It was during the rule of the military regime of general Pervez Musharraf that the valley of Swat was handed over to Mullah Sufi Mohammed and his bloodthirsty son in law Maulvi Fazal Ullah by the Nizam-i-Adle resolution in the National assembly and the Lal Masjid of Islamabad became a haven of extremism resulting in suicide attacks and bloody mayhem across the length and breadth of the country. It was only after the gruesome attack on the APS Peshawar in 2014 that some serious efforts were made to curb the menace of religious extremism.

The period between 2014 to 2018 witnessed some relief in the form of a significant reduction in the TTP attacks across the country. This became possible due to the launch of the National Action Plan (NAP) by the PML-N government. This plan crafted in 2014 was a very comprehensive strategy to eradicate the scourge of religious militancy and extremism from the country. It encompassed a multifaceted approach, including military operations against militant groups, reforms in the judicial system, madrassa regulation and measures to curb hate speech and financing for terrorist organisation. 

The government took some bold and stringent measures under the National Action Plan and this resulted in a considerable decrease in the TTP attacks and restored peace and stability plagued by the TTP campaign of suicide attacks and mayhem. The change of government in 2018 under Imran Khan nullified all the previous efforts. The PTI government led by Imran Khan firmly believed that the Taliban are freedom fighters fighting to end the illegal occupation of their country by the forces of America and other European nations. In the National Assembly, Khan stated that Osama bin Laden was “martyred” by the US forces. Readers will also remember his statement about the Afghan Taliban “breaking the shackles of slavery” when the US forces left Afghanistan. It was all part of a strategy. 

During the insurgency in Afghanistan, when the Taliban were relentlessly attacking Pakistan, Imran Khan believed that this was happening because of the American intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11. His government. then launched the controversial and rather risky plan to settle TTP fighters in the Frontier regions of the country which had rather grave security implications for Pakistan but the PTI government went on to provide relief and safe havens to the Taliban militants and only in 2021 over six hundred thousand Afghans entered Pakistan along with innumerable armed fanatic militants of the TTP. 

It has now become crystal clear that the soft corner that Imran Khan had for the Taliban and his sympathy for the Talban philosophy is totally wrong. Khan said that the Taliban are attacking Pakistan because we support the US. But American forces have long left Afghanistan but the Taliban attacks on Pakistan continue with renewed vigor and vengeance. Not a single country in the world has yet recognised the Taliban regime in Kabul – it was only Imran Khan’s government who welcomed the Taliban in Kabul and extended his full support and help to them. 

From day one the aim and objective of the Taliban has been to destroy the democratic set up in Pakistan and enforce their version of Islamic Sharia law. They are not interested in any peace deals and they will not be satisfied by any appeasement efforts until they achieve their nefarious designs in Pakistan. So far during the last year there have been more than 400 terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan. One wonders whether this is just the beginning and things are heading back to the post-2008 era when terrorism was rife throughout the country leading up to the horrific attacks on airports and the Army Public School. Readers may remember that these attacks were bloody and merciless.

As Pakistan fights back to control the growing menace of the TTP, there is a dire need to revisit the carefully crafted National Action plan provided by the previous government and the security agencies and to implement it with renewed efforts and forceful intent. Urgent and immediate efforts are needed to ensure the safety of life and limb of our citizens and to protect our national democratic institutions from the deadly onslaught of the Taliban.