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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Resurgence of Terrorism in Pakistan

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After the United States pulled out of Afghanistan in August of last year, the Taliban took control of the country. At the same time, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan increased by 51 percent.

Death toll in Pakistan

There were 433 deaths and 719 injuries in 250 events throughout Pakistan between August 15, 2021, and August 14, 2022, as reported by the Pak Institute of Peace Studies (Pips), an Islamabad-based research tank.

According to the data, there were 165 attacks, 294 fatalities, and 598 injuries reported throughout the country between August 2020 and August 14, 2021.

As the security situation unfolds under the fragile rule of the Taliban, Pakistan is likely to face yet another tribulation in terms of terrorism. The naive euphoria over a Taliban success is turning into a painful shock.

Taliban Government in Afghanistan

The government of the Taliban has not taken any action to impede the activities of foreign terrorist organisations in Afghanistan. Foreign terrorist organisations with their headquarters in Afghanistan draw strength from the Taliban’s success in the country, and then use that strength to propagate their ideology across Central and South Asia and the rest of the globe.

Terrorist organizations in Afghanistan

Major international terrorist organisations having a substantial local presence in Afghanistan include Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK) (IS-K). Until now, the Taliban have resisted taking any action against IS-K due to the group’s consistent challenge to their rule.

The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan has been holding peace negotiations with TTP commanders headquartered in Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent months due to growing terrorism-related concerns. TTP organised violence has not decreased, and the talks seem to have broken down owing to militant demands to restore the pre-conflict status quo in ex-FATA.

Reappearance of terrorism in Pakistan

Some people are persuaded by the claims of the Taliban’s supporters that the group is effectively halting terrorist organisations’ plans to attack other countries, while others are not. With the recent increase in TTP terrorist activities and the reappearance of its militants in some of its former strongholds in northwest Pakistan, there has been a massive public reaction, with hundreds taking to the streets on a regular basis to demand that authorities restore security.

TTP and Afghan Taliban

The Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an independent research and advocacy think tank located in Islamabad, has recently concluded that the TTP is a “Ideological and Operational” partner of the Afghan Taliban. The risks of a Taliban government in Kabul may now be apparent to Pakistan. The Taliban government is probably avoiding taking strong measures against the TTP so that they might gather leverage in bilateral discussions with Pakistan.

Afghanistan relies heavily on Pakistan as a hub for local and international trade because of the country’s remote location. Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, has strengthened its economic connections with the Taliban leadership in the last year in the hopes that the Islamist authorities would address Pakistani issues in return for more cash benefits.

The fact that al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was revealed to have been hiding out in a safe house in the centre of Kabul before he was killed in a U.S. drone operation in July casts doubt on the Taliban’s counterterrorism efforts and vows to sever links with terrorist organisations. No country has recognised the Taliban government because to concerns about human rights violations and terrorism.

TTP targets Pakistan

The TTP seems to have focused its latest attacks on Pakistani security personnel on the country’s western border regions (though it also targeted a polio vaccination team in December). This new focus is in line with the organization’s 2018 manifesto, in which it promised to target the Pakistani military and intelligence instead than civilians (the hallmark of its earlier attacks). In January, the group also claimed responsibility for an attack on a police roadblock in Islamabad.

Since most of the victims of recent attacks in Pakistan are members of the security forces, the government has closely limited the dissemination of information about these incidents. An important one is the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) department, whose short, evasive remarks are often repeated by the Pakistani media.

During the Zarb-e-Azb operation, access to information was obviously restricted, and this trend of controlling information has remained, even with the current uptick in assaults. Since the operation started, there has been a noticeable improvement in the reporting of the erstwhile tribal regions of Pakistan and of terrorist activities.

There has been a turn in mood since the first celebration of the Taliban’s capture of Kabul. Those revelling in the time should realise that the only good Taliban are dead Taliban.

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