New TTP Militancy Threats

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Munir Ahmed

Two days after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan called off the long-awaited “Long March” without any rational culmination, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has announced an “end of a ceasefire with the government and has threatened new attacks country-wide.”
The national and international media have reported that the armed group has called off a truce agreed with the government in June this year, and has ordered their “fighters to carry out attacks in the entire country.”
The TTP spokesperson, in his text messages to the media on Monday, has stated that military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas. So, it is imperative for the TTP fighters to carry out attacks wherever they can in the entire country. This insane development emerged ahead of Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar’s Kabul visit on Tuesday, November 29.
It is an opening of a new chapter of militancy in Pakistan. It took almost two decades previously to wipe off militancy from Pakistan. A huge cost was paid in terms of demilitarisation efforts, the destruction of infrastructure amounting to millions of dollars. Sadly, it cost about 80 thousand human lives and immense internal migration. Over two million were displaced from their hometowns. Once again, the menace is out there with full strength.
Early August this year, military personnel reported the presence of some TTP men in Swat. No one can say for certain how and why TTP members had resurfaced in Swat as well as several other adjoining tribal districts. They started returning back to their hometowns after TTP-government negotiations began in Kabul, Afghanistan – much before any agreement. Tahir Khan, an expert on Afghanistan Affairs, has stated that it, therefore, remains unclear who, if anyone for that matter, allowed the militants to return before a formal deal had been reached.
Nevertheless, KP chief minister Mahmood Khan welcomed the TTP fighters coming back to their hometowns, saying “they are free to go wherever they want, it is their own country.” Some of his party lords and ministers too follow the suit. So, we can assume that there was a green signal from the PTI’s provincial government to the TTP on their safe return to their homes. Remember, the PTI chief Imran Khan has been publicly supporting TTP and mujahideen since his early days in politics.
Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based research organisation, has reported that through the end of October 2022, at least 65 such attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that killed at least 98 people and wounded 75.
In the mid of October, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Swat demanding protection against militants, a day after unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at a school van, killing the driver and injuring two children. The protesters spent the whole night in the open at a square in the city centre, along with the body of the slain driver, Hussain Ahmad. They dispersed over 40 hours after the incident, only after the authorities promised to arrest the culprits and pay compensation to the driver’s family.
The residents’ protest against the re-emergence of militancy in Swat was an utter reaction to how the KP chief minister had invited and welcomed to the province in August. Not in Swat alone, militant attacks have been observed in other parts of the province too, and beyond. Now, the TTP’s announcement to go country-wide seems the beginning of the same old saga – a rewind of what had been happening two decades back.
TTP is a group of Pakistani “militants” that is ideologically aligned with the Afghan Taliban. It has charge-sheeted Pakistan military for “a rising number of attacks,” particularly in the Lakki Marwat district of Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The TTP Monday statement reflected: “We submit to the people of Pakistan that we have repeatedly warned you and continued to be patient so that the negotiation process is not sabotaged at least by us, but the army and intelligence agencies do not stop and continue the attacks, so now our retaliatory attacks will also start across the country.”
The ISPR has yet to come up with a response as I am writing this piece on Tuesday. The TTP has been waging a rebellion against the state of Pakistan for more than a decade. It is considered an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban that briskly took over Afghanistan after the US troops abruptly left the country in haste. The group demands the imposition of hardline Islamic laws, the release of key members arrested by the government and a reversal of the merger of Pakistan’s tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Certainly, not acceptable for the state institutions.
What disturbs is the timing of the TTP statement – just two days after the PTI, a pro-Taliban political party, called off the long march, rumours of Lt. General Faiz Hameed’s resignation from service and taking over the command of the Pakistan army by the new chief – General Asim Munir. Against this backdrop, if this has actually to do anything with the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province? Or, if it was just a coincidence that KP chief minister Mahmood Khan was seen sitting just next to the PTI chief Imran Khan’s final address to the “long march rally?”