Pakistan has once again warned Taliban authorities in Kabul about the consequences of attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from across the border.
Among the strongest statements by Pakistani military and government leaders since the Taliban Back to power Two years ago, Said to Kabul To ensure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used to carry out terrorist attacks against another country. This is the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Two consecutive statements by the military last week expressed serious concerns “about the safe havens and freedom of operation available to the TTP in Afghanistan”.
After that came the first Army Chief’s visit to Quetta General Azim Munir called on the Afghan interim government to keep its commitments to the Doha Accord (forged between the US and the Taliban in 2020). A remark attributed to him warned of an “effective response” by the country’s security forces if the attacks continued.
A second statement issued after the Corps Commanders’ Conference last Monday said, “Sanctions are available to the terrorists of the banned TTP… Availability of latest weapons to the terrorists (the conference) has been identified as the main factors affecting Pakistan’s () security.
Defense Minister Mention by Khawaja Asif It was just as tough. He accused Kabul of failing to live up to its commitments, adding that “Afghanistan is not fulfilling its obligations as a neighboring country or preserving the Doha agreement”. He said “terrorists who shed the blood of Pakistanis are finding refuge on Afghan soil” and warned that “Pakistan will use all possible resources and measures” in response.
Such a statement is motivated by terrorism Attack on a military base On July 12, nine soldiers were killed in Sob town of Balochistan. Three more soldiers lost their lives in an attack in Sui on the same day.
They were just the latest acts of violence in the province bordering Afghanistan, where the TTP has expanded its operations from its main theater in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. By expanding its operations into the Pakhtun part of Balochistan, it has posed a security threat to a province already dealing with Baloch militant violence.
The country should consider policy options that respond to security concerns from the Taliban.
In fact, there has been a marked increase in terrorist attacks targeting Pakistani security forces since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. A Pakistan Defense Ministry report was leaked to the media in May saying that Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan poses a growing threat to Pakistan’s security since Kabul’s reluctance to take action against the TTP.
A series of reports by the UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concluded that “the TTP has benefited the most from the capture of the Taliban among all foreign terrorist groups in Afghanistan.”
After the ceasefire agreement with the government collapsed in November 2022, the TTP’s attacks escalated and became more intractable. The brief ceasefire was a futile attempt by Pakistani authorities to end the militant group’s 14-year war. A wave of violence followed.
TTP is one of the worst cases of terrorism A church was attacked In December, more than 100 people were killed on police lines in Peshawar and shook the country. Pakistani officials then issued a stern warning to Taliban officials. But not much use.
Several talks with the Taliban officials did not bear fruit. During these talks, Taliban leaders acknowledged the TTP’s presence in their country (which they would not do publicly), but gave assurances of stopping them, but asked for time to complete this. They argued that containing the TTP was a matter of their ability and not their commitment. But Islamabad’s patience ran out.
A high-ranking Pakistani delegation was present Sent to Kabul In February, with a single-point agenda: get Taliban leaders to understand Pakistan’s red line against terrorist attacks from Afghan soil, secure a firm commitment to rein in the TTP and deny the sanctuary their fighters enjoy from Kabul. During these talks, Taliban leaders requested financial assistance, apparently estimated at around 5,000 to disarm and resettle TTP fighters and their families, away from the Pakistani border. But all this is of no avail.
This puts Pakistan in a dilemma with serious implications for the country’s security. What are its options? Issue public warnings and hope this pressures the Taliban to respond? It has not yet worked and cannot produce a different result than in the past.
No strategy can survive on hope. Are the Afghan Taliban leaders frequently prodding and re-engaging the TTP in negotiations? It was a disaster last time and it backfired badly on the country and it is now facing the consequences. The talks broke down when it became clear that TTP’s demands were non-negotiable.
They include withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the border region, cancellation of Fatah’s merger with KP and imposition of Sharia in some KP areas. Acknowledging a past mistake, Pakistan’s military authorities rejected the talks.
Should Pakistan consider attacking terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan if Taliban does not take action against TTP? Pakistan has already carried out undeclared dynamic operations targeting the TTP and eliminating some senior leaders. But this is not a reasonable approach and has obvious dangers and drawbacks.
There are other uncertainties (incentives) in the country’s policy toolkit that should be carefully considered, aimed at motivating Taliban leaders and raising the costs of non-cooperation for them. Islamabad also needs to work on a regional option. It must develop a coordinated regional strategy so that collective pressure can be brought to bear on Kabul.
Security is a concern for all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, even if their other interests differ. The largest gathering was between Pakistan and China, underscoring the importance of the Pakistan-China-Afghanistan Trilateral Forum to address and address security concerns related to Afghanistan-based terrorist groups. It is clear that Pakistan needs to review its current Afghan policy and protect its security interests more effectively.
The writer is a former ambassador to US, UK and UN.
Published on July 24, 2023 in Dawn