An emboldened TTP – 12 Dec 2022

It was a no-brainer from the beginning that any talks with the TTP would not result in any long-lasting peace. The National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) seems to agree, and has said that the TTP managed to gain considerable ground during the peace talks between the outlawed militant group and the government. The fact that the TTP has been able to increase its foothold while using peace talks as a ruse has become evident from their attacks and visible presence in the bordering districts with Afghanistan. Pakistan has recently been seeing an upsurge in the magnitude of the activities that the militants have been carrying out. The rising terror incidents in the country have once again made the bordering districts vulnerable to attacks and it may not be long before they are able to strike at will anywhere in the country.

After using the peace talks as camouflage, the TTP called off the ceasefire agreement with the government in November. The militants have been sabotaging peace in this region for long – each time using some new excuse. This time – once again – they are blaming the Pakistani state for attacking them. The TTP would like everyone to believe that it is just staging ‘retaliatory attacks’ but the reality is that the group has been violating ceasefires for over a decade. The talks that Pakistan officials held with the militant outfit were mysterious and opaque and even then the negotiations broke down in August due to a deadlock on the revocation of the merger of the erstwhile tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Luckily, in the face of increasing TTP presence, local residents of these areas took it upon themselves to raise a voice against militancy. Their voice – clear and unambiguous –was heard loud and clear. The Nacta report also maintains that US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year gave the TTP impetus to strike again. The rise in the terrorism index should be alarming for the government of Pakistan. There is no room for any complacency. If militant attacks are to be stopped, it cannot be through purely defensive measures at the scene of the attack. Checkposts, bomb detectors and the like may slow determined suicide bombers but cannot stop them. The work needs to be done before the attacks take place, with good intelligence giving us the opportunity to thwart the attacks. And while we have been successful in foiling attacks, the regularity with which militant groups strike, seemingly at will, shows there is a lot more to be done. Winning on the battlefield alone will not be sufficient either. To prevent new militant threats from rising up, it is their ideology which must be discredited.

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