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EditorialTalks or action against militants?

Talks or action against militants?

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has received documentary proof from the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) that blames the rise in terror attacks nationwide on the “peace talks” with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). In the ploy of peace talks, the anti-peace elements, in fact, gained a foothold, and subsequently, their activities and influence increased in volatile areas. The Senate panel was informed that the Taliban became active over the comparable period as a result of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s talks with the banned organisation. The then-prime minister, Imran Khan, would predict the downfall of the Taliban in the wake of the withdrawal of US-led allied forces from Afghanistan. The US forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the NACTA dossier, fueled TTP actions, thanks to their strong base in Afghanistan, which is backed by the Kabul regime. Learning no lessons from the previous peace talks, which always ended inconclusively, the Islamabad government went ahead with talks with the Taliban, but the militants used the talks to buy time and “gained substantial ground during the peace talk process; boosted its footprint and level of activity.” The report substantiates its stance by citing the incidents of terrorism in Swat, Balochistan and Waziristan. In recent days, TTP activists challenged the government’s writ in Swat but the locals stood out with anger and pressed the government to take immediate and visible action against the militants before they held ground. There is no doubt that the security forces tracked and cleared the militants’ typical routes and that more police were being stationed in the area to monitor militant activity. The data speaks for itself: TTP militants kidnapped LEAs in August 2022 in the Swat district’s tehsil Matta and freed them after 12 hours. In September 2022, militants fired on police in Swat. According to the Nacta report, the emergence of TTP members in Swat “may be attributed to their efforts to gain the pulse of locals and response by the state,” referring to the TTP’s resurgence in Swat and other areas.

TTP activists occasionally continue to question various aspects of governmental authority. There are some regions that are vulnerable to Taliban influence, and according to a NACTA analysis, Malakand’s division is “sensitive” to terrorism due to its strategic location and easy access to populated areas. The presence of militants indicates local facilitation in the area, which must be combated through coordinated security apparatus measures. The combined efforts of the security forces and law enforcement agencies caused the militants to disperse, although they are still likely to leave mountainous areas because of the harsh winters and lack of infrastructure and supplies. Specific security-related subjects must be considered by the government in order to closely monitor any local population changes in the area. The TTP’s influence should be challenged militarily and diplomatically. The political establishment must rise to the occasion and guide the public in its protests against the terror group as there has been a noticeable spike in the terrorism index in recent days. We can describe it as a good development. The public conversation will take on the direction if political forces join it, and with the support of a sizable portion of the population, the state may be able to stave off the spread of terrorism. However, the vocal opposition to the terror group from all facets of society is a positive development. Institutional support and safety for communities, especially for the political leadership involved in the struggle against terrorists, are urgently needed.

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