Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has emboldened in its acts and is solely responsible for the spike (accounting for 51%) in the recent wave of terrorism. With the Taliban taking control of Kabul, TTP feels backed by its long-time ally which can be observed in the current resurgence of terrorism that Pakistan is grappling with. The terrorist attacks originated from KPK but have expanded into the whole country, as the recent attack in Karachi indicates.
TTP formally came into being in 2007, as an offshoot of jihadi politics that was prevalent in Afghanistan and Pakistan Post-War on Terror. Under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud, TTP tried to build connections with both Al-Qaeda and Taliban to gain legitimacy in the region that was boasting factions and organizations of Jihadi militants. However, TTP’s relationship with IS-K (Daesh-Khorasan) is not that entrenched since TTP shrinks the already competitive space for IS-K to thrive. Ever since the Pakistani state collaborated with the US on War on Terror, the indoctrinated individuals that filled the ranks of jihadi factions inside and across the border turned against the state for switching sides. TTP provided safe havens for Al-Qaeda affiliates and Taliban in the erstwhile FATA, and after subsequent military operations such as Swat Operation, Zarb-e-Azab and Radd-ul-Fasad, terrorism in Pakistan was clamped down to quite an extent. However, ever since Taliban’s taking control of Kabul the activities of TTP started to resurface and Pakistani state requested Taliban to not back their ally to spread unrest in Pakistan. A clear message of disapproval of terrorism in Pakistan erupting from Afghanistan was delivered by Islamabad. Taliban suggested Pakistan to engage the TTP in a dialogue which was materialized under Imran Khan’s administration. The precarious state of negotiations finally ended when TTP unilaterally announced the end of the cease-fire citing Pakistan’s failure to fulfill its terms. Although Pakistan fulfilled some conditions such as releasing incarcerated TTP members and allowing some to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan, the breakdown occurred on TTP’s demand to unmerge the erstwhile FATA. Since then, one after the other terrorist activities have transpired in Pakistan. One of the bloodiest was the Peshawar police lines suicide blast where around 100 police men praying at a mosque were martyred and around 200 got injured. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, but soon later Khorasani, TTP spokesperson, washed his hands off of the tragic event.
It is in Pakistan’s interest to have friendly relations with Taliban in Afghanistan and this has always been exhibited. Pakistan warmly welcomed the Taliban taking control of Kabul, post US withdrawal. This can be reflected in high-state officials’ meetings that transpired at the inceptive days of the Taliban’s government in Afghanistan. However, although Kabul denies providing safe havens to TTP in Afghanistan, strong cross-border movement of terrorists point in the other direction. This is endangering Pakistan’s policy of at least a western front secured. This two-active-front situation is stretching the already finite military resources thin. In the contemporary setting, Pakistan is battling with its one of the worst politico-economic crises. Adding raging terrorism in the mix, is equivalent to no less than a doomsday scenario. TTP has explicitly stated that two individuals heading major political parties, Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto would be the next targets if they remain firm in their ways or if they try to engage in any activity that might harm the organization. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, in his latest statement expressed that Pakistan can strike TTP hideouts in Afghanistan if the Taliban government wouldn’t take concrete action against TTP. If that is to materialize in the near future then carrying out cross-border military operations would spoil relations between Islamabad and Kabul, and create a trust deficit. This would be detrimental in both short and longer run. It would again unleash a series of retaliatory actions taken by both sides, where other antagonistic elements such as RAW might weasel its way in the regional political and security dynamics. All in all, it befalls on two parties to take much needed measures. The Taliban should squeeze out TTP from their periphery, and Pakistani law enforcement and security agencies should augment their practices and weed out TTP in another episode of limited military operation.