Pakistani Taliban escalate attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
With the truce scrapped, the TTP target police but the agreement with the government begun creaking long before. It is no coincidence that it formally ended at the same time as the appointment of the new head of the army. Islamabad may soon change its strategy.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistan is grappling with an escalation of attacks in the north of the country by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban.
The latter on Monday announced the end to a truce agreed upon in late May through the mediation of the Afghan Taliban, in particular their self-proclaimed Minister of the Interior and leader of the Haqqani clan, Sirajuddin.
Tensions had actually begun to mount in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal areas in late August.
Today the TTP claimed responsibility for yesterday’s an attack against a school in the South Waziristan, killing at least one person and wounding another; in the last two weeks, attacks against the country's security forces have occurred almost every other day.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for an incident involving Pakistani army personnel in Zalukhel, an area in northern Waziristan; five people died and three were wounded.
A policeman was killed in Tangi Tehsil, Charsadda district, while two days ago, to mark the end of the truce, the TTP carried out a suicide bombing against a polio vaccination team near the city of Quetta, killing four people and wounding 30.
In total, according to TTP social media, they carried out 59 attacks in November, killing or wounding about 100 people. In October, they had claimed 48 attacks.
The Taliban of Pakistan reached their maximum expansion in 2014, followed by a decline until 2018. Their goal is the independence of tribal areas, which they considered theirs and where they want to impose Shari'a (Islamic law).
Today, the US State Department added Qari Amjad, a TTP leader, to their list of global terrorists; he oversees military operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We seek a strong partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism and expect sustained action against all militant and terrorist groups. We look forward to cooperative efforts to eliminate all regional and global terrorist threats,” a State Department spokesperson told Pakistani English-language daily Dawn.
The Taliban responded with a statement saying that they had no international agenda and that their war, waged in the name of religious and national values, was limited to Pakistan.
They also denied using Afghan territory to conduct their operations, but this is false, since the Afghan Taliban are known to have shared weapons and resources with the TTP, who helped them defeat foreign forces.
Recently, a Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar flew to Kabul to discuss various issues, including, in all likelihood, border security and support for the TTP, although official communiqués did not mention it.
Pakistan's government, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, which took power in April after Parliament voted a no-confidence vote against his predecessor, former Prime Minister Imran Khan, is struggling to respond to the truce breakdown.
It is no coincidence that the truce ended right when Islamabad appointed a new army chief, General Asim Munir, who, after coordinating two of the country's intelligence agencies, could step away from the policy of trying to sign a truce with the Pakistani Taliban.
According to some analysts, the truce helped the terrorists above all to reorganise their forces and now could demand greater concessions from Islamabad.
According to rumours reported yesterday by government sources to The Express Tribune, the Pakistani government, which will face elections next year and fears armed attacks by militants, could soon announce a new strategy to neutralise the terrorist threat posed by the TTP.