Pakistan’s statement angers Taliban
The tweet by Afghan ‘deputy prime minister’ Ahmad Yasir came after Pakistan interior minister Rana Sanaullah hinted at a possible military operation against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) hideouts in Afghanistan.
“When these problems [terror attacks] arise, we first ask Afghanistan, our Islamic brother nation, to eliminate these hideouts and hand over these individuals to us, but if that doesn’t happen, Islamabad will target these hideouts inside Afghanistan,” the Pakistan minister had said.
Warning Pakistan against attacking the Taliban, Yasir tweeted: “Interior Minister of Pakistan! Excellent Sir! Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan are not Turkey to target the Kurds in Syria. This is Afghanistan, the graveyard of proud empires. Do not think of a military attack on us, otherwise, there will be a shameful repetition of the military agreement with India.”
د پاکستان داخله وزیر ته !عالي جنابه! افغانستان سوريه او پاکستان ترکیه نده چې کردان په سوریه کې په نښه کړي.دا افغا… https://t.co/wamJpd58iL
— Ahmad Yasir (@AhmadYasir711) 1672630501000
Meanwhile, the Taliban-led defense ministry termed Sanaullah’s remarks as “provocative and baseless”, and said it would protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs.
Allies of the Taliban
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, and most of its top leaders and fighters are thought to be hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, Pakistan has seen a spike in terror attacks — mainly perpetrated by the TTP.
The TTP recently called off a ceasefire agreement with Pakistan and has since launched dozens of deadly attacks, mainly concentrated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — close to the Afghan border.
The Shehbaz Sharif government as well as the new army chief Asim Munir have used uncharacteristically strong language when talking about how they will deal with terror outfits operating on Pakistan territory.
Sanaullah recently said there will be no further talks with the TTP or any other terrorist organisation, while Munir categorically said that mixed messages should not be given on the issue of negotiations with terrorists, “the narrative should be clear … there will be no negotiations with any terrorists”.
With Pakistan using stronger language and openly blaming the Afghan Taliban of harbouring terrorists, animosity between the two nations have increased.
In December 2022, Taliban fighters and Pakistani forces exchanged heavy artillery fire on the Spin-Boldak-Chaman border.
In fact, 2022 ended with the deadliest month for Pakistan’s security personnel in over a decade, said an Islamabad-based think-tank as it pointed to the emergence of TTP as the biggest threat to the country.
In its annual report, the Centre for Research and Security Studies said Pakistan security forces lost at least 282 personnel during 2022 in attacks that included IED ambushes, suicide attacks, and raids on security posts, mostly in the Pakistan-Afghan border regions.
Monster attacks creator
The Pakistan government was instrumental in supporting the Afghanistan Taliban while US and Nato troops were in control of Kabul.
Of all the foreign powers involved in efforts to sustain and manipulate the fighting in Afghanistan, Pakistan distinguished itself both by the sweep of its objectives and the scale of its efforts.
After the fall of the Ashraf Ghani-led government in Afghanistan, Pakistan was one of the few countries to applaud the Taliban takeover of the war-ravaged country while hoping to reap benefits from what it regarded as a strategic victory.
This strategy has clearly not panned out for Pakistan.
TTP forms own ‘government’
In fact, the Taliban-backed TTP is now directly challenging the sovereignty of the Pakistan government and its military establishment.
In a statement, as quoted by The Khorasan Diary, the TTP announced new appointments dividing the outfit into various ministries such as defence, judiciary, information, political affairs, economic affairs, education, a fatwa-issuing authority, intelligence and a department for construction.
Following the example of the Taliban Afghanistan, it seems the TTP harbours ambitions of one day running Islamabad.
Pakistan Taliban threatens to target top leaders
The terrorist group has also threatened to target the top leaders of the two major political parties in the Pakistan ruling coalition if they continued to support tough measures against the militants.
The TTP has warned PM Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Bilawal’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – the two major parties of the ruling coalition.
“If these two parties remain firm on their position and continue to be slaves of the army, then action will be taken against their leading people,” a statement issued by the militant group said. The group warned that “people should avoid getting close to such leading people.”
It claimed that the TTP was only waging what it called “jihad” in Pakistan and “our target is the security agencies occupying the country”.
(With inputs from agencies)