New Delhi: In a recent video posted on twitter, the supremo of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has once again warned the Pakistani rulers, especially the Pakistani army, to immediately stop their military operations in Waziristan and Balochistan.
In a recorded message, Noor Wali Mehsud said that the TTP will free all tribal lands from Pakistan and make them independent.
“Pakistan Army is a colonial legacy; Pashtuns are divided because of the Durand Line. Our fight is with only Pakistan as we are at war with Pakistan Armed forces,” said Mehsud, clearly taking a leaf from the Afghan Taliban’s ideology.
In another video released by the TTP, militants are shown using IEDs to attack a Pakistani army convoy with, in the Tank district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. One Pakistani was killed and several soldiers were injured.
According to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), a think tank in Islamabad, the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) has launched 55 attacks that involved suicide bombers, IED explosive devices, snipers and ambushes on the Pakistani army between July1 to September15 killing more than 100 soldiers. One of the biggest suicide attacks was on a Chinese convoy near Dasu hydroelectric project in Kohistan district which killed 9 Chinese engineers . This raised Chinese security concerns regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“The TTP may conduct more activities in Pakistan and more Chinese people or Chinese projects may be attacked in order to increase pressure on the Pakistan government,” warned China’s state affiliated media The Global Times on September 18, quoting Chinese security experts. Incidentally, the same day the New Zealand cricket team decided to leave Pakistan without playing a single game amid the heightened security threat.
Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is getting impatient. He had hoped that the Afghan Taliban would reign in the TTP but the group has become more emboldened. According to Pakistani and Afghan experts, the Taliban will never meet Islamabad’s demand. In fact, after coming to power last month, the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has said that the “issue of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not for Afghanistan to resolve but must be sorted out by the Pakistani government and its religious ulemas”.
The former chief of Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lieutenant General (retd) Asad Durrani says that the Taliban will never “will not do anything at Pakistan’s behest that is not in their interest. Remember, the Taliban refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden despite the US threats.”
“TTP has also changed its indiscriminate targeting strategy. In a smart move, Noor Wali Mehsud, has taken such steps to ideologically justify, operationally sustain and morally legalize the group’s violent struggle in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region in the post-US withdrawal scenario. After all, the TTP calls the Afghan Taliban its big brother,” says Abdul Basit, a Pakistani analyst based in Singapore.
Last week, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the Imran Khan government would pardon the group if its members laid down their arms, abandoned their militant ideology and respected the constitution. But the TTP vehemently rejected the offer. Instead, it asked Pakistan to vacate the region from its occupation.
“We are hoping to take control of the tribal region and make it an independent area,” warns the TTP chief.
Iftikhar Firdous, a Peshawar based security analyst told Nikkei Asia that TTP rejected Islamabad’s offer because it enjoys the protection of the Afghan Taliban, and also “because it still has the capacity to carry out attacks in different parts of the country.”
“Islamabad should know it that the TTP, al-Qaida and other transnational militant groups are part of a larger jihadi network with a similar global agenda, and they helped the Afghan Taliban capture most parts of Afghanistan,” Abdul Bari, a former Afghan security official told Nikkei Asia.