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After decades of nexus, Pakistan realise Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is a threat

Nirendra Dev

Nirendra DevSep 14, 2021, 08:25 AM IST

After decades of nexus, Pakistan realise Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is a threat

The TTP splinter factions have also been reunited, and the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan has already boosted their morale as it has done to Al-Qaeda and IS.

 

New Delhi: No less than Pakistan's serving President Arif Alvi has now stated that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a threat.

In this context, he said in a rare interview: "Yes yes, Pakistan will think about it (for amnesty) for the people who lay down their weapons."

The realisation seems to have drawn on Pakistani authorities, especially the Army top brass, as the international community are already cautioning Islamabad that it may soon find that 'friendship' with the Taliban would prove a costly affair. 

"Pakistan will bleed in months to come," said a security expert in Delhi, even as there are suggestions, especially in the western media, that the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan means Pakistan has perhaps achieved something it has struggled for years.

"This is a case of inherent challenges those come with some major achievements. It goes on to deliver a poetic justice," an informed analyst said.

The 'risk' for Pakistan is that the Taliban is the citadel of power in Afghanistan itself.

Growing apprehensions would force Afghan Taliban leadership to make a 'choice' between Pakistan and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. 

It is being presumed that the Afghan Taliban would effortlessly prefer the latter for certain obvious reasons.

In the past, top Pakistan leaders, including Gen Pervez Musharraf, admitted that Pakistan has always supported the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan not only provided safe havens to Afghan Taliban leaders, but it also ensured the much required 'medical facilities and healing touch', including from woman's support base for the wounded fighters.

Many Afghan Taliban virtually had their wives and families in Pakistan. 

Thus, Indian experts also understand that Pakistan and Afghan-Taliban leadership have a strong and mutual interest in maintaining a cordial and operational relationship.

From New Delhi's perspective, it is well understood that the ISI has ensured that the Haqqani Network, which has a stronger bond with Pakistan, is given importance in the new dispensation in Kabul.

It also goes without stating that Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognise the Taliban government in the 1990s. It was the last to break ties with it after US forces started bombarding Afghanistan and Taliban hideouts and put pressure on Musharraf in 2001. 

When an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked and taken to Kandahar, Pakistan had collaborated with the Taliban and the hijackers. The release of Masood Azhar was well planned.

It is also believed that Pakistan played its double games in getting the Taliban to negotiations with the US government at Doha and assured the Taliban that their sinister and radical Islamic fundamentalism could be pursued. 

But the challenges are slowly coming to haunt Pakistani military generals.

Notwithstanding that the ISI chief had landed in Kabul and got himself photographed rejoicing the Afghan Qahwa/tea, it is obvious the Afghan Taliban leaders' no longer need' refuge place or any hideout in Pakistan.

The availability of the US military arsenal as the western forces left Afghanistan also made things much easier for the Taliban to manoeuvre Pakistan. There is no longer any compelling need for Pakistani weaponry either.

Pakistan needs the Taliban to push its Kashmir agenda, which is like an open secret.

But security experts understand that the army leadership in Pakistan have an immediate need to curb Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan's militant and violent activities.

As happens with these cases, Pakistan has to live with the two monsters they have created - one Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan. Of course, the TTP, like a self-created monster, is Pakistan's biggest terrorist threat. There is another monster that is the likelihood of growing pressure to implement Sharia laws in Pakistan. The TTP, which Baitullah Mehsud leads, had echoed the Draconian interpretations of sharia laws strongly.

More than trying to show its 'influence' over the Taliban, the Pakistani ISI chief had a compulsion to keep Abdul Ghani Baradar' away' from being Prime Minister - as they apprehend him to be 'closer' to the United States.

The TTP has started their activities ominously in hubs, such as Karachi as well. 

One expert pointed out to the 'Organiser' that the TTP had restarted their campaign of violence in the Karachi region by July 2021 itself, reminding Pakistan authorities of the gory days of their sustained terror attacks between 2007 and 2014.

The TTP splinter factions have also been reunited, and the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan has already boosted their morale as it has done to Al-Qaeda and IS.

Reports claimed an attack by TTP on Sept. 4 killed at least three Pakistani military personnel. 

Much to the chagrin of Pak military officers, the Afghan Taliban could now inch closer to the TTP more from an operational and ideological partnership point of view.

Pakistan could even turn out to be a liability for the new Taliban regime in Kabul, irrespective of the fact that their chosen man, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the new interior minister. 

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has already said that Afghan soil "will not be used by anyone to destroy the peace of another country." This means, at least on the face value, Islamabad's Kashmir agenda would have to wait for more permutation and combination.

An informed analyst says, unlike the 1990s, the fact that Afghanistan common people, and especially women, are maintaining their protest, the Taliban regime could be under pressure to thwart Pakistani interference
in day to day's functioning.

Who knows, the Taliban regime may even snub Islamabad to win over their people who are resisting Pakistani interference. 

Such gestures could also help regain legitimacy overseas and cool down its angry, nervous, but 'yet protesting' home crowd.

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