Home Editorial Editorial: The TTP and Afghanistan

Editorial: The TTP and Afghanistan

If Pakistan is serious about eradicating militancy, it cannot afford to backtrack on its stance of no more talks with the TTP

by Editorial

File Photo. Aref Karimi—AFP

Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has repeatedly criticized the interim Afghan government for “supporting the anti-Pakistan insurgency of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” accusing it of facilitating a resurgence of terrorism across Pakistan that has claimed 2,867 fatalities since August 2021. Similarly, Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Asif Durrani, has lamented that “peace in Afghanistan, in fact, has become a nightmare for Pakistan.” The comments follow a surge in attacks on civilians and security forces alike in 2023, straining ties between the neighboring nations, as Pakistan’s belief that the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul would help secure its western border has not borne fruit, but rather seen marked escalation in border tensions.

Pakistan is, unfortunately, late to the realization, as a report submitted to the U.N. Security Council in May 2022 had noted the “TTP has benefitted the most of all the foreign extremist groups in Afghanistan from the Taliban takeover.” At the time, Islamabad was attempting to maintain peace through dialogue, but these measures fell apart in November 2022 when the TTP unilaterally ended a ceasefire and threatened the government with new attacks. Subsequently, the TTP marked the new year in 2023 with a suicide bombing at Peshawar’s Police Lines mosque, killing 84 people, and cementing Islamabad’s belief in “eradicating” the militants. Over the past year, Pakistani officials have repeatedly voiced serious about “the safe havens and liberty of action available to the TTP in Afghanistan,” with Army chief Gen. Asim Munir making clear in July that security forces would launch an “effective response” if attacks from Afghanistan continued.

Adding to Pakistan’s frustration, despite several rounds of talks, is Kabul’s repeated failure to curb terror emanating from its soil. Rather, members of the Afghan Taliban have sought to deflect blame on Pakistan, claiming it is an “internal security” matter of the country and has nothing to do with Afghanistan. This has finally culminated in Pakistan adopting a tougher stance on Kabul, restricting transit trade, rejecting talks with the TTP, and pushing through a repatriation policy to oust all undocumented Afghans from the country. It is abundantly clear that Pakistanis no longer have any appetite for talks with the TTP and the state must stay the course—even if it means further pressure must be exerted on Kabul to ensure its cooperation in eradicating the militants, once and for all.

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