The surge in terrorism across Pakistan has been linked to the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (Daesh). Contributory factors include the TTP’s breakdown of ceasefire in 2022; geopolitical factors with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM); Daesh’s opposition to Chinese interests in the region; and a lack of cohesive civil-military action, contributing to the likelihood of more violence. The situation has been encouraged by India, which believes or at least pretends to believe, that Pakistan poses a threat to its sovereignty through terrorism and must be “retaliated” against through support to Baloch separatists.
The TTP’s attacks on the state stem from its unilateral cancellation of a ceasefire with the government in November 2022 after blaming Islamabad for “breaching commitments” and targeting its fighters in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. The TTP demands the restoration of the special status of the erstwhile tribal areas, and the release of dozens of its detained members. It also wants the Pakistan Army out of former no-go areas, presumably to establish its own Islamic caliphate. By all indications, the TTP is now largely based in safe havens in Afghanistan, especially after the Afghan Taliban swept back to power in August 2021. The TTP leadership, including their chief Noor Wali Mehsud, presently enjoy shelter and hospitality in Afghanistan.
Islamabad has been demanding punitive action against the TTP from the interim government of Afghanistan for the group’s violence in Pakistan to repeated resistance from Kabul, which denies that it is “using Afghan soil for attacks on targets outside Afghanistan” but is silent on whether TTP militants have done terrorism in Pakistan. Kabul is reluctant to take action against the TTP because of the group’s support for the Afghan Taliban during the war on terror. Geopolitical factors might also be a factor, as China and Pakistan are considered foes, which attracts the U.S. to take interest in developing policy obstructing Chinese regional policies. Beijing considers these groups to be Western proxies out to hurt Chinese interests and views the killing of Chinese nationals in Pakistan in the same context. The issue of TTP has thus become part of a global confrontation—exploited by India—that Pakistan has to keep in mind.