Conflicts & War

Insurgency on the rise in Pakistan after Taliban’s ascent

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Dec 24 (EFE).- The main Taliban faction in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has significantly increased its attacks since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Kabul in August 2021.

The TTP, an umbrella of several tribal groups formed in 2007 – which has fought against Islamabad for years – is an ally of the Afghan Taliban and in November announced a resumption of hostilities after a series of failed negotiations.

However, even before the official resumption of attacks, data shows that the number of militancy-related incidents has risen sharply in the country over the past year.

Between Aug. 15, 2021, the day when the Taliban seized control of Kabul, and Aug. 14, 2022, Pakistan registered 250 terror attacks, in which 433 people were killed and 719 injured, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.

In the same period between 2020 and 2020, the PIPS had registered 165 attacks, with 294 deaths and 598 people being wounded.

PIPS data reflects a 51 percent increase in terror attacks within a year, reversing the downward trend in terrorism that Pakistan has witnessed in recent years.

On Friday, the TTP claimed a suicide bombing in Islamabad in which three people were killed and six injured.

Last week, more than 25 Taliban militants were killed in an operation by security forces to free a counter-terrorism center captured by insurgents jailed there.

The TTP has also carried out attacks in the southern Balochistan province, which is home to several local separatist groups. In November, four people were killed and 26 injured there in an attack against a police truck.

The rising violence following the change of guard in Kabul is not a coincidence, and Pakistan’s National Counter-Terrorism Authority said earlier this month that the TTP had “gained considerable ground” and “increased its footprint and magnitude of activities” during the peace talks process.

Since its inception in 2007, the TTP has unleased a wave of terror attacks and ambushes across the country and killed thousands of people, including an 2012 assassination attempt against activist Malala Yousafzai, who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Pakistani authorities responded by a massive military operation against various militant groups in 2014.

“When the US forces were in Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban took shelter in Pakistan and strengthened themselves,” security analyst Amir Rana told EFE.

“The TTP did the same thing when Pakistani forces launched an operation against them,” he added.

Although Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban began a process of dialog last year and agreed on a ceasefire, with the Afghan Taliban playing mediator, the TTP has resumed attacks after declaring that the talks had failed.

The insurgents had continued to attack the security forces in the name of self-defense, especially in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, emboldened by the ongoing political instability in the country.

The TTP has not just increased attacks but also regained a presence in the Swat valley in northern Pakistan, a former bastion that the group had been expelled from by the government in 2009.

“TTP fighters have been seen on the hills in Swat and the locals demand the government to flush them out again,” Gul Khail, a Swat resident, told EFE.

Politicians, members of the civil society and activists have urged the government to take measures against the growing threat of the Pakistani Taliban.

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