Emerging Taliban déjà vu outrage: A security setback | By Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan

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Emerging Taliban déjà vu outrage: A security setback

AFTER a series of deadly attacks including IED and suicidal in the KP and Balochistan, the top military brass is seriously considering giving a befitting and matching response to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other terrorist organizations in the country.

Cross-border heavy shelling from the Afghan side has further fueled the situation between Pakistan and the Taliban interim government.

Moreover, Taliban outreach to other regional terrorist groups including Uzbek, Tajik, Uyghur, Arab and Baloch along with its increasing secret meetings with Indian officials and agencies have shocked all the regional countries, especially Pakistan.

They also consolidated their domination through a holy alliance with the TTP against ISIS-K which has emerged as the most kinetically active group rivaling the Taliban which the ISIS-K depicts as apostates, Western puppets.

According to different sources, Taliban rulers are reportedly registering foreign fighters and issuing weapons permits and travel documents.

The TTP chief has been using social media to allure young people from KP, Waziristan, Balochistan, Karachi and other cities in Pakistan.

They have been using different models of cognitive dissonance and propaganda to attract young educated students to use them in a so-called holy war.

The surfacing of TTP and affiliated terror groups in urban areas of Punjab and Sindh with accomplices in educational campuses and professional groups reveals that online radicalization has mutated into an intricate phenomenon with an extensive reach.

Its numerous sleep cells have become a potential threat in urban settlements in the country.

In the latest Crop Commanders conference, the country’s top military leadership has vowed to fight against terrorists without any distinction as the scourge of terrorism has reared its ugly head again with a fresh wave of attacks in the country.

The army chief General Syed Asim Munir met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and discussed the current security situation in the country.

Seven blasts in Balochistan have martyred five soldiers and an army captain while 15 others sustained injuries.

Three of the seven blasts took place in Quetta, two in Turbat, while one each ripped through Kohlu district’s Kahan area and Hub.

According to police, a flag of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was hoisted on an electric pylon in Mir Ali Market, North Waziristan Tribal District.

It was reported by locals and then taken down. According to a statement issued by the ISPR, the operation was launched on the basis of “credible information”, and continued for the last 96 hours in these areas.

The objective was to “deny terrorists the use of a few suspected routes to move across the Pak-Afghan border to sneak into KP along the inter-provincial boundary and target citizens and security forces”, the ISPR added.

As a result of the continuous surveillance and sanitation of the area, a group of terrorists was intercepted in adding that “during the establishment of blocking positions to deny the terrorists escape routes, the militants opened fire on the security forces”.

The UK, US and Saudi Arabian governments have issued security alerts prohibiting their staff from visiting the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad and have also issued an additional advisory barring their staff and advising citizens from visiting parts of northwestern areas and Balochistan.

The resurgence of the banned TTP has been haunting Pakistan, and it has already announced a series of revenge attacks in Pakistan after the purported end of the ceasefire.

The TTP has been conducting dozens of major attacks in Pakistan and the most recent one in the Bannu cantonment on CTD Police station.

The rise in attacks by the outfit has also forced the policy-makers to revisit the strategy pursued by the previous government.

PTI-led government’s strategy/confession to settle 10,000 to 40,000 TTP fighters in the country have produced havoc in the realms of military establishment.

In 2022, TTP killed more than 150 Pakistanis in multiple attacks. Since the end of the ceasefire, TTP conducted 33 attacks in which 35 security personnel were killed, the outfit has claimed.

Ironically, India is seeking an inclusive format that includes Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

Most recently, New Delhi hosted the national security advisors of the Central Asian States (6 December 2022).

National Security Advisor of India Ajit Doval stated that terrorist activities in Afghanistan are worrying and that the United Nations (UN) members should refrain from helping terrorist organizations.

Both Doval and other participants drew attention to the activities of terrorist organizations, drug trafficking and radicalization in Afghanistan.

Moreover, unfortunately once again the Taliban could not honour their commitments to the UN and Doha Accord and seriously indulged in human rights violations along with hosting various banned terrorist franchises on the soil of Afghanistan.

The Taliban unsurprisingly has followed a historically consistent blind alley. Despite initial assurance from the Taliban interim set-up, the Taliban’s return has transformed the soil of Afghanistan into a veritable commercial jihadist enterprise.

Many competing jihadist forces are now variously negotiating separate accords while others re-align to establish tactical partnerships, developments facilitated under the Taliban’s protective umbrella.

It seems that the Taliban has purposefully clashed with almost every neighboring country and regularly exploits the threat of militant violence to extract concessions.

None of the Taliban’s neighbors has been able to offer the Taliban enough to walk away from regional jihadist groups, despite determined efforts by Pakistan, China, Iran and Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors.

Domestically, the Taliban has extended their tyranny and engaged in a class conflict to consolidate power, acquire resources and remove competition.

They use divide and rule, stick and carrot, vice and virtue politics, punishments and retributions, political alienation and selective patronage techniques to further strengthen the safe heavens of terrors.

To conclude, Islamabad police has issued a new special security plan by setting up 25 temporary check-posts in the city requiring citizens and foreigners to carry their identification documents with them.

According to the security plan, shared on Islamabad police’s official Twitter, entry points of the Red Zone will be recorded via Safe City cameras while video surveillance of metro bus passengers would also be conducted.

It is suggested that there should be 24/7 aerial surveillance at the borders through unmanned drones to minimize human and collateral damage.

All the security agencies – ISI, MI, IB and other paramilitary organizations – must extend their cooperation for early response in case of any terrorist incident.

The ideal combination of human and artificial intelligence mechanism should be developed and installed for an early warning system against the TPP, BLA and other terrorist sanctuaries.

There is an urgent need to develop an anti-sleep cell force in the country to protect fragile minds to join the TTP.

A special task force in all the colleges and universities should be formed to save the young generation from falling into the darkness of extremisms. Ongoing political juggleries and midget vested interests must be scrambled.

—The writer is Executive Director, Centre for South Asia & International Studies, Islamabad, regional expert China, BRI & CPEC & senior analyst, world affairs, Pakistan Observer.