IN a major development, the United States and its key western allies have identified banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a major threat to not just Pakistan but to their own security, endorsing Islamabad’s view that the dreaded terrorist outfit is operating from Afghanistan. Special Envoys and Representatives for Afghanistan of Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States met in Paris on February 20 to discuss situation in Afghanistan and in a joint statement expressed grave concerns over activities of terrorist groups including the TTP in Afghanistan.
It is, indeed, a tribute to hard work done by the Foreign Office in sensitising members of international community about threat posed by TTP activities. These elements, enjoying safe haven in Afghanistan, have long been carrying out activities against Pakistan, especially in Balochistan and KP, and there are confirmed reports that they have the backing of some foreign powers as well who want to destabilise Pakistan. Pakistan has consistently been raising the issue not just during bilateral meetings with Afghan leadership but also at regional and global forums yet it is for the first time that Western countries have spoken with so much clarity on rising threat posed by the TTP not just to Pakistan but also to their own interests. This new development and fresh thinking was also confirmed during a two-day counter-terrorism dialogue hosted by Pakistan. The US side reportedly hinted at reviving some of the counter-terrorism initiatives of the post-9/11 era to assist Pakistan in tackling renewed threat of terrorism posed by banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other groups. A statement issued by the US Embassy said that dialogue provided an opportunity to discuss counter-terrorism landscape in Pakistan and broader region, with a focus on areas where the US and Pakistan can better collaborate to counter regional and global threats, improve cooperation, prevent and counter violent extremism, and combat terrorism financing.
We have consistently been emphasising in these columns that Pakistan has played its part well by carrying out a highly successful campaign against all sorts of terrorist outfits and this is borne out by the fact that terrorists’ infrastructure stands dismantled on its territory. Our armed forces and security agencies achieved this success at a cost both in terms of human and economic losses to the country, which have shaken very foundations of the country. Pakistan has limitations in sustaining this war because of its financial crisis and intricacies involved in taking action against Afghanistan-based outfits. Islamabad has been urging Kabul to take firm and decisive action against terrorists operating from Afghan soil but latest reports claim the Taliban government wants Pakistan to bear the cost of operation against terrorists. American intelligence reports also claimed that the TTP wants to gain a foothold in KP and Balochistan to enforce its own version of Shariah there. Such a plan definitely has repercussions/implications for world community in general and neighbouring countries in particular. Therefore, emerging consensus against TTP augurs well for peace and security in Pakistan as well as in the region and beyond. We hope this understanding will be translated into a tangible action plan at the earliest in view of growing activities of the TTP and reluctance on part of the Taliban government to move against them.