The recent Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) incursion on 6 September into the Chitral district near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and unreported terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s army convoy in the Bannu district, and also in Bajaur alarms security concerns not just in Pakistan but in the whole South Asian region.
TTP claimed to have captured various army posts, causing casualties of Pakistan army troops, which was later refuted by the Public Relations Department of the Army confirming the killing of around 12 terrorists. TTP sources also affirmed their leader Noor Wali Mehsud’s presence, supervising the operation. Local sources have affirmed situation in Chitral is fully under the control of the Pakistan Army. This is not the first attack TTP has carried out after the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan. The security situation controlled after arduous anti-terrorist operations by the Pakistan army looks in trouble again.
In November last year, TTP had declared direct operations against Pakistan and afterward, a stream of terrorist operations can easily be traced. The statement said, “As military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas, it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever you can in the entire country.” Afterward, the terrorist group claimed responsibility for attacks in the Peshawar Mosque, in North Waziristan, and Chitral. Pakistan, in light of the conditions in the Doha Agreement, protested against the Afghan Taliban (AT) to take action against these terrorist outfits and to not allow them to use Afghan soil. In response, the Afghan Taliban have rejected such claims by Pakistan of supporting TTP. A recent statement by Afghan spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid after the Chitral incident declared these claims as baseless and asked Pakistan to “focus on its problems in the country” instead of owing these things to Afghanistan. But it is not just Pakistan who had warned the Afghan Taliban of TTP’s buildup in Nuristan and Kunar province of Afghanistan from where the attack on Chitral was planned, but also the British High Commission to Pakistan affirmed TTP’s operation from Afghan territory. Moreover, Bilal Sarwary, an Afghan Journalist also confirmed around sixty Afghan Taliban fighters joined TTP against Pakistan forces.
The negligence and willful support to TTP by the Afghan Taliban has repercussions for the Afghan people as well as for the security of the whole of South Asia. Firstly, South Asian countries should keep one thing in mind Afghanistan’s security is no more a concern of America, and it will not take any strict measures against the Taliban until and unless the attacks hurt the US interests. Secondly, the current major stakeholders in the region are China, Russia, Pakistan, and India. China’s dependency on its use of economic diplomacy makes the security situation in South Asia more vulnerable. Russia is engaged in the Ukraine war and will barely take responsibility for the security of this region. As far as India is concerned, the country looks more indulged in building its economic muscles and has no severe threat from AT’s support to TTP. The only country that majorly holds the burden of bringing peace to the region, is Pakistan because TTP and TTA jointly threaten the former’s security interests. When Chitral was attacked by TTP, TTA was busy in a fire exchange with Pakistan forces at the Torkham border.
But regional stakeholders must beware of the ultimate repercussion of surging terrorism from Afghanistan’s soil. China sustains major economic investment in the Asian region which is at the mercy of peace and stability in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghan Taliban not only support TTP but also terrorist organizations in Baluchistan, majorly BLA which was involved in the recent attack on a Chinese convoy in Gwadar. So, China must react proactively and should bring the Taliban’s interim government to the table to negotiate peace in the region. Along with Pakistan, China can take hard as well as soft diplomatic measures to curtail the security situation.
No country would recognize the Taliban’s regime, either Islamic or other until they start showing some responsibility and their will to contribute to international peace and stability. OIC delegation in a recent meeting with the Taliban’s education minister discussed the latter’s ban on Women’s education calling it against Islam. There must be a meeting of all stakeholders including Pakistan, Russia, China, India, Iran, OIC representatives, and major humanitarian organizations, specifically to discuss the solution to the Afghanistan problem. After coming to a consensus, the Taliban should be engaged and be ensured the support of these stakeholders, if the former commits to fulfilling at least major international obligations including catering to terrorist organizations in their country. United Nations and other human rights organizations have warned about the dire human catastrophe in Afghanistan in the coming time. Taliban must understand their vulnerabilities instead of living in some haughty arrogance. If they want to be a part of the international community, they must prove it by their will.