The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also called the Pakistan Taliban has launched a major offensive against the Pakistani military
For the first time, Pakistan has publicly acknowledged that the Taliban government is shifting Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militants from the Pakistan border to northern Afghanistan in a bid to address Pakistan and China’s concerns over cross-border terrorism.
The statement was made by Asif Ali Khan Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, in an interview to the Voice of America. Till now Pakistani officials have not commented in public about the relocation of the Pakistani Taliban terrorists from the Afghan-Pakistan border called the Durand Line.
Welcoming the move by Afghanistan, Durrani said: “That is a step the Afghan government is taking, so we have to wait and see the results. It is now in the initial stages, so it would be too early to comment,” said the Pakistan envoy, adding, “But if this relocation of TTP can actually happen and lead to peace along our borders, it would be a significant development and we would welcome it.”
Pakistan has seen a rise in deadly attacks on its security forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan districts, many of which have been conducted by the TTP. The TTP is known to be close to the Taliban government that is ruling Afghanistan, therefore, Islamabad has been holding Kabul responsible for the rising attacks on its soil.
It is believed that in the tripartite meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and China that took place in Islamabad in May, Beijing told both the countries to rein in terror groups that pose a threat to the security of the region. China also faces severe opposition to its mega investments in Pakistan from local communities and insurgent groups.
The Taliban move to relocate the fighters to other provinces within Afghanistan is beginning to cause fissures within Afghanistan, and is also creating ripples among bordering nations – Iran and Uzbekistan. Many ethnic communities in Afghanistan have said that the relocation of heavily-armed and battle-hardened fighters will cause problems to other communities and could lead to the process of ‘Waziristanisation of northern Afghanistan‘ and even a break-up of the landlocked country.
However, Durani said: “That is a step the Afghan government is taking, so we have to wait and see the results. It is now in the initial stages, so it would be too early to comment… but if this relocation of TTP can actually happen and lead to peace along our borders, it would be a significant development and we would welcome it”.
Till now Pakistan had kept mum over the relocation process.
Giving a deeper insight into the Pakistani mind, Durrani said that Pakistan’s talks with the TTP have failed and now the only option for the terror group is to lay down arms and give up terrorism. “… Steps are being taken to neutralise the TTP. We should also understand that it will take a while, but the process has been initiated”, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said.