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Saturday, June 22, 2024  
15 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Someone has to explain why the TTP were allowed to regroup

Thousands of Afghan Taliban were allowed back in to Pakistan: Khwaja Asif, Raza Rabbani
Mulk main Shidatpasandi wapis kasay ai?|| Faisla Aap Ka with Asma Shirazi | Aaj News

The big question we were asking as a Pakistani nation on Tuesday was how could the Jamaat-ul Ahrar suicide bomber have attacked a mosque to kill 100 people in Peshawar? (And in case you were wondering, the JuA is a faction of fighters who split from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP.)

On Tuesday night, Asma Shirazi asked this question on her show Faisla Aap Ka. She began by presenting the statements made at the highest levels of government.

Defence Minister Khwaja Asif talked about how Taliban fighters were allowed to return to Pakistan. This is a snippet from his speech in parliament on Tuesday:

“Four hundred and fifty thousand (450,000) Afghanis came to Pakistan with valid documents in the last one year and did not return. Who is a terrorist, who isn’t, I can’t tell you that. We had a dollar crisis and sacks full of dollars went to Afghanistan. We’ve allowed transit trade. All of this from one brother to another. They’ve signed on the Doha agreement that their soil will not be used for terrorism against any neighbour. But because these people have been with them in the war against America and its allies, they are paying back a debt. Whatever they are doing from across the border in Pakistan…”

Pakistan Security Report 2022. Source: PIPS
Pakistan Security Report 2022. Source: PIPS

Military operation against the TTP, Zarb-e-Azb, took place in 2014 and there was a visible drop in terrorism till 2021. But then the Afghan Taliban come back to power next door and attacks go up in Pakistan. Since then, a Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies report points out an uptick in terrorist attacks. And this is why all fingers were pointed at the PTI government and the characters of the time for all these developments happening on their watch.

On Tuesday, Raza Rabbani spoke in the Senate (the upper House):

“This is the reason: a few thousand TTP men were allowed with weapons and it was said, they are good Taliban, they should be rehabilitated. Parliament was not taken into confidence on this and neither were Pakistan’s people. It is completely wrong to say in a National Security Council meeting that a parliamentary committee signed off on it.

“An inquiry should be held on the decision that was taken by the government. What was the legal sanctity of the jirga that was held there and what was discussed with them. Today’s joint session, should discuss terrorism’s policy. They should be called to the committee of the [entire] House so that a productive discussion is made possible on the basis of which the new policy on terrorism be formulated. There should be a national dialogue. The trichotomy of power…”

An uptick in attacks afte Zarb-e-Azb and the Afghan takeover of Afghanistan. Source: PIPS
An uptick in attacks afte Zarb-e-Azb and the Afghan takeover of Afghanistan. Source: PIPS

Imran Khan has spoken of “settlers” himself, saying that they were allowed according to an agreement. He will have to answer questions himself. Who were these settlers and who made these agreements?

He said on Jan 10, 2023: “We had to spend money on their resettlement. People are coming back, out of which 5,000, 7,000 of them are fighters. We had to resettle them. When they would come it would become difficult. Everything was known. They were going to come back. This was the time they should have paid attention.”

In 2021, the Afghan Taliban took over and in 2022 Imran Khan’s government departed. Why was attention not paid all this time? If this happened, should the facts be presented to the Pakistani people? This is the demand in Parliament.

A Corps Commanders conference was held on Tuesday. The army chief said clearly that anti-terrorism work must continue. Zero tolerance policy. National leadership is on the same page for the first time.

Journalist Adil Shahzeb said that no one was paying attention when the people of KP and the tribal districts were sounding the alarm bells that the Taliban were back.

“After the APS this is the second such attack of its magnitude. When I was writing my column, in my city Peshawar, my fingers were trembling as I tried to write. To shoulder the biers of one hundred jawans — the entire responsibility lies with the policies we’ve had, the course correction we never undertook. People like us were shouting ourselves hoarse that extremist groups in the shape of the TTP will grow stronger now that the Taliban had come in Afghanistan.

“This is because for 20 years they have fought shoulder-to-shoulder against America with the Afghan Taliban. Even now the TTP are part of their rank and file. The TTP have taken their Amir ul Momineen as the Taliban Amir, Mullah Hebatullah. They have performed bayt or pledged allegiance to him. If they don’t follow what he orders, the bayt is ended.

“Why are the Afghan Taliban not opening condemning these incidents? Look at their prime minister’s statement. It’s all very clear cut. Our policy makers, our politicians, were asleep at the wheel this entire time, when we were screaming that they are back in Swat, Shangla, Buner. People were flooding the streets in the hundreds of thousands asking the state to help, saying that they are back and are active again. But our former prime minister thought that the Taliban were just breaking the shackles of slavery.

“Sheikh Rasheed was interior minister and on February 21, 2022 he said in Rawalpindi that terrorist attacks would go up. Then if you knew this, under what mandate did you go negotiate with the TTP?”

Fakhar Kakakhel also stressed that this did not happen overnight.

On Jan 30, 2022 in The News, I wrote how in Afghanistan and in Pakistani areas what will happen, their regrouping in August 2022; they came in Swat when Gen Faiz and on the part of the PTI government there was talk of negotiating. After that, as part of an adjustment, 100 or more than 100 Taliban prisoners were freed. We were told that they were being freed as a goodwill gesture. But later when they came from Swat to Bajaur, people started to protest and this stopped quite a bit.”

How to explain the TTP’s denial?

The TTP has denied having any involvement in the Peshawar Police Lines mosque attack. But the Jamaat ur Ahrar has claimed responsibility. This has created some confusion. “On one hand the TTP is negating and denying the attack but on the other hand, people from this group are owning it,” said Fakhar Kakakhel. He then gave the background that explains this discrepancy today.

This takes us back to November 1989 when Russia left this region. “For forty years we were told it was jihad against Russia, then the fighting started, then America came and then for 20 years we were told as long as America is in Afghanistan we can have no peace.”

But it was exactly like this in 1989 when Russia was about to leave. Afghan jihad’s founder Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam (a Salafi jihadist, Palestinian scholar), Shaikh Osama and Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri were sitting in a Peshawar university facility. Azzam said that now that jihad against Russia has wrapped up, they should turn their sights to jihad in Palestine. But Zawahiri disagreed and said that they had left Saudi Arabia and taken shelter here (after the attack on Holy Ka’aba in 1979), so they had to fight to set up a Salafist Afghan government.

That November, during Friday prayers, Azzam was killed in Peshawar with his children. His wife later accused Osama and Zawahiri.

This brings us to the TTP: Some jihadi groups feel that now that the US has left, they should live in Pakistan which is an Islamic republic. “But then there is a group that says that all this fighting we did wasn’t for America. The democratic system in Pakistan, the kufri nizam… now we need to defeat Pakistan just as we defeated Russia, and the US.” These are the groups that we should pay attention to, Kakakhel argued.

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa


peshawar blast