In the 1990s, the Taliban in Afghanistan were fighting the Northern Alliance, and thousands of Pashtuns went to fight as foot soldiers on behalf of the Taliban. In 2001, the Afghan Taliban fled to Pakistan.
Pakistani Taliban, who previously had little clout, became hosts of the Afghan Taliban and earned much money for their assistance. From 2001 to 2004, the Pakistani Taliban grew in numbers and influence and became radicalized because of their proximity to the Afghan Taliban.
They planned and mobilized to establish a Taliban ‘emirate’ or state in Fata and the expansion of that idea of statehood is what we see happening today.
Pakistani Taliban Expanding
Taliban were launched in the era of PPP’s government in early 1990s, when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister and Major General Naseerullah Khan Babar was the interior minister of Pakistan. The leadership of the Taliban is now in Pakistan and they have stated their intention of overthrowing the government here. The Taliban are linking up with groups in Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban movement is turning into a multiethnic movement. Groups cultivated to fight in Kashmir have joined up with the Pakistani Taliban, and include Punjabis with organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkatul Mujahideen. Now, some 40 groups in Pakistan are loosely affiliated with the Pakistan – the several years of progressive diplomacy with India exacerbated the rise of different Taliban-affiliated factions. For that reason, Pakistan faces a more dangerous situation than Afghanistan, where Tajik and Uzbek fighters were not permitted to join the Afghan Taliban movement.
Issues in Pakistani governance
Pakistan is also weaker because of raging economic crises, the ongoing insurgency in Baluchistan, and a political crisis. The PMLN government has wasted one year vying with the Peace Talks game for power rather than tackling the Taliban threat. Meanwhile, PTI, which was supposed to serve as the face of Frontier province, has collapsed (PTI officials are often seen sympathizing with TTP).
After 2007/2008, when military operations did begin in Fata, the government pursued a stop-and-go policy, which involved several peace deals that did not hold. In the meantime, the Pakistan government and army failed to protect the people of the Fata and the traditional tribal hierarchies that were pro-Pakistan. About 300 Maliks of tribes were killed and by 2009, there were half a million refugees from Fata in Pakistan. Having lost the goodwill of the population in Fata, the government will find it hard to reenter the area and rebuild traditional tribal structures.
Peace-talk and Ceasefire
While addressing to the session of National Assembly after six month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the peace talk with Taliban despite the attacks, naming a four-member committee to facilitate the peace talk.
Almost after a month of peace talk announcement Taliban militants claimed to have killed 23 FC soldiers and released their video message by saying “Despite the ongoing talks, the government and intelligence agencies are not serious about bringing peace to Pakistan,” said Omer Khurasani. “The government and intelligence agencies martyred our 23 comrades during this dialogue process. In response, we’ve killed the 23 FC personnel. We have also released the video of the 23 FC personnel.”
After that the military strikes continues on the militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan following the Taliban’s slaughtering of the FC soldiers and the recent attacks on the Security check posts. Air force jets have been pounding suspected terrorist camps since then, which also killed several militant commanders.
The Pakistani Taliban has announced that the group will observe a one-month ceasefire as part of efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the government. After the TTP ceasefire, Chaudhry Nisar, in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel, formally announced the suspension of surgical strikes against the group.
Eleven people including a judge were killed on 3rd March 2014 in a gun and suicide bomb attack on a court in Islamabad. The Pakistani Taliban denied any connection to the attack, which came two days after the militants announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the government.
Ceasefire announcement and political parties’ response
The country’s major political factions except MQM and ANP welcoming the announcement of ceasefire by TTP have termed it as positive and result-oriented step. Two major political parties ANP and MQM have slightly hinted doubts over the intentions of TTP.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain demanded “a full and thorough” investigation into the attacks on Islamabad District and Sessions Court. “Although an unknown group Ahrar-ul-Hind has claimed the responsibility of the attacks, a majority of the Pakistanis believe this is a fake organisation and these attacks were carried out by Taliban. Taliban do not want to take the blame for the attacks,” Altaf Hussain said in a statement.
Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) held a big rally in Karachi to show solidarity with the Pakistan army, rangers and police who are fighting Taliban militants.
Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah said that “Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) made a fool out of the federal government by announcing a fake ceasefire to enter Islamabad.”
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that the United States does not want peace in Pakistan, adding that the US is backing the organisations which are against Pakistan.“US does not want peace in Pakistan until they withdraw their forces from Afghanistan,” Khan said. He added “A full-scale operation would have resulted in more destruction and the death of innocent people.”
We Pakistanis are very concerned about the state of our homeland. We want to send a very clear message to all state institutions that we say NO to the Talibanisation. Under no circumstances, can the sovereignty of Pakistan be attacked in this way. This applies also to the constant drone attacks that are taking place. We urge the democratically elected Government to fulfill their duty and follow the will of the people. The will of the people is for the Government to enforce the writ of the state throughout the country, in all provinces. Rule of law applies to all, not just to some.
Action must be taken against the Taliban.