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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Terrorist attacks hurt Pakistan’s ties with Afghan Taliban

ISLAMABAD ( Associated Press) – Faced with escalating violence, Pakistan is taking a tough step to pressure Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to crack down on terrorists hiding on its soil, but so far the Taliban are reluctant to act – Instead of trying to make peace.

Relations between the two neighbors took a sharp turn last month when Pakistan carried out airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan. Witnesses said the attacks took place at a refugee camp and another, killing at least 40 civilians. UNICEF said 20 children were feared among the dead.

Pakistan never confirmed the April 17 attacks, but two days later its foreign ministry issued a stern warning For not giving shelter to the terrorists to the Taliban.

The pressure has rattled the Taliban. The Taliban have long been close to several terrorist groups carrying out attacks in Pakistan, most notably the Pakistani Taliban, a separate organization known as the TTP. The TTP and other groups have only become more active on Afghan soil since the Taliban takeover in August.

But Taliban beware To crack down on them, fearing creating more enemies at a time when they already face an increasingly violent campaign by an ally of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, analysts say.

A series of bombings across Afghanistan in recent weeks, mostly targeting thousands of minorities, have killed dozens. Most are blamed on an Islamic State affiliate, known by the acronym IS-K. The bloodshed has undermined the Taliban’s claims that it is capable of providing the security expected from a governing force.

This week, the Taliban hosted talks between the TTP and a Pakistani government delegation, as well as a group of Pakistani tribal leaders, apparently hoping for a deal that could ease the pressure. On Wednesday, the TTP announced that it was extending what it had said earlier till May 30.

The Taliban government’s deputy spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said it was “doing its best to ensure the continuity and success of the talks” and calls on both sides to remain flexible in the meantime.

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But previous ceasefires with the TTP have failed, and was already rocked by violence last weekend.

Pakistan’s desperation is increasing as violence has increased on its soil.

The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army killed three Chinese civilians in late April. The TTP and the Afghan-based IS have targeted Pakistan’s military with increasing regularity.

Terrorist attacks in Pakistan have increased by almost 50% since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, an independent think tank based in Islamabad that monitors terrorist activities. The group documented 170 attacks between September and mid-May in which 170 police, military and paramilitary personnel and more than 110 civilians were killed.

The United Nations estimates that around 10,000 TTP terrorists are hiding in Afghanistan. So far, the rulers of Afghanistan have done little to allay the suspicions of militants in their region.

Afghan, the head of southern Afghanistan, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistani Baloch separatists had set up several safe houses in the region during the regime of the previous US-backed government and that they were taking over the Taliban. have remained since.

Pakistani air strikes in April showed a dramatically toughened stance. They came after seven soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack near the border with Afghanistan. Pakistani and Afghan border forces often exchange rocket fire amid border disputes – but it is rare for Pakistan to use warplanes on targets inside its neighbour.

The change came after weeks of political turmoil in Pakistan that ousted Imran Khan as prime minister. Khan was an advocate of talks with militants and campaigned for the world to engage with the Taliban after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the US-based Wilson Center, said Khan was “a soft spot for the Taliban as well as a principled opposition to the use of force in Afghanistan.”

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With Khan now out of the picture and TTP attacks continuing, “we can expect a strong Pakistani readiness to use military operations,” he said.

The Afghan Taliban is warning Pakistan against further military action, threatening retaliation.

The airstrikes are “not acceptable,” Taliban-appointed Defense Minister Mohammad Yacoub warned Pakistan in late April. “The only reason we have tolerated this attack is because of our national interest, but it is possible that we will not be so tolerant in the future.”

The son of the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, Yaqub is a powerful figure in the Taliban leadership, struggling to stay united amid disagreements about how to govern his war-torn nation.

The Leadership Council appears to be strongly divided between two camps: the pragmatists and the fundamentalists. The pragmatists emphasize global engagement and the opening of schools for girls of all ages. Radicals want to return Afghanistan to Taliban rule in the late 1990s, when women and girls were denied access to most public places and a harsh and forgiving version of Islam and tribal rule was imposed.

a flurry of repressive orders of late Suggestions are hard-liners that have the upper hand, including an order requiring women to fully wear veils that are only visible to the eye and a decision not to allow girls to attend school after sixth grade.

According to several prominent Afghans familiar with the Taliban leadership, Yakub falls among the pragmatists. Yet, there does not seem to be a decision between the leaders on both sides of the partition to drive out terrorists in their region.

“I do not see any quick improvement in the Pakistan-Afghan situation. The Taliban will continue to shelter the TTP and hope that they can increase their influence in Pakistan over time,” said Shuja Nawaz, an expert and fellow at the South Asia Center of the US-based Atlantic Council.

“Therefore, the situation is expected to worsen, especially with the (Pakistan) army targeting Afghan policy,” Nawaz said.

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