This may irritate some, but view the TTP Taliban as cousins ââof the Afghan Taliban. They first welcomed the Afghan Taliban to Waziristan (s) when the United States bombed them out of their hideouts in Afghanistan, then took inspiration from them to take up the nomenclature with its Pakistani suffix to establish its organizational link with the Afghan Taliban.
This bond was only strengthened after ex-FATA Pakistani militant groups conglomerated to Afghanistan as guests of their Afghan cousins ââwhen they were driven out under similar conditions by the Pakistani army. These operations against militant terrorism began in 2008, some outside the FATA in Swat, and slowly made their way through tribal agencies – now conditionally incorporated as regular territories under KP province – in 2016. Being of the same ethnicity in the majority helped form this camaraderie, as did the overt religious overtones that underpinned their goal.
The Afghan Taliban having regained control in Afghanistan, by default, if not de jure, they hope to find a similar arrangement for their cousins ââin Pakistan except that they will not find capital at their feet as was the case for the Taliban. afghans – Pakistanis the state is luckier than its western neighbor in many ways. But the TTP hopes to recover its lost enclave. This resonated with many of them following the withdrawal of the United States and the news of the TTP’s engagement with the Pakistani state for a peace settlement. The TTP seeks to restore the old status of the FATA agencies as is also the cry today of the PTM and the Afghan Taliban in similar statements. The Afghans may have toned it down a bit as adversity against their regime has only escalated and they desperately need Pakistan’s support to get by, but the impetus was quite naturally and explicitly visible in the first days.
The Afghan state’s conventional claims to Pakistani territory have been rather extensive over the decades, but their primary focus remains the restoration of the former FATA region’s tertiary agreement with Pakistan. This corresponds well to what the PTM also demands of the state, but on the basis of an entirely opposite ethno-nationalist definition. The TTP wears the garb of its religious roots. This variation in their genetic evolution is as much the cause of an impending implosion as the two seek to establish their competitive influence and hold the region for tribal interests. It also offers a juicy possibility for those who harbor nefarious intentions against the Pakistani state, as is the case with the restarting of the wickedness that such inherent struggles inevitably spawn with another wave of instability and conflict. For the short term however, and to the extent that immediacy demands, the two main proponents of Pashtun influence may merge for a momentary unified interest against the state of Pakistan in parrying the ethno-nationalist color more convenient.
Behind this will remain the traditional Afghan intention to claim land as far as Attock and Baluchistan. The Taliban have already said it in barely silent terms in their 2.0 iteration. We saw the PTM not hide it during the event recently organized in Lahore, but with a different purpose. They sought “independence” in their slogans. The disappearance of the “Malik” as an institution in the old tribal agencies meant the rise of the religious and the nationalist. Add to this the role of more traditional politico-religious parties and bloodthirsty nationalists vying for control. The PTM claimed ownership of the seventy thousand theoretical victims of the Twenty Years’ War in an exaggerated commentary as it tried to accuse the state of excess in the form of bogus dating, missing persons or targeted killings . A significant portion of the Pashtun media supports such statements on ethnic lines with the effect of generating willful state unrest.
Someone out there is inciting another powder keg for the next phase of armed insurgency against the Pakistani state as pieces of it begin to fall into place. One wonders what else was the control of the American presence in the region which is now on the verge of unleashing. David Petraeus recently lamented that the control the US presence had exerted over the chaos in Afghanistan was no longer ready to wreak havoc. The TTP – the main author of the loss of seventy thousand lives – also seeks political office in a third country, like their Afghan cousins, when negotiating with the state. Among other things, this amounts to giving political recognition to a disparate terrorist group, which is a first step towards a separatist state. That the dialogue be sustained under the friendly coercion of a neighbor (Afghanistan) for which Pakistan has chosen to bear the cross in a most trying international environment, makes it doubly complicated.
Negotiations with those who are ready to shake off violence and join the mainstream may be the normative path to take, but does the state have the means and the will to control those who do not? known as war and conflict as a way of life and have been fueled by an economy of conflict and violence remains moot. Hence the mistrust and the gloomy prognosis of wishful thinking. Then we will only be able to give others a boost in the future if we choose this path to facilitate our own navigation through difficult times, but we will have to face the consequences as a nation when we give in to the one or another violence group, one priority after another. The state must act as one if it is to maintain its integrity and credibility by invoking the law and its power of retribution if a group or individual violates its responsibility to the state.
Terrorist groups are not ennobled with a potential state; instead, they must be criminalized if they do not abandon their ways and punished by law for the excesses they commit. The province of KP and its enterprising inhabitants have always had a liberal tradition of ethno-nationalist identity and are proud of the riwaj. Expanding it in anti-nationalist undertones with militancy and terrorism betrays the standards of a nation-state. We are witnessing the formation of a toxic mixture that can ferment over time to challenge the state even if it will end up being fratricidal for its fundamental variations and its competitive desire to wrest control. The leader of the PTM was explicit when he invoked the preciousness of the region in mineral and material wealth and the state’s failure to make the population of these regions equal beneficiaries of programs like the CPEC. We’ve seen this movie before.
If the condition was wrong, it should not be found missing again. The state must be engaged, present and involved in how the unrest among the inhabitants of these regions can be allayed and alleviated. It can still be difficult, but it’s worth it, and the blood, for a little longer now than treating it like an existential plague later.