Reports Of Pakistan Launching Airstrikes Against TTP In Afghanistan Emerge; Islamabad Denies
Pakistani forces launched an airstrike against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Nangarhar province on 5 January, reported the Afghan newspaper Hasht-e-Subh Daily.
The report, quoting sources in Nangarhar, said that Pakistani fighters bombed targets in Salala neighbourhood near the Gushta district.
The Foreign Office of Pakistan has rejected these reports coming from Afghanistan newspapers, calling them “utterly baseless and malicious”.
Pakistan’s National Security Council also adopted a 'zero tolerance' policy against terrorists last week, which has increased expectations of a counter-offensive against the TTP on Afghan territory.
Several attacks in Pakistan, including in the capital Islamabad and Punjab, carried out by the TTP, have occurred in the recent past. Attacks have increased since the Taliban's takeover of Kabul in August 2021, after which TTP militants were released by the Taliban.
The TTP ended the ceasefire with Pakistani forces on 28 November, after peace talks reportedly broke down.
Pakistan is also emboldened by the recent influx of $450 million from the United States of America, for repairs of old F-16 fighter jets, to enable Pakistan to counter terrorism.
According to numbers published by the TTP itself, nearly 1,000 people were killed and injured in attacks carried out by the outfit in 2022. TTP explicitly threatened Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, saying, “although Bilawal is still young, this poor man has not yet witnessed the state of war.”
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is a separate entity from the Afghan Taliban but shares ideological and network linkages. The group is primarily active in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas bordering Afghanistan while having some presence in Balochistan also.
While the Pakistani establishment had previously differentiated between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, the emerging view under former army chief, General Bajwa, was that both Afghan and Pakistan Taliban are one and the same.
Votaries of ‘peace talks’, including General Faiz Hamid and Imran Khan, have both now been either sidelined or thrown out of office. Subsequently, the TTP announced the end of the ceasefire on the day the new Chief General Asim Munir took office.
The situation in Pakistan is expected to deteriorate further, with an economic crisis looming large and the TTP increasing attacks on the country.
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