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TTP militant group persistent threat to Pakistan’s security: UNSC report

The banned TTP, the report noted, had up to 4,000 fighters based in east and south-east areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

The banned TTP, the report noted, had up to 4,000 fighters based in east and south-east areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border

A United Nations Security Council report has come as a reminder about the persistent threat Pakistan’s security faces from the Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and warned that prospects of success of the ongoing peace process with the dreaded terror group were bleak, according to a media report.

The annual report of the 1988 Taliban sanctions committee monitoring team noted TTP’s linkages with the Afghan Taliban and explained how the group benefitted from the fall of the Ghani regime last year and touched upon its relations with other terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan.

The banned TTP, the report noted, had up to 4,000 fighters based in east and south-east areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and made up the largest group of foreign fighters based there, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

This was the team’s first report for the committee since the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August last year.

The report’s original focus was on the Taliban’s internal politics, its finances, relations with Al-Qaeda, Daesh, and other terrorist groups, and the implementation of the UNSC sanctions.

The report’s launch coincided with the start of the third round of talks between the Pakistan government and TTP last Thursday.

The first round of talks, held in November last year, had yielded a month-long ceasefire that later broke down after TTP accused Islamabad of not fulfilling promises.

The TTP subsequently resumed attacks against Pakistani forces. Statistics tabulated by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies reveal that this year, the militant group carried out nearly 46 attacks, mostly against law enforcement personnel, in which 79 people lost their lives.

On March 30, the TTP, emulating the Afghan Taliban’s strategy during the U.S. war in Afghanistan, announced a “Spring Offensive” against security forces here.

The peace process, which is being facilitated by Taliban Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, meanwhile, resumed earlier this month after both sides took confidence-building measures.

The TTP militants have been fighting with the Pakistani security forces since 2008, when the outfit was set up, to press for the implementation of the Sharia laws in the country.

However, the group is being pressed by the Afghan Taliban for talks with the Pakistan government to end the conflict.

The TTP first announced a ceasefire on the occasion of Eid and later extended it after Pakistan released a couple of its (TTP) commanders, who were then on death row.

The round, in which the Pakistani delegation was led by Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Faiz Hamid, ended with both sides presenting their set of demands, the report said.

TTP demanded the withdrawal of security forces from erstwhile tribal areas, annulment of the merger of FATA with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, withdrawal of cases against its fighters and their release, and introduction of Shariah-based ‘Nizam-e-Adl’ in Malakand Division.

Although security forces here say that these demands are unacceptable and their acceptance would mean capitulation of the state, the government delegation still entered into the third round of talks.

The top priority for the Pakistani government in the latest round is to secure an extension in the ceasefire, which is expiring on May 30.

The Pakistani side has, however, maintained complete silence on the talks.

The U.N. report has warned that “The group (TTP) is focused on a long-term campaign against the Pakistani state”, which implies “that ceasefire deals have a limited chance of success”.

It is important to note that TTP, which has recently been reinvigorated through the return of 17 splinter groups into its fold, feels that maintaining a hardline position in talks with the Pakistan government would help maintain unity in its ranks.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, whose Haqqani Network is said to be independent of the grouping within the Afghan Taliban, has been “relied upon more than anyone else in the de facto administration” to act as an intermediary in this process, which highlights the influence that he holds over TTP and other Pashtun groups.

The report observed that as compared to other foreign militant groups, TTP was the biggest beneficiary of last year’s Taliban takeover and used this opportunity for conducting attacks and operations in Pakistan.

“The TTP also continues to exist as a stand-alone force, rather than feeling pressure to merge its fighters into Afghan Taliban units, as is the prospect for most foreign terrorist fighters,” it further added.


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