Pakistan’s former Interior Minister Rehman Malik during a TV interview accepted that Pakistan had a pivotal part to play in the formation of the Taliban in its infancy. Rehman remarked that the Northern Alliance was moving forward with the help of the Indian intelligence agency RAW in Afghanistan and to counter it, Pakistan helped strengthen the Taliban.
Moreover, Pakistan’s current interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday admitted that families of Afghan Taliban reside in his country, including in the capital city of Islamabad and that sometimes the members of the terrorist outfit are treated in local hospitals.
“Taliban families live here in Pakistan in areas like Rawat, Loi Ber, Bara Kahu and Tarnol, Sometimes their (fighters) dead bodies arrive and sometimes they come here to hospitals to get medical treatment,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said in an interview aired by private Pakistani TV channel Geo News.
While Pakistan’s government and its top parties continue to serenade the Afghan Taliban, another monster in its backyard has started making the lives of ordinary Pakistanis’ difficult. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also referred to in the media as the ‘Pakistani Taliban’, which has fashioned itself on the lines of Afghan Taliban but is essentially anti-Pakistan in its stance is looking to assimilate the Pashtuns from across the border, refusing to acknowledge the Durand line.
It is pertinent to note that TTP has been involved in several of the goriest terrorist incidents to have taken place in Pakistan in the last few years. From the ghastly Peshawar school attack to the Hotel attack to routine roadside bombings, sniper attacks, ambushes and the killing of residents accused of collaborating with government forces – TTP is all out to flush the Pakistani government and establish its dominance.
While Pakistan’s government harbours dream of ruling Afghanistan after the US troops started pulling out in May, earlier this year by helping the Afghan Taliban, what it doesn’t comprehend is that it is digging a grave for itself.
According to a TRT World report, in early March the Taliban ambushed Afghan security forces in Khost province, destroying a convoy. While it was nothing out of the ordinary in a conflict-ridden Afghanistan — the episode was noteworthy because it seemed to involve the terrorists from TTP.
The Afghan Taliban “officially claimed the attack”, however, when the publication contacted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, he neither confirmed nor denied the involvement of TTP.
The Taliban has in the past denied that it hosts foreign fighters. But, when asked about it, Mujahid would neither confirm nor deny the presence of TTP members in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan.
The covert backing of the Afghan Taliban to TTP can give a double whammy to Pakistan. It is trying to fiddle with a highly volatile terrorist outfit whose aim and goals eventually tie down to the destruction of borders and communities.
Thus, it makes one wonder that while Imran Khan weeds out TTP from its borders or at least attempts to do so, his allies in the Afghan Taliban are simultaneously providing TTP terrorists shelter, and strengthening them to come back and terrorize the streets of Pakistan.
As a result, the Pakistani Taliban is working overtime to ensure that it regains all territories in North-West Pakistan which it has lost since 2014, and that is not good news for the Pakistani establishment. Interestingly, the TTP also has links with Al Qaeda. Many friendly terror groups within Pakistan, like the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba are known to share a “symbiotic relationship” with groups like the Al Qaeda.
TTP has mounted an unprecedented offensive against the Pakistani state and its armed forces. Afghanistan’s first vice-president Amurullah Saleh has also warned Pakistan that if it continues to provide support to the Taliban then it has to pay a “very high price”. Islamabad has already refused to allow American’s to set camp within its borders to keep the Afghan Taliban in check. With a power vacuum in the region, both the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan Taliban would certainly ensure that Pakistan is the ultimate loser in the conflict. Meanwhile, Imran Khan refuses to acknowledge the huge lapse in his policy of mollycoddling Taliban.