2022: The Year of TTP’s Regrouping and Offensives

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By Hazrat Ali Yousafzai 

FORMED in 2007, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP is an umbrella organization of armed groups that seek to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the country by carrying suicide and terror attacks across Pakistan, specifically in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces.

The smooth reorganization took about a decade for the banned group to carry massive offensives in parts of Pakistan including taking over a CTD Centre in Bannu, unsuccessful terror plot in the Capital City and certain terror incidents in Malakand Division.

The outlawed-TTP begun their reorganization in Pakistan years after the faction was whitewashed by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) from the country and its terrorist members were then hosted by TTA in Afghanistan due to their same religious theology.

TTP gained confidence after the West-backed Ashraf Ghani government in Kabul was overthrown by Afghan Taliban on 15th of August 2021. There have been plenty of announced and unannounced ceasefires between TTP and Pakistani government but most of the times the terror outfit made it to the breach. It was 10th of December 2021 when TTP broke a truce that was agreed months back with the PTI government by stating  “it is not possible for the ceasefire to continue” under what they termed unfriendly conditions.

Following the ceasefire violation by TTP, Khalid Balti, described by Pakistan’s Security Forces as ‘pivotal leader of TTP’, was killed in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. Balti who served Pakistani Taliban as their Spokesperson in 2014 was released by the current regime after taking-over Kabul in August 2021.

The then Interior Minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had unveiled after intelligence findings of an attack that claimed the life of a Police Head Constable named Munawwar on January 18, 2022 in Islamabad that “this was not an issue of robbery or dacoity, it is purely an issue of terrorism”.

Later TTP claimed responsibility saying “we are proud of these heroes, and our fighters will continue to follow in their footsteps”. Mr. Rashid had to acknowledge it was the first of its kind incident in the Capital City. “This is a kind of signal that we have received that incidents of terrorism have started to happen in Islamabad, and this is the first incident of this year,” said Ahmed. “We need to stay very alert.”

In April 2022, tensions were high between Afghanistan and Pakistan over cross-border attacks, with Islamabad urging the Kabul regime to take steps against all terror groups that were freely roaming inside Afghanistan after the dramatic exit of Western Forces.

Besides, TTP had extended a ceasefire facilitated by Afghan Taliban until May 30 2022. The Spokesman for the armed group, Mohammad Khurasani, had said the talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamabad government were facilitated by Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.

“Talks were held in Kabul between the government of Pakistan and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the mediation of the Islamic Emirate,” Afghan’s regime Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said, using the self-styled name for Afghanistan. Afterwards, the truce that was about to expire on 30th of May was re-extended by the banned-outfit over a successful Jirga with Tribal Elders that was hosted by Afghan Taliban in Kabul.

Week after a US drone raid in Kabul killed al-Qaeda Chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, another TTP’s senior leader was killed along with three others in a roadside blast in Paktika Province of Afghanistan. Abdul Wali, also known as Omar Khalid Khorasani, was a top commander of the Pakistani Taliban and was behind some of the deadliest attacks in recent years.

On 6th of September 2022, TTP had confirmed the clash with Pakistani Security Forces that was reported by ISPR resulted in killing of five soldiers and at least four fighters in Boyya, North Waziristan.

Following continued attacks in the Tribal Districts, the banned-organization also attempted to reverse peace in Malakand Division into the period of 2007-2013, the worst of Swat that was a battleground between security forces and rebel fighters.

On September 13, 2022, a peace committee leader Idrees Khan was killed along with two bodyguards when their vehicle drove over an Improvised Explosive Device, Swat Police Officer Zahid Marwat had confirmed.

In October 2022, the Malakand Division was again testified for hosting the terrorist organization by hitting a school van on 10th of the said month to repeat the 2010 event in which TTP’s terrorists targeted girls education activist now a Noble Laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Later, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muazzam Jah Ansari had termed the incident as not an act of terrorism but a result of personal enmity, although, the episode potentially unified people across Malakand to denounce any bid for disturbing peace in the region.

The initial strike against the attack was then converted into a peace movement and large demonstrations were held in Swat, Buner, Dir and Shangla districts giving a strong message to TTP and Pakistani authorities that the region was not ready for a 2007-like situation again.

November 16 2022, in a statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s office condemned an attack by TTP that martyred 6 Policemen in the city of Lakki Marwat, calling the police a “vanguard against terrorism”. “Let us make no mistake. Terrorism continues to be one of Pakistan’s foremost problems. Our armed forces and police have valiantly fought the scourge,” he had tweeted.

Offensives by the terror group took more advancement in December of 2022 as TTP later in November ordered its terrorists to carry out attacks across the country in circumstances what they termed was not fit for negotiations. At the same time the outlawed outfit also ended a ceasefire agreed with the government in June which was also the last during 2022.

“As military operations are ongoing against mujahideen in different areas, it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever you can in the entire country,” the group said in a statement on November 28.

Just two days after the truce was ended by TTP, a suicide bomb blast had struck a Police Vehicle in Quetta, killing at least one Police Officer and two civilians and wounding dozens. Quetta Police’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ghulam Azfar Mahesar told reporters the vehicle that was targeted was carrying security personnel deployed to protect polio vaccination campaign workers in the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Low scale terror activities by TTP were being continued throughout December including martyrdom of six Army Personnel in Balochistan in separate incidents occurred in a single day on December 25th 2022, but two major incidents shocked the Nation one of hostages at Bannu CTD Center by Taliban and the other was an attack in the Capital City claiming life of one Policeman and injuring at least 10 people including 6 Cops and 4 civilians.

Besides, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had said the bomber was heading to enter an important building such as the Parliament House, Supreme Court, Prime Minister House, PTV, and High Courts. “This would have been a shame for our country if the attack had taken place at a high-value building or Red Zone area”.

The Bannu terror drama where Taliban’s fighters had taken hostages was successfully ended by Pakistan’s Law Enforcement Agencies by carrying out a Special Operation to crush the terrorists.  Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif had informed the Lower House of Parliament all of the 33 terrorists were killed by SSG Commandos and freed all hostages.

Concluding the year with a traditional resolve, the top brass of Pakistan’s Army on December 28 renewed their pledge to eliminate the menace of terrorism from across the country as per the aspirations of the Nation. The commitment was agreed during the 254th Corps Commanders Conference chaired by Army Chief General Asim Munir at the General Headquarters, Rawalpindi.

2022 proved as an year for regrouping of TTP terrorists, but Pakistani authorities need to take exceptional measures for the new year and convert Pakistan into a ground for foreign investment and tourists in order to attain life sustainability, economic stability and most importantly peace.

– The Writer Is Our Staff Member. He Can Be Reached at @alihazrat87899@gmail.com

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