News Analysis |
Three terrorists belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed during a police encounter in the metropolis’ Ittehad Town early Tuesday. Police and law enforcement agencies conducted a joint operation on a tip-off in Ittehad Town. Acting on a tip-off by intelligence agencies regarding the presence of some militants in the Ittehad Town area, on the outskirts of the metropolis, contingents of police along with AVCC conducted a targeted raid. Having sniffed the raid, the suspects resorted to firing; in retaliation three of them got killed.
Police sources said that two of the three terrorists killed during the joint operations were suicide bombers. Explosives, suicide jackets, ball bearings and weapons were found from the possession of the terrorists, police sources added. The sources further said that the terrorists had planned to carry out an attack in Karachi on the same level as the one in Mastung. The process to identify the terrorists is underway, the sources added. Further, operations are underway to arrest accomplices of the terrorists.
A commander within the TTP claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University attack, in which at least thirty students and teachers were killed by as yet unidentified gunmen.
Often known as the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP is one of the most dangerous terror threats to Pakistan, formed in December 2007 after about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form the Tehrik-i-Taliban. Among the Tehrik-i-Taliban stated objectives are resistance against the Pakistani state, Pakistani army, enforcement of their interpretation of sharia and a plan to unite against NATO-led forces in Afghanistan.
The TTP is not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban movement led by Haibatullah Akhundzada, with both groups differing greatly in their histories, strategic goals and interests although they are both predominantly Pashtun. In fact, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar asked the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in late 2008 and early 2009 to stop attacks inside Pakistan, to change their focus as an organization and to fight the Afghan National Army and ISAF forces in Afghanistan instead.
However, the TTP, in contrast, has almost exclusively targeted elements of the Pakistani state although it took credit for the 2009 Camp Chapman attack and the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt. Maulana Fazlullah became the group’s new leader in late 2013. In the following year, the TTP fragmented into at least four groups, with the defections said to have left the group in considerable disarray.
Following Maulana Fazlullah’s death by an American drone strike in Kunar province, Afghanistan, the TTP appointed Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud as the group’s new emir. The TTP has been notorious for its attacks against soft targets. Some of the most infamous were the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the Army Public School Massacre of 2014.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, who served as a spokesperson for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and surrendered to Pakistan, confessed to linkages with India.
The 2014 Peshawar school attack which claimed 141 lives, including 132 school children between eight and 18 years of age, with the remaining nine fatalities being staff members of the school sent shockwaves around the world. A commander within the TTP claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University attack, in which at least thirty students and teachers were killed by as yet unidentified gunmen.
However, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Taliban denied the group’s involvement. According to analysts, the TTP has been used by hostile foreign powers namely India and Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan. In September 2017, an Indian analyst, in a piece published in Hindustan Times, has acknowledged that the Indian spy agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has ties with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Bharat Karnad, professor for national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research and author of “Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)”, writes, “Severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions.”
Ehsanullah Ehsan, who served as a spokesperson for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and surrendered to Pakistan, confessed to linkages with India. In his confessional statement, Ehsan asserted that the TTP and JuA have been coordinating with Indian and Afghan security agencies to move freely in Afghanistan and have been guided by the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s apex spy agency when infiltrating into Pakistan.
Notably, major TTP leader Latif Mehsud was caught by U.S. troops in Afghanistan while he was in a convoy escorted by Afghan Intelligence. American forces captured the TTP leader and handed him over to Pakistani authorities, much to the anger of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. While Operation Zarb-e-Azab and Radd-Ul-Fassad seems to have destroyed the infrastructure of the TTP inside Pakistan to wage attacks, the group still has a limited ability due to its safe havens inside Afghanistan.