Kabul, May 19 (Ajit Weekly News) Pakistani officials remain pessimistic about the militant outfit, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) permanently giving up its violent campaign, RFE/RL reported.
Attacks by the group and military operations in response have killed thousands of civilians and soldiers since small Pakistani Taliban groups first emerged along the country’s western border with Afghanistan in 2003.
A Pakistani official said that Islamabad was hoping for “temporary relief” from the attacks as the talks with the TTP continue, though it remains to be seen if the jihadist group can be fully reconciled with the country’s mainstream, RFE/RL reported.
“There will, however, be cracks, which will substantially weaken the TTP,” he said of the optimistic assessment within Islamabad of what the negotiations could eventually achieve.
Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, the officer in-charge of all Pakistani troops in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is leading a Pakistani delegation in talks with the leaders of the TTP in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul.
The official added that the Afghan Taliban’s interior minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, and intelligence chief Abdul Haq Qasiq had been mediating the talks, which are part of Islamabad’s ongoing efforts to stem rising violence from the outlawed fugitive group, whose attacks have killed dozens of Pakistani soldiers this year, RFE/RL reported.
Hameed, a former head of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, has guided Islamabad’s efforts to address the rising threat from the TTP through talks and military operations, including air strikes inside Afghanistan last month.
Clouding the outlook is also Islamabad’s checkered history of talks with the Pakistani Taliban.
Pakistani officials concluded several agreements with the Taliban groups that formally united into the TTP in 2007. But none delivered peace, which eventually forced Islamabad to push the group into Afghanistan after a major military operation in 2014.
Building on its organisational and ideological links with the Afghan Taliban, the TTP eventually recovered and has reabsorbed some of its splinter factions over the past two years.
TTP attacks have spiked sharply since the Taliban seized Kabul in August 2021.
In a sign that an agreement with the TTP might not deliver the temporary respite the Pakistani officials hope for, a suicide attack on a military vehicle killed six people in the restive North Waziristan district late on May 14.
–Ajit Weekly News