ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – a banned conglomerate of dozens of militant outfits – has admitted for the first time that they are using the Afghan soil as a springboard for launching attacks on Pakistani security forces.
The acknowledgment gives credence to Islamabad’s claims that the TTP has found safe havens in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces bordering Pakistan.
Pakistani officials believe that the top TTP cadres – including Maulana Fazlullah, Maulvi Faqir and Waliur Rehman – and hundreds of their loyalists had fled a string of military offensives in Swat, and Bajaur and Mohmand agencies since 2008 to seek shelter in Afghanistan.
“Maulana Fazlullah is leading TTP attacks from Afghanistan’s border provinces and is in touch with fighters in Malakand division,” Sirajuddin, the spokesperson for TTP’s Malakand chapter, told The Express Tribune by phone from an undisclosed location. “We regularly move across the porous border,” he added.
He claimed that Fazlullah was commanding over a thousand diehard fighters.
Contrary to Pakistani claims, Sirajuddin, however, said that the TTP hierarchy and fighters fled to Afghanistan in recent months and now they are settled in the country’s border regions.
Until this month the administration of President Hamid Karzai was in denial about TTP’s bases in Afghanistan. However, Kabul has now conceded the presence of ‘some TTP militants’ in the border regions, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.