A new UN Security Council report has acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in fighting off terror, while also crediting Islamabad’s efforts to punish people involved in terror financing and seizing the assets of known terrorists. Unfortunately, that is where the good news ends. The report warns of the continuing threat posed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It focuses on bigger groups such as Daesh and Al Qaeda but also includes details of more regional terror outfits. It also notes that not only has the TTP been able to conduct frequent cross-border attacks — averaging more than one a day for a three-month patch last year — but the group may well be growing.
At least five groups, including the Jamaatul Ahrar and remnants of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have also pledged allegiance to the TTP, a reminder of how easily smaller, almost-beaten groups can regroup and become serious threats again. Some splinter groups of the TTP are also believed to be coordinating with the ‘parent’ group. This had led to the TTP’s total strength being estimated at anywhere between 2,500 and 6,000 fighters. The UNSC report explicitly mentions that these developments have enhanced the terrorist threat in the entire region and contributed to the uptick in TTP attacks.
The report, meanwhile, doesn’t explicitly reference Pakistan’s charge that India has been supporting TTP and Jamaatul Ahrar. This, however, is not unexpected, as the UN would not make such an accusation against a member state without having concrete evidence of its own. Considering that both groups are also recognised as terrorist organisations by the UN, the diplomatic threshold for such an accusation also becomes higher. Nevertheless, Pakistan has consistently made its charge, and the world knows that the government in New Delhi has been laser-focused on trying to destabilise Pakistan, even risking India’s own security to do so.
This was best illustrated by the failed attempts to bomb Pakistan in 2019, which ended with an Indian pilot being captured and multiple Indian aircraft being downed either by Pakistan or ‘mechanical error’.
Unfortunately, India’s failures aside, the report clearly shows that Afghanistan presents the gravest threat. Unless the government in Kabul and its funders can eradicate terrorist safe havens across the border, Pakistan will remain under threat.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2021.
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