It only took a couple of days from the end of the ceasefire for the TTP to return to its old ways. The group has taken responsibility for the Wednesday suicide blast in Quetta that claimed the lives of four people, including a policeman, a woman and a child, and left another 27, including 20 policemen, with injuries of varying severity. The attacker used an explosive-laden vehicle to knock over a truck transporting policemen who were supposed to provide security for polio vaccinators, causing most of the injuries.
However, it must be noted that while the TTP ‘officially’ only called off the ceasefire on Monday, it had been violating the June agreement since at least September. Some reports suggested that the ‘unofficial’ attacks began after a few top TTP leaders based in Afghanistan were eliminated under mysterious circumstances. In November alone, at least 50 attacks have been attributed to the group. Some experts believe the announcement came because the TTP is now on the back foot. Reports suggest TTP emir Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud is limiting meetings with senior commanders to avoid being located by Pakistani security forces or intelligence agencies.
There are also conflicting reports about whether or not the TTP is acting as agents of the Afghan Taliban to put pressure on Pakistan or, conversely, is planning to side with Daesh against the Afghan Taliban, as some TTP members suspect the Kabul government had a hand in the elimination of TTP leaders earlier this year. The latter scenario is also a cause for concern in Pakistan, as Daesh is known to be better organised and more brutal than any other terrorist groups active in the region. But beyond the broader security situation, such attacks are bound to have an impact on the government’s earnest efforts to eradicate polio — cases have already gone up from a record low of one in 2021 to 20 this year, and experts believe interruptions to vaccination programmes due to security concerns are among the factors behind the increase.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2022.
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