RAW-backed alliance of TTP and BLA out to target CPEC

Durdana Najam July 04, 2024
The writer is a public policy analyst based in Lahore. She tweets @durdananajam


India has recently found itself in the international spotlight — for several reasons. One key reason has been the statements excessively critical of the Muslim community made during the election campaign by BJP leaders to sway Hindu votes away from the Congress. The second reason relates to the threats India’s defence and foreign affairs minister issued repeatedly to capture Azad Kashmir, after New Delhi’s unilateral decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave the occupied Kashmir an independent status. The third reason concerns India’s recent use of targeted killings of the members of Khalistan movement, through hired assassins. The fourth reason concerns India’s influence on the Taliban government in Afghanistan and its role in fostering an alliance between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Many of these actions have, however, backfired.

The BJP lost its majority in the recently concluded general elections, and had to form a coalition government. From Canada to Australia and from the US to Pakistan, governments in every country have taken exception to India’s overstepping of the international legal redline and behaving like a goon. The US had also extradited an Indian national wanted over an attempt to murder a US-Khalistan citizen. As for Azad Kashmir, India’s attempt to sow political instability failed to spark any large-scale disruptions. And as far as the TTP and BLA alliance is concerned, India’s involvement has been badly exposed by none other than the TTP’s Khawaraj Defence Shura Commander Nasrullah alias Molvi Mansoor in a press conference.

Pakistan witnessed an exponential resurgence of terrorism in 2022. Fatalities soared, with around 282 military and police personnel among the 973 total victims. This alarming trend continued into 2023, with 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations claiming the lives of 545 soldiers, including officers.

Fueling this violence is a new and concerning alliance: a “terror troika” comprised of TTP, BLA and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), the regional affiliate of ISIS.

Pakistan has repeatedly accused the Taliban government in Afghanistan of providing safe haven to the militant groups and has demanded on numerous occasions that the Taliban take punitive action against then.

While the TTP leaders have denied using Afghan soil to launch attacks on Pakistan in media interviews, they haven’t refuted the presence of their militants operating within Pakistan.

According to video statements played during a press conference by Balochistan’s Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove, TTP’s Khawaraj Defence Shura Commander Nasrullah alias Molvi Mansoor raised fingers at the Indian Intelligence Agency, RAW, for providing full support to the Afghan Taliban government, the TTP and the BLA Majeed Brigade group.

Nasrullah was captured in an intelligence based operation by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies. This successful operation dismantled terror bases established jointly by the BLA Majeed Bargaid and TTP Khawaraj factions. He previously belonged to Baitullah Mehsud’s group and fled to Afghanistan during Operation Zarb-e-Azab, a Pakistan Army campaign targeting militant strongholds. He also has a history of involvement in attacks on Pakistani security forces along the border regions. As the head of TTP’s Defence Commission, he controlled the financial and administrative operations of the group.

Nasrullah’s capture yielded intriguing information regarding potential external support for undermining China’s economic interests in Pakistan. He said that RAW’s overarching aim was to disrupt the CPEC project. This, according to him, involved building terror hideouts in Khuzdar, Balochistan; sabotaging the Pakistan-China relationship; and carrying out kidnappings for ransom to create a narrative of forced disappearance.

Nasrullah claimed that TTP Chief Noor Wali Mehsud, currently sheltered in Afghanistan, and BLA Majeed Brigade Commander Bashir Zaid have been meeting with RAW officers at the Indian Embassy in Kabul. He asserted that both TTP and BLA have been receiving financial and logistical support from the agency. Furthermore, he alleged that many “disappeared” persons are being held in Afghanistan.

He blamed the BLA for his arrest, suggesting that the organisation did not want any other party to claim credit for their operations or the spoils received.

The TTP it seems may now be in full control of BLA and that all major leadership positions in TTP are held by Mehsuds. These revelations and claims raise serious concerns and warrant further investigation into the external support for terrorist activities, and the motivations behind them.

In this backdrop, the newly launched military operation, Azm-e-Istahkam, unlike the previous ones, should ensure that terrorists do not flee to Afghanistan for regrouping and to strike back when things return to normal — even if it requires crossing into Afghanistan.


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