Punjabi Taliban and Afghanistan

If there is a unifying struggle for Taliban groups, it is the fight for power in Afghanistan

Editorial September 16, 2014

The Afghan reaction to the news that the Punjabi Taliban was renouncing violence on its home soil in favour of proselytising — but would continue the armed struggle in Afghanistan — was swift. On September 15, 2014 a senior Pakistani diplomat was summoned to the Afghan foreign ministry to hear that the Afghan government was displeased to hear what it described as ‘a declaration of war’ by the Punjabi Taliban. There was strong language from the Head of Political Affairs at the Afghan foreign ministry, Abdul Samad Samad. He described the Punjab Taliban announcement as a conspiracy against the security and stability of Afghanistan — and in a strictly literal sense he is correct to say so. He went on to allege that Pakistani intelligence agencies had been funding, equipping and training terrorist groups that operate in Afghanistan, including the Taliban in their various iterations.

Despite many Taliban groups clustering under the flag of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they are far from homogenous and divided along lines of sect, ethnicity and tribe. There is currently a churn in the wider Taliban corpus, possibly triggered in part by the ongoing operation in North Waziristan, but equally likely because of divisive internal tensions that are beginning to fragment the TTP. If there is a unifying struggle it is the fight for power in Afghanistan. That fight is intensifying as Western coalition forces continue to withdraw, with large parts of the country to the south and east already under defacto Taliban control. It is difficult to predict on what front the Punjabi Taliban may fight in future in Afghanistan or who they might be allied with, but there can be little doubt that the North Waziristan operation has pushed Taliban groups over the border into Afghanistan, there to regroup and battle the incoming Afghan government. This has to be a matter of concern for the Afghan administration as it transits out of the Karzai regime and into an uncertain but probably violent future. Pakistan has a stake in that future as well, more so than any of the other players jockeying for position, and should carefully maintain its balance.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2014.

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US CENTCOM | 8 years ago | Reply

The common threat requires the regional partners to form a healthy working relationship and work against the threat of terrorism. The terrorists would love to see the regional partners remain on the opposite sides of the fence for the sake of gaining advantage. It is simply imperative for Pakistan and Afghanistan to put aside any differences and cooperate and coordinate for the sake of negating the common threat.

Ali Khan Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM

cruiser | 8 years ago | Reply

Wouldn't it have been better to ask the so called afghan govt. And the U.S. forces as to why they didn't eliminate the fleeing militants entering their areas, and inatead they started using them to launch counter attacks. Please don't simplify things for the sake of indian trolls .

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