At a time when we all are welcoming the New Year with great enthusiasm and new vigour, I am discussing a topic that is not only a matter of grave concern but also points towards a dreadful tomorrow. Before discussing those who disturb everyone’s peace with nefarious intentions, I wish my dear readers a very Happy New Year. May you all be healthy, happy and be able to face every challenge with courage.
The worrying question is what will happen if Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), which is playing a bloody game of terror in Pakistan, really captures power in Pakistan? In general, this may seem like a hasty question, but it has started emerging in the minds of experts who monitor terrorism. Just think when Mullah Mohammad Omar established the Taliban in East Pakistan in the name of peace and security, who had thought it would take over Afghanistan? After losing power, it would dare to confront superpower America for years and then regain power? TTP, which has become powerful with the help of the Afghan Taliban, has created fear in Pakistan, from big tribal areas to the cities. Its writ runs from Waziristan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Last month, TTP had confirmed that prisoners had taken “several military officers and prison staff” hostage at the counterterrorism facility in Bannu.
This outfit, formed in 2007, had attacked the Marriott Hotel with bombs in 2009. After this, it let loose a reign of terror right from attacking the army headquarters to attacking Peshawar’s army school. More than 130 schoolchildren were killed in that attack. It is so brazen that it admits to having committed this heinous crime. In many areas of Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, TTP is such a dreaded force that the police dare not come out of the stations.
I had written in this column that you harbour the illusion that the snake you keep will bite only the neighbour. This cannot happen. Someday the snake will bite you too. This is what is happening with Pakistan. When Afghanistan was captured by the Taliban for the first time, it was immediately recognised by Pakistan because this Taliban was also born from Pakistan’s womb. As the Taliban of Afghanistan became strong, TTP became stronger in Pakistan. TTP has already declared that its goal is to run Pakistan under Sharia law. It has also launched a campaign against the Pakistan army. Killing of army officers has begun. Pakistan was sure the Afghan Taliban would help it to control TTP but the exact opposite happened. Moreover, tension arose on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan itself.
You can gauge the power of TTP from the fact that Imran Khan’s government realised it is not easy to fight TTP in the area occupied by it, so talks should be initiated. Talks took place in Afghanistan in several rounds.
A jirga of tribal leaders, a delegation of Ulemas, and government officials also participated in them. The then Director General of ISI Faiz Hameed was also involved in these talks. After this, a one-month ceasefire was announced. This was extended indefinitely but in the meantime, Omar Khalid Khorasani, a prominent leader of the Afghan Taliban, was killed. After a few months of peace, TTP suddenly broke the ceasefire and started attacks. TTP has carried out more than 130 attacks since September. It openly takes responsibility for every attack.
After the capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban, TTP in Pakistan also underwent a rapid transformation. Earlier, there were many factions in it. They used to clash with one another as well, but now they all have merged. The Afghan Taliban has played a vital role in this transformation. TTP is now more powerful than before under the leadership of Noor Wali Mehsud and there is no dearth of weapons. He has also shown his strength against the Pakistani army. The Pakistani army is big and battle-hardened, so it will not be easy for TTP, but someday if Afghan Taliban joins hands with it, will the Pakistani army be able to handle the situation? I am only talking about the army because there is no democracy there where people’s representatives could take decisions. Whoever tries, the army shows him the door.
Dozens of other army-created terror outfits are operating in Pakistan, which it uses against India. What if these also join TTP? Although it does not seem possible immediately, who knows about tomorrow? If that happens, it will not only be dangerous for India, but for the whole world as well. This is so because till now no terrorist outfit in the world has access to nuclear weapons. TTP is not Pakistan’s problem alone. Terrorists are also an obstacle to development. Let us hope they never succeed..!
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.