Increased attacks in northwest Pakistan amid Afghan peace efforts

Insurgents near Afghanistan's border region have stepped up attacks on security forces in northwestern Pakistan, threatening to resume their activities and return to lawlessness.

Increased attacks in northwest Pakistan amid Afghan peace efforts

The ethnic Pashtun border region has for years been a haven for insurgents who fled the US-led invasion in 2001. But the Pakistani military destroyed the strongholds in an attack in 2014 and brought most of the fighters into Afghanistan.

But since March, if the al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban, when its Afghan Taliban allies establish peace there, are in danger of losing sanctuaries along the border, they will be able to secure Pakistani security. A wave of attacks on forces has continued.

In July, half a dozen small insurgent factions joined forces to try to re-establish themselves in the border areas, the Pakistan Taliban or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Mansoor Khan Mehsud, executive director of the Islamabad-based FATA Research Center, said, "The group's capabilities and military strength have increased, as has their reach."

In September, roadside bombs ranged from sniper attacks, ambushes and the killing of residents accused of collaborating with government forces.

Insurgents have killed at least 40 soldiers since March, according to official Reuters figures.

At least 109 people were killed’ in 67 attacks between January and July, according to the FATA Research Center.

"The TTP's reorganization is due to its own activities and its links to groups such as al-Qaeda," said Elizabeth Threlkeld, a former State Department official who now serves in Pakistan and deputy director of the South Asia program in Washington. Is from Victims Center

"If it continues to succeed, it could once again provide significant support to international terrorist groups."

Unintended consequences

After 9/11, insurgent violence in Pakistan escalated after pressure from the United States to sign the so-called "war on terror", even though it had supported the Afghan Taliban for years.

The Pakistani government soon found itself in the grip of a domestic Taliban attack, but the army managed to push it out of the area in 2014, forcing the Pakistani Taliban into Afghanistan.

The fighting displaced millions of people, but since then insurgent violence in Pakistan has largely ended.

But now there are growing concerns that the escalation of Pakistani Taliban violence is an unannounced result of peace efforts in neighboring Afghanistan.

In February, the Afghan Taliban and the United States reached an agreement allowing the return of the American Taliban to guarantee the Afghan Taliban that they would not harbor other insurgents.

The United Nations said in a report in July that there were more than 6,000 Pakistani fighters in Afghanistan, most of them affiliated with the TTP, who could go home if they lost their asylum.

"It's a matter of concern for everyone," a Western security official based in Pakistan told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The Pakistani military did not respond to a request for comment on the violence, but a spokesman said recently on Twitter that the attacks were aimed’ at "pushing back the (Afghanistan) peace process."

For those living in the area, insecurity is once again becoming a problem.

The TTP issued a statement this week urging residents to go "until peace returns."

"Our war against Pakistan continues and you will continue to carry out attacks on a daily basis," the group said.


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