After Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, terror attacks in Pakistan highest in 4 years
Terror attacks in Pakistan have increased manifold ever since the Taliban won back control of the state apparatus in Afghanistan in a lightning-fast offensive more than a month ago, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal. The report showed that after the United States military withdrew from war-torn Afghanistan and the Taliban seized Kabul, deadly terrorist attacks in Pakistan increased to their highest level in more than four years, signalling growing instability in the region that experts say could come back to bite Islamabad.
As per its latest review, seen by the Bloomberg news agency – Pakistan saw at least 35 terror attacks that killed 52 civilians in August alone, the highest since February 2017. Most of these attacks have been attributed to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an offshoot terror outfit of the Taliban, which is believed to have been ‘encouraged’ by the developments next door. The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) is the largest website on terrorism and low-intensity warfare in South Asia; it creates the database and analytic context for research and analysis of all extremist movements in the region.
The TTP, alternatively referred to as the ‘Pakistani Taliban’ has a stated aim to overthrow the government in Islamabad by waging a violent military campaign against the state. It maintains ties with several other terror outfits, including but not limited to al-Qaeda. According to experts, this fringe militant group was “emboldened further by what happened in Afghanistan”.
“The terrorist group had already been growing stronger much before the situation in Afghanistan with splinter groups merging over the past year or so,” Umar Karim, a visiting fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, told the Bloomberg agency over the phone.
Asfandyar Mir, a senior expert at the United States Institute of Peace, said that although Pakistan is not talking about it openly, Islamabad is concerned about the re-emergence of the Pakistani Taliban threat, which had earlier been suppressed by a combination of domestic military operations and US drone strikes.
The development comes amid a precarious situation for Pakistan, which was criticised heavily across global quarters for encouraging the Taliban offensive against the erstwhile Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan, in the hopes of gaining favour among the ranks of the new rulers in Kabul and keep its neighbours uncomfortable in the process. But so far, the newfound Taliban regime has only led to more discomfort for Islamabad. The militants, after sweeping to power, freed several terrorists wanted by the Pakistan government from jails in Afghanistan.
Terrorists firing from Afghanistan killed two Pakistani soldiers and left many injured in a clash last month. Seven other soldiers died earlier in September when the Pakistani army attacked terrorists in South Waziristan, according to a statement sent by the army’s media wing.