Senior officials from the US and Pakistan hold two days of Counterterrorism Dialogue on March 6th and 7th 2023 in Islamabad to discuss collaborative efforts in countering regional and global threats, improving cooperation, preventing violent extremism, and combating terrorism financing. It reaffirms their shared determination to contribute to both regional and global security and stability.
The new wave of terrorism in Pakistan particularly in the area of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is hitting hard the country’s goal to get rid of terrorism.
Many reports claimed that the attacks of terrorist organizations have increased manifold. The major target of these outfits is the police and law enforcement agencies. Throughout 2022, Pakistan witnessed a total of 512 terrorist incidents. The targets of these attacks were both security personnel and civilians, resulting in a devastating toll of 980 fatalities and 750 injuries. Of the total casualties, at least 283 were security personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice in their line of duty. In December 2022 alone, 40 security personnel lost their lives in the line of duty. These alarming figures indicate a 14.47 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the preceding year, 2021, during which 850 individuals lost their lives to terrorism in Pakistan. The ongoing threat of terrorism in Pakistan remains a grave concern and demands continuous vigilance and action to ensure the safety and security of the country and its people.
The recent victim of these attacks is the Deputy Superintendent of Police Iqbal Momand among three other police officers in Lakki Marwat and the serving Brigadiers of Inter-Service Intelligence Mustafa Kamal Burki. Keeping the prevalent situation, it is a win-win situation for both Pakistan and the USA to be inclined towards reviving their longstanding relationship and collaborating against terrorism, particularly in combating the increasing attacks of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The ongoing talk is lent credence to it.
It is a win-win situation for both Pakistan and the USA to be inclined towards reviving their longstanding relationship and collaborating against terrorism, particularly in combating the increasing attacks of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
It is worth highlighting that the leadership of the TTP has suffered casualties as a result of US drone strikes. Bait Ullah Mehsud was the founder and first leader of the TTP. He was a prominent militant leader in the tribal areas of Pakistan and was known for his attacks against the Pakistani military and government. He was killed in a US drone strike in 2009.
After Bait Ullah Mehsud’s death, Hakim Ullah Mehsud became the new leader of the TTP. He continued the group’s violent campaign against the Pakistani government and military and was responsible for several high-profile attacks, including the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt. He was killed in a US drone strike in 2013.
Mullah Fazlullah, also known as the “Radio Mullah” due to his regular radio broadcasts, became the new leader of the TTP after Hakim Ullah Mehsud’s death. He was known for his brutal tactics, including ordering the shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. He was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan in 2018.
It’s worth noting that the TTP is a decentralized group, and several other commanders have significant influence within the organization. Some of these commanders have split from the TTP to form their factions, while others have joined the Islamic State or other militant groups. The TTP has also formed alliances with other militant groups, such as the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Ostensibly, the incumbent head of TTP Noor Wali Mehsud got triumphed to reunite some of the factions to TTP and came up with sophisticated strategies and weapons. The Government of Pakistan is struggling hard to combat the menace of terrorism on its own. It will be beneficial for Pakistan to work jointly with the USA to combat the TTP’s insurgence.
The government of Pakistan can work with the USA in the following areas: First, Intelligence Sharing: America has a robust intelligence gathering mechanism that can help Pakistan in tracking down the TTP. Sharing intelligence with Pakistan will help them to identify the key leaders and operatives of the group and take action against them. America can provide military support to Pakistan to help them in their efforts to eradicate TTP. This could include training and equipping Pakistani security forces with the latest technology and weapons.
Pakistan needs to improve the socio-economic conditions of the areas where the TTP is most active. America can provide development assistance to Pakistan to address the root causes of the TTP’s rise, such as poverty and unemployment. TTP is known for spreading extremist ideologies. Pakistan and America can collaborate to counter these narratives by promoting moderate and inclusive values through education, media, and community-based initiatives.
Pakistan and the USA must continue to work together to combat the TTP’s insurgence and promote regional and global security and stability.
Collaboration between the two nations in intelligence sharing, military support, development assistance, and counter-narratives is crucial to eradicating terrorism in the region
The Author is an M.Phil. Scholar at Government College University, Lahore.