[Islamabad] The United States acknowledges that terrorism has caused tremendous suffering for the people of Pakistan.

During a press briefing at the US State Department in Washington on Monday, spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked whether the US supports Pakistan’s actions against terrorist groups like the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan and the US share a mutual interest in addressing threats to regional security, we collaborate with various Pakistani civilian entities and maintain regular communication with the Government of Pakistan to explore opportunities for enhancing regional security and building capacity, particularly in counter-terrorism efforts,” he stated, highlighting “the importance of annual high-level dialogues”.

The United States acknowledges the significant impact of terrorism on Pakistan and supports Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts. This collaboration involves regular communication and high-level dialogues between US and Pakistani officials to enhance regional security.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, said in an interview that “Pakistan will continue to conduct operations against targets in Afghanistan as part of a new military campaign aimed at combating terrorism”.

Asif clarified that “the airstrikes are directed at groups that Pakistan alleges have been attacking its security forces and civilians.”

Pakistan has continuously accused the Taliban of providing sanctuary to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan. However, the Taliban maintains that the TTP issue is Pakistan’s internal matter and does not fall under their purview.

Meanwhile, according to the latest report released by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) Islamabad, during the second quarter of 2024, at least 380 people, including civilians and security personnel, were killed and 220 injured in 240 terrorist incidents and operations in Pakistan.

The report highlighted that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces were the primary centers of these violent incidents, accounting for about 92 percent of deaths and 87 percent of terrorist acts during this period.

The report also noted a decrease in violence and death rates across the country in the second quarter, with overall violence dropping by 12 percent. There were 380 deaths recorded in the second quarter compared to 432 in the first quarter. Police and army personnel were often the targets of terrorist attacks. Among the police casualties, two DSPs and 31 other policemen lost their lives.

According to the report, during the second quarter of this year, approximately 65 soldiers, including an army captain, were killed. Additionally, a former brigadier was also killed in an attack by unknown assailants.

Released concurrently with Pakistan’s ‘Resolve for Stability’ military operation, this study aims to reinforce Pakistan’s counterterrorism endeavors in reaction to a surge in militant activity.

Experts say that militant organizations continue to operate in the tribal areas adjacent to Afghanistan.

Even if the new counterterrorism operation manages to neutralize the banned Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan’s threat, Pakistan will continue to grapple with significant security challenges from multiple fronts.

Baloch separatist groups, primarily based in Iran, also pose a persistent threat due to their longstanding grievances and sporadic attacks on Pakistani security forces and infrastructure in Balochistan.

These groups often benefit from external support and sanctuary across the border, complicating Pakistan’s efforts to contain their activities.

Pakistan has initiated a new military campaign, “Resolve for Stability,” targeting terrorist groups, particularly the TTP, operating from Afghanistan. This move is partly driven by concerns from Beijing regarding the safety of Chinese nationals working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Additionally, the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K), with its network entrenched in Afghanistan and extending into Central Asia, remains a formidable adversary.

IS-K has demonstrated its ability to carry out deadly attacks targeting civilians and security forces alike, contributing to instability in the region.

Despite setbacks in Afghanistan, the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK) retains a presence and continues to exploit local grievances and ethnic tensions to further its extremist agenda, posing a significant threat to regional stability.

Therefore, while addressing the TTP threat is crucial, Pakistan’s security landscape remains complex and multifaceted, requiring sustained efforts to mitigate the influence and operations of Baloch separatist groups and IS-K across its borders.

Pakistan has recently launched a renewed military operation named “Resolve for Stability” aimed at curbing escalating violence and terrorist attacks, primarily focusing on groups operating within Pakistan.

Islamabad-based sources claim that the new operation was launched under pressure from Beijing.

This pressure stems from Beijing’s concerns about the safety of its 29,000 citizens in Pakistan, including 2,500 individuals working on projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a crucial part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Attacks on Chinese workers in Pakistan have highlighted significant security risks.

These incidents, including targeted killings and bombings, reflect challenges related to economic projects and concerns over Chinese influence.

In March 2024, five Chinese engineers were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Chinese engineers working on a hydropower project in northwest Pakistan.

Islamabad claimed that the attack was orchestrated from neighboring Afghanistan and that the suicide bomber was an Afghan national.

Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been escalating since the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in 2021. Pakistan claims that a faction of the Taliban, specifically the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has safe havens in Afghanistan.

Relations between both neighboring countries further escalated in March 2024, when Pakistan conducted airstrikes on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) targets in Afghanistan.

This action followed attacks in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where seven Pakistani soldiers were killed. The strikes targeted several suspected TTP hideouts.

Pakistan’s security challenges are multifaceted, with threats from various militant groups, including the TTP, Baloch separatist groups, and the Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K). Despite efforts to neutralize these threats, the security situation remains complicated due to external support and cross-border sanctuaries.

Despite assurances from the Taliban administration in Kabul that they would not permit the TTP or any militant group to launch attacks from Afghan territory against Pakistan or any other country, the TTP has continued to carry out multiple attacks inside Pakistan in recent years.

These incidents have strained relations between Islamabad and the Afghan Taliban government.

In a recent media talk, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch addressed the ongoing tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

She stated that “Afghanistan has given assurances that its soil will not be used against any country, including Pakistan”.

Baloch emphasized the importance of Afghanistan acting upon these assurances, stressing that Afghan territory should not be utilized for terrorist activities targeting any country, including Pakistan.

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