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Zawahiri killing stopped dialogue with Pakistan: TTP Chief

It is widely suspected that the Pakistani intelligence had a role in compromising the late Al Qaeda chief’s location in a Kabul safehouse, apart from providing the airspace for the drone to fly, reports Atul Aneja

The killing of Ayman Al Zawahiri in a drone strike broke the dialogue between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistan Taliban and Islamabad.

In an interview published on the website Khorasan Diary, the TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud said that the “drone attack that took place in Kabul has been the biggest hurdle in taking the negotiations process ahead as far as I can think.”

Though Mehsud did not elaborate, it is widely suspected that the Pakistani intelligence had a role in compromising the late Al Qaeda chief’s location in a Kabul safehouse, apart from providing the airspace for the drone to fly. A specially designed Harpoon missile launched by the drone shredded Al Zawahiri on the safe-house’s balcony.

Terror kingpins are afraid that the Pakistanis would betray their locations-the penultimate step of being droned down by the Americans.

In August, four top honchos of the TTP, who were travelling together in a vehicle, were killed not by a drone but in a IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast. The attack took place in the Birmal area of Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Those killed were Maulvi Abdul Wali aka Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani, Mufti Hasan, Hafiz Dawlat Khan and the son-in-law of Abdul Wali.

In response to question on Khorasani’s death, Mehsud said: “The investigations into the attack on Omar Khalid Khorasani are still underway but one thing that is clear to us is that there was a definite involvement of Pakistani secret agencies in the attack.”

Asked whether he feared being targeted by the Americans like Zawahiri, Mehsud said: “As a human, death is certain for everyone. If dying in an American drone attack is my fate, so be it.”

The TTP chief stressed that his organisation was opposed to the Al Qaeda on ideological grounds as the group that believed in monopolising global power under a Caliphate.

Is US helping Islamabad to counter Pakistan Taliban’s inroads?.(photo:IN)

“Al Qaeda is a global organisation while we (TTP) do not have any foreign agenda. Our fight is only against Pakistani security organisations. Yes, some individuals and factions have joined TTP but they have done so after parting ways with Al Qaeda’s ideology of a global struggle and after embracing ‘manhaj’ and have joined us in our fight against the Pakistani security apparatus only.”

Mehsud acknowledged that the TTP empathised with Baloch cause, but had not provided any material support so far.

“Baloch as an ethnicity has always been oppressed by the security forces of Pakistan and as fellow Muslims, it is our duty to help them. We have not been able to help them so far because of our own shortcomings and weaknesses but we are trying to extend our struggle to the Baloch lands on a large scale so that we can truly avenge the atrocities committed against the Baloch nation.”

Mehsud pointed out that there was no rift between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. “We maintain our old stance and reaffirm that our enemy and target is only the Pakistani security apparatus and we are fighting against them from within Pakistan itself. In such a scenario, the notion that anything might disturb the relationship between us and the Emirate is misconstrued and far from reality.”

Regarding Pakistan, he said that Islamabad must “roll back the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and give FATA a status that was promised by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with the locals in an agreement”.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with

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Pakistan in dilemma as Taliban victory revives TTP

While Pakistani fears that the Taliban victory may give a violent boost to the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban had already started to be active again inside Pakistan even before Taliban takeover…reports Asad Mirza

The Pakistan government at the moment seems to be in a quandary. The manner in which it wanted to exploit the Taliban victory in Afghanistan has rebounded threatening to reinforce religious fundamentalists inclinations in Pakistan itself. US President Joe Bidens decision to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan was due to the realisation that religious fundamentalism might not remain contained to Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan may give Pakistan a choice to look at its relationships with its neighbours, not just from an anti-India stance as it tries to rein-in and influence Taliban to remain pro-Pakistan and not adopt an independent policy of their own.

However, the religio-politico situation of the region which started rearing its head in 1980s with the help of US and Saudi-backed fanatical elements to drive out the Soviets from Afghanistan, has increasingly showed ripple effect in Pakistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains a prime example of such thinking.

(Image Source ANI)

Pakistan is seen as working in support of the Taliban as reports suggest that it was based on the advice of Pakistani military and government officials that the US generals stuck to the Taliban’s August 31 deadline for an end to US evacuation so that the group can move forward with forming a government.

In fact the Pakistani military started working on efforts to persuade the United States to negotiate an end to the war with the Taliban even before they gained control of Afghanistan, a development Pakistani officers believed was inevitable. Based on those inputs the US started to engage with Taliban in early 2019.

Commenting on the evolving situation Ayesha Siddiqa, a geo-politics adviser at SOAS, UK, said that Rawalpindi invested primarily in the Taliban as it knew that US would ultimately leave Afghanistan. Rawalpindi’s prime desire was to ensure a friendly establishment in its north-western neighbouring nation, which doesn’t get exploited against Pakistan’s interests, especially by India.

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However, the investment over 27 years has produced mixed results. It certainly did not translate into the Taliban doing Pakistan’s bidding. Siddiqa described Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid’s promise that Afghan media would be free as “a reminder of similar assurances about media freedom by Pakistan’s generals, which makes one realise the effort afoot to make a Taliban-led regime look increasingly like Pakistan (or even India): Hybrid-authoritarian and hybrid-theocratic… This is where the real problem for Pakistan begins”.

While Pakistani fears that the Taliban victory may give a violent boost to the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban that has close ties to their Afghan kin, the TTP had started to be active again inside Pakistan even before the Taliban capture of Afghanistan.

The Taliban victory benefits from decades in which religious fundamentalism was woven into the fabric of Pakistani society as well as some of its key institutions.

Siddiqa comments: “The fact remains that, notwithstanding the ambition to mellow the tone of religion in Afghanistan, Pakistan itself runs the risk of becoming more like its north-western neighbour – more religious and more authoritarian.”

Pakistan understands the complex situation very well and that’s why it was pushing the Taliban to opt for a truly inclusive government besides broadening its contacts with other Afghan groups. A visit last week to the Pakistani capital by representatives of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and other Afghan politicians is a pointer in that regard.

In discussing the fallout for Pakistan of the Taliban victory, analysts have by and large focussed on Pakistan as fertile ground for the spread of Taliban-style religious fundamentalism as well as concerns that it would enable TTP to rekindle their campaign of attacks in Pakistan.

The TTP is a coalition of Pashtun Islamist groups with close ties to the Afghan Taliban that last year joined forces with several other militant Pakistani groups, including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a violently anti-Shiite Sunni Muslim supremacist organisation.

“Pashtuns of the Afghan Taliban will, after a few years in power, find common cause with their Pashtun kinsmen in Pakistan… There are plenty of Pakistani Pashtuns who would prefer the whole of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West Frontier Province) to be part of a wider Pashtunistan,” predicts scholar and former British ambassador to Pakistan Tim Willasey-Wilsey.

In fact, the events of the last 75 years confirm that the main focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been anti-Indian in tenor and practice. It became a fertile ground for Mujahideen in the 1970s, as it wanted to exert more influence on the Soviet state as compared to India besides stoking fire in Indian Kashmir.

Later it allied with the US just in order to belittle India, but the reality is that Pakistan has always tried to be involved in the Afghan affairs due to the economic gains also and this trend continues even now. The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb, while in Pakistan last week, announced doubling of aid to Afghanistan to 286 million pounds and released the first tranche of 30 million pounds of that to support Afghanistan’s regional neighbours including Pakistan. Thus, in a way the foreign aid has not only lined the pockets of Afghan gang lords and politicians but even the Pakistani generals and politicians.

Due to this complexity in the Afghan affairs and the recent announcements by senior Taliban leadership with regard to India puts Pakistan in a real quandary. Pakistan might also be concerned after a Taliban official Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai declared in a rare statement on foreign policy that “we give due importance to our political, economic and trade ties with India and we want these ties to continue. We are looking forward to working with India in this regard”.

Stanekzai is considered to have a soft corner for India, having trained at IMA, Dehradun, during the 1980s, and it is Taliban officials like him and others who might be more pro-India, which puts Pakistan at unease along with the concern that one day the Taliban style thinking might spread through Pakistan also.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on Muslims, educational, international affairs, interfaith and current affairs., Views expressed are personal)

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Why is Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan giving Islamabad a big headache?

The dangerous terror group is committed to a Greater Afghanistan, which includes Pushtun dominated areas, in Pakistans north-west across the Durand line….reports Rahul Kumar

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), freed from prison in large numbers after the Taliban stormed into Kabul on Sunday, is giving Islamabad a big headache. The dangerous terror group is committed to a Greater Afghanistan, which includes Pushtun dominated areas, in Pakistans north-west across the Durand line.

The group has been in the cross-hairs of the Pakistani military which has launched a massive operation against it, further embittering the relations between the two. We profile some of the TTP’s key players and the role can they can be expected to play?

Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud

The TTP leader has his religious grounding in Pakistan as he studied there in a number of religious seminaries. In Pakistan, he is considered to be a scholar who has authored a book that provides details of how former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed by his organisation.

Mehsud the ideologue, took over the reins of the TTP after its former chief Mullah Fazlullah was killed by the Americans in a 2018 drone strike. Mehsud has maintained close ties with Al-Qaeda and has focused on attacking Pakistani military targets. Recent reports say that under Mehsud, TTP is also making China one of its targets due to its infrastructure investments through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This leads to a tantalising question. Are the Baloch insurgents and the TTP also working to “liberate” Balochistan and derail the CPEC?

Maulana Faqir Mohammad

A former TTP deputy leader and a senior commander, he was released by the Taliban, after it swept to power, from an Afghan prison. He had been arrested in 2013 in Afghanistan along with other fighters and was transferred to the US-managed Bagram prison. He is known to be close to Al-Qaeda and other Arab militants.

Ehsanullah Ehsan

Also known as Liaqat Ali, Ehsanullah Ehsan made headlines when he escaped from the custody of the Pakistani military in 2020. He got away when he pretended to help the Pakistani army locate terrorists during a counter-terror operation. The Pakistan government has said that it is trying to apprehend him but he seems to be no longer in Pakistan.

As spokesperson Ehsan was the TTP face, known for holding press briefings near the Pak-Afghan border. As the spokesperson, he was the one who had announced the attack on activist Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy of education for girls. Active on Twitter, he once again threatened Yousafzai in response to her query to the Pakistani government and military if his escape had been facilitated.

Muhammad Khurassani

Also known as Khalid Balti, he hails from Gilgit Baltistan and is the current spokesperson for the group. He got his education from Karachi’s madrassas and later taught as a madrassa teacher. He is known to have wide contacts in madrassas in Pakistan and carries considerable influence there. It was due to his media experience that he was made the TTP’s chief communicator.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with

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Ghani govt denies TTP presence in Afghanistan

The statement said that Afghanistan has consistently stressed upon implementation of UNSC resolutions and the Doha agreement…reports Asian Lite News

The Ashraf Ghani government denied the presence of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan on Sunday after Pakistan expressed apprehensions regarding a possible spillover of TTP amid the US drawdown from its neighbouring country.

“According to the national security policy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, this movement along with other terrorist groups is recognized as the enemy of peace, stability, and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region, and the Afghan government fights against this terrorist outfit like any other terrorist group without discrimination,” the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement said that Afghanistan has consistently stressed upon implementation of UNSC resolutions and the Doha agreement which calls on the Taliban to cut ties with regional and international terrorist groups including the TTP.

“In order to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan and to ensure stability and prosperity in the region, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls on all countries, especially Pakistan, to treat all terrorist outfits equally and without discrimination, and not allow these closely linked and organized groups to collude with each other to jeopardize the security and stability of our countries,” the statement added.

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This comes as Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid last week had said that Islamabad is expecting that the Taliban will not allow terrorist groups like TTP to carry out activities against Pakistan.

While speaking to the media in Islamabad on Saturday, Rashid reiterated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that Pakistan will not give any bases to the United States to use against Afghanistan, The Express Tribune reported.

He further added,”…But we also expect from the Taliban that they will not allow TTP and other elements to carry out any activity which causes harm to the lives and property of Pakistani people.”

Since the start of the US drawdown from Afghanistan in May, the Taliban has overrun numerous districts across Afghanistan. The fall of strategic districts in the north, south and west has created concerns over the possible infiltration of Taliban into the income-generating territory in the country, TOLOnews reported.

In the face of the surging violence in Afghanistan, Pakistan has ramped up Durand Line fencing despite facing backlash from the people on both sides of the line.

The Pakistani interior ministry made the announcement earlier this month saying that the fencing of the 2,600-kilometer border would be completed by June end. (ANI)

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‘Pak and transnational terror links matter of concern’

The report titled ‘Pakistani Jihadis and Global Jihad’ released on June 18 focuses on the historical and recent links of Pakistani terror groups with transnational terror groups…reports Asian Lite News

The synergies between regional terrorist groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and the international groups is a matter of concern as per a report by Centre d’analyse du terrorisme (CAT).

The report titled ‘Pakistani Jihadis and Global Jihad’ released on June 18 focuses on the historical and recent links of Pakistani terror groups with transnational terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The expanding global focus of the regional groups whether Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) is visible from their public statements on international developments, said the report.

There is increasing radicalisation in Pakistan that would provide these groups a ready ground for recruiting youth.

Al-Qaeda militant(WIKIPEDIA)

Moreover, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is likely to witness a resurgence of the Taliban and greater coordination between Pakistan-supported groups like the LeT, JeM and the Taliban.

The report also notes that breaking the political and financial links between Pakistan and local jihadi organisations, some working under the guise of providing social and educational services to the people, is the key to weakening the reach and threat of these organisations.

Meanwhile, Counterterror watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has criticized Pakistan’s inaction against proscribed terror outfits that continue to function under different names.

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Pakistan’s prosecution of designated terror groups has remained the primary stumbling block since the country’s return to the grey list in 2018.

Earlier, a United Nations report revealed that significant part of the Al-Qaeda leadership resides in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, including the group’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is “probably alive but too frail to be featured in propaganda.”

The findings on the status of Taliban-controlled and contested districts were presented last week by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.

The 18 member states report said that large numbers of Al-Qaeda fighters and other foreign extremist elements aligned with the Taliban are located in various parts of Afghanistan.

This comes as foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan and plan to leave completely by September 11.

According to the UN report, ties between the two groups remain close, based on ideological alignment, relationships forged through common struggle and intermarriage. The Taliban has begun to tighten its control over Al-Qaeda by gathering information on foreign terrorist fighters and registering and restricting them.

The group’s leader, Aiman Muhammed Rabi al-Zawahiri, is believed to be located somewhere in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previous reports of his death due to ill health have not been confirmed. “One Member State reports that he is probably alive but too frail to be featured in propaganda.”

According to the UN report, Al-Qaeda, including Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, is reported to number in the range of several dozen to 500 persons. Al-Qaeda core’s membership is of non-Afghan origin, consisting mainly of nationals from North Africa and the Middle East.

Although the member states assess that formal communication between senior Al-Qaeda and Taliban officials is currently infrequent, one member state reported that there is regular communication between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda on issues related to the peace process.

Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent operates under the Taliban umbrella from Kandahar, Helmand (notably Baramcha) and Nimruz Provinces. The group reportedly consists of primarily Afghan and Pakistani nationals, but also individuals from Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, the report added. (ANI)

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