The country’s ongoing political crisis is becoming ugly and chaotic. People’s remaining faith and hope in the state and its institutions are slowly being eroded. It has brought power elites to a point where they are busy crafting their own narratives while manipulating the economy, security, and Constitution. The government now routinely convenes meetings of the National Security Committee whenever it faces a political or constitutional challenge. Instead of finding solutions to issues pertaining to national security, such a practice may end up escalating the political crisis.
It gives the feeling that the state establishments have previously depleted their sacred and legitimate choices, or have to acquire abilities to assist them with tracking down options in the protected and lawful areas. The security situation is frequently used as an excuse by the government to postpone elections in KP and Punjab. One could make the case that the security situation right now is better than it was during the previous three general elections.
Public debates are always marred by a question: What are the terrorists looking for? The response is clear: chaos. The Islamist terrorist groups, primarily Al Qaeda, Islamic State-Khorasan, and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, categorically reveal a strategy to eliminate “puppet” and “corrupt” regimes by escalating social chaos through either violence or propaganda, according to a review of their published works. Why wouldn’t the terrorists seize the opportunity to escalate the crisis to a higher level when the power elites themselves are causing the country to become chaotic? Fortunately, the TTP no longer possesses the capacity to escalate the chaos to the point where elections are postponed at an unprecedented rate.
In Pakistan over the past 15 years, the TTP has experienced numerous ups and downs as a significant violent actor. Pakistani security forces destroyed its network and forced it to flee to Afghanistan in 2014 and subsequent years. Nonetheless, as of late, the TTP has acquired functional strength, and the Taliban system in Afghanistan plays had a significant impact in enabling and encouraging the gathering. However, in order to evaluate the potential impact on the upcoming elections, it is necessary to have an accurate assessment of the terrorist group’s actual strength.
The TTP cannot escalate the chaos to the point where polls are delayed at an unprecedented rate.
The TTP claimed in its Umar media that it had carried out 42 attacks in Pakistan, 39 in KP and three in Balochistan, resulting in 130 casualties among security forces, including 58 deaths, according to the data from the previous month. This is a false narrative because, according to reports from a number of think tanks that closely monitor the security situation, the TTP was found to have been involved in about ten terrorist attacks in March. Be that as it may, the TTP figured out how to execute a couple of major, high-influence assaults in KP focusing on the military and police authorities.
Second, the group has been targeting police stations and checkpoints in various KP districts using a “hit-and-run” attack strategy for several weeks. Ambush attacks on security and law enforcement agencies’ vehicles and convoys have been the second strategy. Militants have been targeting the police force because it is the first line of defense. Additionally, the police in KP lack the necessary tools to withstand a terrorist attack.
Brig Mustafa Kamal Barki, who had been a key player in countering the threat of terrorism and militancy in the Pak-Afghan border regions, was killed when the TTP militants hit a high-value target. He was also reportedly still involved in the negotiations between the previous government and the TTP. The assault was not claimed by anyone. However, experts think that the TTP, which is banned in Afghanistan, may have been involved but may not have claimed it to avoid a response from the Afghan Taliban. The latter continue to deny that various militant groups have used Afghan soil. After January’s Peshawar Police Lines assault, which killed countless individuals, generally cops, the assault in which the ISI brigadier was martyred was the most high-influence one.
In addition to intensifying its attacks, the banned TTP is successfully recruiting additional militant groups and commanders. Something like four new gatherings purportedly declared their consolidation with the aggressor bunch in Walk 2023, taking the count of such consolidations from July 2020 to 27.
The TTP uses propaganda as a crucial front in its war, as previously stated. It is effectively utilizing social media platforms and expanding the reach of its publications in various languages at this level to increase its influence. It recently began publishing a women’s Urdu magazine called Khawateen ka Jihad (literally, “women’s jihad”), in which articles encourage women to support armed “jihad.” These publications keep bringing attention to Pakistan’s chaos and the power elites’ inability to handle it. In Pakistan’s tribal and border districts, the TTP projects the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as a successful model.
Nevertheless, through ongoing counterterrorism campaigns, the security forces have been reducing terrorists’ operational capabilities. Twelve anti-militant operations were launched by the police and security forces in March, up from six the month before. Similarly, 34 militants were killed in these actions last month, up from 29 the month before. Pakistan is aggressively pursuing the Afghan Taliban on a diplomatic level to keep the TTP and other terrorist groups at bay.
According to the review, the TTP threat is restricted to specific regions; Pakistan’s security forces are successfully overcoming the obstacle with specific strategies and targets. Propaganda is one area in which the state is weak. Although inadvertent, portraying the terrorists as weak enemies or “glorifying” their actions always backfires. It reinforces the opponent’s narrative and conveys the impression that Pakistan’s state institutions are unable to handle the crisis.
State foundations ought to try not to politicize security issues and track down answers for their political fights in the domain of the Constitution and political changes. The elements of safety challenges are unique and require serious thought by the regular citizen and military administration.
Security analyst is the author.
Published on April 9, 2023, in tdtv.cam