WITH KABUL HELP & U.S. PUSH, PAK MAKES PEACE WITH ITS REBELS
Pulling chestnuts out of fire may be the most appropriate way of describing Pakistan’s action of
releasing several leaders of a violent militant movement operating from the neighbouring
It released on May 18, 2022, thirty of the top leaders of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan
(TTP) as part of a peace deal brokered by the Afghan Taliban that it had facilitated to seize power in
Kabul last August.
Talks are continuing and the TTP demands, besides release and amnesty for all its fighters and
fugitives, an end to the Pakistan Army’s military operations in South Waziristan.
For leading the talks, Pakistan deployed Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the Peshawar Corps Commander,
closely involved with both the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. As chief of the Pakistan Army’s
powerful ISI, Hameed had brokered the formation of Kabul’s interim government among the
squabbling Taliban last September, making himself a key, even if controversial, figure on both sides
of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The meeting took place at Kabul’s Serena Hotel this week.
In addition to the Pakistani military delegation that included officials of the Military Intelligence
(MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the terror outfit also held talks with Mehsud and
Malakand jirgas to reach a peace deal amid an increase in terror incidents in the tribal districts
Sheltered for two decades after being toppled from power in 2001, the Taliban had been reluctant to
push out the TTP fighters and their families because of their ideological affinity and the fact that
thousands had fought alongside against the erstwhile Ashraf Ghani Government.
However, Kabul’s own interests and the fact that the United States has shown inclination to return
to the Asian theatre, ending its Ukraine distraction, appears to have hastened the deal.
Kabul’s interest lies in gradually winning global recognition, denied for the last nine months.
Several governments are currently moving to establish diplomatic ties with Kabul, ending its global
pariah status and to also tacitly reconcile with a regime that has resisted pressures to make their
government inclusive and treat their women better.
Far from doing any of the things the world community demands, the Taliban have, in fact, tightened
the restrictions on women’s work and their movement, on girls’ education and this week closed
down the human rights body.
Kabul appears to have brokered the deal between Islamabad and the rebels, even detaining TTP
leaders and handing them over to Pakistan, to prove its usefulness with the world community, with
Pakistan and also end violent skirmishes that the TTP’s presence on its soil have been causing. A
landlocked Afghanistan is heavily dependent upon Pakistan.
A peace deal is relief for all concerned. It helps Kabul to fight off the challenge from the Islamic
State-Khorasan. It could help monetary help from the world community and at some stage, release
of the funds lying in American banks, frozen by the Biden administration.
Kabul’s Interior Minister, Jalaluddin Haqqani, a designated terrorist and having a ten million bounty
on his head, told the CNN this week that the Taliban did not consider the US their ‘enemy’, but lack
of trust remained.
However, there is no guarantee that all TTP rebels would surrender and/or not continue to use the
vast, mountainous terrain along the Afghan-Pak border that has proved for violent operations that
have killed, according to Pakistan’s official figures, 83,000 civilians. This unmanageable terrain has
been Pakistan’s Achilles’ heel.
The challenge remains serious for Islamabad as the TTP has spread its activities to other provinces
and successive regimes have proved unable to control them.
The TTP has been involved, among other major incidents in the last decade, attack on Malala
Yusufzai, who survived and is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Laureate. The TTP fighters also
massacred students at the Army Public School, Peshawar, in December 2014.
The TTP’s violent and defiant record – it unilaterally ended the last ceasefire in December 2021 –
has given fillip to other militant groups that abound in Pakistan. Islamabad is currently swinging
between imposing a ban and talking peace with many of them including the Tehreek-e-Labaik-ePakistan (TLP) and with the priests of Lal Masjid in Islamabad.
The seizure of this mosque causing a hundred deaths during the time of military ruler, Gen. Pervez
Musharraf, led to the birth of the TTP. (Ends)