Concurrently, the specific targeting of Pakistani security personnel
and checkpoints denote the conventional modus operandi of the TTP, which is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. While the TTP’s activities are majorly restricted to the restive tribal belt of the country, it will possibly attempt to expand
its operations in urban cities to project higher competency. However, the group’s low-level attacks and minimal infliction of harm reveals TTP’s subpar competencies outside its strongholds.
15, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in an interview noted that Islamabad is willing to pardon TTP members under conditions of giving up terrorism. However, considering the group’s strengthened position, it is unlikely to heed Islamabad’s
amnesty offer or pause attacks, especially in the Waziristan region.
To alleviate Islamabad’s concerns and portray itself on the international stage, Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada reportedly established
a three-member commission to investigate allegations of fighters using Afghan soil to launch offences against Pakistan’s assets and interests.
Such assurances, however, failed to reflect on the ground, drawing
attention to Pakistan’s possibly overstated security influence over the Taliban’s decision-making.
Nonetheless, Islamabad is anticipated to be at the forefront of Afghanistan’s transition and to
continue efforts to exercise political and diplomatic coercion over the Taliban to regulate anti-state actors operating from Afghanistan against Pakistan. This was recently witnessed during the heavily-publicised visit of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
chief General Faiz Hameed to Kabul on September 5, to secure Pakistan’s interests, and possibly augment its influence on the newly formed government.
The TTP’s organisational mergers with splinter factions like the Jamat-u-Ahrar, the sub-splinter Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) in August 2020,
and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Ustad Aslam group last month have further contributed to the group’s ascent. Such increasing operational competencies and strong network under chief Noor Wali Mehsud’s leadership was put on display through sustained
anti-state attacks in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces, predominantly in North and South Waziristan regions in the last few weeks.
The TTP also published an infographic on September 2, claiming responsibility
for 32 attacks against Pakistani security assets in August alone, recording the highest-ever offences in a month since the group’s merger last year. However, given the current trends, the attacks are expected to exceed this month.
The recent intensification will spell a larger security challenge for Pakistan in the near term, considering the group’s resurgence after its downfall in 2014 due to considerable defections of TTP fighters to the Islamic State
Khorasan Province and heavy losses inflicted by Pakistan’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATF).
Apart from the TTP’s renewed allegiance to the Afghan Taliban
following the latter’s takeover on August 15, the porous Pakistan-Afghanistan borders will possibly be fertile ground for the covert influx of militants into the country, especially with the movement of asylum seekers through open land borders. Similarly,
the targeting of journalists or news outlets by the TTP cannot be discounted in the short term, given the group’s recent warning to media houses against using the term “terrorists” to describe the group.