An outlawed alliance of militant groups waging terrorism in Pakistan declared Monday that it had ordered fighters to resume nationwide attacks, ending an already shaky “unilateral cease-fire” with the government.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, said the decision to unleash the violence was taken in retaliation to “sustained military operations” by the government against its fighters in several northwestern districts.
“Now it is imperative for you to carry out attacks wherever possible across the country,” the TTP ordered its fighters in a statement released to media outlets, including VOA.
The group, listed as a global terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations, is an off-shoot and close ally of Afghanistan’s ruling Islamist Taliban.
The TTP has claimed responsibility for hundreds of suicide bombings and other attacks since its emergence in Pakistan in 2007, killing tens of thousands of civilians and security forces. Its leaders and fighters largely fled into hiding in Afghanistan after the Pakistan government ordered a major military operation, backed by air power, against the group in 2014.
The security action had significantly reduced militant violence in Pakistan in the years that followed until attacks resurged over the past year.
A senior Pakistani security official dismissed TTP assertions as “lame excuses” for calling off its truce.
“If they are trying to reorganize or regroup here for terrorist activities, then we have the right to preempt it,” the official told VOA. He spoke on the condition of anonymity for lacking authority to formally speak to the media.
“Pakistan has sacrificed thousands of its citizens in combating terrorism. It is reflective of the fact that we are nationally resolved to fight this menace,” the official emphasized.
Islamabad believes that since seizing power in Kabul more than a year ago, the Afghan Taliban have turned a blind eye to TTP activities, and the group enjoys greater operational freedom to plot cross-border attacks.
The complaints prompted the Taliban government to broker and host crucial peace talks between TTP and Pakistani government negotiators, leading to the so-called “unilateral cease-fire” in June.
But Pakistani officials maintain the effort did not ease the terrorism threat originating in Afghanistan, killing hundreds of people, mostly security forces since the start of 2022.
Taliban authorities in Kabul reject allegations their territory is being used by foreign groups, including TTP, to threaten Pakistan or other countries.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief Taliban government spokesman, told VOA in a recent interview in the Afghan capital they would arrest and try for “treason” TTP members, or anyone for that matter, if found guilty of using Afghan soil against other countries.