Fighting terrorist violence

November 12, 2023

Security forces kill terrorists in intelligence-based operations

Fighting terrorist  violence


string of recent terrorist attacks has brought the spotlight back to the issue.

On November 3, 17 soldiers were martyred in three separate attacks. In the Gwadar attack, 14 soldiers lost their lives after some militants attacked their convoy. The same day, six people, including a soldier, were martyred and 24 others were injured in IED blasts in Dera Ismail Khan district. On November 4, nine terrorists were killed after the troops foiled a terrorist attack on the Mianwali Training Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force. On November 6, four soldiers, including a senior officer, were martyred in an intelligence based operation (in Tirah Valley of Khyber tribal district.

These attacks in Pakistan are straining the ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

On November 8, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar said that there had been an increase in terror incidents in Pakistan since the interim Afghan government came to power in 2021. “After the establishment of the interim Afghan government in August 2021, we had hoped that there would be long-term peace in Afghanistan. […] Strict action would be taken against anti-Pakistan groups, especially the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. They will absolutely not be allowed to use the Afghan soil against Pakistan.”

Historically, militant attacks in Pakistan tend to increase in winter as terrorists leave the mountainous regions of Pakistan and for Afghanistan due to severe cold. The attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar, had also occurred during winter. The assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, too, was carried out in winter.

There are fears that terrorists will try harder to mount attacks in winter this year too. Winter is suitable for urban guerilla warfare because it is during this time that the militants come down from the snowy mountains to spend time in their sleeper cells in the urban centres. While some of them remain silent and pretend to live a peaceful life, others start planning for major attacks and act whenever they see an opportunity. Some successful operations were carried out by the security forces in the border regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before the arrival of winter. During one such successful operation in Tirah Valley of the Khyber tribal district, several army personnel embraced martyrdom.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, the security forces conducted an operation in Tirah following reports of terrorists’ presence there.

“During the operation, Pakistan Army troops led by Lt Col Muhammad Hassan Haider effectively engaged the terrorists’ location. As a result, three militants were killed while three others were injured,” the ISPR said.

The ISPR said that during an “intense exchange of fire,” 43-year-old Lt Col Haider, 31-year-old Naik Khushdil Khan, 27-year-old Naik Rafique Khan and 33-year-old Lance Naik Abdul Qadir embraced martyrdom.

“A clearance operation is being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area. The security forces are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism. Sacrifices by our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” the ISPR said.

Fighting terrorist  violence

This time, the intensity of the conflict is greater. The security forces have had some major successes. Dozens of militants have been killed in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Coordination between intelligence agencies, Police and the Counter-Terrorism Departments has been more effective than in the past.

This time, the intensity of the conflict is greater. The security forces have had some major successes. Dozens of militants have been killed in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Coordination between intelligence agencies and the Police and Counter-Terrorism Departments has been more effective than in the past. The developments often go unreported. The stories of attempted terrorist attacks that are prevented are also not reported in the media. From Gilgit to Gwadar, the forces have carried out hundreds of operations. This is the reason why terrorists have been unable to target the general population in the latest wave.

The security forces of the country are the first line of defence. Most of the attacks are directed at them. However, when the militants get an opportunity, they also strike against the general public like the way public gatherings were targeted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. They are trying to enter the cities by weakening their defences.

On August 15, 2021, the Afghan Taliban had breached the Bagram prison. As a result, hundreds of Pakistani fighters, such as Maulvi Faqir Muhammad from Bajaur, were freed. Security sources believe that a number of those imprisoned in the jail have reached Pakistan. Sources say that several attacks since then have carried the telltale signs of Pakistani militants who escaped from the Bagram prison.

When the Afghan Taliban captured Kabul in Afghanistan, many rounds of talks had already taken place between the Afghan Taliban and the US coalition forces. Two things were important among them: one was that the territory of Afghanistan would not be used against any other country. The other important thing was that a consensus government will be formed in Afghanistan including other political forces.

When the coalition forces left, the Afghan Taliban did not invite other political forces for talks to form a consensus administration. Instead they are now running the country on their own. On the other hand, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has pledged allegiance to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Haibatullah Akhund and the interim Afghan Taliban government is keeping them under its protection. Many TTP commanders have been killed in Afghanistan but the Afghan Taliban have been silent about that. Abdul Wali alias Umar Khalid Khorasani was among them. There have been videos in which the head of TTP, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, is sitting in Afghanistan’s Kunar province and giving instructions to fighters in Pakistan’s Chitral district. However, the Afghan Taliban do not acknowledge his presence. It is worth mentioning that when a Pakistani delegation was negotiating with the leaders of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the entire leadership of the TTP was present in Kabul. The Afghan Taliban leaders kept saying that they were facilitating talks between the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Pakistan. During this period, several militants were released as a gesture of goodwill by the then government of Pakistan. Later, some of those were spotted in Swat.

It can be argued that the latest wave of terrorism is connected to the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan. In the past, Pakistan was getting international help in the war against terrorism, but now this region is no longer the focus of Western attention. The situation in this region is now like the late ’80s after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Afghanistan. At that time the aftereffects were limited to Afghanistan as rival jihadist factions fought each other after the withdrawal and there was chaos. However, after 9/11 and the role played by Pakistan as an ally in the so-called war against terrorism, after the withdrawal of the allied forces, security challenges have increased for Pakistan.

The writer is a Peshawar-based journalist, researcher and trainer. He also works for the digital media platform The Khorasan Diary

Fighting terrorist violence