- An end to TTP?
The death of Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the mastermind behind assassination attempt on Malala, and massacres at APS Peshawar and Bacha Khan University; has been widely celebrated by both critics and foresighted policy makers of Pak-Aghan peace. The significance of this is multifaceted; it reassures that the US drone strikes within our country or across the border are essential for regional peace, TTP sanctuaries are at large in Afghanistan, and the separatist militants in both states can easily infiltrate through the Pak-Afghan border.
Evaluating each of these would enable us to understand the regional and ideological impact of Fazlullah’s death.
The TTP angle
The killing of Fazlullah can’t be celebrated as a long term victory. Those celebrating it are much farther from understanding the organised manner in which these factions operate. The TTP is a structured organisation working towards certain goals. Their support is not only Pakistan, but across the border as well. The large numbers of supporters from within this ‘borderless region’ and continuity in funding sanctions the organisation the legitimacy it needs to operate – motivating new recruits who ultimately sustain it.
After operating for over a decade, with its leaders motivated enough to sacrifice their lives in upholding their ethos, there is always someone in line to fill the vacant position. To think that with the leader gone, the militants will fall into disarray is a gross exaggeration and a failure at understanding one of the many enemies we’re fighting. It points towards our fallacies and a rather inept approach towards misleading the people into believing that the greater threat of the militancy has been done away with. The leader of this Taliban faction might have been killed but the source of its origination – the brainchild of the Taliban lives.
Much like our own brand of national heroes who have won over the hearts of millions of Pakistanis, Fazlullah’s death in a US strategic drone strike has lent his ‘sacrifices’ the recognition which will epitomise his name along the likes of Baitullah Mehsud and Naqeebullah Mehsud, the leaders who preceded him in Taliban ranks.
The US angle
The timing of this also has to be noticed. Drone strikes like these are strategic bait to bring two or more states together. The Afghan nationalist Ashraf Ghani had set the tone for anti-Pakistan sentiments which deepened the hurdles for both states to approach some common ground in addressing the Taliban problem soon after he took office. Prior to him, the Afghan presidents had always had always expressed their reservations with Pakistan, but ever since 2014 when Ghani became president, relations between both have largely been strained.
President Ashraf Ghani’s personal call to the PM Nasir-ul-Mulk and army chief General Qamar Bajwa to confirm the news Fazlullah’s death seems to have united the two against a mutual enemy
Earlier in May this year, the Pentagon had released a statement highlighting that both Pakistan and US can work together in achieving regional security. This was released in consideration to the terror attacks during the same month, which had jolted Kabul. Pentagon Chief Spokeperson Dana White’s words shed light on the importance of Islamabad working with neighbouring states to bring peace and stability in the region. This was followed by the usual, “…Pakistan can do more…” mantra which is being popularly sold by the international media.
While these appeared to be the modus operandi in Pak-US-Afghanistan trio, President Ashraf Ghani’s personal call to the PM Nasir-ul-Mulk and army chief General Qamar Bajwa to confirm the news Fazlullah’s death seems to have united the two against a mutual enemy. This has lent the news credence and made it an official ground-breaking announcement. However, the manner in which the Afghan President has approached Pakistan needs to be evaluated. Few months prior to this, the two states couldn’t agree on a joint-strategy against the Taliban and matters pertaining to the Durand Line. With relations between the two reaching an all-time low, they’ve now been re-energised and joint efforts at regional peace no longer seem like a mere possibility.
While relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are revived and centred against regional peace, the two must now move towards understanding the Taliban and how the organisation, but not the individual leaders can be defeated. The drone strike that has successfully eliminated Fazlullah shouldn’t set precedent for more of these in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, as it has successively proven to deteriorate relations; as a result of lost domestic consensus. At the moment, the citizens of both states are with their states’ security apparatus. The Butcher of Swat has met his fate and the fear that lingered on educational institutes following the brutal massacres at APS Peshawar and Bacha Khan University seems to have subsided. This is the array that many have looked forward to – that peace can prevail in our lands. With all means necessary, this shouldn’t be the saving grace for realigning Pak-Afghan relations only, it should be aimed at greater goals so that the magnitude of the problem can be dealt away with, and peace can finally prevail in the region.