As the Taliban continue to solidify their hold on key Afghan districts while advancing towards Kabul, capturing more territory with each passing day, splinter groups such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are also gearing up for a resurgence, emboldened by the very real possibility of a complete capitulation of the civilian government and US-trained Afghan forces. The TTP is responsible for some of the most heinous terrorist attacks carried out on Pakistani soil. The period between 2007 and 2014 was the most deadly, necessitating a series of military operations that helped in significantly reducing the frequency of terrorist attacks in the country. However, with at least 32 attacks in Pakistan being claimed by the TTP in the first two months of the current year, it seems the group is attempting to make a comeback. Speaking to CNN through intermediaries, TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud has said that the group’s primary target is to fight against Pakistani Security Forces and gain control over the country’s tribal regions. Although the group’s activities have been restricted to some parts of Balochistan and North Waziristan, the TTP under Mehsud, who took over from Mullah Fazlullah after he was killed in US drone strike in 2018, has been able to hit targets such as the Serena Hotel in Quetta where the Chinese ambassador was present. Mehsud has also been able to reconcile with many disgruntled former members of the TTP who have formed splinter groups of their own while also reaching out to Baloch and Sindhi separatist groups, not to mention voicing its support for the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) that on several occasions has wreaked chaos across major cities of the country.
Pakistan must take all these developments very seriously for it could very well lead to a situation where the country yet again falls into an abyss of death and destruction at the hands of violent terrorist groups if they are not dealt with in a timely manner. The economic ramifications of such an eventuality would be devastating for the country. Currently, there are multiple mega infrastructure projects in various stages of development that can easily prove to be soft targets for groups such as the TTP. The recent bus attack that claimed the lives of nine Chinese engineers is a case in point. All available resources, especially in terms of intelligence gathering to preempt and diffuse terrorist elements present in the country before they strike is key while providing adequate protection to sensitive installations is crucial to maintain peace in the country.