The killing of seven soldiers and five terrorists in South Waziristan on Wednesday should help convince anyone who thinks differently that the return to power of the Afghan Taliban has not brought peace to the region, and even a supposedly pro-Pakistani government in Kabul was unable to control the uptick in violence there. Only last week, two soldiers were killed by an IED. It must be too early for any saboteurs to have come across the border, but that danger is ever-present, with the lax visa policy for Afghan citizens, there is every likelihood of miscreants crossing over in the guise of refugees. The armed forces will bear the brunt of the laxness of the immigration authorities.
Another dimension that must not be ignored is that India, whose media is clamouring that it has lost a base from which to operate against Pakistan, has apparently not spared any effort in exploiting its ties with militant organizations to carry out activities which hurt the interests of Pakistan. The USA has withdrawn its forces from Afghanistan, and has left behind the menace of terrorism for India to go on exploiting, and for Pakistan to deal with. Pakistan finds that terrorism is now a bigger threat that before, and there is also the likelihood of a spillover into the rest of the country. Another thing that has become apparent is that the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan are not susceptible to any instructions from the Afghan Taliban. It is also possible that the Afghan Taliban may not have found either time or energy, so pressing are the problems of governance they face, to use their good offices.
Pakistan would do better to coordinate with other countries of the region, like Russia, China, and the Central Asian republics, on the lines of the recent conference of regional intelligence chiefs, in Islamabad. The TTP must be made to stop hounding the military. Pakistan alone may not have the necessary leverage, but the Kabul government’s need for international recognition is very much there, to avert a financial collapse of regime-shattering proportions. That can only be deployed in combination with others.