Beyond Boundaries: Turmoil in Neighbourhood

Brigadier Rajiv Mahna

Under usual circumstances, unrest and violence in Pakistan does not draw much attention from rest of the world. But the security situation in the country which coined the term, ‘Good Taliban; Bad Taliban’ is far from normal. The Good Taliban, who are de facto rulers of Afghanistan are in no mood to support Pakistan in its battles with Bad Taliban, i.e., Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

TTP has broken a fragile cease fire agreement with the Pakistan government and launched a series of attacks, mostly on the security forces. Resurgent outfit has posed a direct challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan by announcing the formation of its own government in northern Pakistan and has even declared the formation of various ministries.

It has divided the claimed area in two provinces i.e. A Northern Province that includes Gilgit, Baltistan and other areas bordering Afghanistan and a Southern Province comprising districts bordering Punjab.

Alarmed Pakistani government has decided to launch military action against TTP and in a desperate gesture, even mentioned conducting cross border operations to destroy its bases located in Afghanistan. Kabul issued a statement in which it described this threat and claim, as“provocative and baseless”.

Pakistan had hoped that Taliban rulers of Afghanistan would help in countering TTP, which want to enforce Sharia law-based administration in the areas under its control. But surprisingly, it has not taken in account both, willingness, and capability of Afghan Taliban for performing this role.

First issue is willingness. It is no secret that TTP had fought along with Taliban in the armed struggle against US led allies in Afghanistan. Both groups share similar ideology. ISI expected that at least Haqqani group which it has nurtured over years would help in solving the TTP problem. May be, due to suspicion of ISI’s role in the killing ofthe leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri,last year in a US drone strike in Kabul, mistrust has crept in the relationship between Pakistan establishment and Haqqani network. Whatever may be the reasons, it is apparent that presently, Taliban are in no mood for cooperating with Pakistan in anti-TTP operations.

Second aspect is the capability of Taliban. It is already involved in bitter fighting with IS-K and various Afghan Resistance Groups which are contesting for the control of the country. In such circumstances Taliban’s capability of opening another front against TTP is severely limited. So, logical choice for Taliban should bethe employment of available combat power for consolidation rather than stretching its resources for helping Pakistan. TTP fighters which may be based in Afghanistan can be counted upon for lending a helping hand during the fighting. Why annoy a possible ally? It is also pertinent to recollect that IS-K was formed in 2014 by disgruntled TTP cadres. Taliban would like to avoid creating a situation in which annoyed TTP cadres may join its adversaries.

Economic troubles and prevailing political uncertainty add more complications in the already messy situation for Pakistan. Military operations cost money and require firm directions from the leaders. Pakistan’s capacity regarding both these factors is suspect. An imploding Pakistan and unstable AF-Pak region pose grave security threats, not only for India but also for Central and West Asia. Indian government must maintain close watch on the developing situation because acts of terrorism may spill over borders.

Signing off for the week, by quotingJames Maxton, British politician, who commented in 1935, “If you can’t ride two horses at once, you shouldn’t be in the circus.”

“We Said It”

  • Recently IS – K has launched a series of terrorist acts in Afghanistan.


  • Possibility of such sad developments was discussed in the article titled; ‘Islamic State Vs Islamic States’ published in ‘Beyond Boundaries’ column on 14th March 2022.