Peshawar 18 August : The return of the feared Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is causing immense anxieties among the population, news reports claimed.The Islamist militant group once controlled vast swathes of the region of mountains which is bordered by Afghanistan and is home to Pashtuns.
A tens of thousands of people were killed and millions were displaced in the course of TTP attacks as well as the army’s massive operation against it RFE/RL reported.
The group eventually left for Afghanistan in the year 2014.
However, those living in the city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been shocked by the returning of hundreds of TTP fighters.They are concerned that the TTP militants have returned, even before Islamabad signed the peace deal it has been in negotiations with the TTP since the end of in the last year, RFE/RL reported.
“We are against the idea of imposing war on our country again,” Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) which is a civil rights organization at a meeting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s top political gurus on the 16th of August.
He said that the Taliban have made a major return in Waziristan that is officially divided into the South Waziristan and North Waziristan districts.
Pashteen claimed that several government agreements with the TTP and other Taliban factions prior to the TTP’s eventual return in 2014 to Afghanistan in 2014 did not result in peace.
“We do not oppose negotiations, but we do not support dramatics in the name of talks.
We are forced to stand up,” he said.
Since its inception in 2018 the PTM has drawn the ire of Pakistani authorities after accusing the Military of being powerful and of aiding diverse Taliban factions.
The PTM accuses the Taliban and the Military for afflicting Pashtun civilians who account for the majority of the estimated 100,000 civilians killed and more than six million people who have been displaced from the time the Pakistani Taliban began to emerge in 2003, RFE/RL reported.
Afrasiab Khattak an ex-lawmaker said that the whole negotiation process is focused on “tackling” the Pashtun political resistance to Talibanisation which is a term used to describe the growing Islamic fundamentalism.
“The TTP has been violently blocking the electoral campaign of Pashtun nationalists in Pakhtunkhwa,” he added adding that Pakistan’s Military is planning to conduct “political engineering” to help Islamists at the expense of non-religious Pashtuns RFE/RL reported.
Secular Pashtuns were the primary goal of the TTP following the Awami National Party (ANP) which is an ethnonationalist group with moderate views established the provincial government after winning the 2008 elections for parliament in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Over 1,000 ANP members were killed in attacks by Islamist militants.ANP lost the 2013 elections partly due to the TTP’s attacks.of the terrorist group TTP’s attack.Khattak was able to survive an attempted suicide attack in 2008.
Ayesha Siddiqa who is an Pakistan expert from the University of London, agrees.
She stated that the Military appears not to be concerned about the domestic repercussions following the TTP’s return.
“The general consensus [in the military] is tribal regions are religiously conservative and they TTP ought to be permitted to implement their Shari’a-based system in order to ensure that the remainder of Pakistan safe,” she told RFE/RL.
Siddiqa said that the Military views the province of Punjab in its eastern part of Punjab as the country’s central region and whose protection is more important than security and peace in the regions that are peripheral to it.
However, the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not convinced by this argument.
“Our sole request is that the insecurity that is currently affecting us be ended,” said Adnan Khan who is a resident of Maidan as well as one of the protesters against the return of the TTP.
Many believe that their return is a sign of the revival of the TTP’s brutal rule during the time when targeted assassinations, explosives, extortion and harassment were the norm in certain parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The inhabitants of Swat as well as the adjacent Lower Dir districts staged protests this month following TTP militants established checkpointsand injured and abducted security forces and were blamed for targeted killings as well as prominent attacks.
Residents of North Waziristan, a unrestful district in the southern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been protesting against the increasing insecurity and murders for more than one month, RFE/RL reported.
“The TTP’s display of power is gauging public’s reaction to their request of returning to these areas with their arms” stated Abdul Sayed an Swedish researcher who studies the group.
In negotiations with Islamabad the group has argued that its fighters go back to their homes with their guns.
The 12th of August was the day that the residents of Swat protested across the picturesque region, which, due to improved security in recent years has become a top travel destination for Pakistanis looking to get away from the heat in the plains and cities all over the country.RFE/RL reported.
The Pakistani Military too seemed to be feeling the growing resentment of the public.
A statement released on August 13 from the media department of the Military arm called reports of the TTP presence as “grossly exaggerated and false”.