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‘Thank You India’, Says The White House With This Video

White House tweeted a ‘Thank You India’ video after US President Donald Trump’s hugely successful visit.

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The White House tweeted a ‘Thank You India’ video after the hugely successful visit of US President Donald Trump to the country. The kind of impact that the visit left on the US administration was made clear by the fact that in another video (Tweeted by its official handle), the White House said, “We will always be faithful and loyal friends of the Indian people!”

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INTERNATIONAL

Sindhudesh: An Idea Getting Shaped By Pakistani Atrocities

The Sindhudesh movement will become more violent in Sindh given the track record of abuse of force by the Pakistani establishment.

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On June 19, 2020, a hand grenade was lobbed targeting a Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) vehicle in Liaquatabad area of Karachi (Karachi District), the provincial capital of Sindh, killing two Rangers personnel and injuring four others.

On the same day, an attack took place in the Ghotki City of Ghotki District, killing one Rangers Officer and four personnel. Two Rangers personnel were critically wounded in the attack. Elsewhere in the District, a Bomb disposal squad vehicle was targeted, killing one trooper and injuring another two.

Further, a Rangers check post located opposite Chandka Medical College in Larkana city (Larkana District) was attacked. One Ranger was killed and another four were injured.


Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) claimed responsibility for all these attacks. SRA spokesperson, Sodho Sindhi, declared in a statement:

“Pakistani Intelligence agencies had been abducting and later it (sic) throwing the bullet-riddled bodies of Sindhi Nationalist Political workers. From Shaheed Samiullah Kalhoro to Shaheed Niaz Lashari have been victimized (sic) of these brutalities of Pakistani agencies. SRA owns those all (sic) Sindhi Martyrs and vows for retaliation of those all of the Martyrdoms (sic) of Sindhi Political Workers.”

And further:


“Pakistani state has occupied on our motherland Sindh on the basis of gunpoint of Punjabi military and Punjabi establishment. The Sindhi Nation will never ever accept any out-sider attack or occupation on own land, resources, Indus River, Coastal belt and Sea of Sindh. SRA will resist against the all occupational projects of Punjab and China over Sindh including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and others. SRA will continue its attacks on CPEC and all other projects which may occupy and exploit our land, resources, Sea routs.”

Samiullah Kalhoro, the vice-chairman of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), along with another JSMM leader, Fayyaz Janwari, were picked up from Jamshoro (Jamshoro District) in November 2004. Kalhoro was admitted to the hospital following his escape from Police custody in Hala town of Matiari District in the second week of February 2005. After his escape, Kalhoro, at a press conference in Karachi, narrated details of how he was tortured by the Police. However, he succumbed to his injuries in a Karachi hospital on March 4, 2005.

Similarly, the bullet-riddled and tortured body of Niaz Lashari was found dumped in front of Jinnah Hospital in Karachi on June 16, 2019. A member of the National Congress of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz – Arisar (JSQM-A), Lashari was first abducted by ‘state agencies’ in April 2018 from Karachi, where he was residing and was later freed in September 2018. He was again abducted by ‘state agencies’ in April 2019.

SRA had also claimed responsibility for twin attacks targeting Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) personnel at two different places in Karachi on June 11, 2020.  The first attack was carried out on a Rangers vehicle in Gulistan-e-Johar Town of Karachi, in which two Rangers personnel were killed and five were injured. In another attack, a Rangers check post was targeted in Malir Town. One Ranger was killed and two were injured in the attack.

Though the SRA was formed in 2010, it had largely remained peaceful. According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since its formation, the outfit has been found involved in 13 violent incidents, including six in June 2020 alone, resulting in the death of 11 Rangers personnel (all in June 2020). The 13 violent incidents include two attacks on Chinese nationals and establishments in Sindh, as follows:


  • May 30, 2016: At least three people, including a Chinese national, identified as Finche, were injured in a remote-controlled bomb blast near Steel Town in the Gulshan-e-Hadeed area of Bin Qasim Town in Karachi. A SRA pamphlet recovered from the attack site read, “We consider China, rising as a global power, to be an ally of Pakistan, and also consider it an accomplice of the Punjabi Establishment in making Sindh slave to loot its resources, and therefore we accept the responsibility of bomb attack on Chinese in Gulshan-e-Hadeed.”
  • December 14, 2016: A low-intensity blast targeted a Chinese engineer’s vehicle in the jurisdiction of Patni Police Station in Rohri town of Sukkur District. The engineer remained unhurt in the explosion. SRA claimed responsibility for the attack.

JSMM was a major Sindhi nationalist party formed by Shafi Muhammad Barfat on November 26, 2000. It also had a militant wing, called Sindhu Desh Liberation Army (SDLA). Differences emerged between two prominent leaders of JSMM – Asghar Shah and Shafi Muhammad Barfat – over the issue of funds and influence in the party. Asghar Shah formed the SRA in 2010. Shah is a resident of Jamshoro District and still remains within the country, but is currently underground these.

The Federal Ministry of Interior, however, banned the JSMM on March 15, 2013, and declared it a terrorist organisation allegedly for their involvement in province-wide violence. Shafi Muhammad Barfat reportedly left the country and went to Germany, where he lives in exile. He controls the activities of Sindhu Liberation Army (SLA), the new name given to the SDLA.

Another prominent Sindhi separatist political party is JSQM-A. The JSQM-A, founded in 2006 by Abdul Wahid Arisar, who died in May 2015, is currently headed by Aslam Khairpuri.

All these groups are influenced by the ideology of the late Ghulam Murtaza Syed, a prominent Sindhi nationalist leader and founder of Jeay Sindh Movement, a separatist political movement, who died in 1995. Ghulam Murtaza Syed was an ardent advocate of Sindhi Nationalism.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement–London (MQM-L) headed by Altaf Hussain also supports the notion of separate Sindh Nation. The self-exiled Hussain, sitting in London, has for long demanded the “independence” of Sindh and Balochistan. Most recently, in a letter addressed to the United Nations (UN) on June 4, 2020, Altaf Hussain asked the UN Security Council to “use its power according to UN charter” to “end atrocities and illegal occupation of Pakistan in Sindh, Balochistan, Pashtunishtan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Chitral and PoK”.

In recent months, Altaf Hussain appears to have come closer to Sindhi nationalist groups. Shafi Barfat, the leader of the defunct JSMM, also in self-exile, in Germany, has reportedly asked Altaf Hussain to join what he described as their armed struggle against the state of Pakistan. Both groups view China as an “occupying force”.

Indeed, a day after the June 19 attacks on the Rangers, the Sindh Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Chief Additional Inspector General (IG), Jamil Ahmed, asserted that a group in London and Baloch separatists were aiding Sindhi separatist groups. Further, an unnamed official in Karachi stated, “They are working together. Two men loyal to Altaf Hussain in South Africa are handling their cells in Sindh.”

Meanwhile, on May 7, 2020, the Federal Government banned SRA and SLA along with Sindhi the separatist political entity JSQM-A under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. The Federal Interior Ministry notification read,

In exercise of the powers conferred by section 11-B (1) subsection (a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, the federal government after approval of the cabinet places the organisations in the proscribed list as there are reasonable grounds of believing that the said organisations are concerned in terrorism. The federal government hereby orders that following (JSQM-A, SRA, SLA) to be the proscribed organisations for the purpose of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and list the aforesaid organisations in the first schedule to the said act.


It is significant that the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh (VMPS), on June 22 claimed that the Security Forces (SFs) had forcibly abducted 50 Sindhi nationalists during the preceding two days. It further said that Pakistani forces had been raiding the homes of political activists across Sindh, arresting them and making them disappear. According to Pakistan’s Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances website, Sindh accounted for a total of 1,586 cases of missing persons between March 1, 2011 (date of inception of the Commission) and December 31, 2019.

According to the Commission. of these 1,586 persons, 948 were traced – 52 dead bodies, 234 in prisons, 32 in internment centre and 630 returned home. The Commission ‘deleted’ cases of another 371 missing persons, claiming that these were “closed due to not being cases of enforced disappearances, incomplete address, withdrawal by complainants, non-prosecution. etc.”

Thus, as per the commission, a total of 1,319 cases were disposed of, leaving another 267 cases under investigation.

Instead of taking appropriate measures to address the growing dissatisfaction of ethnic Sindhis, the administration had been using excessive force against those protesting the enforced disappearances in Sindh, including students.

In a recent incident, on June 27, 2020, at the Karachi Press Club a protesting crowd, including family members of the victims, had gathered to hold a peaceful protest against illegal arrests and enforced disappearances of their loved ones.

The protesters asserted that, over the preceding two weeks, more than 200 Sindhis and Muhajirs belonging to MQM and different groups of Jiye Sindh had been arrested by Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and other law enforcement agencies in Karachi, Hyderabad and other cities of the Province. No arrested person had been presented before any court of law. When protesters started chanting slogans against enforced disappearances, a large number of Police, Paramilitary Rangers, and plainclothes personnel of intelligence agencies attacked the peaceful protesters.

Elderly men, women, young girls and students were among those who were beaten, and a large number of protestors were reportedly injured.

The sudden spike in violence in an otherwise peaceful Sindhi separatist movement is an alarming development. In all likelihood, the movement will become more violent in Sindh given the track record of abuse of force by the Pakistani establishment against genuine demands of the people of Sindh.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty joined the Institute in August 2008. Currently, he is involved in research and documentation of Conflicts in Pakistan. He has also written on conflicts in North East India. He is pursuing M. Phil. from the Department of African Studies, Faculty of Social Science, Delhi University, New Delhi, on "Angola's Energy Potential: Prospect For India".

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INTERNATIONAL

Whither Afghanistan

The ‘peace process’ has little possibility of success unless it transfers power to the Taliban in Kabul.

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On June 17, 2020, at least 10 Police personnel were killed when Taliban militants aggressively attacked their checkpoints in the Shurabak District of Kandahar Province.

On June 17, 2020, seven Police personnel were killed in a Taliban attack in Pul-e-Khumri, capital of the Baghlan Province. Another five Police personnel were wounded in the attack.

On June 16, 2020, six Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban militants attacked an Army post in the Bala Hisar area of Aqcha District in Jowzjan Province. Another three soldiers were injured in the incident.


On June 5, 2020, 15 Police personnel were killed in an ambush by the Taliban on the Zabul-Kandahar highway near the city of Qalat in Zabul Province.

On May 28, 2020, 14 members of the Afghan Border Force were killed in an attack by the Taliban in the Dand-e-Patan District of Paktia Province. Three members of the Border Force were also wounded in the attack.

On May 27, 2020, 10 Afghan forces’ personnel were killed and one was wounded after the Taliban attacked a security checkpoint in the Seyagerd District of Parwan Province.


According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), after the three-day [May 24, 25, and 26] ceasefire announced by the Taliban, at least 93 Security Force (SF) personnel and five civilians have been killed across the country in attacks initiated by the Taliban (data till June 21, 2020).

In an unexpected move on May 23, 2020, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire with the Afghan Government on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. A statement issued by the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter confirmed that the Taliban would not stage any attack on ‘enemy’ forces, but would maintain the right to defend itself against potential threats.

In response, President Ashraf Ghani tweeted on May 24, 2020,

“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban. The Afghan government extends the offer of peace. As Commander in Chief, I have instructed ANDSF [Afghan National Defence Security Forces] to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked. Further details will be given in my speech tomorrow morning… As a responsible government, we want to take one further step besides declaring a ceasefire; we will expedite the release process of the Taliban prisoners.”

Later in the day, Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesperson for the President, tweeted:


“Pres. Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid. The AFG [Afghanistan] Gov is extending the offer of peace and is taking further steps to ensure the success of the peace process.”

Since then Afghanistan has released 1,700 Taliban prisoners and a total of 3,000 since the signing of the US-Taliban agreement on February 29, 2020, in Doha, Qatar. The release of prisoners is part of the agreement. Under the US-Taliban agreement, 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released from the Afghan Government’s jails and Taliban will release 1,000 Government prisoners. Taliban has so far released 571 prisoners.

The three-day ceasefire observed by both the Afghan Government and the Taliban for Eid-ul-Fitr came to an end at midnight of May 26, 2020, with neither the Government in Kabul nor the Taliban announcing an extension. Neither side officially made a statement to end the ceasefire as well, but developments on the ground have made it quite clear that the truce was over.

That the Taliban was not interested in extending the ceasefire is obvious from the fact the Government did make several overtures. Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Advisor (NSA), on May 26, 2020, the last day of the ceasefire, had appealed,

It is important to extend the ceasefire and, to avoid bloodshed; the Afghan government is ready to extend it.

Later on, May 28, 2020, he asserted:

“The ceasefire is not over yet; there have been violations because it is a complicated technical process that requires good coordination between both sides.”

This was the second-ever ceasefire between the Government and the Taliban sides since 2001 when the latest round of war began in Afghanistan. Earlier, in June 2018, in response to President Ashraf Ghani’s unilateral announcement of a ceasefire with the Taliban on June 7, 2018, the Taliban had directed all its fighters, on June 9, 2018, to cease all offensive operations against the domestic opposition forces during the first, second and third day of Eid [June 15, 16, 17].

However, that ceasefire was also short-lived as Taliban declared its end on June 17, 2018, despite the Ghani Government’s announcement, on June 16, 2018, of a 10-day extension of the ceasefire, i.e. till June 29, 2018.


Despite the end of the ceasefire, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, who assumed office on May 17, 2020, asserted on May 30, that he remained hopeful about the current opportunity for peace, which he said had been created due to the ceasefire.

Similarly, Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the State Ministry on Peace Affairs on June 6, 2020, stated,

“The Government is trying to coordinate on the venue for the talks so that these talks are started in the near future.” Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi reiterated, on June 7, 2020, “The Afghan Government has taken important steps in this process. The negotiation team of the Afghan Government is ready to enter the talks and we have a strong national consensus for the peace process.”

However, Sirajuddin Haqqani, Deputy Chief of the Taliban, in a message to mark the completion of training of a group of Taliban suicide bombers at an unknown location, on June 3, 2020, declared that, despite the group’s belief in the peace negotiations as one of the core components of the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, the Taliban would still continue on the path of jihad (holy war) and strengthen its military power. In his message to the Taliban fighters Haqqani asserted:

“We believe that the talks are the solution, the politics of sharia (Islamic) law is one of the paths of our jihad and struggle, but no one should miscalculate our politics and willingness for talks – they shouldn’t expect (the Taliban) to abandon jihad and their military capabilities.”

According to the Afghan National Security Council (NSC), after the US-Taliban agreement, the Taliban has carried out an average of 55 attacks a day since March 1, 2020, a spike that has doubled casualties among Afghan security forces in some parts of the country.

After the Eid-ul-Fitr ceasefire, sources within the Afghan Government disclosed, on June 4, 2020, that the Taliban initiated on average 30 attacks on the Afghan security forces each day. The Taliban is also dominating wider areas than it did earlier. According to the last official data available from the of Resolute Support Mission (RSM), as on October 22, 2018, at least 50 Districts were under Taliban control or influence.

RSM has stopped publishing data since. According to the Long War Journal, however, the Taliban is now in control of 75 Districts out of a total of 398 in the country.

There is clear evidence that the Taliban is making all efforts to gain more control on the ground, to increase its bargaining power.

Meanwhile, a quarterly report by the US Department of Defence to US Congress, issued on May 19, 2020, noted,

Pakistan continues to harbour the Taliban and associated militant groups in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani Network, which maintains the ability to conduct attacks against Afghan interests. Pakistan likely views increased Taliban influence in Afghanistan as supporting its overall objectives and will seek to influence intra-Afghan peace talks in a direction favourable to Pakistan.

Separately, the eleventh report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the United Nations(UN) released on May 27, 2020, stated that the Taliban had failed to fulfil one of the core parts of the US-Taliban agreement, namely that it would break ties with Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan Provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.

There are also reports of a new breakaway Afghan Taliban faction, Hezb-e-Walayat-e-Islami (Party of Islamic Guardianship), that has close ties to neighbouring Iran and opposes efforts aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan has emerged.

It is believed to have split from the mainstream Taliban soon after the US-Taliban agreement in February 2020. The formation of the splinter group underlines the possibility of multiple divisions within the Taliban.

There are several Taliban leaders, fronts, and commanders who oppose peace and are linked to Iran. Among them, is Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban and the head of the Haqqani network.

Other Iran-linked Taliban leaders who oppose peace efforts include Mullah Qayum Zakir, a powerful battlefield commander and the former military chief of the Taliban until 2014. Mullah Zakir has the backing of hard-line field commanders.

The ongoing efforts to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan through the peace-processes and the latest US-Taliban agreement have little possibility of success unless they engineer the transfer of power to the Taliban in Kabul. It is unlikely that any other solution would be acceptable to the Taliban.

Lasting peace in Afghanistan remains a distant prospect.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

S. Binodkumar Singh

Dr S. Binodkumar is a Research Associate at the Institute for Conflict Management. He has done his PhD on "Indo-Bangladesh Relations: Their Impact on the Security of the North East" from the Department of Defence and National Security Studies at Punjab University, Chandigarh.

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INTERNATIONAL

Red Flag: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Is Rising Again

TTP’s rise has serious potential repercussions on the US’ fight against the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

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On July 28, 2020, an alert was received by intelligence agencies about a possible attack on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sanaullah Abbasi. The threat alert stated: “A reliable source has revealed that terrorists belonging to TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP)]/Jamaat-ul-Ahrar have planned to attack the IG KP in the Central Police Office; vigilance is indicated.”

The United Nations (UN) on July 16, 2020, designated TTP leader, Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud aka Abu Mansoor Asim, as a global terrorist. Mufti Mehsud was listed pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 2368 (2017) for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of” entities associated with Al-Qaeda.

The United States Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee added Mehsud to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List.


Later, on July 23, 2020, the UK Government placed Mufti Mehsud on its ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and Al-Qaeda terrorist financial sanction list, froze his assets and imposed a travel ban.

Mehsud was earlier listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) by the United States (US) Department of State on September 10, 2019. Mehsud was named the leader of TTP in June 2018, following the death of former TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah, who was killed on June 14, 2018.

TTP was formed on December 11, 2007, under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud. 13 groups met in an undisclosed location in South Waziristan, in the tribal belt of Pakistan, and formed the TTP. The sole objective of the meeting was to unite the small militant factions under the leadership of TTP against NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces in Afghanistan and to wage a defensive jihad (Holy War) against Pakistani forces.


Since its formation the outfit has lost three of its ‘chiefs’, in drone strikes: Baitullah Mehsud, killed on August 5, 2009; Hakimullah Mehsud, killed on November 1, 2013; and Mullah Fazlullah on June 14, 2018.

According to partial data collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), TTP has been involved in at least 1,261 incidents of killing since its inception in 2007, in which 2,216 civilians, 1,161 Security Force (SF) personnel and 5,120 terrorists, including its own cadres, have been killed. Further, a total of 3,263 TTP terrorists have been arrested, so far.

The worst attack by TTP occurred when a seven-member suicide squad killed at least 133 schoolchildren and nine staff members, including the Principal, in an attack at the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar (capital of KP) on December 16, 2014. Earlier, on June 8, 2014, TTP had attacked the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, killing 36 people.

A week after the attack on the Airport, Operation Zarb-e-Azb (‘Sword of the Prophet’, also ‘sharp and cutting’) was launched on June 15, 2014. However, following the APS attack, the National Action Plan (NAP) was formulated in January 2015, to root out terrorist elements from the country. NAP gave a boost to Operation Zarb-e-Azb and amplified counter-terrorism efforts. The operation inflicted a severe blow on TTP’s terror bases in the Tochi and Shawal Valleys, both in the North Waziristan district of KP.

Moreover, the ongoing Radd-ul-Fasaad (Elimination of Discord) Operation, initiated on February 22, 2017, aimed at eliminating terrorist sleeper cells across Pakistan. Since the start of the Operation, reported violent incidents and fatalities involving TTP have declined sharply. According to partial data collated by SATP, after February 22, the year 2017 recorded 37 incidents of killing involving TTP, in which 149 persons, including 34 civilians, 40 SF personnel, and 75 terrorists were killed. Through 2018, 20 such incidents were reported, in which 76 persons (33 civilians, 20 SF personnel, and 23 terrorists) were killed; 2019 recorded 18 such incidents, in which 64 persons (26 civilians, 23 SFs and 15 militants) were killed; and 2020 (till, August 2) reported just two incidents, in which three persons, including two civilians and one terrorist, were killed.


Apart from the impact of military operations, TTP also lost its prominence due to internal rifts. The appointment of a leader from outside the Mehsud tribe, following the death of Hakimullah Mehsud (i.e., Fazlullah in November 2013) created numerous fissures in the organisation and resulted in the emergence of splinter groups.

In February 2014, Ahrar-ul-Hind was formed under the leadership of Maulana Umar Qasmi. The group claimed that its goal was the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, and acknowledged that the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, TTP, were still “our brothers” despite separation from the group. The faction split from TTP due TTP’s engagement in talks with the Pakistani government.

In May 2014, another split emerged in TTP, after the Mehsud faction walked out, saying the group leaders’ tactics were “un-Islamic”. The faction comprising militants from the Mehsud tribe formed its own separate group called Tehrik Taliban South Waziristan.

As reported on May 28, 2014, the ‘spokesman’ for the new group, Azam Tariq Mehsud, stated, “We consider the bombing of public places, extortion and kidnappings un-Islamic, and since the TTP leaders continued with these practices, we decided we should not share the responsibility…”

Further, in August 2014, a new group, known as Jamaat-e-Ahrar, was formed, combining with disaffected Taliban factions along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, and controlled by Omar Khalid Khorasani, an ambitious ‘commander’ with strong ties to Al Qaeda.

As reported on August 26, 2014, in a lengthy video statement explaining the decision to break away, Khorasani argued that the Taliban had become undisciplined and suffered from factional infighting. “This was devastating for our movement,” he said.

However, TTP gradually resurfaced after having largely faded away. Conceivably, the most threatening sign of TTP’s growing power came on July 31, 2019, when the group issued a written warning to locals in Miranshah in North Waziristan, demanding a ban on music and women going out without a male family member.

The one-page message in Urdu cautioned the locals,

“We remind you [residents] that similar statements issued by Taliban several times in the past had fallen on deaf ears, but this time we are going to take to task those who violate the Taliban order. There will be no use of DJs, neither inside the house nor in open fields and those ignoring the warning will be responsible for consequences…Women shouldn’t go out of their homes alone as it is harmful to our society. There is one informer of Mujahideen in every three people and it was a misconception on the part of the people to think we will not get information about non-compliance of our order. Follow the order or be ready to face the worst consequences.”


In a video released in April 2020, TTP renewed the focus on its extensive ties to jihadist groups in the wider Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including the Afghan Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and the Haqqani Network.

Indeed, the 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of UNSC noted, “the total number of Pakistani foreign terrorist fighters in Afghanistan, posing a threat to both countries, is estimated at between 6,000 and 6,500, most of them with TTP.”

The report further disclosed that TTP was led by Noor Wali Mehsud, supported by his ‘deputy’ Qari Amjad and ‘spokesperson’ Mohammad Khorasani.

Meanwhile, the state of affairs in Pakistan vis-à-vis TTP can very well be assessed with the ‘escape’ of Ehsanullah Ehsan, along with his wife and children on January 11, 2020.

Ehsan, the former ‘spokesperson’ of TTP had ‘surrendered’ before the Pakistan Army in 2017, but ‘escaped’ from the safe house where he was being kept for two-and-a-half years.

In an audio clip, following this incident, Ehsan audaciously stated:

“I am Ehsanullah Ehsan. I am the former spokesman of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar. I had surrendered to the Pakistani security authorities on February 5, 2017, under an agreement. I honoured this agreement for three years, but the Pakistani authorities violated it and kept me in a prison along with my children. On January 11, 2020, with the help of Allah, I succeeded in escaping from custody…”

Since his escape, a Twitter account, with the handle, @Ehsanofficial32, reportedly used by him has been fairly active, propagating TTP’s murderous ideology.

Also, on June 17, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) ordered the release of 200 convicts, including 196 TTP militants, convicted by the military courts on terrorism charges. The Supreme Court (SC), however, on July 21, 2020, suspended the PHC order. The next hearing in the SC is awaited.

While there is no doubt that the TTP is again trying to make inroads in Pakistan and to carve out an area of influence for itself, the Government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan also appears to be seeking support from the hardline Islamist lobby.

Moreover, TTP’s attempts to restore its former operational capacity has serious potential repercussions on the US’s fight against Al-Qaeda, given the TTP’s close relation to the global terrorist formation.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Published with permission from South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Dr. Sanchita Bhattacharya

Dr Sanchita is a Research Fellow at Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi. Assistant Editor: Faultlines Area of Interest: Political Islam in South Asia, Pakistan, Terrorism Education: PhD from JNU, Delhi M.A. in International Relations from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

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