RAWALPINDI: Responding to a heightened risk of terrorist attacks by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Ministry of Interior has issued a nationwide alert asking for ‘extreme vigilance’, instructing that targeted search and strike missions be carried out wherever militant activity is reported.

The missive was addressed to the home and chief secretaries of the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, as well as the Islamabad chief commissioner. It urged all authorities to heighten security and exercise enhanced vigilance to avoid any untoward incident.

In a letter circulated last month, the Ministry of Interior warned that more than year-long peace negotiations between the TTP and the government of Pakistan “had come to a standstill”, which has led to unease within the TTP’s ranks.

Editorial: TTP peace talks

It noted that the TTP accuses the Pakistani government of failing to fulfil its main demand — the reversal of the merger of former Fata with KP — as well as continuing to detain TTP members while a truce was still being negotiated.

Provinces asked to carry out ‘search and strike’ in areas where militant activity is reported

The ministry warned that the group or its splinter factions might also seek to escalate terrorist activities in the coming days to avenge the killing of their commanders and to show strength in case there is no further progress in peace negotiations.

The federal government said it had learnt that the TTP high command met recently in Paktika, Afghanistan, to discuss the deadlock in peace talks and the fate of the negotiations with the Pakistani government after the killing of TTP commanders Omer Khalid Khorasani and Aftab Parkay.

The notice said the TTP top brass, fearing a complete breakdown of the talks, decided to move their families to secure places as they feared Pakistani security forces would launch a kinetic operation in case of failure of talks. Some of the militants’ families may be moved to Karachi and its adjoining areas, the notice warned.

The interior ministry also took grave notice of reports that TTP mil­itants are attempting to mig­rate to North and South Waziris­tan from Afghanistan to set up camp for future attacks. It desc­r­ibed reports of the arrival of TTP militants in areas neighbouring the Pak-Afghan border as well as deeper within Khyber Pakhtun­khwa as “a worrisome phenomenon”.

It said that known militant commanders based in Waziristan — Abu Yaha, Molvi Munawar and Matoob Ali Jan alias Sailab — have been in contact with the TTP high command in Afghanistan for further directions regarding moving to the area to intensify terrorist activities.

The government also highlighted the risk of TTP sub-groups defecting to the militant Islamic State (ISKP) or joining hands with the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group to resume terrorist activities.

The interior ministry said targeted strike operations might be launched in areas where militants’ presence is reported and that law enforcement officials should ensure heightened security measures in their respective jurisdictions to avoid any untoward incident.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

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