Counter Terrorism: Complications & Policy Narratives


Trends shows, that, this menace should be the top priority of all policy makers, legislators, think tanks and politicians. Counter terrorism has been made complicated through vague approaches, let’s not make it more complicated and come up with a clear policy narrative.

The dichotomy of narratives, especially in the wake of the APC resolution on September 9 to curb terrorism through peaceful negotiations, is faltering. One of the most laudable events of the Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif government, the resolution was unanimously adopted by the participants who reposed their full trust in the Federal Government in combating the perils which threaten the national security of Pakistan.


Backgrounder of FATA Militancy

The US invasion of Afghanistan resulted in the mobilization of various Al-Qaeda affiliated groups that were lying dormant in Afghanistan. Through cross border infiltration, these militants managed to sneak in the Pakistani territory, and ultimately, they cohabited with the locals.

Initially, Pakistan’s security establishment attempted to root out the foreign fighters of Al-Qaeda through peaceful negotiations with the tribal elders, but the overtures failed to generate the desired results. The growing animosity amongst the Pashtun tribes, against what was being perceived as ‘interference’ by the State of Pakistan towards the ‘foreign guests’, resulted in violent clashes in various places. Moreover, the systematic indoctrination of misconstrued interpretation of the Islamic doctrines by these foreign militants resulted in the creation of various tribal groups, whose fighters avowed to wage ‘Jihad’ against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. These groups later formed Tehreek-e-Taliban.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is the umbrella organization under which various groups of militants are operating. It was given a formalized structure on Dec 13, 2007, in the presence of tribal elders and 40 senior militants throughout Pakistan, under the command of its first Emir (leader), Baitullah Mehsud. Hakimullah Mehsud was appointed subsequently as Tehreek-e-Taliban chief in 2009, after his cousin and leader Baitullah Mehsud got killed in a US drone strike.

As of now, the security analysts believe that TTP is made up of around 30 factions, representing 24 districts, seven tribal agencies, six frontier regions and four provinces of Pakistan. The main leaders in the Markazi Shoora (Central Executive Committee) are:

Hakimullah Mehsud (Chief – TTP)

Lateef Mehsud (Deputy Chief – TTP)

Abdul Wali Khan, nom de guerre Omar Khalid (Chief – Mohmand faction)

Fazlullah, nom de guerre Radio Mullah (Chief – Swat Malakand faction)

Akhunzada Aslam Farooqui (Chief – Orakzai faction)

Abu Bakar (Chief – Bajaur faction)

Malik Noor Jamal, nom de guerre Mullah Toofan (Chief – Kurram agency)*

Mangal Bagh Afridi (Chief of Lashkar-e-Islam – Khyber agency)*

Mohammad Arif, nom de guerre Kaka (Chief – Darra Adam Khel)

Adnan Rasheed (Chief – Ansar al-Aseer)

*Current whereabouts unknown.

The Mohmand Group

Led by Abdul Wali Khan, the Mohmand faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban rose into prominence after defeating the rival Shah Khalid group in July 2008. Known for his ruthless predisposition towards the State, Abdul Wali is considered as the most effective and powerful leader in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and wields a significant clout in the TTP Shoora.

The successful military offensive of Pakistan’s military in 2010, codenamed Operation Brekhna (Thunder), considerably diminished the authority of the TTP faction in Mohmand Agency. To avoid getting caught by the security forces, Abdul Wali Khan managed to slip across the border and take refuge in Kunar. After a short lapse, the scattered militants, who fled away during the army operation, regrouped and started their terror activities once again, albeit cautiously. The absconded chief is issuing his directives from Afghanistan’s soil since then; now it is a fight between a stifling military presence and a shadowy Taliban.

Bombing a Church

On 22 September, 2013, a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a 130-year-old Anglican church in Pakistan after Sunday Mass, killing at least 78. It is considered to be the deadliest ever attack on Pakistani Christians.

Jundullah, a militant outfit known to have represented Tehreek-e-Taliban in the past, accepted responsibility for the Church blast. The miscalculated approach eventually gave rise to the public backlash, which was eventually averted by issuing an official statement after a lapse of around 20 hours. Shahidullah Shahid, the official spokesman of TTP, negated any connection with Jundullah; although he acknowledged the presence of ‘certain elements’ that are allegedly against the dialogue with the government.

Unsurprisingly, this story of no-connection floundered by Taliban got busted by their own leader, Abdul Wali Khan aka Omar Khalid.

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Talha Ibrahim - is a certified conflict analyst of United States Institute of Peace.

Discussion6 Comments

  1. “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” you said but reality is we acted worst than disbelievers in the wake of 9/11. Didn’t we provide shoulder to American to commit war crimes against afghan and tribes of Pakistan. Pork, wine, pampers and ammunition were provided by this “Islamic Republic” to carry out massacres. The only sin these tribes are blamed for that they provided safe haven to “terrorist”. Why the Americans are dictating to us what is terrorism and what is not. Providing shelter to oppressed from oppressor is not a sin because the whole afghan war is based on lies that was first in the series of Iraq, Libya and now Syria ( probably Pakistan too, had it not been nuclear power).
    I have nothing against you when you support armed forces, but when country was created for the sole purpose of defending Islam, today the same country is boasting and bragging being frontline ally of those whose waged war against Islam. And if you take out Islam form this country then it is just an extents on of India, there was no need of separation.

    • Why is this event being looked at with such a generalized form? Sure better decision could have been made, but let us consider this, Musharraf consulted the friendly countries before taking this decision including China, all of which at the time were leaning toward going with the US, so whether good or bad, the understanding was that if Pakistan said “NO” tot he US, it would not have the support of its closest allies, it may have been literally alone.
      As for waging awar, you are missing the decades worth of historical facts about Taliban, TTP and this whole war from the soviets till now.

    • Your blind support for all Muslims including terrorist murders is the real problem…the TTP are takferi quarjites who do not deserve any support for their misguided interpretation of sharia…they are murderers and thugs and yes they are also Muslims…if the USA is ridding Pakistan of these terrorist with drones then Pakistan should be thanking the USA….it is blind support of Muslim terrorist that is making Pakistan the epicenter of world terrorism and it needs to stop…

  2. Ahsan what you are hollering about, stems from the ‘zero knowledge’ of Pakistan’s geo politics and current affairs.
    The author highlighted this boldly that Al-Qaeda infiltration in FATA was the reason of Pakistan armed forces aggrandizement against tribals.
    Truth be told, the theory of ‘frontline ally’ is shit. The truth is that Pakistan has been befooling US since the last whole decade.

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