Four Pakistan soldiers killed in attack days after PM Imran Khan confirms talking to TTP

At least four members of Pakistan’s security forces were killed in an attack in northwestern Pakistan days after Prime Minister Imran Khan confirmed his government was in talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the group which took responsibility for the attack

Oct 03, 2021
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Four Pakistan soldiers killed in attack

At least four members of Pakistan’s security forces were killed in an attack in northwestern Pakistan days after Prime Minister Imran Khan confirmed his government was in talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the group which took responsibility for the attack.

The attack--second in the week-- took place in the Spinwam area of North Waziristan when an improvised explosive device struck the vehicle forces were traveling in, the military confirmed in a statement released Saturday evening. Forces were involved in a clearing operation when they came under attack.  

The military didn’t confirm the timing of the attack. A statement released by the TTP said it raided a patrolling party on Friday and seven members of forces were killed in the attack. 

Significantly, the attack came just days after Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview to TRT World news channel said that his government was holding talks with “some of the groups in the TTP.” 

Earlier, the country President Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had suggested that the government was not averse to the idea of talking to the TTP to end hostility. However, the fact that the government had been already holding talks with the group was confirmed by Khan this week.    

Significantly, Khan also confirmed that the Afghan Taliban has been mediating between the TTP and the Pakistan government. 

The Pakistan Taliban, which is ideologically aligned with the Afghan Taliban and has tactical links with the latter, has been waging war to establish Sharia laws in the country. The group also alleges that the Pakistan government is "un-Islamic" and under the influence of “foreign secular” governments.

The public opinion on the talks with the TTP--the group responsible for killing over 10,000 civilians--remains divided and the government has been facing fierce criticism from political leaders as well as other stakeholders.

Defending the move, Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Saturday that the talks were taking at “the highest level” and only with “good” Taliban. 

The idea of peace talks between the TTP and the government remains highly controversial and divisive in both camps for different reasons. However, it is the words of PM Khan that became problematic for many in Pakistan society. 

In the TRT World interview, he said he was an “anti-military person” and didn’t “believe in the military solution”--these words, many argued, give an impression of weakness and may have demoralizing effects on security forces.  

Another contentious point is that the government took the decision of talking to the TTP without taking Parliament, opposition leaders, and the public in confidence.  

Fahd Husain, a well-known senior Pakistani journalist, in an op-ed in Dawn writes, “Forgive those who bathed this society in blood? The momentous decision cannot be taken behind closed doors by shadowy figures armed with a rationale that has not been nourished by public opinion.” 

The last time when the government held talks with the TTP was in 2013-2014, which was suspended after the TTP executed 24 soldiers and attacked the Karachi International Airport. However, during the period, the government lost its narrative to the TTP which managed to articulate its propaganda very well, showing and terming the Pakistan government “un-Islamic”.

(SAM)