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Jihadist terrorism in Italy: Exhortations and prophecies

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Moez al-Fezzani, a Tunisian citizen popularly known by his initial nom de guerre Abu Nassim, was arrested with other Daesh-Isis members in Sirte, between Rigdaleen and Al Jimail, Libya, on August 18, 2016. Already taken to trial in Italy for terrorist recruitment, Abu Nassim was obviously acquitted in Milan – a city which, since the time of the Mosque in Viale Jenner, is “the main centre of Al Qaeda in Europe”, as stated in a CIA report of ten years ago.

The Islamic Cultural Institute (ICI) in Milan was created in 1988, upon the initiative of some members of the Egyptian movement Jamaa al Islamiya. It immediately became a center to gather, train and fund the Islamists going to fight in Bosnia.

A stupid Western war enabling Alja Izetbegovic – the leader of the Bosnian Republic of Sarajevo, as well as author of a book prophetically entitled “Islamic fundamentalism” – to create an Islamist area in the Balkans serving the interests of Afghanistan, Chechnya, Al Qaeda (at the time, Bin Laden was often in Sarajevo) and Kosovars.

At the time, the cells and training camps of ICI – which enjoyed  strange, but large amounts of money – were in  Gallarate, Como, Varese and Cremona.

Considering Pareto’s theory of the persistence of aggregates, it would be nice to keep on following these groups, even though it results that ICI was dismantled.

Hence, at first, we must note the strange persistence of terrorist networks.

In Catalonia there was the Algerian citizen Bellil Belgacem, working for a halal butcher of Vilanova i la Geltrù, who organized the attack on our base at Nasiriyah. Later Belgacem was also in Milan – Viale Jenner, of course – before finally arriving in Syria from where he perpetrated the attack on our base in Iraq, by killing 19 Italian soldiers.

The “foreign” jihadists are those who usually organize terrorist attacks, as it is likely that their cover in the attack area is known to the local intelligence services.

Nevertheless the great cover and motivation networks –  another key factor for assessing the jihad – remain, assuming that there are no serious threats of infiltration or dismantling.

Belkacem was identified because – as always happens – the Italian intelligence services had sent biological material of the attacker also to the Spanish Guardia Civil that  unexpectedly solved the problem.

The house where the terrorists who organized the attack in   Barcelona lived is another factor of the persistence of networks, owned by Mohamed Mrabet Fahsi, the Head of the cell held responsible for the terrorist attack in the  Atocha station, Madrid, on March 11, 2004.

The “journalists” who killed Shah Massoud, also known as the Lion of  Panjshir, one day before the 9/11 attack, by asking him as first question – a second before killing him – “Why are you so upset with Osama Bin Laden?” came from Moleenbeek, the municipality in the Brussels-Capital Region which was to become even more notorious years later.

Hence the first factor is the persistence of networks, but only if the network is wide, reliable and capable of mobilizing a sufficiently large cover area, made up of  Islamists who never mobilize for the “infidels” or of smart manipulators, as is often the case with the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who weaken and defuse the attacks and sometimes attribute them to “Islamophobia”.

But the history of jihadist threats to Italy is long and overlaps with the actions which have been carried out by Al Qaeda and Daesh-Isis in the rest of Europe for too many years.

The first major report in Italy’s recent history dates back to  March 2014, when the Moroccan intelligence services alerted the Italian ones, thus avoiding  three attacks by the skin of their teeth – in the Milan subway, in the Basilica of  St. Anthony, Padua and in the Church of St. Petronius, Bologna.

The Church in Bologna is well-known for its fresco portraying Muhammad in Hell (Canto XXVIII of Dante’s Divine Comedy), as sower of discord, together with Ali, the first Shi’a Imam.

Another constant feature is the choice of highly symbolic or highly damaging targets for the “infidels” so as to spread the terror which blocks the opponents’ reactions and intimidates them.

The symbolism is for internal use and unites the jihadists in an apparently “high” purpose.

Then the jihad rank-and-file comes in to play down, hide and relativize.

Hence either mass – the maximum amount of victims – or symbol, namely the destruction of the true or alleged anti-Islamic image.

Moreover, in the Hell – Canto XXVIII, Muhammad tells  Dante to warn the schismatic and heretic Frà Dolcino.

Hence should there be an alliance between the Islamists and the followers of the Piedmontese heretic of Valsesia?

Furthermore, at the time, the front cover of the official magazine of Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate, Dabiq,  showed the black flag of the Syrian-Iraqi Caliphate flying atop the  Egyptian obelisk at St Peter’s Square in the Vatican.

What is the symbol for? Simply for showing the policy line to the militants, i.e. to hit the Church and nothing else; to later terrorize the enemy, according to the warfare technique indicated by the Qur’an and the ahadit and finally to mislead the opponent’s operations.

War is deception, a Koranic theme that must be never  forgotten.

In that phase, not long after the 2001 attack on the Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakesh, the Moroccan intelligence services that had warned Italy also neutralized 126 jihadist cells, arrested 2,676 Daesh-Isis militants and nipped 276 attacks in the bud.

Another constant feature of jihadist terrorism is that it is created and recreated at great speed, so as to confuse the opponents, direct them towards “old” networks and conceal networks while preparing the attacks.

Throughout 2015, Twitter and other social media published photos with Isis militants appearing in front of political, mass and historical-artistic sites in Italy with the hashtag “We_Are_Coming_O_Rome” or “Islamic State in Rome”.

We have never had doubts on the active presence of jihadist networks in Italy.

In fact, last May a network of illegal migrant traffickers between Bari, Catania and Salerno was dismantled – a network of Somalis who had contacts with groups of jihadists they probably funded thanks to the proceeds of their trafficking.

Apart from the small talk of “misguided idealists” or of incompetent politicians, it is obvious that illegal immigration covers up the creation of jihadist groups in Italy, initially divided by ethnicity and subsequently funded by international jihad networks.

“We are coming, o Rome” (“and we will slaughter you in your own houses”) is a technically easy-to-identify hashtag on Twitter and finally refers to the presence of the “Islamic State in Rome”.

A major identity (the struggle against the Catholic Church) linked to a minor identity: every militant knows what to do and what to do is indicated by the reality in which the jihad operates: attacks with knives, propane and methane gas cylinders or with mobiles to be used as remote trigger.

The jihad is camouflage, but it is the explicit goal that must be reached. There is no camouflage or deception here.

Therefore another permanent feature of European jihad is, at first, the great attack, mobilizing the Islamic masses and ensuring their loyalty, by exciting and inflaming them, and later the microphysics of power established by “do-it-yourself” terrorism.

Last February, the “Caliphate” published a text written in good Italian by a Mr. Mehdi, entitled “Lo Stato Islamico, una realtà che ti vorrebbe comunicare”, much focused on the “services to citizens”.

It was later discovered that said Mr. Mehdi was Elmahdi Alili, a 20-year-old Italian citizen of Moroccan origin.

In said text Alili also threatened to fire Caliphate’s missiles against Sicily.

We will see how the old Islamic conquest of Sicily is a myth equivalent to that of Al Andalus in Spain – a myth to which Osama Bin Laden was already referring in his first proclamations.

Therefore the first Daesh-Isis texts on Spain are of January 7, January 31 and May 30, 2016, respectively, with a very high climax of videos and messages in the networks managed by Daesh, just before the Barcelona attacks.

At first the people are motivated and given general orders; later the network is organized and finally the green light is given.

What about Italy? From June 3 to 7 last, Isis-Daesh produced three propaganda videos and a PDF file – two of those videos referred to Rome.

The images are very recent, shot in motion and at night. The videos have titles referring to Italy, such as “Deadline  Rome”, while the PDF file is entitled “You want Raqqa, we want Rome”.

But Raqqa is now lost – hence the conquest of Rome seems to be a sort of revenge and reconstruction of the Caliphate among the “infidels”.

Hence the first video, translated from Arabic into English, is “Deadline Rome”, but the word “deadline” has also other meanings in English.

All these videos are produced by the Al Waad Foundation (“Commitment/Promise”), an unofficial structure linked to Daesh-Isis.

The analysis of the video makes us revert to the Libyan issue, the current key factor of the connection between the global jihad and Italy.

In fact, Isis fears a primary role played by Italy in supporting al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA). Then the Caliphate calls the “brothers” to take up arms to spread the jihad in Libya and finally recalls Al Libi, the ”heir” to Bin Laden.

Another sign not to be overlooked is that – following the jihadist tradition – the “Caliphate” refers to a battle of the Prophet, namely Khandaq or the “Battle of the Trench”.

Meccans and infidels on the one side, Medinan Muslims  and newly-converted on the other.

A battle to be studied symbolically, but also practically: the 3,000 followers of the Prophet defending Medina remained holed up without accepting the clash with the overwhelming forces of the “infidels”.

This is obviously the image of the current Syrian-Iraqi Caliphate.

After Muhammad’s order to dig a trench to avoid the Meccans’ cavalry, the siege continued.

But the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza refused to collaborate with the Prophet, as it had previously promised.

Hence it was accused of betrayal.

The symbolism is clear.

The “Caliphate” propaganda on Rome continues with “we will conquer Rome, Constantinople and Jerusalem”.

The possible meaning is the following: we will start from Rome, home to the “Crusaders” and later we will continue with Byzantium and Judaism.

Finally the PDF file shows the Colosseum and the Theater of Marcellus and it has been put online by the Al Wafa Foundation, an official organization of Daesh-Isis.

Here again there is a reference to the Quraysh tribe, the Meccans rejecting Muhammad’s Prophecy.

Is this the sign of an internal debate, probably between  militants of the Syrian-Iraqi “State” and the jihadists who want to operate in Europe?

Staying or going away – thus turning Daesh-Isis into a global terrorist agency, such as the old Al Qaeda – or calling all the jihadists already present in Europe to return to its territorial area, only after their carrying out an attack or at least a personal war action against the “infidels”?

Is it a simple indication of the “enemy” to be successful in some operations or is it a geopolitical project starting from resistance in Raqqa and in the rest of the Daesh region?

Or – as the second video entitled  “Between two Migrations” shows – the jihadists are explicitly asked to return to the “Caliphate”, in addition to showing the images of Pope Francis’s visit to Lesbos while migrants seem to refuse and criticize the Holy Father’s visit.

Let us analyze data: the first regards migrants – hence the Caliphate works on the assumption that there is a share of migrants currently present in Italy who could reunite with the territorial jihad. The second is the rejection of Pope Francis’  “open hand policy”, which could be successful in some regions of the Muslim world.

This means that the jihadists are said: carry out the great attack you are already preparing and then come here.

The third video entitled “Ramadan, the Month of Conquest” explains with many historical data the Islamic conquest of Sicily. Then a boot appears on the image of Italy and finally the word Rome comes to the screen.

Last March a rather strange video was put online, subtitled in Arabic and English, in which one of the two jihadists spoke only the sign language.

I am not an expert of this language, but it is very likely that the signs say much more than expected.

This video for deaf-mutes is again a call to move to the Syrian-Iraqi Caliphate – possibly after perpetrating an attack – with unspecific threats to the United States, Great Britain, Italy and France, always repeating the usual slogan “we will come and kill you”.

Hence either the jihadists are rounded up and gathered to create critical mass at a time when – only thanks to Russia and its regional allies – the Caliphate is surrendering, or the jihadists who have remained in the Isis-Daesh region are said to go and destroy European countries.

The ambiguity is obviously desired.

However, it was in April 2015 (which makes us think that the attack was closer than expected, considering the time of the traditional connection between the threat on the web and the perpetration of the terrorist attack) that Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate put online a video in Arabic, but fully subtitled in Italian.

It was designed both for the Italian Arabs and for the young people not yet mastering the Koranic language.

In fact, it was produced as a good music video.

“Like a thunderbolt you will see the war in your countries”. “We will come to spread slaughter and death”.

These are the two poles of propaganda.

The sharp knives are mentioned, to which we have already got used.

There is the precise indication of a weapon.

The video subtitled in Italian refers to “balls of fire”, which may be bullets or bombs.

This is an indication movie – with the true indication of the end times.

Without eschatology we cannot understand the contemporary jihad, also in its aspects of McIslam which,  in other contexts, could make us laugh.

With this specific propaganda the “Caliphate” wants to say that its militants must take action soon, as soon as possible.

Again in November 2015 a series of particularly cruel photos referring to Italy were spread via Twitter together with horrible threats.

In that case the jihadists who must arrive in Italy are said to act quickly, so as to prepare the attack and remain  unknown to the police and the intelligence services (in fact, it is clearly said “we will come to kill you”) or the jihadists who are preparing a terror attack are told it must be extremely fierce.

What if the Caliphate – today floundering in a crisis between Syria and Iraq – wanted to create pockets of ongoing destabilization in Europe, to be connected from corridors or small control areas – as it did in its Middle East territory?

Europe is so weak and uncertain that not even this option can be ruled out.

Finally, in my opinion, little analytical value can be attributed to the interpretation of the current jihad – at least from the Nice to the Barcelona attacks – as an internal struggle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies, using the Islamist terrorist network.

Certainly, these two countries have huge real estate, hotel and industrial property in Italy and Europe.

But a terrorist operation in the Porta Nuova district, Milan – bought by Qatar – would bear a too clear signature.

And either of the two countries could really strike the final blow on the Caliphate they both have so much supported.

And yet both countries currently keep on helping the “Caliphate” – hence the structure of Al Baghdadi, now dead, has no interest in supporting one against the other.

I know that terrorists are always more informed about their targets than we may believe: I had a bad experience with the so-called “New Red Brigades”. I was first on the list, but the then National Police Chief, Vincenzo Parisi, informed me of everything our National Security Network came to know.

Moreover, strange events still occur, such as the fact of a journalist denying the Shoah who was found to be a friend of the founder of the above-mentioned New Red Brigades, namely Nadia Lioce.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Terrorism

Countering Terrorism: 2023 and Beyond

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(file photo) UNAMA/Fraidoon Poya

Pakistan has carried three significant issues from 2022 into 2023. These include political instability, a dwindling economy and resurging terrorism. With respect to terrorism, Afghanistan has assumed centre stage. Following the withdrawal of US forces on 15 Aug 2021, there was initial jubilation in Pakistan over Taliban’s triumph. It stemmed from the perception that US military presence in the region and drone strikes were the leading sources of regional instability.

2022 ended for Pakistan with an upsurge in terrorist activities and accordingly the New Year started with a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC). The press release following the meeting reiterated NSC’s resolve to ‘have zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan and reaffirmed its determination to take ‘on any and all entities that resort to violence.’ This is a welcome decision by the government and state organs.

Pakistan’s counterterrorism (CT) efforts gained momentum following the unprecedented Army Public School (APS) massacre of 2014. Some have compared it to Pakistan’s 9/11. The tragedy was relatable to all of Pakistan regardless of the so-called ethnic, regional or sectarian divides. The inhumane attacks brought the civil and military leadership together in assigning this scourge of terrorism the priority that it deserved. The most prominent outcome was a National Action Plan on countering terrorism that enjoyed broadest possible political support.

Subsequently, the united stance against terrorism enabled unprecedented successes in rooting out terrorism. However, it appears that the reduction in terrorist activities led to a sense of complacency which was further aided by growing political polarisation that had more to do with differences on domestic, economic and foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan occurred at a time when Pakistan was struggling with internal politics. Apparently, the eventual prevalence of Afghan Taliban against a super power that they had been resisting for two decades, emboldened the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to think that it could similarly attrite the Pakistani nation and its state organs.

TTP’s motivation seems to be misplaced for primarily three reasons. First and foremost, the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) of Pakistan are fighting this war to provide a safe and secure environment to the future generations of the country – including their own children; unlike the US and coalition forces that neither had a clear objective nor a consistent policy to follow. Second, much of Afghan Taliban’s acceptance at the domestic level was based on the fact that they were fighting a foreign occupant – which is not the case for TTP. Thirdly, the Afghan Taliban assumed power by virtue of force rather than the will of the public and that is why they struggle to gain legitimacy at home and abroad.

Pakistani political leadership might differ on the possible approaches to dealing with this issue, but there certainly is no appetite for letting the TTP and associated factions consolidate power to a degree that they are able to challenge state’s writ at a level comparable to yesteryears. However, display of a united front by the various ruling parties at the Centre and provinces will help demonstrate that there will be no tolerance for terrorist activities no matter which political party assumes power.

TTP’s threat against the leadership of two ruling parties is an attempt to exploit the current domestic political divide. Political mudslinging on this issue only helps the enemy’s cause. The ongoing struggle for power between the political parties should not enable TTP to consolidate power in the interim period. Otherwise, it will become a greater threat for the next government to deal with. During the previous election years, terrorist outfits were successful in targeting the leadership of various political parties during their election campaigns and arguably changing the election outcomes by terrorising the electorate. It is in shared interest of all the political parties to avoid a repeat of such a scenario.

While the politico-military leadership establishes a united front at home, it will be important to deny external actors the ability to exploit Pakistan’s internal situation. Pakistan has been at the receiving end of accusations even as it presents irrefutable evidence of external involvement in terrorist activities inside the country. As Pakistan continues to expose foreign involvement, it ought to simultaneously deny foreign actors fertile ground to exploit at home. Previously, the foreign threat was limited to the Eastern front but now it has expanded at an unprecedented level to the Western front where the Taliban government is either complicit or unable to check use of its territory to launch terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

2023 is likely going to be the year of General Elections in Pakistan. Whichever party assumes power, it is important that it looks at counterterrorism as a long-term operation that will require broader political support, less in-fighting and an ability to stay the course impervious of temporary gains and setbacks which will inevitably be a part of the process.

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A Rift Getting Deeper: TTP and IEA parting their ways?

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Image source: hindustantimes.com

A few days ago, an alleged audio of Tahreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief, Noor Wali Mehsud has caught the attention of those who keep a close eye on terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, especially Tahreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Through this audio, Noor Wali has sent a message, to TTP fighters to pick up arms against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) after its search operation in provinces along the Pak-Afghan border. Since the takeover of Kabul, some security analysts had predicted the possible collaboration of IEA with TTP. Still, the evolution of TTP strategies and its ideological shift from being a branch of IEA to being an opponent of IEA was observed. Only those who have kept a sharp eye on TTP activities know that TTP is now a threat to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The reason behind the shift in TTP’s strategies:

 What compelled TTP to give such a big statement? This question comes to everyone’s mind, the below discussion is made in context to this question. The ideological standing of both TTP and IEA is far different. Afghan Taliban are ethnic nationals. They have only fought a war against foreign forces for Afghan territory and have never claimed any region beyond the borders of Afghanistan. However, TTP has long taken inspiration from Al-Qaeda, which has expansionist objectives and deadly takfiri ideology to create a falsified identity of believers and non-believers, only to legitimize its terror activities in the name of Islam. Hence, following the footprints of such a radical organization, there is a significant possibility that TTP will join hands with ISKP against IEA.

Question of natural and forced alliance:

Since the Kabul takeover, TTP has tried to align with IEA, thus, giving it the camouflage of a natural alliance. TTP’s leadership also manifested this narrative in its statements and activities. But the ideological drift and conflicting objectives show that TTP’s so-called alignment with IEA was one-sided and enforced. After the Kabul takeover, TTP tried its well to be a part of IEA but by rigid stance, IEA always cleared in their statement that TTP and IEA are two different groups, having different inspirations and goals.

Pakistan’s role that TTP in using Afghan soil:

Pakistan has been fighting TTP since 2003. In April 2022, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) struck the hideouts of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan along the Durand Line. This strike highlighted that a group within IEA was keen on providing safe havens to TTP. Hence, diplomatic pressure was mounted on IEA to eradicate TTP from the strategic provinces of Kunar and Khost.

 Chance of Mutual tussle between TTP and IEA:

Is there another conflict going to happen in the region? Now, the battle is the same, but the opponents are different. The so-called narrative that claims IEA and TTP were on the same table is wrecking after TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud and IEA spoke’s person Zabiullah Mujahid’s statements.” They are not, as an organization, part of IEA, and we don’t share the same objectives,” Zabiullah Mujahid said in reaction to TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud’s claims of being a part of the IEA. Now, the TTP chief has alerted his fighters for war. It would create complexities in the region. IEA acted as a mediator between the government of Pakistan and TTP to make peace in the region.  Additionally, Zabiullah mujahid also mentioned that We advise TTP to focus on peace and stability in their country. This is very important so, they can prevent any chance for enemies to interfere in the region, and we request Pakistan to investigate their demands for the better of the region and Pakistan.

Mujahid added that the TTP was Pakistan’s internal matter “The IEA stance is that we do not interfere in other countries affairs. We do not interfere in Pakistan’s affairs.”  

After this emerging rift, would it be possible for IEA to counter TTP? IEA is struggling to stabilize the state after Kabul take over. Nowadays, Afghanistan’s security and economy are on the verge of chaos. It would not be able to engage in other conflicts nor do they have the power to do so. And if they engaged in battle with TTP, an alliance of ISKP and TTP can hurt Afghanistan. But if they counter them, there is a chance to get international sympathy and maybe recognition because it will endorse the Doha agreement, as Recognition has become a dire need in Afghanistan.

Conclusion:

In a nutshell, it won’t be inappropriate to assume that another war will break out, and it is likely more drastic than the last ones. Despite all the hurdles, it is an opportunity for IEA to gain global sympathy for its recognition and to legitimize its regime. If the IEA becomes successful in convincing the world by taking action against terrorist outfits and extremism in its ranks, it will not only pave the way for its recognition but also meet with the minutes of the DOHA Accord to not allow any violent non-state actor to operate within Afghan territory.

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Pakistan in a quagmire: Resurgence of terrorism along with its relations with Afghanistan

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When Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021, a large faction of the Pakistani society including mainstream politicians amused the fact that reins of Kabul had become in control of Taliban. One obvious reason for this felicitation was the much awaited perceived stability in neighboring Afghanistan which had direct impact on Pakistan. The other reason for jubilation in some factions was about the solidarity with regards to the identity of Afghan people. As brotherly nation, perseverance of Afghan people against the scourge of prolonged war, that too against the strongest military alliance, was a matter of inspiration for many in Pakistan. However, the formal response of the government was very much aligned with the global response. Islamabad did not officially recognize the interim government of Taliban. The eventful month of August, 2021 was followed by some key developments.

Considering the geo-political change in the neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan started to rethink its strategy at the western border. Through a backdoor channel, Islamabad approached the Taliban government to ensure the security of its western border from the hideouts of TTP living in Afghanistan. In short, Pakistan wanted the Taliban government to take strong action against TTP. However, in response to that, Kabul with TTP onboard, came up with a “quid pro quo plus” approach. It urged the Pakistan’s government to have a formal agreement with TTP which later on proceeded through a back door channels. In the agreement, TTP agreed for so called cease-fire along and inside Pakistan’s territory in exchange for cessation of Pakistan’s military operation against TTP. Moreover, the strangest of demands that Pakistan agreed to, was providing, the previously expelled TTP associates, with permission to come back and reside in districts of the tribal area. On the other hand, second critical development following the fall of Kabul, was Pakistan’s stance in the international community with respect to humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s foreign minister repeatedly urged the International community to establish a meaningful dialogue and engagement with the fragile state of Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan. He frequently argued that alienation of a rouge actor prompts even harsher human rights violation by that actor. Hence the world should not neglect Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan Rather, it should accept the reality and engage with Afghanistan.

However, it is extremely unfortunate to write that, both the aforementioned developments, gave rise to a Pro-Taliban sentiment vis-à-vis Pakistan. Nevertheless, the same sentiment has often been misrepresented in the western literature, and the same narrative has also been used to demonize Pakistan at the international forums. However, in reality Pakistan had been the most affected country by terrorism and it had been fighting against the scourge of terrorism since over a decade now. What is even more unfortunate is that in the recent past, TTP announced to resume its nefarious terrorist activities in Pakistan. As a result, a spike in terrorist events specifically in KPK province has been witnessed. The December 21st,2022 military operation is a testament to aggravating law and order situation in the country, in which a group of 25 TTP associated terrorists had been killed, while holding a CTD compound, hostage in Bannu.

Because there is a resurgence of terrorism coupled with the international criticism due to perceived relations with Afghanistan under Taliban. “Pakistan is appeared to be in a quagmire.”

Now, what Pakistan can pursue to undo this, is to redevise a comprehensive plan of action against terrorism in KPK and former FATA. It should also formulate a clear strategy at the western border not to tolerate any presence as well as influx of militants from Afghanistan. Moreover, for future, the state of Pakistan should also learn from the abysmal agreement that it went in with a Non-State Actor (NSA). For NSA’s an agreement is nothing more than a concealing tool for a limited survival. It is because of the three reasons. First, an agreement is always done between two responsible actors; terrorist group like TTP has no burden of responsibility neither in a domestic setting nor at the international level. Whereas, a sovereign state has immense responsibility at the domestic and international level. Second, an agreement between two states holds significance because of the perceived repute in the international system, Whereas, for a non-state actor like TTP, International reputation never comes into the equation as such groups are already infamous for their terrorist agenda. Third, States are mostly bound to stick fast to their bilateral or multilateral agreements, because of the fear of diplomatic and economic sanctions once they pull back from the agreement. Whereas in case of Non-state actors, there exist no such incentive to remain in the agreement.

Considering all the three reasons, it is quite evident that engaging with TTP for so called ceasefire agreement was neither viable nor will it ever be, particularly because, as a state, Pakistan would have to offer a lot in exchange to absolutely nothing. Moreover, because of such an agreement, Pakistan would itself invite criticism from the already skeptical international community. Hence for Pakistan, no tolerance policy against terrorism is the only option possible in order to lower domestic and international cost simultaneously.

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