Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, has said that the Taliban and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have long-standing ties and that there are an estimated 6,000 TTP fighters and their families in Afghanistan.
“The TTP is enjoying shelter in Afghanistan. The group has 6000 fighters, who enjoy sanctuaries inside Afghanistan. They are there along with families in Afghanistan. They are involved in attacks along the border. They have been attacking our security forces. They have been involved in the massacre of common people,” Durrani made these remarks during an interview with Ambassadors’ Lounge on Saturday, November 11.
The Taliban and TTP share ideological, operational, and personal alignment. A report by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) shows that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 has significantly strengthened and emboldened the TTP, as the group continues to target Pakistani security forces and civilians across the country.
“The TTP is misusing Afghan soil so they should also be punished under the customs both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The TTP fighters are under the control of the Afghan Taliban but they are allowed to cross the border and conduct sabotage activities, massacres, and then go back,” Durrani said
Pakistan has constantly accused the Taliban of failing to control and disarm the TTP. The country’s Caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, has previously said that terror attacks in Pakistan increased by 60 percent and suicide bombings by 500 percent after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban has repeatedly denied Pakistan’s allegations, stating that the country should find its own solution to tackling terror threats, as the Taliban is not responsible for the security failures of its neighbors.
Pakistan and the Taliban are currently experiencing a period of heightened tensions, largely due to the presence of TTP fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s decision to deport undocumented Afghan refugees. Since November 1, Pakistani law enforcement agencies have been conducting raids in residential areas throughout the country to detain and deport refugees. According to Radio Pakistan, over 220,000 Afghan nationals have been deported via the Torkham and Chaman borders since the crackdown began.
The caretaker government of Pakistan has been criticized domestically and internationally for its forcible deportation of refugees. In a recent reaction, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie strongly criticized Pakistan’s decision, calling it “an example of backsliding in human rights globally” in an Instagram post. Jolie wrote: “This is yet another example of the backsliding in human rights globally and is a new tragedy in the long history of the suffering of Afghan people, who have endured decades of war, conflict, and displacement for over forty years.” The Pakistani government, however, has defended its decision by linking it to counter-terrorism efforts. Previously, Pakistan’s Interior Minister has said that the mass deportation of refugees is necessary to curb terrorism and other illegal activities.
Pakistan has been a home to refugees from Afghanistan since the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, hosting one of the world’s largest refugee populations. Millions of Afghan refugees have fled to Pakistan in subsequent years, including an estimated 600,000 since the Taliban seized control of the country in August 2021.