PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN Kabul and Islamabad want to move the Pakistani Taliban to the north: they fear ethnic tensions

The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been operating along the Durand Line for years with the aim of creating a new Islamic emirate. But tens of thousands of refugees, mainly ethnic Pashtuns, also live on the border. In 2022 there was an increase of almost 15% in victims of attacks in Pakistan.

Kabul () – The Pakistani government has signed an agreement with the Taliban so that the militants of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban) who operate along the border are transferred to the northern provinces of Afghanistan together with your families.

Some residents of Takhar province have expressed concern over the decision, fearing renewed ethnic tensions in a country already ravaged by decades of war. This only ended with the Taliban reconquest in mid-August 2021, simultaneously with the withdrawal of US troops.

A spokesman for the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan party also joined locals, saying the situation risks spiraling out of control: “We believe that tensions will increase, especially between different ethnic groups, if this continues,” he said. Ihsan Nairo, noting that the issue has also been raised at the United Nations to find a solution.

The TTP is an independent extremist group but ideologically and ethnically close to the Taliban in Afghanistan, who are also Pashtuns. They were formed in 2007 and bring together groups from different denominations under their umbrella whose goal is to create an Islamic Emirate in Pakistan. That is why their attacks are always against targets of the government or the Pakistani security forces, which in 2022 alone lost 282 members. That same year, the country registered 376 terrorist attacks, according to data from the Center for Research and Security Studies, which represented an increase in victims of almost 15% compared to 2021.

The Islamabad government had been trying to sign an agreement with the TTP for some time thanks to the mediation of Kabul, but until now, despite the announcement of several ceasefires, all attempts had failed.

Then, in the middle of last month, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared – without mentioning the TTP or the Pakistani government – that people currently residing in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Kunar and other border areas along the Durand Line ( a very porous border that is not recognized by Pashtun leaders, be they Afghan or Pakistani) will be transferred to the north of the country. Some experts believe Islamabad has gone directly to the Taliban in Kabul, giving them money in exchange for reducing the number of attacks, but details of the deal are unknown.

According to estimates, around 4,000 TTP members live in that region, but also tens of thousands of refugees: according to a report published in 2019 by the Norwegian Refugee Council, about 72,000 Pakistani refugees who fled the volatile Waziristan region reside in a makeshift camp on the border between the two countries.

For its part, the Afghan News Agency reported that Kabul will provide land to relocated families, while Islamabad will provide financial assistance for the purchase of agricultural tools and other materials necessary for resettlement.

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Written by Editor TLN

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