Foreign ministry says report ‘vindicates’ Pakistan’s position that it is facing threats from armed groups based in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s foreign ministry has hailed a counterterrorism report by the UN Security Council’s sanctions monitoring team that identifies an increased threat from fighters based in neighbouring Afghanistan.
In a statement released late on Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the report “vindicates” its stance that Afghan and US-led NATO forces need to do more to fight groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jamaat-ur-Ahrar(JuA), and Hizb-ul-Ahrar (HuA) that pose a regional threat from their bases in Afghanistan.
Last year, the TTP, JuA, HuA and others reunited under the banner of the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which Pakistani intelligence officials say is based in eastern Afghanistan.
“This [merger] increased the strength of TTP and resulted in a sharp increase in attacks in the region,” said the UN monitoring team’s report.
The report said the strength of the unified group was estimated at between 2,500 and 6,000 fighters, while one UN member state that contributed to the report estimated that the TTP “was responsible for more than 100 cross-border attacks [into Pakistan] between July and October 2020”.
The TTP formed in 2007 as an umbrella organisation for a number of local militias across Pakistan’s northwest that were calling for the imposition of a strict form of Islamic law across the country.
The group carried out dozens of large-scale suicide attacks, bombings and other attacks targeting Pakistani civilians and security forces.
In 2014, the Pakistani military launched a security operation against the group’s headquarters in the North Waziristan district, succeeding in displacing most of its fighters across the border into eastern Afghanistan.
Since then, violence has dropped significantly, although sporadic large-casualty attacks against civilians and security forces still occur.
In recent months, since the TTP’s reunification, there has also been a spike in targeted attacks against security forces and tribal elders in North Waziristan.
“Pakistan expects that a dedicated effort will be launched by [Afghan security forces] and [US-led NATO troops] to neutralise this threat emanating from Afghanistan,” said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Sunday.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.