TTP activates its B-Team in the form of Hafiz Gul Bahadur group and IMAM group, says FJ

ISLAMABAD/LONDON: Faran Jeffery, deputy director and head of the South Asia desk on terrorism at the Britain-based Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism (ITCT) think tank, has said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) doesn’t want to embarrass the Afghan Taliban in front of the international community and has therefore agreed for a ceasefire with Pakistan.

Faran Jeffery, also known as NatSecJeff and FJ is considered to be amongst the most well-informed security analysts covering the AfPak region. He has a deep insight into the psychology and dynamics of terrorist and extremist groups in Pakistan.

Speaking exclusively to The Pakistan Daily‘s correspondent Raja Furqan Ahmed, FJ said, “As of now, all three parties – Taliban, TTP and Pakistan – are looking to maintain ambiguity and deniability. Taliban doesn’t like to admit that it has allowed foreign militants to have a presence in Afghanistan. TTP doesn’t want to embarrass the Taliban in front of the international community and has therefore agreed for a ceasefire with Pakistan but at the same time it has activated its B-Team in the form of Hafiz Gul Bahadur group as well as the newly formed IMAM group (Ittehad Musallah Islami Mujahideen).”

“While TTP hasn’t been owning any of the attacks during ceasefire, these two groups have claimed a large portion of those attacks and these two groups have very close ties with TTP. Taliban has only taken the responsibility for talks with TTP with Pakistan, and if Pakistan goes complaining to Taliban about these two other groups, Taliban will simply claim deniability,” he said.

FJ said, “similarly, Pakistan will maintain deniability for any secret assassination operations targeting militants in Afghanistan.”

“Right now there are also some reports of the return of armed militants in Swat as part of some agreement. But I believe we can expect small targeted operations against these militants in near future. For Pakistan, there were mainly two options. Either launch large-scale ground operations against militants on Afghan soil, in which case Pakistan would face a very large number of casualties as it would also provoke direct confrontation with Taliban forces. The second option was to lure militants out of their safehouses and back into Pakistan, where they can be neutralized if and when needed,” he further added.

According to security analyst Faran Jeffery, he said that Pakistan would likely keep the window open for militants who want to surrender and live like normal citizens in Pakistan. But if some militants refuse to put down arms and end their militant activities, then eventually we can expect small targeted operations against them on Pakistani soil.

“So while I fully understand the concerns of locals, I think we should wait and see what happens. Fact is there are no easy solutions to this militant problem and this is the long fight which is far from over,” he clarified.

“While people like Imran Khan were claiming that this is America’s war, I have always said that this is Pakistan’s war, this is the war of regional countries. America can afford to pack up and leave, but regional countries have to stay in the region and deal with these militants in the long run,” FJ said.

According to security analyst Faran Jeffery, “Things are very interesting in the AfPak region this day. My prediction is that this trend will continue for some time. We might hear about some more events related to militancy and terrorism in the upcoming days.”

FJ believes that TTP’s top commander Omar Khalid Khorasani’s death has a greater significance as a post to the killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“Omar’s death will directly impact the operations capabilities of TTP,” he added.

Raja Furqan Ahmed

Raja Furqan Ahmed is the News Editor of The Pakistan Daily.

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