Pakistan is one of the countries suffering from terrorist organizations taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, especially after the United States (US) withdrawal from Afghanistan. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, both the separatist Baloch groups and the terrorist organization Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have increased their activities in Pakistan.
It is seen that these attacks mainly targeted investments and Chinese workers within the scope of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is intended to be implemented within the scope of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This indicates that the US, which opened space for terrorist organizations during the withdrawal process, is using these organizations as proxy actors to destabilize China, its main rival in the global power struggle, and Beijing’s allies.
In this context, the Islamabad administration has been taking decisive steps to combat the separatist Baloch terrorist organizations on the one hand and conducting major operations against the terrorist organization TTP on the other. However, the terrorist organization TTP’s withdrawal from the ceasefire agreement signed between Pakistan and the Taliban and its resort to armed attacks has caused much more discomfort in Islamabad. Moreover, these attacks are causing serious disagreements with the Taliban, with whom Pakistan has developed healthy relations for many years.
To explain the situation, first of all, the Islamabad administration adopted an attitude criticizing the Taliban for the TTP’s withdrawal from the ceasefire. Because the Taliban was the mediator in the ceasefire process. Therefore, Pakistan, which wanted the Taliban to put pressure on the terrorist organization, experienced some problems in its relations with the Taliban when it did not witness the developments it expected in this regard.
One of the main problems is the allegation that TTP terrorists crossed into Afghanistan after their attacks in Pakistan. In this context, while the Islamabad administration wants to organize a cross-border operation against TTP elements in Afghanistan, the Taliban leadership is known to be uncomfortable with this initiative. Moreover, the Taliban state that this option would mean a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence.
As a matter of fact, the US use of Pakistani airspace during its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terrorist organizations also draws the Taliban’s reaction. The most concrete example of this is the incident of the neutralization of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, as a result of the drone intervention organized by the US on August 1, 2022. The US use of Pakistani airspace in this operation drew the reaction of the Taliban.
At this point, it should be noted that Pakistan, like any other state, prioritizes its own national interests. This is because many members of the terrorist organization TTP and a significant number of its senior leaders have been neutralized by the US drone strikes. Pakistan is therefore not averse to cooperating with the US in the fight against the terrorist organization TTP.
On the other hand, it is also possible to argue that the increase in terrorist acts in the region serves the US strategy of destabilizing Asian powers, especially China. In this sense, it can be claimed that the most important prescription for regional security issues, especially the fight against the TTP, is the pursuit of regional cooperation. Regional cooperation will not only serve to eliminate security risks but also contribute to the welfare of the peoples of the region.
At this point, CPEC is one of the most important cooperation and investment initiatives in the region. Indeed, the meeting of Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawel Bhutto Zardari and Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaki in Islamabad on May 6, 2023 witnessed developments that will strengthen the search for regional cooperation and the parties agreed on the expansion of CPEC to include Afghanistan. Therefore, in the context of regional cooperation, CPEC’s security cannot be separated from Afghanistan’s security and Pakistan’s security.
In this context, the most important issue on the agenda seems to be the Taliban’s use of its influence over the TTP for the security of Pakistan. Although there is no organic relationship between the Taliban and the TTP terrorist organization, it is seen that the TTP, ideologically inspired by the beginning of the second Taliban era in Afghanistan, has started to express its claim to establish a similar order in Pakistan in a much stronger way. In this context, Pakistan expects the Taliban to convince the TTP to lay down its arms. Therefore, Muttaki’s call for a ceasefire between Pakistan and the TTP on May 8, 2023 is quite significant. This statement can be interpreted as a harbinger of a ceasefire between the parties under the mediation of the Taliban. Undoubtedly, it would not be correct to read this development independently from the CPEC-oriented pursuit of regional cooperation that prioritizes regional security.
In conclusion, Pakistan is waging an important struggle against the terrorist organization TTP. Despite successful operations on the ground, Islamabad also wants to make progress in the negotiation and diplomacy dimension of counterterrorism methods. It seems that preparations are being made for a new ceasefire process mediated by the Taliban. Of course, in this situation, the prosperity promised to the region by the CPEC-centered regional cooperation pursuits, in which China is also involved, plays a decisive role.
 “Taliban Accuses Pakistan of Allowing U.S. Drones to Use Its Airspace”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taliban-accuses-pakistan-allowing-us-drones-use-its-airspace-2022-08-28/, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).
 “Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan”, Stanford, https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/tehrik-i-taliban-pakistan, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).
 “China, Pakistan and Afghanistan FMs Hold Talks in Islamabad”, Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/7/china-pakistan-and-afghanistan-fms-hold-talks-in-islamabad, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).
 “Afghanistan’s Muttaqi Urges Pakistan, TTP to Hold Dialogue As Violence Surges”, The News, https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/1068266-afghanistans-muttaqi-urges-pakistan-ttp-sit-together-for-dialogue, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).