New Delhi: Non-conventional warfare strategists in General Headquarters (GHQ), Rawalpindi, are devising new plans to tackle the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or “Pakistan Taliban”, which includes crossing over into Afghanistan and carrying out military operations against the group. Such operations will follow the example of “Zarb-e-Azb”, which GHQ carried out in June 2014 to “eradicate militancy” from the region bordering Afghanistan, inputs collected by a third country and accessed by The Sunday Guardian revealed.

According to these inputs, the Pakistan army strategists have called the killing of Afghanistan-based Taliban cadre and leaders, who might come in between TTP and the Pakistan army, as “necessary collateral losses”. It may be noted that much of the Taliban leadership and a large proportion of young foot soldiers of the militia are opposed to the manner in which the Wahhabi Punjabi Pakistan military has been trying to control and use them.

The Pakistan army is likely to begin the operations once a government is formed in Kabul that will include puppets of China and Pakistan who are expected to sign off on the planned incursions. On 24 August, Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, while addressing a widely watched press conference in Kabul, termed the statement made by Pakistan ministers that the Taliban had constituted a three-member committee to convince the TTP to stop attacking the Pakistan military as a “rumour”. Zabihullah also, much to the surprise of Pakistani policymakers, stated that TTP was not functioning from inside Afghanistan’s border.

In view of these developments, intelligence inputs state that the Pakistan army will wait for a governmental structure to be formed in Kabul and then take up this issue with the Taliban ministers. If the Taliban, even then, refuse to accept Pakistan’s direction, the GHQ will have no option but to start the anti-TTP operations.

According to former Taliban commander, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who uses various social media platforms to share his extensive views on related developments, the Taliban in Afghanistan publicly agreeing to any kind of military operations against the TTP cadre was “very unlikely”, even if this means angering the Pakistan army leadership. According to Ehsan, the most the Taliban can do is to act as a mediator between the Pakistan army generals and the TTP leadership.

The three main aims of the TTP, upon its formation in December 2007, which included the coming together of 27 groups, was: 1. Enforcement of Sharia. 2. United war against the coalition forces in Afghanistan. 3. Performance of defensive jihad against the Pakistani army. Of these three aims, with the withdrawal of the US-led coalition forces, only two objectives remain to be achieved. The TTP represents those Pashtuns south of the Durand Line who are opposed to the overlordship of GHQ Rawalpindi in the provinces where Pashtuns form a significant number.

The TTP is guided by a Shura (council) of 40 elders. Ever since its formation, the TTP and Taliban have shared a relationship of mutual trust and respect for each other, which continues till date. While no official estimate is available on the number of TTP cadre, it is widely accepted that they about 10,000 active members.

This same assessment is likely shared by Pakistani military strategists as well, due to which they have been forced to devise new ways to tackle the TTP, even if that includes eliminating the Taliban leaders and cadre who might object to Pakistan military operations inside Afghanistan and against their own ideological brothers, the TTP.

The view among Pakistani strategists is that with no western army in the Af-Pak region, the Pak army will be able to carry out anti-TTP operations without any hindrance or real challenge from the Taliban militia, especially as several of the Taliban leaders are known to be in the control of GHQ Rawalpindi and its effective superior, the Chinese PLA. Events will show whether such confidence in the supine reaction of the Taliban is warranted.