Bannu, Davos and the Taliban

Taliban

In wake of the most deadliest attack on Pakistan paramilitary Frontier Corps by the Taliban in Bannu, in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) province, Prime Minister NawazSharif has cancelled his important visit to Davos.

In this latest attack by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, 22 security personnel have been martyred while 38 have sustained critical injuries. Fifteen of the critically injured have been flown by army helicopters to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar– the capital of north-west KP.

The paramilitary convoy was ready to start its journey to the neighboring tribal area of North Waziristan, when the explosion happened. The bomb exploded in a private Toyata Hiace van hired by the Frontier Corps. The Pakistan army has its own transport vehicles while, in case of paramilitary forces, it is a common practice to hire private vehicles to transport large number of troops.  The blast took place in a parade ground inside the Bannu Cantonment and it was heard across the Bannu town.

Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman of the TTP, calling from an undisclosed location told the Associated Press of Pakistan that this recent attack was in retaliation for the killing of Wali-ur-Rehman, the former second-in-command of the TTP. He was killed in a drone strike by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Taliban had vowed to increase the terrorist acts after the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud last year, also in a drone strike. Shahidullah Shahid added that,” We will avenge the killing of every one of our fellows through such attacks.”

The president, prime minister, chief ministers of Pungab and KP have condemned this attack by the Taliban and termed it a cowardly act. The Prime Minister, Sharif, speaking to the press after cancelling his trip to Davos said, “Our nation is united against terrorism and the sacrifices rendered by our citizens and personnel of law enforcement agencies will not go in vain.” Sharif was to visit Davos, resort in Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum scheduled from 22-25 January.

This latest attack by the Taliban comes within twenty-four hours of the Afghan Taliban attack on an upscale restaurant in Kabul, killing 21 people, most of them foreigners. It is to be noted that there is an appreciable increase of attacks being carried on by the Taliban in the recent months. The timing of these attacks is important because the American led ISAF and NATO troops are to leave Afghanistan in a few months’ time. The situation is further complicated by the fact the  Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan is still reluctant to sign the Bi-Lateral Security Agreement (BSA) with a majority of the U.S. political analysts now referring to the document as the basic suspicious agreement.  Karzai, it appears, at the moment is more interested in electing his elder brother, Qayum Karzai as the next president of Afghanistan than anything else.

What further complicates the situation is the insistence by the Obama administration, as its officials are pressurizing both Pakistan and Afghanistan to convince the Taliban to initiate a negotiation process. Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician head of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement–PTI), whose party is in power in KP, also wants to initiate a process of negotiation with the Taliban. The ground reality, though, is that the Taliban only understand only one language, that of violence and force. In such a situation, table talks are not a feasible option. This, in short, is the connection between, Bannu, Davos and the Taliban.

By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada

Sources:

The News

APP

The Hindu