According to the Afghan authorities, the Pakistani army fired on villages in the Khost region, near the Pakistani border, on April 16. “Forty-one civilians, mostly women and children, were killed, and 22 were injured,” said the region’s director of information, Ahmad Osmani.
Without confirming this attack, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Kabul on Sunday April 17 “to secure the Pakistan-Afghan border region”considering that “terrorists operate with impunity from Afghan soil to carry out activities in Pakistan”.
Pakistani Taliban backed by Kabul
Thanks to the return to power of the Taliban in Kabul, the armed groups of the Pakistani Taliban movement Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), close to Al-Qaeda, have regained strength even though the organization had been a time weakened by competition from Daesh and by the death of its leader Maulana Fazlullaj in 2018. However, the new authorities in Kabul seem to offer “a sanctuary and substantial support” at the TTP, say experts from the United States Institute for Peace (Usip), based in Washington.
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The TTP was created in 2007. “The movement was born, under the influence of the war in Afghanistan, within the Pashtun community, there is a real tribal solidarity between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban, nothing in ethnic or cultural terms distinguishes them”, says Karim Pakzad, researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris).
“The particularly radical Pakistani Taliban aim to oust the authorities in Islamabad” , he continues. Most of their attacks are directed against Pakistani security forces. “Their attacks have claimed tens of thousands of lives over the years and the authorities’ war against them has lasted for years,” adds Karim Pakzad.
A month-long ceasefire
Some of them ended up finding refuge on Afghan soil in this border area where the Pashtun communities found themselves separated by a border – the Durand line, fixed at the end of the 19th century during the colonial era – that they do not recognize.
Faced with the resurgence of its attacks in the fall, the Pakistani government had negotiated a one-month ceasefire in November thanks to the intervention of the Afghan Taliban. This agreement was broken after a month by the TTP: for the latter, the Pakistani authorities had not respected their commitment to release prisoners. “Islamabad expected stronger support from Kabul, for the Taliban to come back and lay down their arms. It did not happen, adds Karim Pakzad. Since then a hundred Pakistani soldiers have died”.
Although they are no match for the Pakistani army, the new Afghan authorities have warned Islamabad: “If a war breaks out, it will not be in the interests of either party.”