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BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Tehrik-i-Taliban of Pakistan has stepped up its attacks on Pakistani government facilities in the country’s major cities. The TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban as distinguished from the Afghan Taliban, has vowed to overthrow the secular government and replace it with a caliphate, subjecting it to Shariah, or religious, law, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Pakistan is known to harbor terrorist groups but these are of the government’s own creation as a proxy to attack India, especially over the area of Kashmir which both countries claim.
Over time, the government through its Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, has created such groups as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT; the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami, or HUJI; and the Jaish-e-Mohammad Mujahideen E-Tanzeen, or JeM; among others for this purpose.
But the TTP is different. Indeed, Pakistan has sought U.S. help to attack the TTP, which occupies the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan. But members take refuge in Afghanistan where U.S. and coalition forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries battle the Afghan Taliban.
The U.S. has assisted by sending unmanned drones to attack the TTP in the remote areas of Pakistan.
In resuming attacks in Pakistan’s major cities, the TTP recently took credit for attacking a prison and killing a number of the police officers guarding it to release members of the TTP who claim to have been tortured while in prison. The TTP also has launched a series of other attacks in Pakistan’s major cities.
The TTP attacks – more prevalent from 2007 to 2010 – have resumed, owing to the instability of the government, upcoming elections and the recent reopening of the supply route through the Khyber Pass to resupply NATO troops.
It had been closed by the government in protest of the accidental U.S. killing of 27 Pakistani border guards last November. The U.S. recently apologized for the episode, precipitating the reopening.
The reopening of the Khyber Pass is symbolic of U.S.-Pakistani ties to which many Pakistanis are opposed. Analysts say that the TTP is seeking to use that opposition, considered to be nationwide, to its advantage against the Pakistani government.
The TTP will be looking to further discredit the regime of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as being corrupt, an issue that has pitted his executive branch against the powerful Pakistani Supreme Court that wants his immunity removed to stand trial on corruption charges.
Observers say the TTP will take advantage of such rifts in government to accentuate its position in the run-up to the forthcoming elections and will take advantage of a political vacuum to be more visible and launch further disruptive raids against government facilities.
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