Islamist militants in Pakistan have stepped up their attacks on the country’s security forces in recent weeks, reinforcing fears the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan will embolden similar groups across the border.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the group is known, differs from the Afghan Taliban in terms of its organizational setup, but both follow the same hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam.
The TTP is an umbrella organisation for more than a dozen Islamist militant groups which operate in Pakistan, which have killed around 70, 000 people in two decades of violence.
The group has launched 32 attacks against Pakistani soldiers and police in the month of August, according to a tally of bombings and gun assaults claimed by the TTP.
Pakistan’s military has pushed back the TTP from regions on the Afghan border, their former stronghold, into Afghanistan, in a series of offensives since 2014.
“There are clear signs they are regrouping and adding to their ability to launch attacks,” security analyst Fida Khan said.
Pakistan’s military had fenced off more than 2,500 kilometres of the porous border with Afghanistan, in an attempt to stop militants from crossing the border. It has also deployed troops to prevent attacks.
“We are ready for any situation,” General Iftikar Babar, the Pakistani military’s spokesperson, said last week, referring to possible fallout after the Taliban reconquered Afghanistan.
Analyst Khan said the TTP might have been encouraged by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and Pakistan should brace for more attacks.
Washington triggered the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan earlier this year, with NATO allies following suit. With most foreign troops gone, the radical Islamist Taliban rapidly seized power two weeks ago.