Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP): 12 Month Counter-Terrorism Forecast

On 22 June, Pakistan’s government announced a new counter-terrorism campaign called Operation Azm-e-Istehkam. Since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, the number of terror attacks has surged in Pakistan regions bordering Afghanistan. Initially in 2021, Pakistan hailed the return of the Taliban however relations have since seriously deteriorated over accusations the new Afghan government is sheltering Tehrik-e Taliban (TTP) militants. In 2023, TTP carried out 210 terror attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a significant increase from 130 attacks in 2022. [source] On 18 March, Pakistan conducted retaliatory airstrikes against TTP positions inside Afghanistan which angered the Afghan Taliban government who deny links to TTP and considered the strikes a breach of their sovereignty. The Taliban government immediately retaliated by ordering artillery strikes on Pakistani military outposts. Pakistan’s new counter-terrorism campaign must therefore over the next 12 months balance the risk of an Afghan border conflict with the economic necessity of stabilising the geo-strategic Pakistan-Afghan border region.

Key Judgement 1. It is unlikely Pakistan’s new counterterrorism campaign will significantly diminish TTP’s capabilities over the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 2. It is likely that increased Pakistani military operations against TTP hideouts in Afghanistan over the next 12 months would drive closer cooperation between the Afghan Taliban and TTP.

Key Judgement 3. It is highly unlikely the US will accept Pakistan’s request for kinetic counter-terrorism support over the next 12 months unless US interests are directly attacked.

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