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Monday, May 20, 2024

Pakistan steps up air war against TTP with drone strikes inside Afghanistan, Pashtuns protest

Pakistan has claimed that its drone has destroyed several hideouts of the banned militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) inside the border areas of Afghanistan. It was the first of its kind of successful drone attacks by the Pakistani Army, outside the country. “The strikes were carried out following intelligence reports that TTP leaders were present in the area,” Express Tribune quoted official sources as saying.

According to the report, the drone attacks were carried out just after the strike was carried out by the Pakistan Air Force jets last week where more than 45 people were killed, including five children and seven women. The TTP admitted that its 33 cadres were killed and vowed to intensify attacks on the Pakistani Army.

According to the Pakistani officials, the drones targeted only those areas which were “occupied” by the militants of the TTP and these areas were no-go areas for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) itself.

“The drone successfully hit targets and the TTP suffered heavy losses. The area was cordoned off by the TTP in order to hide the killings of its commanders — even members of the Taliban were not allowed. More details will be shared in the next few days,” the source told Express Tribune.

Earlier, the Taliban regime had summoned the Pakistani Ambassador in Kabul and lodged a protest against the Pakistani invasion into sovereign Afghanistan but ignoring the protests, Pakistani authorities summoned the Afghan envoy in Islamabad on Monday to convey the message that Pakistan has run out of patience with the Afghan Taliban.

“There were serious casualties last week and this is what was taken up with the IEA but they want us to engage with the TTP. I seriously don’t know why the IEA (Taliban rulers) would tell us to talk to the TTP. Who are these TTP, we will talk to the IEA, and not the TTP,” the daily quoted one official as saying.

According to Pakistani watchers, the new government in Pakistan led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his coalition partners are against any talks with the proscribed TTP which has launched the Al-Badr offensive against the Pakistani Army at the beginning of Ramzan.

Now the Army has been asked to use effective “means” (drones) against TTP targets and “the IEA should not be trusted anymore”.

“The Taliban rulers have been told many times to take actions against their ideological brother TTP but every time they (The Taliban) ask us “negotiate” with the TTP. It is not acceptable. We were compelled to take this step in self-defence,” said the official source.

In retaliation the TTP’s social media accounts have posted an audio message of its supremo Noor Wali Mehsud in which he says that, “We will never accept the tyranny of the Pakistani Army. It is our duty to fight against the oppressors who oppress the innocent Pashtun people.”

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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