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To End Spiralling Violence, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Intends To Mediate Talks Between Afghan Taliban, and Pakistan over TTP

Published | December 15,2023

By | Iftikhar Firdous

To End Spiralling Violence, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Intends To Mediate Talks Between Afghan Taliban, and Pakistan over TTPimage

While there is no appetite for Islamabad to engage in peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, there is a dire need to put the relationship with the Afghan Taliban back on track to restrain the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — enters Maulana Fazlur Rehman. 

With more than 2,500 casualties and over 1,600 attacks in 2023 — the year has seen the largest spike in terrorism-related violence since 2010 when the TTP held territory. The onslaught of attacks has been simultaneously sporadic and intermittent, with over 100 fatalities at the Peshawar police lines at the start of the year, followed by 23 military fatalities at the end of the year in Dera Ismail Khan. 

Both attacks were claimed by two separate factions of the Pakistani Taliban, the Jammat ul Ahrar (JUA) and the newly emerged militant Tehreek e Jihad Pakistan (TJP), which operationally and ideologically appears to be deeply inspired by the TTP. 

Last year, Islamabad entered into a fragile ceasefire agreement with the TTP but the negotiations were called off in November 2022, following which the militant group announced escalating attacks across the country, especially targeting the Pakistani security forces.

As the number of militant attacks rose in Pakistan, the administration in Islamabad raised the issue with the interim government in Afghanistan, maintaining that militants were using Afghan soil to launch attacks inside Pakistan. In October, Pakistan announced to expel all illegal migrants in the country, including thousands of Afghans.

The TTP, however, has not just become an internal security threat for Pakistan now but a diplomatic hurdle impeding economic priorities across the border and into Central Asian markets. 

“Pakistan's expectation to achieve security objectives by sending Afghan refugees back to their country alone will only be counter-productive” a senior Western diplomat, who was recently on a visit to Pakistan related to Afghan refugees, said.

“Pakistan has people who are more influential in Afghanistan than the international community,” he told Pakistani officials. 

“The name of Maulana Fazlur Rehman was proposed as a candidate to restrain the TTP and talk to the Afghan Taliban," a Pakistani official with direct knowledge of the development, told The Khorasan Diary on condition of anonymity.

When contacted, a decision maker of the JUI-F, who wished not to be named, told The Khorasan Diary that they had received an invitation from the Afghan Taliban to settle the issues related to the TTP. 

When asked if the TTP had been contacted, the JUI-F stalwart confirmed that the top leadership of the TTP had been contacted and they were waiting to sit across the table, “they are from the very same school of thought — Deoband, there is a respectable relation between JUI-F and all those who follow the Deobandi school” he said.

He added that a final nod was awaited from the military establishment for Maulana Fazlur Rehman to proceed with ending the deadlock in the negotiations with the Afghan Taliban and break the ice that has been built between both countries due to the TTP.

Meanwhile, a key commander of the TTP privy to the group’s important decision-making process, denied any such contact with the group either by the JUI-F or the Afghan Taliban. 

“I have also heard these rumors but these are just rumors. There is nothing serious about it. Rather I would say these are baseless reports,” he said on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.