What is Punjabi Taliban up to?


The group’s latest move doesn’t answer every question

Punjabi Taliban who numerically constituted the largest section of the TTP and committed some of the worst acts of terrorism have formally dissociated themselves from the organisation and called off armed struggle in Pakistan. The development is welcome in so far as it further weakens a splintered TTP. It remains to be seen though how many of the Punjabi Taliban still remain loyal to Asmatullah Muavia, all the more so when a large section of the anti-Shia terrorists has joined the ISIS.

Muavia’s statement raises a number of uneasy questions. Has the group agreed to change course on account of a deal with the Pakistani establishment? If so, there is a need for the details of the deal to be made public. Vowing to end the armed struggle that his activists had conducted inside Pakistan, he says the group would henceforth limit the use of force to “infidel forces”. The prime targets of the Punjabi Taliban have so far been the military and intelligence agencies as well as their installations, foreign dignitaries and members of the minority sects and religions. Which ones have been excluded from the definition the “infidel forces” needs to be clarified. Muavia has made it clear that his group would be operating in Afghanistan. Last year Muavia had praised Ajmal Kasab and threatened that attacks in India will increase in near future as jihadis shift their focus from Afghanistan to India and Kashmir. In case Muavia is allowed the use of Pakistan’s territory as springboard for activities to destabilise the neigbouring counties, it would amount to compromising its image as a responsible state.

That Muavia’s network intends to operate from Pakistan has been made clear. Punjabi Taliban, he says, would pursue the implementation of Sharia in the country through peaceful means. Pakistan is already struggling to cope with extremism, the mother of all terrorism. The induction of another extremist group with a militant background is a highly worrisome development.