Afghan Taliban on Pakistan Taliban atrocities
Summary: The Afghan Taliban attempt to distance themselves from Pakistani atrocities without mentioning them by name. Amidst rising numbers of attacks, no sign of Afghan government or Afghan Taliban political ideas regarding resolving the insurgency.
Yesterday the Pakistani Taliban launched an attack on an Army public school in Peshawar, killing at least 132 children and 9 staff, according to the BBC. The Pakistani Taliban appear to have claimed responsibility for the attack, as part of a retaliation for the Pakistani army’s operation in north west Pakistan against the Pakistani Taliban. Interestingly, the Afghan Taliban have already posted a statement on their own website:
“An attack has occurred on a school in the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan this morning at around 10:00 am local time. Information from the area suggests that so far some 200 people have been killed and wounded in the incident most of whom are said to be children.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan expresses its condolences over the incident and mourns with the families of killed children.
The intentional killing of innocent people, women and children goes against the principles of Islam and every Islamic government and movement must adhere to this fundamental essence.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always condemned the killing of children and innocent people at every juncture. Messages of condolences were also released a while back regarding the blasts at a playground in Yahya Khel district of Paktika province and a mosque in Nangarhar province and those acts were considered against the principles of Islam.”
The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have a loosely collaborative relationship but broadly fight their own battles within the respective states. This statement rings very hollow. To avoid pointing at fellow insurgents, it does not mention the Pakistani Taliban by name but perhaps suggests the recognition by the Afghan Taliban that it is likely to generate a highly unhelpful popular backlash. The “blasts at a playground” the Taliban also mention relate to a suicide attack at a volleyball game in eastern Afghanistan which killed at least 50 people and injured 63 and was not claimed by any organisation. The Afghan Taliban continue to organise, conduct and claim regular suicide attacks inside Afghanistan, seemingly claiming the ones that suit their purposes and remaining silent when the number of civilians dead start to outweigh the number of military and political dead.
The Afghan Taliban have ramped up the number of attacks in the last few weeks. There seems little in the way of political engagement, messaging or reach out from them nor coherent dialogue plans from Ashraf Ghani’s government. Very much a sense of “sleepwalking” along a route of continued violence. I think this is because of the uncertainty generated by the ISAF withdrawal, with both insurgents and government willing and able to continue the fight but neither having the resources to achieve a decisive result.