Pakistani Taliban attacks threaten safety of Chinese projects

The frequent attacks by the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan raised concerns on the security and safety of Chinese projects in the country, Chinese state media reported.Analysts have warned that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may continue its attacks in Pakistan and cause damage to China’s projects and personnel in the country, Global Times reported on Saturday.The TTP had expressed its happiness over the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Recently, TTP leader Mufti Wali Noor Mehsud, in an exclusive interview with Japanese media outlet Mainichi Shimbun, welcomed the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan and said that “we are hopeful for a strong relationship between the two of us”.

Experts believe that the recent developments in Afghanistan have encouraged the TTP members and they want to realise Pashtuns’ rule in Pakistan.Established in 2007, TTP is believed to be an alliance of some militant groups based in northwest Pakistan near the Afghanistan border.Zhang Jiadong, a professor at the Center for American Studies, Fudan University, said that the TTP hopes to benefit from the Taliban’s takeover as they are both Pashtuns and the Afghan Taliban’s victory represents a victory for Pashtuns and Islamism, according to Global Times.

Calling it a major concern for Pakistan, he suggested that the resurgence of extremist groups may affect the regional situation and it could escalate more issues in the region.On July 14, nine Chinese nationals were killed in a shuttle bus explosion in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on their way to the China-backed Dasu hydropower project.Director of the Centre for Afghanistan Studies at Lanzhou University, Zhu Yongbiao, said that Mehsud’s remarks showed that while the Afghan Taliban wants to “cut ties” with the TTP while the group wants the opposite.Some members of the TTP also helped the Taliban to fight the former Afghan government.

But it’s hard to figure out whether these people joined the Taliban as individuals or as a group, said Global Times. Analysts have warned that after the fall of the Afghan government, complex ties of TTP, Pakistan, and the Taliban could become more delicate and lead to influence geopolitics in South Asia.According to Global Times, on July 19, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the TTP is considered a terrorist organisation by the Pakistani government and the international community believes that it was behind many terrorist attacks including the bombing of a hotel in the Pakistani city of Quetta on April 21, which took place when the Chinese ambassador was about to arrive at the hotel.

The Director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, Qian Feng, said that the TTP is playing tricks to confuse the global community and its leader’s remarks cannot disguise the fact that the TTP is a terrorist group. Neither can it hide the fact that the TTP conducted terror attacks targeting Chinese people in Pakistan, Global Times quoted Qian as saying.Zhang and Zhu both have noted that Beijing needs to work with Islamabad to enhance security measures and assure the safety of CPEC projects.