Pakistan’s Future Government’s Credibility to Fight Separatism

Pakistan flag
The flag of Pakistan (Credits: Foto di engin akyurt su Unsplash)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 40 Issue 12
Author: Ahsan Ali

Economic instability, political unrest, declining bilateral relations with Taliban Afghanistan, terrorism on various fronts, and most recently, military escalation at the Iranian border have hit Pakistan.

The presence of military influence in Pakistan’s political system has revealed its flaws, leading to political unrest and the imprisonment of former premier Imran Khan and foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The country has become more politically uncertain because of the Pakistani elections. People accuse the elected government of Shehbaz Sharif of rigging and receiving support from the military establishment. This has jeopardised the government’s credibility and its ability to combat separatists in Baluchistan and at the Durand frontier.

With the escalating attacks from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have an ideological affiliation with the Taliban government in Kabul, since 2021, the country has experienced rising attacks.

In addition, recently Islamabad registered tensions with Tehran after an Iranian unplanned incursion into Pakistani territory aimed at targeting Jaish al-Adl led to retaliatory measures from Pakistan and the subsequent escalation of events along the Middle East frontier.

Pakistan: Geopolitical Scenario

Political uncertainty has embroiled Pakistan since the removal of former Premier Imran Khan in April 2022. Since that time, Pakistan has experienced increased political instability as the subsequent coalition government faced a lack of market confidence and, at the same time, increased imports.

As a result, the dwindling foreign reserves compelled the government to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for help. Unfortunately, this decision proved disastrous for Pakistan’s economy, as the government had to request a $3 billion bailout from the IMF in exchange for implementing unpopular austerity measures.

Coalition Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s political reputation among the Pakistani people suffered a detrimental impact when he was forced to implement unpopular austerity measures. In contrast, former Premier Imran Khan effectively managed the situation with the IMF and the austerity measures, acquiring popularity despite the rising costs. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s taking on IMF loans successfully, the austerity measures in Pakistan started worsening the already turbulent situation in Pakistan with no clear policy on how to deal with the situation under a clear economic policy.

The mounting attacks by militant groups, mainly Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are also exacerbating the situation, with the resources and security being stretched.

To worsen the situation of the coalition government was the TTP, with their escalating attacks on the Pakistani territory. The group’s operatives started major security attacks within Pakistan, leaving law enforcement in peril with under-equipped and under-funded police personnel.

The security situation is worsening with the attack on the mosque, and security compound, and sowing alliance with other militant groups of Pakistan in Baluchistan to further threaten and destabilise the national security of Pakistan.

TTP attacks have also inspired other radical militant groups such as the Tehreek-e-Jihad (TJP) attack on Dera Ismail Khan police station, marking how radical Islamism is deteriorating the security situation of Pakistan.

In Pakistan’s backyard, insistent requests to the Taliban government in Afghanistan to do more in decimating and not providing sanctuary to the TTP, have fallen on deaf ears with continued support to the TTP. As the Afghan Taliban and TTP are both ideologically aligned with one another, and Afghan Taliban may not fall for Pakistan’s ‘strategic depth’ policy as they were not able to be controlled by Islamabad in 1996 either.

The final blow occurred between Kabul and Islamabad happened when in September 2023, the border was closed, when TTP militants stormed two military outposts in the remote Chitral region, with four soldiers killed and 12 TTP militants gunned down before they retreated to Afghanistan.

This was the final straw to make the military run out of patience in Pakistan with the Islamabad response to shutting down the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The two states engaged in bilateral negotiations, but the recent attack escalated the conflict, resulting in a decisive confrontation between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban in Kabul. Pakistan insisted on a powerful response against the TTP, as the country was already facing significant levels of threat from the TTP amidst political instability.

To seed the pressure on the Taliban in Kabul, Pakistan decoupled the long-staying Afghans in its territory with deportation to even those who were born in Pakistan territory. The deportation of millions of “unregistered foreigners” was condemned by the Afghan Taliban, UN, and human rights organisations in Pakistan as well.

The deportation of Afghans moved Islamabad and Kabul further away, and even the will to fight cordially against certain groups failed with the deportation and divisions over the approach to deal with TTP.

Relations further deteriorated in February 2024, with the Afghan deputy foreign minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai’s comment on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border over the long-standing dispute of the Durand line border after the deportation of 500,000 Afghans from 1.7 million Afghans and the requirement of passports over the porous border of Afghan-Pakistan. Tensions have been escalating significantly only after Pakistan carried airstrikes inside Afghanistan after 7 soldiers died in a North Waziristan suicide bombing by the Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad.

Read also | Pakistan-Iran Border Tension: Geopolitical Analysis

The Western border of Pakistan also in perils in recent times where the security threat have risen significantly. Pakistan and Iran both have a long-standing ethnic conflict in Baluchistan, where separatist movements have embedded themselves in the Baloch province of Pakistan.

To fight separatism, both countries have a mutual understanding of striking separatists which are targeting the security and civilian infrastructure. Some Baloch separatist factions in Pakistan pledging allegiance to the TTP have fuelled the already heated separatism in Baluchistan.

The two groups are coming close with factional allegiance, which gives an understanding of how the two are forging close ties with one another. Both have recognised one another efforts and issues such as Baloch separatist suicide training in Afghanistan and Baloch grievances accepted in TTP released propaganda video.

Although ideologically both are different as Baloch separatists are more secular and marginalised as compared to TTP, which is religiously-driven conservative Islamist, though, both have a common foe which is the “state of Pakistan.”

Pakistan is already waging a conflict with Baloch separatism and taking attacks from the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) within the state by attacks on the Pakistan Stock Exchange attack, Karachi University attack, or attack on the Chinese and unclaimed assassination of Chinese nationals.

In January, Baluchistan came into more issues when it got hit by Iranian missiles that were targeting Jaish al-Adl within Pakistan under a miscalculated attack where two children were killed, which only ignited week-long skirmishes between Iran and Pakistan with retaliatory strikes. After a few days, both countries reconciled after the Iranian foreign minister’s visit, intending to fight Baloch militants in a coordinated manner, share security intelligence, and reduce the trust deficit, especially with Pakistan’s cordial relation with   Iran and more focused on the KPK border.


With current political instability, Pakistan cannot properly deal with the terrorist elements within the state, as it has been entangled on numerous fronts. The unpopular government may initiate different military campaigns to combat the terrorists, but the population would be more concerned with the unpopular government due to the ongoing financial crisis in the country.

Meanwhile, the military institutional trust is also facing a crisis as the public opinion is considerably low, with the population questioning their credibility, influence within Pakistan politics, and their past dealings with the Kabul-based Taliban.

The police’s ability to combat the Taliban would remain low as they are under-funded and under-gunned to deal with the TTP and other terrorist elements who have gained advanced leftover weapons from the USA and NATO withdrawing forces.

Henceforth, the primary security institution would remain prone to attacks at a massive scale, as clear until they are reformed, trained, and provided with proper armaments to deal with the Taliban and other suchlike elements.

Tehreek-e-Taliban will continue to inspire more terrorist organisations, which will haunt the security of Pakistan and put the country at stake until they are dealt with adequately. Moreover, for political reasons, Pakistan may expel the remaining Afghan refugees despite condemnation, but this action will face worker shortages at home and those Afghans who were abroad will not send remittance to Pakistan with their families expelled from Pakistan.

Pakistan and Iran have more of a misunderstanding as an issue, with no high stakes to fight Iranians, but it will be cordially and peacefully solved. Both may reach more security memorandum in tackling militancy within the Baluchistan region overall, but it is not all calculated as Baluchistan is a growing political issue. Many of the odds are against the Pakistan army since the harrowing torture stories are coming within Baluchistan.

The peace will remain fragile until the state and key playmakers reach a negotiated settlement with the politicians and militants and start proper development in Baluchistan by providing equal rights to ethnic Balochis. Otherwise, the activities of Baloch and TTP militancy will increase and may raise the stakes of national security in Pakistan by a high level.

Read also | Security And Terrorist Threat in Pakistan: Islamabad Left In A Destabilising Position After Taliban Takeover In Kabul

Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpecialEurasia.

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