How the TTP Works in the Sindh and Punjab

The Tehreek-e-Taliban stronghold is in the Waziristans, with the main nexus being South Waziristan, but occasionally you see them very active with targetted strikes in urban areas of the Sindh and Punjab. The most significant operations were Lal Masjid, and the various assasination attempts including the successful one against Benazir Bhutto (more on that here and here.) It’s notable that they have met with more success at the edges of the Urban areas and the frontiers – Lal Masjid and the successful assasination attempt were at the edge of the frontiers. 

To effect operations in urban areas there are really only three options for them; all of which have drawbacks. They can ally with particular groups, they can import the operatives, or they can hire.

The best example of all three is Lal Masjid. The majority of the students in Lal Masjid were from the frontiers, or from the families of Old-guard ISI, the Hamid Gul contingent. They also worked with some criminal gangs to gain their weapons.

In the assasination attempts on Musharraf you see clear signs of them working with disaffected Military personell (the weapons used have been military rockets and machine guns, both obtainable only from the Army.) 

The targetted assasination attempts against Benazir Bhutto were both logistically enabled by importing small cells and arming from criminal gangs.

What are the drawbacks of these methods? Importing operatives makes them less than effective since they tend to not know the city and they stick out; using criminal gangs for hire makes for mercenary allies who can be turned; and once an Army insider is used then that particular resource is burnt. 

Their enablers and sympathizers in the cities are one part of the MMA party and JI, the Madrassahs, and some student groups on various campus’ in the cities.

So as with all insurgencies it would pay the government to watch for new people in the cities, the criminal gangs, and the student groups for that is where the insurgency will grow if TTP makes a bid to move into Urban areas.

In an example of how these things fall apart once moving deeper into the Sindh and Punjab you see this failed attempt in Karachi.

Karachi—Timely scanning helped police to round up five suspects here Saturday allegedly involved in planning to give a terror blow to Karachi during religious processions of Ashura-e-Moharam.
Four of the arrested terrorists had undergone training at a terrorist camp in Mir Ali’s tribal area. The gang leader Mohammed Aijaz alias Abdul Rehman had been imparting training in terrorism at various training camps after Afghan war and was a teacher at a “warfare” training camp in South Waziristan.
Azhar Farooqui IG Police Sindh told a press conference that five terror suspects including an alleged suicide bomber Aziz Ahmed alias Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Ejaz alias Abdul Rahman, Jamil Ahmed alias Wazir Akbar, Muhammad Hamid alias Qasim and Muhammad Wasim alias Imran.
IGP said that police recovered 6Kg explosives laid in the suicide jacket, 3 hand grenades, 6 detonators, 15 meter detonating wire, 500 grams cyanide, one generator used to generate remote control, 2 TT pistols with 20 rounds, 2 Kg ball bearings and one Kg spikes.