No good options.

THE sight of thousands of people taking to the streets in South Waziristan to protest the resurgence of the Pakistani Taliban offers a ray of hope. It is a reminder that domestic militancy is not organic or an inevitable consequence of ideological inclinations. Rather, it is the result of foreign and security policies gone awry, for which there is declining public appetite.

Unfortunately, the difficulty of pivoting away from those policies is now becoming apparent. The worsening relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan highlight that in the fight against the TTP, Pakistan can only choose from bad options.

With negotiations with the TTP off the table (for now, at least), Pakistan is counting on the Afghan Taliban to rein in the group and prevent cross-border attacks. Islamabad recently upped the ante, suggesting that if the Afghan Taliban didn't step up, Pakistan would take action on Afghan soil too.

But the Afghan Taliban are in no mood for scapegoating, and their official rhetoric against Pakistan is increasingly laced with bile. Even while expressing a desire for good bilateral relations, the Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid last week warned Pakistan against attacking targets in Afghanistan.

The concept of strategic depth has been perversely inverted.

Taliban commander General Mobeen has been less diplomatic in his online missives. In recent days he has directed Islamabad to focus on its own internal affairs rather than interfere in Afghanistan's. He has also deployed vile language to describe Pakistan's political leadership. All this after a provocative tweet from Afghan Taliban leader Ahmad Yasir reminding Islamabad that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, and alluding to the outcome of the 1971 war with India.

The reality is the Afghan Taliban are unlikely to crack down on the TTP for various reasons. The groups have fought together against the US for several years, and those personal bonds are not easily severed. They are also ideologically aligned and an Afghan Taliban crackdown on the TTP would undermine its own legitimacy. Most importantly, the Afghan Taliban know that such a crackdown would intensify intra-militant clashes, fuelled by TTP defections to Islamic State in Afghanistan - a threat the Afghan Taliban are unwilling to countenance.

This means Pakistan must respond militarily to the TTP with increased border surveillance and targeted strikes. This approach will be bolstered by the support of anti-TTP...

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