ISLAMABAD - The presumed reconciliatory measures aimed at making peace with the militants are believed to have encouraged them to gain strength and unleash fresh spree of attacks on security forces while the security officials admit that peace talks’ reports have adversely affected their drive against militancy.

With the onset of the New Year, a sudden surge in the attacks on security convoys in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan has been witnessed. In major terrorist attacks, 15 men of the Frontier Constabulary and 14 of Frontier Corps were killed in separate terrorist incidents in North Waziristan and Turbat (Balochistan) respectively in the recent days.

Pakistan Army men remain to be under unrelenting militant attacks in Orakzai and Kurram Agencies with loss of several lives reported. The latest couple of armed assaults on security forces followed the killings of two Frontier Constabulary men in Khyber Agency while Saturday’s attack in Dera Ismail Khan claimed some seven lives.

As Pakistan’s military cooperation with the US on war on terror remains stalled, the reports of US-backed reconciliation with the militants as well as informal ceasefire between Pakistani security forces and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have frequently surfaced. The aftermath of these reports has seen intensification in TTP attacks in Pakistan with security forces being the particular target. Fata Law and Order Secretary Captain (r) Tariq Hayat Khan conceded that reconciliation reports have given the militants “an edge” in psychological warfare. “I think war on terror is as much about demoralising the militants as it is about defeating them in the battlefield. It’s psychological warfare that is fought off the battleground. When you ask militants to reconcile, it definitely gives them an edge over us.“

He said that Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Rangers, Levies Force, Khasadar Force, Frontier Constabulary and intelligence agencies arrested several TTP militants in joint raids but it was not what Khan described as complete cure to the problem. “Militancy cannot be weeded out unless we inflict psychological defeat on militants. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata have suffered the most at the hands of militants. Making peace with them is something that has not boded well with the psychological morale of our security men and it has, as well, adversely impacted the public opinion here. Our weakness would give militants the grounds to gain strength.”

Tariq Hayat argued the TTP men were exploiting the situation in the backdrop of presumed reconciliatory measures. “This is because inviting them for negotiations implies the recognition that militants have an upper hand in this scenario and they’re well aware of it and they would never bargain while having an upper hand.”

In a conversation recorded with this newspaper on the second of this month and subsequently printed on January 6, Afghan Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said, “There is no question of any bargain with them (US and allies). We would hold talks simply to get our conditions met. Right now we have one-point agenda, evacuation of Afghanistan from the US and its allies.”

Meanwhile, the TTP claimed responsibility for the Saturday’s attack at the District Police Officer (DPO) office in Dera Ismail Khan. Sources suspected the involvement of Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), a Khyber Agency based militant offshoot of TTP.

When contacted, Dera Ismail Khan DPO Khalid Sohail said two police officials, three terrorists and two other persons were killed in the attack.

He said a number of TTP offshoots were active in DI Khan and Tank that had close proximity with Waziristan region. He said whether LI was involved in the attack was being probed. “The TTP is behind these attacks but who exactly from the TTP did it is being looked into. I must say we’ve foiled a major terrorist attempt.” The DPO denied having received any injury in the attack. “Had I been injured, I would not have been able to talk to you by phone.”

The LI has lately staged attacks on security forces in KP and Fata to avenge military operations. Few days ago, the militant organisation also claimed of killing 15 FC men that were abducted from Tank and their dead bodies were found from North Waziristan. The Nation had unearthed this information on January 10. Mangal Bagh Afridi, head of LI, had reportedly tasked his two close aides Naimatullah Mehsud and Qari Nazirullah Nazir with kidnapping the FC personnel from Tank who were later executed in NWA.