Thursday 22 October 2009

The Pakistan Taliban's tribal rivals

Guardian reporter Declan Walsh has a fascinating half-interview with Misbahuddin Mehsud, leader of the Abdullah Mehsud group, one of at least four factions in Pakistan's Pashtun tribal areas that is opposed to the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) of Hakimullah Mehsud.
Walsh met Misbahuddin in the frontier town of Dera Ismail Khan, but after initial pleasantries, the tribal fighter declined to answer any direct questions, referring them all to an aide. The aide confirmed that the Abdullah Mehsud group is helping the Pakistan Army in its campaign against Hakimullah's TTP by sealing off the southern border of South Waziristan.
Like the other groups in the region that have come to an agreement with the Pakistan Army - the Turkistan Bhittani group, Maulvi Nazir's group and Hafiz Gul Bahadur's group - the Abdullah Mehsud group is primarily opposed to Hakimullah's TTP because of recent attacks on civilians and the Pakistan Army.
All of these groups are strongly in support of cross-border actions against the Afghan Army and Coalition forces in Afghanistan. In this aspect they neatly reflect the schizophrenic outlook of many in Pakistan's military and political elites, who only began to worry about the fundamentalist Islamists when they focussed their attention on introducing Wahhabism into Pakistan.

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