Saturday 6 February 2010

Where's Wali?

Hakimullah and Waliur Rahman in happier days

With the US now confirming that Hakimullah Mahsud, leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, was killed in a drone strike in mid-January, it remains to be seen what has happened to his two most senior aides (and potential successors), Qari Hussein and Waliur Rahman. Neither man has made a public appearance or statement since the time of the drone attack.
If both have been killed, it will be a major setback for the organisation, although one thing the TTP is not short of is funds. According to NWFP governor, Owais Ghani, the TTP is spending around 3.6 billion rupees (£27 million) on its estimated 15,000 fighters.
The money comes from the opium trade. Much of the opium grown in Afghanistan is transported to the FATA border areas, where TTP fighters ensure it gets to the middlemen who buy, refine and sell the drug, both in Pakistan and internationally.
Perhaps its true that the TTP is spending such large amounts of money on wages for its fighters, although they don't appear to have earned their cash, as little has been seen of the thousands of rumoured TTP fighters hiding in the hills of Waziristan. They have not put up any serious resistance to the Pakistan Army offensive in either South or North Waziristan. And a few weeks ago in an interview with AP Waliur Rahman had to explain the lack of fighters in the area by saying he had sent them all to Afghanistan to fight the Americans. Do they really exist, I wonder?

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