Monday 19 December 2011

Pakistan Taliban crisis deepens

An interesting article in Pakistan's Express Tribune sheds further light on the demise of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The article suggests that the TTP is now in terminal decline, with its leader Hakimullah Mahsud isolated due to threats from drones and from the Pakistan military.
They quote a former associate thus: “He is virtually a lonely man running for his life … he is always on the move and doesn’t meet even his once most-trusted lieutenants”.
As I suggested below in the article on Shamim Mahsud and the TTP in South Waziristan, the reason for Hakimullah's isolation is partly due to the existence of peace talks with the Pakistan government - although I was wrong in thinking that it was the Waliur Rehman faction that was excluded from talks.
In fact, it is Hakimullah who has refused to talk to Pakistan's government - presumably under the influence of al-Qaeda and other die-hard jihadists - while Waliur Rehman from South Waziristan and Maulvi Faqir Mohammad from Bajaur are reported to be in discussions.
The latest claim from Maulvi Faqir Mohammad came 10 days ago, when he said talks were progressing and that they had so far resulted in the release of 145 Taliban prisoners. However, Mullah Dadullah, leader of the TTP in Bajaur, quickly denied the claim, adding that fighting would continue until sharia law was introduced throughout the whole of Pakistan.
The Express Tribune article says that money has dried up for the TTP and this has led to the desertion of former supporters, many of whom only fought for money. The TTP's shura, or ruling council, has shrunk from nearly 40 members to less than 10.
The reason funds are in short supply, the article speculates, is that the Afghan Taliban has stopped paying the TTP because it is now in negotiations with the Afghan government.
Presumably Pakistan will introduce an amnesty for TTP members that agree to call a truce with the government, although the ISI will be happy if they continue to fight across the border in Afghanistan.
However, if talks with the Afghan Taliban leadership are really underway, this may be difficult. The big question is where this will leave the foreign jihadists. In his recent interview (see below), Shamim Mahsud was quite happy to show correspondents the houses in the Ladda area where fighters from Turkmenistan were living and training. How will they and the other foreigners fit into the picture?

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