US withdrawal in 2014, coupled with the understanding that this time, sustainable governments will be formed in Afghanistan, on the lines of peace and mutual interests with Pakistan, has broken the long silence of the Afghan Taliban against the TTP.
The Taliban of the Islamic State of Afghanistan have issued a battle call against TTP militants, as reported by reliable sources. The Jihadi outfits of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Ansar-ul-Islam will be operating along with the Afghani Talibs in Waziristan to jointly attack Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – nom de guerre Pakistani Taliban.
When contacted by media persons, the TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan confirmed the reports and brushed off the gravity of the impending attack by singling out Ansar-ul-Islam – a tribal lashkar (group) bent on eradicating the TTP influence in Khyber agency.
“We have old enmity with Ansar-ul-Islam and some other militant groups who want to avenge their own fights and losses now,” Ehsan said. He further accused them of ‘using the name of the Afghan Taliban for their planned offensive’.
Since the past decade, the TTP have always involved themselves in weakening the writ of the Government of Pakistan, while claiming themselves to be the ideological heirs of Mullah Omar- led Afghan Taliban – the primary resistance group against the NATO/US invaders.
Unfortunately for them, the TTP operational activities are rife with evidences clearly depicting them as a proxy force, working on the behest of foreign states to sabotage Pakistan’s peace.
At this weakened position, where Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is fast losing the support of its foreign mentors due to the US withdrawal scenario, it has tried to align itself with the same cause which it falsely associates itself with (the Afghan Taliban), but brazenly failed this time.
Ehsanullah, in his telephonic call to a media person, said, “We hope that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will realize the conspiracy of the TTP rivals.” “We have shown allegiance to the Islamic Emirate and accept their leadership, and if they have any complaint, we are ready to satisfy them,” said Ehsanullah. He reiterated further by saying that he has confirmed the reports of the expected attack, and declared that the TTP is working under Afghan commandants and doesn’t intend to clash with them.
But why are the Afghan Taliban openly hostile to the TTP?
The answer to this lies in the false propaganda, under the cover of which the TTP was operating since the last decade. They openly declared themselves as an extension of the Afghan Taliban, but adopted the ways that were contrary to what Mullah Omar promoted.
A recent example that is indicative of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s deceit is their anti-polio-immunisation stance, while the Afghan Taliban promoted polio immunisation in their May 2013 statement.
Last year, Mohammad Omar, the supremo of the Afghan Taliban, issued a statement that called for a change in the Taliban attitude, particularly towards female rights and education. Barely two months after this statement, the Swat- faction of the Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yusufzai, a 14 year old girl, on board a school bus.
These two events, out of many others, clearly indicate that TTP – an outlawed umbrella of militant groups, does not recognize the legitimacy of the Afghan Taliban, but uses their name to promote their nefarious designs.
The sudden reaction?
The silence of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan over Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan activities was due to the difficult situation they were trapped in, i.e., battling the coalition forces.
The nail in the coffin was struck when Wali-ur-Rehman, TTP second-in-command was killed in a drone attack. According to the US State Department, the US drone strike in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) that killed Wali-ur-Rehman, was made on a tip off by none other but an informer of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the TTP.
Unlike Hakeemullah Mehsud, Wali-ur-Rehman was receptive to the peace offers and believed in negotiating for a lasting truce with the Pakistani government. Knowledgeable sources assert that the majority of TTP factions were loyal to Wali-ur-Rehman’s vision, and wanted to seize attacks against Pakistan by joining the Afghan Taliban ranks.
The schisms in the cadres have significantly widened.
Recently, Fazal Farooq – a militant commander of TTP, has left the main outfit and formed his own group, namely Tehreek-e-Taliban Waziristan. Another commander, Qari Shakeel, the subordinate of Omar Khalid Khurasani – a leader of Mohmand faction, parted ways with the Central Command of TTP in April.
Due to increased defections of the main commanders, perpetuating the looming danger of isolation, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan came up with a new ploy to gain sympathies. Through its media wing, two videos were released, which aimed to garner the affections of the Afghan Taliban’s sympathizers to support the Pakistani radicals.
Apparently, the Afghan Taliban, sensing the verge of the situation, and knowing that TTP is not only giving a bad name to its Jihad – which is based on a pure and legitimate cause – but is also existing as a permanent source of menace for both the countries, in a region which is embattling with other grave crises, have decided to get rid of them for good.
The US armed forces’ withdrawal in 2014, coupled with the understanding that this time, sustainable governments will be formed in Afghanistan, on the lines of peace and mutual interests with Pakistan, has forced the Afghan Taliban to stand for themselves this time. This sole reason has spurred Mullah Mohammad Omar-led Afghan Taliban to finalize the decision to collaborate with Ansar-ul-Islam (AI) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for a joint attack against TTP.
When contacted by media correspondents, the officials of Afghan Taliban distanced themselves from the TTP.
“We are fighting the foreign forces and their local backers in Afghanistan, and have never been involved in any activity in any other country,” they said.
The operational maneuvers of this new alliance will be limited within the confines of their respective borders. The Talibans of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan have started attacking the TTP militant hideouts in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, while LeT has denied through a press statement given by their spokesman Abdullah Ghaznawi that they are only focused towards Kashmir and there are chances that AI will be assailing the insurgents’ positions in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.
TTP End-Game in Sight ?
The major militant group of Afghanistan, united with its Pakistani counterparts against TTP designs, is an indicator of a regional exhibit that these tribal factions can work together for the coherence of regional peace post-US withdrawal.
TTP’s dwindling influence and gradual decimation is presenting them as a dying movement. This whole developing scenario also lifts veil on the fact through TTP’s Ehsan’s own words when he claimed to have been trying to contact and convey message to Emirat al Islamia, Afghan Taliban movement to stall any such assault; in other words they have no regular contact with Afghan Taliban movement.
The genuine resistance groups, who remained non hostile towards Pakistan and focused on defying the US occupation, will surely pass the test of time; while the fake ones have to go. The Myth of TTP being associated with Af-Taliban has completely been busted. TTP was allowed safe-heavens in Afghanistan when Pakistani forces conducted operations against them, with US back home and Afghan Taliban reclaiming their land, it may well be the beginning of an end to a violent, brutal movement that soaked itself in blood of its own people for years.