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Posts Tagged TTP

Commanders of the TTP : The Traitors Within – By Sabena Siddiqi

Commanders of the TTP : The Traitors Within














The Tehreek Taliban Pakistan came into being under Nek Mohammed Waziri in 2002 when the Pakistani military conducted incursions into the tribal areas to capture foreign militants fleeing from the Afghan war into tribal areas of Pakistan. The operations were not a success and ended with an initial retreat of the Army and a ceasefire agreement, called the Shakai truce. The ceasefire was signed at a place called Shakai with five tribal leaders.

The Waziri and Mehsud tribes were traditional opponents with the Waziri tribe constantly trying to evict the Mehsud tribe from their land . The first ever US drone strike happened in 2004 and killed some people including Nek Muhammad Wazir in a strike on South Waziristan. It was done after the Mehsuds refused to give up foreign militants hiding in their midst .

The Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan emerged as an official militant group in December 2007 under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud , the first ‘commander ‘ of the rebel outfit .It acted as an umbrella organisation for about 13 Islamist militant factions . It started as an ‘alternate ‘ local group from the Afghan Taliban after Pakistan army scourged South Waziristan and the valleys for foreign militants who were responsible for rampant terrorism in Pakistan . Some Waziri tribes took offence and took it personally and the TTP started . Astonishingly their objective was to oppose the state of Pakistan, enforce their own interpretation of sharia and work against NATO. Baitullah Mehsud was under considerable influence of the Uzbek IMU leader Tahir Yuldashev who imbibed a hardline Shia ideology to him . The first fatwas against Pakistan army and government were announced after this and a chain of suicide bombing was started .

This was a stark contrast from the Afghan Taliban who never work against Pakistan , up till now most of TTP’s concentration and handiwork is against Pakistan . They can be rightly called the enemy within.

Shortly after TTP becoming official under Baitullah Mehsud,s leadership, the government of Pakistan placed a bounty on his head , banning media appearances and freezing assets and bank accounts . Mullah Omar sent a delegation to Baitullah to persuade him to help in engaging the Americans in Afghanistan . They came to an understanding which collapsed shortly after . Baitullah Mehsud is believed to have been behind numerous terrorist attacks within Pakistan including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto , he is said to have commanded upto 5000 fighters , according to US analysts . Abdullah Mehsud was also one of the Taliban field commanders who was handed over to USA, kept under detention in Guantanamo Bay and then judicially released subsequently. He became remarkably close to the Americans He went on to plan an attack on Chinese engineers working in Baluchistan and he also claimed responsibility for the Islamabad hotel bombing . Agencies conducted a raid on the house where he was staying and he killed himself by detonating a hand grenade.



Suicide attacks increased during Baitullahs tenure and 90% of them could be traced back to his stronghold . A transcript is available in which he discusses the assassination of Benazir Bhutto though he denied it later . He did claim responsibility though for attacking a Police Academy in Lahore in March ,2009 in retaliation for drone attacks in which he said Pakistan government was involved . He strangely also claimed responsibility for the April 2009 Binghamton , New York in which 13 people were killed even though the attacker was Vietnamese and confessed to different motives .

Baitullah Mehsud was killed in August 2009 in a drone attack in South Waziristan though he was rumoured as dead many times before in false attacks. Tahir Yuldashev was also killed in a US Predator drone airstrike shortly after Mehsud’s death .

Baitullah was succeeded by Hakimullah Mehsud , a young and aggressive field commander who had also been their spokesman . He maintained links with AlQaeda and Afghan Taliban both and TTP emerged as an umbrella for different factions . AlQaida and TTP never got along with the Lashkar e Taiba as they had expelled the Arab militants from their land. They both issued a Fatwa against LUT and a huge rift ensued . He organised raids against US military convoys from 2007 to 2008 which resulted in the closure of Khyber Pass six times. Pakistan government announced a Rs50 million $600,000 reward for information that could lead to his capture in 2009. He was rumoured as killed twice before in US drone strikes in 2010 and 2012 respectively . He seems to have survived and was now killed on 1st November , 2013 which has been officially accepted by the Taliban .

Maulana Fazlullah or “Mullah Radio”, is the leader of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi , a banned Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist group and he is son in law of Sufi Muhammad ,the founder of TNSM . He owes his nickname to the fact that he started an illegal FM radio channel in Swat in 2006 .He forced the locals to stop paying their utility bills and disobey the State of Pakistan .He banned music , stopped women from studying and refused them the right to vote .He also opposed polio vaccination . The FM channel was used to perpetuate horrifying announcements of violators sentenced to beheading and other punishments in nightly broadcasts . He is believed to have ordered the attack on Malala Yousufzai . After the 2007 siege of Lal Masjid,a TTP and TNSM merger took place as Mehsud and Fazlullah reached understanding . After this he received direct orders from Mehsud , he managed to consolidate his political forces in Swat during a short ceasefire with the army . In November 2007, Pakistani army captured his headquarters and arrested his brother. He fled to another village and the sent took over Swat region. Fazullah hid in the Kunar province in Afghanistan which is American controlled . Pakistan had urged Afghanistan and the US to take action against Fazlullah in response to cross-border raids but they made no efforts .

On 7 Nov 2013 he was elected Amir of the TTP succeeding Hakimullah Mehsud . The decision to appoint Fazlullah was surprising as it was assumed that the leadership would remain in the hands of a member of the Mehsud tribe,maybe it was to quell criticism that the TTP head is always one of them .He is undoubtedly the worst hardliner the TTP has ,he also carries the dubious title of being Al Qaida ,s aide as well as being CIA backed . It is being rumoured though that Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar backed him just because it was announced from Afghanistan.

The other strongest contender was Said Ahmad aka Khalid Sajna,he opposed Fazlullah,s candidature ,it is possible the Mehsuds are feeling cornered now and might become a weak link in future . There is strong possiblity of splinter groups forming in the near future .. There are different factions in the TTP and Fazlullah was from the Swat camp …so to say . Recently the TTP Shura expelled Ismatullah Muaviya ,head of the Punjab Taliban as he welcomed talks with the government . He responded saying the Punjab Taliban has its own Shura and TTP cannot remove him . The Punjab Taliban split does not bode well for the TTP as this provided them a foothold in the mainland plus transportation and logistics. They even resorted to attacking Muaviya which resulted in his defection .

The TTP may have outlived its utility for those that held its reins and helped organise it . The Americans are leaving Afghanistan in 2014 and are in the process of slowly disowning it . They do not want to be any part of it any more , it appears India will be left behind to deal with the aftermath and take most of the blame . Fazlullah definitely has backing of some faction in Afghan government but the Karzai setup refuses to acknowledge .

The Afghan Taliban have termed Hakimullah Mehsud a martyr yet shown TTP a separate entity , no umbrella under the Afghan Taliban. They are simply playing games with the TTP . This is also in America s favour as it wants to have talks with the Afghan Taliban yet no truck with the TTP . In the long run America would definitely still have some vested interests in the TTP ,at least as long as it safely leaves the region . After it leaves it will be TTP and the Indians left dealing with them …or the remnants of the TTP . Another interesting case study is that of the JI , PTI and TTP . The Jamaat Islami are the origin of the Takfiri ideology so they can be called the father of TTP ,then many PTI members today are ex Jamaat .All three are interlinked ,the Jamaat leader Munawar Hasans son has had very close CIA and AlQaida links . Also ,PTI might be clamouring to stop NATO supplies yet the province it rules ,KPK ..has received 35 bn aid from NATO . So they all have common links and refuse to condemn each other . The TTP has excluded JI ,PTI ,PMLN and JUI from bomb attacks , the game is edging to a close as the TTP becomes less useful for its masters and more of a liability .


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US Troops Capture Pakistani Taliban Leader, Foiling Peace Talks

US Troops Capture Pakistani Taliban Leader, Foiling Peace Talks

Key TTP Figure Was Snatched From Afghan Govt Convoy

by Jason Ditz, October 11, 2013

Several months of intense negotiations by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) almost bore fruit this week, when they finally managed to convince a key Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, Latif Mehsud, to come to NDS headquarters to help organize peace talks.

Latif was in an Afghan government convoy being taken to the NDS headquarters when the convoy was suddenly captured by the US military and Latif was carted off by the US forces, to be detained at Bagram as an “enemy combatant.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is said to be enraged by the move, and the tension may further aggravate the negotiations over post-2014 terms for US military operations in the country.

At the same time, the US operation foiled a key effort at peace with a major Taliban faction, and such peace deals would make it a lot easier for Karzai or any subsequent Afghan leader to reject a continued occupation. As it stands, the US seems to oppose peace talks if they undermine the war talks.

US officials confirmed the capture of Latif, but declined to offer any further details, citing the “sensitivity of the issue.”



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Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja : Daunting challenges faced by security forces

Daunting challenges faced by security forces

Asif Haroon Raja

Pakistan faces formidable array of challenges, both at external and internal fronts. Internal threats are as daunting and menacing as the external threat. So much so that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, it cannot be discerned with certainty which of the two threats is more dangerous? The Army Chief Gen Kayani has however plainly graded internal threat to the security and integrity of Pakistan more hazardous. He said so because war on terror fought inside Pakistan among us has claimed more human lives than the fatalities incurred in all the wars and conflicts with India. Our sensitive and highly defended installations that could not be struck by our arch enemy during the war are being attacked daringly by home-grown non-actors. Few thousand militants merged in the sea of 180 million people prowl behind every bush and corner or stand among a crowd unnoticed and throw a bomb or blow themselves up whenever opportunity comes their way. 

For a guerrilla to operate successfully, he should have terrain suited for guerrilla war, should be adept in living off the land and techniques of fighting surreptitiously. He cannot operate for long without local support, safe sanctuaries, funds, armaments and sophisticated communication system. He should have safe exit routes to go across the border whenever cornered. Mountainous terrain of FATA and interior Balochistan, both attached with Afghanistan are suited for irregular warfare and hence favor TTP and BLA respectively thereby enabling them to wage an asymmetrical war for last so many years despite being hounded and badly bruised. Members of the two banned outfits are tribesmen and proficient in guerrilla war. Al-Qaeda allied with TTP gained experience during the eight-year Afghan Jihad against the Soviets and later against the Americans once they were ditched.

The war was first confined to FATA and some parts of interior Balochistan inhabited by Bugtis, Marris and Mengals. Hence it didn’t much bother the ruling elite and it kept following the dictates of the US to do more. When the war spilled into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa settled areas and then to major cities and incidents of terrorism kept increasing, it then alarmed the rulers. But by then the situation had become very complex because flames of terrorism had spread all over the country.

Intrusion of TTP militants into urban centres became possible because of the marrying up of urban-based Jihadi groups that had been bannimages-2


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BRIG ASIF HAROON RAJA: War on terror ended to tackle titanic challenges









War on terror ended to tackle titanic challenges

Asif Haroon Raja


It takes lot of time and resources to produce a trained soldier and continuous efforts to keep him motivated to die for the defence of his country. Religion plays an important role in inculcating spirit of Jihad in a soldier. The military system however regulates this spirit and doesn’t let it go uncontrolled when not required. Throughout peacetime, soldiers are imparted rigorous training, their fighting skills are polished, and tactics taught how to outwit the enemy in the battlefield. They are told to keep honing their weapons, and to keep their equipment and vehicles in battle worthy condition. In addition to weapons and tactics training, regimental spirit de corps is inculcated in the soldiers through sports and training competitions and regimental past war history.


Since Jihad is integral to Islam and cannot be detached, regular religious sermons are given to keep the soldiers motivated and to prepare them mentally and physically to sacrifice their lives for the defence of motherland. Once the war breakout, Jihad is declared against the enemy. Control mechanisms are removed once the attacking force gets lined up for attack, or the aggressor tries to push its way through. With the cry of Allah 0 Akbar, battle of kill or get killed gets into motion. While those who perform well are decorated and respected, the Shaheeds are glorified and their next of kin hugely compensated. Their sacrifices are remembered each year on Yaum-e-Shuhada Day.  Those who turn yellow are looked down upon and are weeded out. 


There has been no major war with India since 1971 except for several military standoffs during which India itched to start a war but got restrained because of Pakistan’s nuclear and missiles capabilities and readiness of Pak armed forces to make its adventure extremely costly. Fourth war with nuclear overtones got narrowly averted during Kargil conflict in 1999. While Pakistan’s minimum nuclear deterrence has helped in thwarting Indo-Pak war for 42 years, Pakistan’s military remained immersed in another kind of war called ‘war on terror’ which has caused many times more fatalities than what it suffered during the three wars with India plus Rann of Katch and Kargil conflicts.  Civilian and military fatalities have reached up to 50,000.


The Army and paramilitary forces have been fighting a guerrilla war against highly motivated and fanatic home-grown militants in the northwest since 2003 without a break. Host of banned militant groups have come under the umbrella of TTP. In the southwest, paramilitary forces are up against Baloch rebels since 2004. The former pose as Islamists rejecting Pakistan’s constitution and democracy and desiring Shariah. They also aspire to establish Islamic caliphate in FATA. Conversely, the Baloch rebels are seculars who started insurgency in the name of socio-economic grievances but then changed course and raised the slogan of independence. BLA and BRA based in Balochistan Mountains are waging a guerrilla war without a leader since both Brahamdagh Bugti and Harbyar Marri are in exile. BLF is operating in Khuzdar region.


All these anti-Pakistan groups are patronized by CIA, RAW, MI-6, RAAM and Mossad from Afghanistan. India is leading the covert war against Pakistan by organizing 70 training camps along the northwestern and southwestern borders of Pakistan. Indian Embassy in Kabul, four Indian consulates and 17 intelligence units in Afghanistan are working with a missionary zeal to destabilize Pakistan. Indian Embassy in Tehran and consulates in Zahidan, Mashhad and Bandar Abbas are also supporting terrorist groups in Balochistan in addition to Spin Boldak route.          


Once the US-NATO forces exit from Afghanistan by December 2014, the Taliban on both sides of Durand Line will be left with no justifiable cause to continue fighting and spilling blood of the Muslim brethren of their own respective countries. If the US leaves behind a force in Afghanistan, it will give reason to the Taliban to continue fighting. In Pakistan, Kashmir will keep Jihadism alive. If India wants terrorism to end, it will have to make urgent and sincere efforts to resolve this chronic problem which can lead to nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Game of trickery and habitual delaying tactics and seeking one-sided concessions would not work any longer. Kashmir and other contentious issues like Siachin, Sir Creek and water will have to be resolved to remove points of friction which stir up religious extremism.


India must not forget that religious extremist groups imbued with religious fervor for over three decades cannot be convinced to abandon Jihad and join the mainstream of secular culture in which Westminster democracy has failed to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor and justice system has failed to deliver justice to have-nots. Pakistan has remained deficient of a genuine leader for 64 years. Leaders with feat of clay and living in regal style are out of sync with the people and have no moral authority to censure Islamists that their way of life is wrong and their demand for Shariah is illegal.


The leaders will first have to become role models in their personal conduct, ensure good governance, ensure equitable social justice and provide job opportunities to all and only then will they be able reach out to the downtrodden and say that they have something better to offer. Education which is confined to the privileged must be opened to all classes and uniformity achieved. All this which has been ignored require Herculean efforts based on sincerity of purpose and devotion.


Despite best efforts by our security forces and rendering huge sacrifices, TTP network aligned with several local Jihadist groups as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan could not be tamed. They have been striking soft and hard targets at will and the might of the military equipped with heavy guns, tanks, gunship helicopters and jets doesn’t overawe them. Even drones could do little to scare them. Their suicide bombing producing nurseries are functional and they are never short of new recruits. Teeming millions living below the poverty line destined to die as poor get easily recruited as fighters and suicide bombers.  

The TTP may become stronger if Taliban government get re-installed in Kabul after 2014 and may then disagree to ceasefire unless all their demands are accepted unconditionally. The militants could not have continued fighting for so long without external support and safe sanctuaries across the border. There is ample evidence of regular supply of weaponry and funds from across the western border. War on terror will continue as long as supply lines are open for militants. Paradoxically, the key to peace is with hardnosed Taliban.

While the US caught up in a blind alley in Afghanistan is clueless how to exit safely, Pakistan too has no strategy to end the futile war. Infighting among the Muslims suits the US designs; hence it would like the war to continue. It will make maximum use of drones while taking up a backseat in Afghanistan till 2024.

Opinions on war on terror whether it is our war or someone else’s war, and whether talks should be held with militants or not are sharply divided. Those claiming that it is not our war far exceeds those who think otherwise and view it as Pakistan’s existential war. This division in perceptions is to the advantage of militants and disfavors security forces embattled with militants. One thing is clear; this war was coercively imposed upon Pakistan and then terrorism was exported into Pakistan.  

The unparalleled enthusiasm shown by the people in casting their votes despite the terrorist attacks must have brought a sobering effect on the hardliners within TTP’s rank and file. They must be mindful of the hard reality that after 2014, their cause to fight the security forces will become weak and recruitment may slow down and eventually dry up. This is very much possible in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s determination to address the socio-economic-justice inequities.


Under the changed political environment in which anti-Taliban political parties are out of power and pro-Taliban parties have taken over power, the overall atmosphere has become conducive for a constructive dialogue with TTP. Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Maulana Samiul Haq, Maulana Fazlur Rahman and Munawar Hasan are better placed to accept TTP’s offer of talks and take the forward plunge and find a way out to stop this insane war which has caused colossal harm to both sides and to the country. Talks that have been stalled due to drone attack killing Hakimullah’s Deputy Waliur Rahman and six others in North Waziristan (NW) must be renewed. Termination of war is a pre-requisite to tackling the titanic challenges and clearing the huge mess left behind by Zardari regime.


Army will have to be co-opted in talks because without its active participation, no worthwhile deal can be brokered. TTP must be reminded of its history of backtracking and breaking peace deals and told not to repeat its past practice. It cannot have the pudding and eat it too. TTP is by design not halting terror attacks so as to sit on the negotiating table from position of strength. TTP must appreciate that the Army’s resolve to fight terrorism as demonstrated by its recent gains made in Tirah is as strong as ever. It can launch another successful operation in NW if required. 


Besides addressing FATA’s socio-economic grievances, their longstanding demand of introducing Nizam-e-Adal in FATA could be given serious consideration just the way TNSM’s demand was accepted while signing peace deal in Swat in February 2009. The US should be asked to fulfill its decade old promise of establishing ROZs in FATA. Like Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan, a similar or even better package can be offered for development of FATA on a crash program. In line with the trend of creating more provinces, FATA could be considered to be made a separate province called Qabailistan under its own chief minister and governor. Rather than having so many scouts in tribal belt, a centralized paramilitary force named as Qabailistan Scouts under Qabailistan Training Centre should be considered and the wild TTP after taming and disciplining it to be inducted in it. Cadet Colleges already functioning in South and North Waziristan will provide the requisite officer cadre for this force.              

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence and security analyst and columnist. Email:asifharoonraja@gmail.com

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