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June 28, 2013

Afghan Taliban decide to boot out the TTP from Afghanistan

by Saifullah Khalid
[Daily Ummat]

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has landed itself into deep trouble. Apparently, the Afghan Taliban has decided they will continue their operation against the TTP until it is booted out from Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban has formed a nexus with anti-TTP groups in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces to fight them. On the other hand, the TTP has appealed to the Afghan Taliban leadership for dialogue. Abdul Wali, Commander of the TTP in Mohmand Agency, has said that we do not wish to fight in Afghanistan. Sources for "Ummat" have disclosed that the disputes taking place between the TTP and Afghan Taliban have transformed into a full-time war. It has been said that Mullah Omar, Supreme Commander of the Afghan Taliban, in a letter to the TTP warned them against carrying out kidnappings for ransom and similar unethical practices since the Afghan Taliban do not have any other objectives other than getting rid of occupying forces in Afghanistan; in this regard Mullah Omar told the TTP in his letter that either the group bear this principle in mind or else it should stop misusing the Taliban's name. However, the TTP took this warning very lightly.

However, when the Afghan Taliban announced plans to wipe out the TTP in early June, the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan revealed in a media briefing that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Ansar-ul-Islam and Mohmand Force is "conspiring" against them and that the TTP is not retaliating "because we do not want bloodshed" (sic).

According to sources, a large segment of the TTP has escaped to Afghanistan after Pakistani security forces cleared the Maidan area in Khyber Agency. On the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, about four hundred Afghan Taliban under Haji Abdur Raheem and Commander Zaki attacked Shingwai, jarobi, Darrah and Maaya in Kunar province, near Pakistan. It was reported that a large cache of weapons were used by groups on either side; whereas the TTP has called upon various splinter groups from the Khyber Agency and other areas for help.

Adul Wali alias Umar Khalid, Ameer of the TTP in Mohmand Agency and his aide Mukarram Khorasani, have admitted that attacks took place on his and Fazlullah's hideouts; he added that his men are also defending their area. Afghan commander Mullah Zaki has said that militants of the TTP have created a horde of problems for the Afghan mujahedeen. "Now we are bent on getting them out of Afghanistan", he said. He added that attacks were carried out on the TTP by around four hundred armed fighters comprising of 150 Afghan mujahedeen, memberss of Lashkar-e-Islam and Shah Khalid group from Mohmand Agency. Commander Zaki reiterated that the TTP will be attacked until they are cleared from Afghanistan.

Whereas TTP's Abdul Wali claims that the attack was carried out only by a joint formation of Lashkar-e-Islam and Lashkar-e-Taiba and not by the Afghan Taliban. On this, Mehmood Ghaznavi, spokesman of the LeT in Srinagar said over telephone that his organization is limited within the Kashmiri areas. He further added that the LeT does not have anything to do with groups in Afghanistan or FATA.

Sources for "UMMAT" in Mohmand Agency confirm that the LeT is indeed not involved in the above-highlighted attacks, rather the Shah Khalid group is a part of it, which is similar but unrelated to the LeT. According to available information, Shah Khalid set up a group in 2006 at Mohmand Agency for social welfare purposes and also to aid the Afghan Taliban. TTP commander Abdul Wali alias Umar Khalid and his deputy Qari Shakeel had attacked their (Shah Khalid's) centre; furthermore, they killed Shah Khalid after deceiving him to hold a meeting for ceasefire; they also held Shah Khalid's entire group hostage.

Later on, after intense negotiations, some of those hostages were released after which the presence of Shah Khalid's group got removed in the entire area; what more, no other group dared to stand up against Abdul Wali. Later, when the state formed tribal lashkars (pro-government militias), a vast majority of the Shah Khalid group joined their ranks. Sources claim that when Afghan Taliban announced a cleanup operation against the TTP, then Lashkar-e-Islam from Khyber Agency and Mohmand Peace Force from Mohmand Agency also offered their services. This operation has started under the commands of Haji Abdur Raheem and Mullah Zaki; whereas the TTP is persistent on its claims that the Afghan Taliban are not part of the groups operating against it. It is ironical that on the same issue, the same Abdul Wali and his spokesman Mukarram Khorasani (who is believed to be Ehsanullah Ehsan himself) are also admitting that Haji Abdur Raheem is spearheading the attacks against them.

However, the TTP has appealed to the Afghan Taliban that the operation against them be stopped; it is said that talks have already begun in this regard. It is being said a local group of the Afghan Taliban had lodged its complaints with its high command and requested permission for an operation against the TTP; this is because the TTP had killed the sons of Haji Abdur Raheem and commander Mullah Abdul Mateen during an intense fight. Sources say that the TTP's power has been weakened to quite an extent because of which frontiers against the terrorist group are opening and its countdown has almost begun. Sources say Qari Shakeel was the actual power with Abdul Wali who dissociated himself from the TTP after writing a detailed letter in April.

On the other hand, a militant in South Waziristan named Fazal Farooq has not only formed a splinter group but also given it the new name of 'Tehreek-e-Taliban Waziristan' (TTW). Reportedly, this group too has many issues against the TTP. Similarly, before this, a militant Fazal Saeed had already formed a splinter group in Kurram Agency by the name of 'Tehreek-e-Taliban Haqeeqi' (TTH).

This is an English translation by the Terminal X Desk of the original which was published in Daily Ummat on 28 June 2013

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