PESHAWAR: Leader of the Pakistani Taliban Mullah Fazlullah on Saturday suffered a serious setback after the central shura of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) refused to endorse his verdict about the sacking of senior militant commander, Khan Said alias Sajna, in South Waziristan with some Taliban leaders feeling it may divide the conglomeration of militant organisations.
Mullah Fazlullah had taken notice of heavy fighting between two militant factions of the Taliban of South Waziristan and removed Commander Khan Said alias Sajna from his position and appointed a militant commander Khalid Omar Khurasani to look into the affairs of the two tribal regions — North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
Omar Khalid Khurasani is the TTP commander of Mohmand Agency and is reportedly based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.Mullah Fazlullah had also given him the task to resolve internal differences between the two warring factions of the Mehsud Taliban and appoint a leader for them who is acceptable to all of them.
Mullah Fazlullah had alsoappointed Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, deputy chief of the TTP, as acting ameer of the South Waziristan-based Mehsud Taliban in place of Khan Said. Taliban sources said the decision of sacking Khan Said and appointing Sheikh Khalid Haqqani in his place and then giving the task to Maulvi Omar Khalid to nominate another commander for them had aroused criticism from a majority of members of the TTP shura.
“After some meetings, the shura finally refused to endorse Mullah Fazlullah’s decision. Mullah Fazlullah behaved like a dictator. First he made a decision and then asked the shura to endorse it. Under the rules, the ameer can ask the shura for advice before making important decisions. But in this case, he made the decision and then asked the shura to endorse it,” said a senior member of the TTP shura.
According to him, the shura had conveyed its decision to the TTP chief, reportedly living in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nooristan provinces.According to sources, Maulvi Omar Khalid Khurasani could not go to North Waziristan or its neighbouring South Waziristan, where two factions of the Mehsud militants had been fighting against each other, to resolve their differences after Mullah Fazlullah gave him the difficult task.
Pleading anonymity, he said before the shura decision, Commander Khan Said had already declined to surrender when Mullah Fazlullah sacked him a few days ago.The Taliban leader said that the TTP has been passing through a difficult phase of its history due to serious internal differences among various commanders.
“Most of the senior commanders of the TTP are not happy with Mullah Fazlullah for this and some other decisions and are now supporting Khan Said,” the TTP leader said.He feared that there were strong indications that Commander Khan Said may form his own faction separate from the TTP.
“The TTP is likely to be divided as Khan Said had made up his mind to form his own organisation. He is popular and the Taliban factions of the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa such as Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, Lakki Marwat and Bannu may join his organisation. Besides them, the Punjabi Taliban are also close to him and may join his faction,” the Taliban commander maintained.
The TTP commander argued that after the split, a third faction may also emerge and those neither supporting Fazlullah nor Khan Said could join the third forum.
“The TTP commanders of different places are very much concerned about the ongoing crisis and are holding meetings and seeking advice on who should lead the Taliban in case the Taliban are divided in two factions and Mullah Fazlullah is removed. Maulvi Khalid Khurasani, who in fact had given the idea of forming the TTP in 2007, is considered an important player and he may form the third group,” one of the Taliban leaders said.
He however said that Omar Khalid Khurasani had not cleared his position, whether he would support Fazlullah or Sajna or the third faction.
“In case the TTP is split, the Taliban of the southern districts along with South Waziristan would join hands and the militants of Malakand, Mohmand and Bajaur and Charsadda and Mardan would form their own faction on the basis of their school of thought and ideology,” said the Taliban leader.
There has been fighting between two groups, one headed by Commander Khan Said and another led by Commander Sheharyar Mehsud, in South Waziristan for the past three months and both sides have made conflicting claims of inflicting losses on their rival side.
Senior members of the TTP had made several attempts by appealing to the warring factions to stop their clashes, but in vain.Commander Khan Said belonged to the Maulana Waliur Rahman group, the then deputy to Hakimullah Mehsud.
Maulana Waliur Rahman wanted to become a central leader of the Pakistani Taliban when Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack on August 5, 2009 in Zangara village of South Waziristan.
It had caused serious differences between them when Hakimullah Mehsud announced himself as the leader of the TTP. Both of them didn’t like each other during their life.Both Commander Sajna and Commander Sheharyar had similar differences that existed between their two slain leaders, Waliur Rahman and Hakimullah Mehsud.
Taliban sources said that like his slain leader, Sajna is in favour of peace talks with the Pakistan government while Sheharyar, who replaced Hakimullah, opposed the peace process.
After the killing of Hakimullah and Waliur Rahman in drone strikes, Khan Said first wanted to be made central ameer of the TTP and then chose to lead the Mehsud Taliban in South Waziristan.
NNI adds from Islamabad: Mullah Fazlullah has said the government, army and intelligence agencies will have to accept the writ of Almighty Allah.
In a video message released by the TTP Darra Adamkhel chapter, the TTP chief did not comment over the peace talks with the government. He had however been opposed to the talks in the past.
His statement came at a time when there is a deadlock in the peace talks between the government and the Taliban.Talking to the BBC, a spokesperson for the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel claimed that the seven minutes video message was a fresh policy statement of the TTP chief.
In the video, Mullah Fazlullah was welcomed by armed militants when he came down from a mountainous area and recorded his message.Mullah Fazlullah asked his suicide bombers to be ready against tanks and artilleries of inimical forces.
“Those who have received this message should disseminate it to other suicide bombers who are not in a direct contact,” Fazlullah said in the video.He said implementation of Shariah was his mission and he will continue his efforts in this respect.