Signs of Cracks Within?

A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

taliban-fighters_1215283cIn an interesting development recently, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, in call with a local publication, accused two other banned organizations ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba’ and ‘Ansarul Islam’ for planning a massive attack on their bases and supporters in Mohmand region. He said that the two banned groups have entered into alliance with the local anti-Taliban ‘lashkar’ (militia) to target bases of the banned TTP militant group. He warned of retaliation should this happen.

According to the report, Lashkar-e-Taiba, who have been time and again been blamed for militant actions in India, rejected the TTP claim of organizing against them and said the group focuses its activities to the Indian-held Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Taiba literally Army of the Good or LeT as it is commonly coined, is one of the largest and a most active Islamist organization operating in South Asia. It was founded in 1990 with Hafiz Saeed, Zafar Iqbal and Abdullah Azzam purportedly as its founding members. However, after a move sought by India and the US, the UN Security panel said the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a front for the Pakistani militant group blamed in the attacks on Mumbai that killed 171 people, Saeed issued a statement, ”No Lashkar-e-Taiba man is in Jamaat-ud-Dawa and I have never been a chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba,’ (Published The Nation December 11, 2008)

Lashkar-e-Taiba the organization is banned in India, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Russia, Australia and the European Union. LeT professed goal is to limit India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir. Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Salman Masood in their piece state, “Pakistani authorities have obtained confessions from members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba that they were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November that killed more than 160 people, a Pakistani official said.” (Published NYT December 31, 2008)

Ansar-ul-Islam, a group banned in Pakistan in year 2008, was founded in 2004 by Pir Saifur-Rehman. The group predominantly operates in areas surrounding the Khyber Pass. Reports from Khyber Agency, credit Ansar-ul-Islam as strongly resisting Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TIP).

Bitter infighting between Ansar-ul-Islam and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TIP) flared up earlier this year, officially killing 61 but unofficial count can be much higher. Government and relief agencies had to set up IDP camps, as thousands fled the Tirah Valley to avoid getting caught in the cross fire. In the presence of strong groups, the Taliban have struggled to gain a foothold in Khyber.

Earlier, according to the SATP data, a total of 1,812 fatalities, including 400 civilians, 152 SFs and 1,260 militants have been recorded in the Khyber Agency since 2008 (data till October 30, 2011). The overall fatalities in FATA during this period stand at 15,690 comprising of 2,663 civilians, 993 SFs and 12,034 militants.

In the light of the alleged threat to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan by LeT and Ansar-ul-Islam, the local population will bear the brunt of the in-fighting. It will place a greater pressure on the newly formed government. However; there is another dimension to this situation that should not be overlooked.

This in- fighting engages TIP on a new front. It will take the focus away from targeting the civilians and defense personnel and direct it towards the immediate perceived enemy it sees as threatening its supremacy. It offers a good opportunity for the Pak Army to strike based on its intelligence information when TIP is actively combating elsewhere. Fighting on two fronts will weaken the Taliban and take the edge off its thrusts. The valiant Pakistan Army has already reclaimed Tirah Valley from the Taliban, weakening their control in the region.

A weaker Taliban will have a better reason to sit across the negotiation table than a stronger Taliban. Later. It also places the government and army of Pakistan to deal from a position of strength. This is assuming the option to table a talk with the Taliban is undertaken seriously by both sides.

The Pakistan government and army must bear in mind, the Taliban strategy of feigning seriousness of initiating a dialogue only to buy time to regroup. Therefore has to be a Plan ‘A’ and an equally strong Plan ‘B’.  What must not be doubted is; it is going to be a long haul.

Intertwined with these caught- up ends are the attacks on Afghan Taliban by the forces led by US. Whenever this happens members of Taliban Pakistan will support as the ties between both organizations are undeniable though both are not the same. According to a CNN Report by Ben Brumfield, “Like their Afghan allies, the Pakistani Taliban believe it must protect Islamic lands from “infidel invaders.” (Published October 17.2012)

It took Sri Lanka over twenty five years to defeat the LTTE, also known as Tamil Tigers. Over twenty years of fighting and four failed peace talks later, terrorism was rooted out from its soil.

There will be many false starts, many set-backs but the objective and road map must be very clear.

One cannot but be reminded of George Orwell (1894) as he aptly stated:

“The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’

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  • Khalid Rahim  On June 28, 2013 at 2:47 am

    The venom that TTP ejected from their fangs is fed/injected by their mentors.No single TTP leader or worker will act independently. Take the recent case of Wali ur Rahman who tried to be independent and was sent 6 feet deep. Likewise many others met the same fate. This organization has solely been formed and being fed to keep Pakistan in a state of chaos and confusion, with the aim to get the country into such deep crisis that Pakistan follows the same path as that of former Yugoslavia.

  • Brigadier Samir Bhattacharya  On June 28, 2013 at 4:58 am

    But all said and done these militant groups can only be brought to book if their sources of supply for sophisticated arms, ammunition etc can be effectively stopped. And if this can be done then half the battle will also be won. The need of the hour therefore is not to fight them but to deprive them of the means to fight and this can be done if there is proper intelligence sharing between the people and the agencies. For the gun runners of this world human lives have no meaning whatsoever, or else why should Mr Bout an ex KGB man and others like him get into this big lucrative business. and which at times is also linked to drug running.. During the Russian occupation of Afghanistan even Charlie Wilson the flamboyant US Senator had supplied General Zia captured Russian weapons through Egypt and Israel for the use by the Afghan Mujahideens and it also included the sophisticated and deadly stinger missiles. The arms for drugs under the aegis of the CIA and the ISI was very much in evidence at that time also. And the likes of Mr Bout are still probably doing the same to the Taliban and other such militant factions that have spawned after the Russians had quit, and the Americans and NATO forces were brought in to fight terrorism in that ever volatile Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan therefore must kill the goose that keeps supplying these deadly weapons to these unpatriotic Pakistanis.

    • Yasmeen Ali  On June 28, 2013 at 7:03 am

      Excellent points Brig Sahib.I have repeatedly stated on public forums that unless the support system of Taliban is intact, they have No Need to sit across the negotiation table.

  • Khan Zia  On June 28, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Thanks. There are many questions that remain unanswered.

    These outfits claim to fight in the name of Islam. In that case, why don’t they go to the help of fellow Muslims in Afghanistan who have been desperately trying to free themselves from NATO occupation?
    Why is it that they are allowed to maintain bases inside Afghanistan that are outside the reach of Pakistani forces and are never attacked by NATO forces?
    Why is it that the US almost never target TTP with drone attacks except on two occasions, one of which killed a TTP leader who was against killing Pakistanis?
    Who trains and provides these outfits with sophisticated weapons and intelligence for attacks inside Pakistan?
    Above all, who provides the extensive financial support necessary for them to have remained active for so long?

    The fight against terrorism will remain endless unless and until we analyse the answers to these and other related questions. The only effective way to fight militant groups of this nature is by cutting off their sources of money supply, bases and logistic support. To continue as we have been doing will only bring economic ruin and destabilisation to Pakistan.

    • Brigadier Samir Bhattacharya  On June 29, 2013 at 3:09 am

      I think Khan Zia ia absolutely right and all efforts must be made to cut off all those vital links that are sustaining such hydra-headed monsters

  • Tahir Majeed  On June 28, 2013 at 5:43 am

    You very rightly brought out the advantages of conflict betwen Talibans faction and good advise for Army to colaterally join this operation to divert and weeken Taliban by engaging them on multiple axis.
    This was British Tactics to rule Agency areas to creat fighting groups from within. FC KPK still have Platoons basing on Tribes and they are more tribesmen then any thing else.
    Keep writing as your contribution may give incentive to more people to write.
    Another good SHOT.

  • Sartaj  On June 28, 2013 at 5:51 am

    our Article is good and informative but you know well who is controlling all these groups and where from they belong and this cycle is unfinish able

  • Nasim  On June 28, 2013 at 6:14 am

    If we had a clever ruler, he would have supported certain elements within Taliban groups to destroy them from within.

    A wise enemy is always better than a stupid friend.

    Sent from my iPad

  • Ahsan  On June 28, 2013 at 6:58 am

    “The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

    So beautiful

  • Admiral Sirohey  On June 28, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Informative article. We are in a quagmire of intense drag. Taliban of various names, culture, Aims, aimless, funded and motivated by host of enemies of Pakistan, home grown and externally born are engaged in turf war at the cost of Pakistan. It has intensified to test the new government. External forces are not very happy about our close relation with China. That is understandable. But the participation of internal forces to disintegrate the country is worrisome. The forecast of an American Think tank to split the country in to four by 2015 is being
    Pursued with full vigour,

    Here the patriotic people in general and the intellectuals in particular have a great responsibility awaken THE PEOPLE.. Cracks are superficial the aim remains unchanged. The media is contributing intentionally or otherwise.


  • M Rafi  On June 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I am reminded of a saying that defines terrorism:

    “When men abandon reason, physical force becomes their only means of dealing with one another and of settling disagreements.”
    Your article is well researched . In Sri Lanka the situation was different. The Tamils were and are one group. Even there was one LTTE. Moreover there was no involvement of religion as in the case of Pakistan.

  • S. Hasam Shah  On July 1, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Yasmeen, as it was, the Tamil Tigers were eliminated by force through military action and not through talks. Here is the difference: In Pakistan the political wing is not in it with their hearts unlike the Sri Lanka govt. In Pakistan TTP are being abetted by some politicians, having a certain mind set. So it is the mind set that is root cause of this cancer of terrorism.

  • Umer Farooq  On July 1, 2013 at 3:38 am

    complicity of the problem as per my understanding is; TTP is basically the break away splinter’s group from the Mujahedeen factions who after change of policy on Kashmir Jihad became mavericks. They were available on sale or on rent as fighting for them is industry and trade. Most of these factions have developed foreign patronage as well and are waging their own version of jihad for their respectively assigned agendas. Occasionally, they did operate on converging interests but mostly they remained opportunists and targeted soft targets in Pakistan including security establishment. On the contrary, TT in Afghanistan’ had more clear agenda based on fight against foreign occupying forces hence remained more lethal and focused. Yasmeen has rightly grasped the internal dynamics and lets hope that some how the TTP and its splinter groups can be countered by the effective composite response and policies through broader consensus building including full range of hard power options and effective pro-active social, political, psychological and ideological policies.

  • Tanveer Chaudhry  On July 1, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Its a dirty game plan of USA , India and Israel cant u see tattoos on the bodies and many terrorist without circumcision they r not those mujahedeen’s

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