ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban face another possible split as a top commander who claimed responsibility for the Bacha Khan University assault is upset with the central leadership for disowning the attack and promising action against the perpetrators.
A joint council of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam has also been dissolved over lack of interest by TTP’s fugitive chief Mullah Fazlullah, a Taliban leader told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
The five-member council was formed in March last year after the three groups decided to work in tandem after their hideouts were in the tribal regions were decimated in military offensives. The army says all militant groups now operate from the Afghan side of the border.
“Umar Mansoor faced a huge embarrassment when the TTP’s central leadership disavowed any role in the Charsadda attack,” said the Taliban leader, who requested not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
He is now acting as an independent commander and even introduced himself as the leader of the Taliban in the Darra Adam Khel region in a recent interview with a foreign radio that indicates his serious differences with the central leadership. This is the first time he has introduced himself this way, the commander added.
Umar, who also recently released a video along with the alleged BKU attackers, did not mention the TTP chief in the recording, although he had mentioned and praised Fazlullah in his previous video messages after the Peshawar school and Badhaber PAF base attacks.
The TTP spokesman did not respond to a query sent to him on the group’s official email address if any action has been taken against Umar for the massacre of over 20 students and staff at the BKU.
Some Taliban sources doubt the authority of the TTP leadership to take action against Umar, who is considered among a few powerful commanders still attached to the outlawed group. He was among the three senior leaders associated with Fazlullah at a time when the TTP faced a split after the death of Hakimullah Mehsood in late 2013, a Taliban leader says. The other senior leaders were Khalid Haqqani, the TTP deputy chief and Sheharyar Mehsud, who led a splinter faction of the Mehsud tribe Taliban.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2016.