Twilight of the Taliban: TTP buckles under internal fissures, external pressure

Published: December 19, 2011

With chain of commands crumbling and funds dwindling, the militia appears to be in disarray. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

The twilight of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – an outlawed umbrella of militant groups – appears to have set in.

The group responsible for most violence in the country is in disarray with its ‘chain of command’ crumbling, funds dwindling and infighting intensifying, admit Taliban foot soldiers.

“It appears the TTP’s days are numbered … what was a well-coordinated militia just a year ago has fragmented now and dozens of splinters groups have emerged,” a disgruntled member of the network told The Express Tribune.

At least two associates of the group in South Waziristan, the strongest bastion of TTP where its chief Hakimullah Mehsud is hiding, also confirmed this.

They said Mehsud has further isolated himself due to threats to his life from the dreaded American drones and Pakistani spy agencies.

“He is virtually a lonely man running for his life … he is always on the move and doesn’t meet even his once most-trusted lieutenants,” said Muhammad, a nom de guerre because the militants seldom use their real names.

Muhammad, who lives in the North Waziristan tribal region, was in Islamabad for the treatment of some kidney ailment at a private clinic. Mehsud has stopped meeting members of his notorious network from Punjab, better known as Punjabi Taliban, suspecting that some of them might be spying on him for Pakistani agencies.

“This is one of the reasons for relative peace in the country … there is no coordination among various groups of the Taliban,” said an intelligence official. There has been a visible decline in the Taliban violence in the country over the past few months.

The TTP associates said that their group was crumbling due to differences on the question of pursuing peace talks with the government — an option Mehsud had rejected outright when he was first approached with the offer.

One the other hand, several key TTP leaders have responded positively to peace overtures from the Pakistani agencies. TTP’s deputy chief in South Waziristan Mufti Waliur Rehman and the group’s No 2, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad from Bajaur Agency, are reportedly in talks with the government, indirectly though. Officially, both the government and the TTP deny peace talks.

Muhammad claimed that several members of the TTP shura, or decision-making council, have also showed willingness for talks. He added that the shura, which once had around three dozen senior leaders, has now shrunk to less than 10.

“People are now deserting Mehsud and joining the group led by Waliur Rehman,” he said, adding that the latter’s group is becoming more powerful.

No more money

Apart from differences within, supply of foot soldiers to the TTP is also drying up fast, said Muhammad who himself has given up violence to start a small business in his village.

“They (foot soldiers) are deserting because it no longer earns them money,” said Raqeebullah Mehsud, a former TTP field commander.

Intelligence officials are claiming the credit for the TTP’s imminent collapse, saying it was their squeeze that had played a key role in blocking funds supply to the Taliban. But experts like Brigadier (Retd) Muhammad Saad believe that TTP’s inability to generate money might be the result of what has been happening behind closed doors in Afghanistan in the recent past.

“There have been reports that the Afghan Taliban are actively engaged in peace talks,” he added.

Saad said that the war in Afghanistan was the main source of funds for the TTP “but it may not be the case anymore”.

But Brigadier (Retd) Mehmood Shah, another security analyst based in Peshawar, said it won’t be fair to deny the Pakistani agencies credit for the isolation and subsequent rupture in the ranks of the TTP.

“Much of this happened due to their (Pakistani agencies) maneuvers,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2011.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the story mentioned Baitullah Mehsud as the current TTP chief. The current chief is Hakimullah Mehsud. 

Reader Comments (31)

  • Kafka
    Dec 19, 2011 - 1:56PM

    Hope this is true.

    Recommend

  • Concerned
    Dec 19, 2011 - 2:17PM

    Baitullah Mehsud is dead, I think currently the TTP is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, please correct this mistake.

    Recommend

  • Patriotic
    Dec 19, 2011 - 2:18PM

    Good! Now crush them once and for all, get out of this war on terror and let the US take care of itself in Afghanistan!

    Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo
    Dec 19, 2011 - 2:31PM

    Great news i hope they totally brake up.

    Recommend

  • FJ
    Dec 19, 2011 - 2:48PM

    …and Imran Khan wants to stop these drone attacks!

    Recommend

  • Shia Pakistani
    Dec 19, 2011 - 3:07PM

    Ya Allah! Ya Ali! Ya Hussein
    Finally. Finally. May my beloved motherland Pakistan get rid of this cancer completely. I almost got a tear writing this. Recommend

  • correct option
    Dec 19, 2011 - 3:10PM

    Cannot wait for a Taliban-free Pakistan and Afghanistan!

    May peace prevail InshAllah!

    Recommend

  • patriot
    Dec 19, 2011 - 3:11PM

    @FJ drones were also on high when TTP carried series of violence across the country. so drones are not the reason behind their disarray………………..

    Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Dec 19, 2011 - 3:14PM

    Muhammad, who lives in the North Waziristan tribal region, was in Islamabad for the treatment of some kidney ailment at a private clinic.
    WHY WASN’T HE ARRESTED WHEN HE WAS IN ISLAMABAD?????

    Recommend

  • Shabnum
    Dec 19, 2011 - 3:43PM

    only disarmament will prove this.Recommend

  • Hamid
    Dec 19, 2011 - 4:28PM

    Really really good news. I think its time we give another blow to the falling TTP. One more push and they will be gone forever.

    Recommend

  • Hu Jintao
    Dec 19, 2011 - 4:32PM

    @FJ:
    you know that drones are mostly killing civilians including women and children?

    Its time to get out your american influenced propagandist mindset.

    Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2011 - 4:50PM

    Vienna,December 19,2011
    There is a single solution for the world of seven billion
    plus.Deweaponize,demilitarize and democratize. Live
    in peace creating value and increasing prosperity for
    all. That is my NEW YEAR wish for one and all.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna

    Recommend

  • j. von hettlingen
    Dec 19, 2011 - 5:31PM

    Is TTP’s deputy chief in South Waziristan Mufti Waliur Rehman still holding the two Swiss hostages, kidnapped in July near Quetta? When will they be free? And on what conditions?

    Recommend

  • Muhammed ali
    Dec 19, 2011 - 5:40PM

    Yeah! I was desperately waiting for such a news!!! Now it’s time to make Pakistan secular and eradicate religion from the roots of this nation long live Pakistan!!!! This new year’s its gonna be awesome;-)

    Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2011 - 6:41PM

    “Talks” are the “Only Way Out” of this QUAGMIRE… If NATO / US can talk to Afghan Taliban, Why can’t we talk to the TTP? Why are we being “More Loyal than the King” when it comes to TALKS with the Taliban… And it was our Govt and Army who carried out military operations, in the first place (as early as 2003)… TTP was formed way later, in 2007…
    “We, the Tribesmen” are Pakistan’s “Frontier Defenders”Trust us PAKISTAN… We would not Disappoint you…

    Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed
    Dec 19, 2011 - 6:53PM

    @Muhammed ali:
    Do you mean secularism of Shia-Sunni equality or secularism as it is known in the wide world ?

    Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Dec 19, 2011 - 6:57PM

    hats off to pakistan army and the ISI here…

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Dec 19, 2011 - 7:16PM

    You should thanks the American’s — it’s their drones that have put the leaders on the run and made management of their terrorist organization difficult.

    Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 19, 2011 - 8:51PM

    @Patriotic:
    please read the book ” accidental guerrilla”. the group has nothing to do with religion.

    Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2011 - 9:02PM

    Our sacrifices in this WOT are paying off, and the results prove that these terrorists are nearing their end. Our mutual interests in the region encouraged us to stay united while overcoming many obstacles along the way. The terrorists continued to create hurdles for our forces by regularly disguising themselves among civilians and attacking our forces. But our will and resilience did not allow them to hamper our mission. The terrorists are still trying to take advantage of our situation, but we can all see that now would be the time for us to regroup and go after them with full force and eliminate the threat once and for all. We certainly do not want them to use the current situation to their benefit and gather any sort of momentum against our objectives. Therefore, the all important goal of defeating terrorism needs to prevail once again. We hope that our governments will shift their attention back towards our common enemies to keep the pressure on.

    Recommend

  • SARMAD BASRA
    Dec 19, 2011 - 9:18PM

    @tehreek-e-insaaf .. bro we are totally wid you ..actually wana say ur point of view is DAMN RIGHT !!

    Recommend

  • Pir Monafiq Shah
    Dec 20, 2011 - 1:14AM

    TTP is on death bed because its mentor, al Qaeda has been decimated by drones. Its top leaders: Baitullah Mahsud, its founder and Qari Hussain, the master trainer of bombers,have been killed by drones. Long live drones which have saved Pakistan and its people from the ‘fasadis’.

    Recommend

  • Falcon
    Dec 20, 2011 - 4:55AM

    Good news. On a side note, all drone lovers should read the article again. It gives more credit to Pak Intelligence agencies than drone strikes alone. Secondly, the enabling conditions have also been created due to choked financial supply chain because of slightly improving law enforcement conditions elsewhere in the country. The credit for that too goes to Pak law enforcement agencies. So let’s give them the credit where they deserve it rather than the traditional 24/7/365 bashing.

    Recommend

  • Basit
    Dec 20, 2011 - 12:48PM

    It is precisely because of sacrifices of Pak Army and ISI that TTP is now simply a group of bandits running from one pillar to the next.

    Recommend

  • antanu
    Dec 20, 2011 - 6:35PM

    good news….good omen

    Recommend

  • MK
    Dec 20, 2011 - 9:10PM

    Reading comments here suggest that most are relieved that TTP is disintegrating, and think that this is end of them. It is just like putting bandage on a cancer and celebrating. DID gov or army make any efforts to eliminate the root cause? Did they start free quality schools and justice system in FATA (or other areas of Pakistan for that matter)? Drones or military operations are not the solution and create more resentment. Remember when Bush declared VICTORY and mission completed in Iraq and then thousands of US soldiers died after that. Using force is US way of doing things because later they can run away and we have to face the consequences. WE MUST ELIMINATE THE CAUSE AND REASONING THESE GROUPS EXSIST, which are lack of Social justice and free quality education. And we should also stop support for US invasions. We should have stayed out of this mess to begin with.
    They kept on knocking on devil’s door, someone answered on 9/11. BID DEAL US got attacked ONCE by some extremists, here is a list of US military actions in last 120 years.
    http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html Recommend

  • Salim
    Dec 20, 2011 - 9:17PM

    If UBL could live next to Pak Military Academy for seven years undetected then why cant Mohammad from N.Waziristan get medical treatment in Islamabad.

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Dec 21, 2011 - 2:42AM

    @MK:
    Yeah, it is a big deal. That’s what makes Pakistan’s tolerance for humiliation so impressive. I’m certainly not going to keep an attack score card and respond when it reaches a certain number. One is one too many. If you don’t like the size and severity of the reaction, don’t instigate it. It’s like someone getting punched in the face and then being a cry baby that the other guy hit him back twice as hard,

    Recommend

  • sj
    Dec 21, 2011 - 8:18PM

    IF its true this will be the most beautyful news of my life

    Recommend

  • MK
    Dec 21, 2011 - 8:33PM

    @MarkH:
    “If you don’t like the size and severity of the reaction, don’t instigate it. It’s like someone getting punched in the face and then being a cry baby that the other guy hit him back twice as hard,”

    Isn’t that exactly what US is doing, Kept attacking without any reaction till someone decided to stand up and punch right back in the form of (9/11) and then suddenly we see US crying that they are the VICTIMS.

    I agree that US is militarily very powerful and can kill more civilians (Proven many many times), if that’s what you mean by severity of the reaction. 130 invasions in last 100 years and murder of millions of civilians’ doesn’t speak highly of any moral grounds for US. How many times US got attacked in last 100 years? Were those invasions in retaliation of something? just that US got used to invading without any consequences and 9/11 came as a shock.

    Any civilian death in a conflict is wrong (including ones on 9/11) but when compared to millions US has killed all over the world it is really NOT a BIG DEAL (2800 vs millions). Right now you are too high on military power and have no respect of human life, but I am speaking of human suffering US has caused to the world even long before 9/11 versus the suffering of 9/11.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan