The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ruled out the possibility of peace talks with Pakistan as Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Swat Taliban, was named the new chief on Thursday.
Fazlullah was elected by the supreme shura (supreme council) a week after Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike. Sheikh Khalid Haqqani was chosen as his deputy. The TTP leaders from as far afield as Kurram Agency, Orakzai Agency, Bajaur Agency, Tank and South Waziristan participated in the meeting.
Fazlullah is the first TTP chief who is not from Waziristan. His deputy, Khalid Haqqani, hails from Swabi. It is for the first time that the TTP leadership comprises men from urban areas and not from Fata.
Meanwhile, Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, who was appointed interim chief of the TTP, ruled out the possibility of any peace talks, accusing the Pakistan government of ‘wielding no authority as it is under the US yoke’.
Bhittani told journalists that Taliban would continue their struggle for implementation of Shariah, adding that negotiations with the government would only be possible if it is freed of US slavery and has its own authority.
Bhittani said that TTP is not a political organisation. “The government had struck a deal with the United States and, under the garb of peace talks, it is selling out our fighters,” he said, adding, “The talks were merely a political stunt.” TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid also spoke to reporters from an undisclosed location and discounting the possibility of negotiations, said, “Pakistan government is playing a double-game with us.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2013.