The Hakimullah Mehsud faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said the TTP led by Mullah Fazlullah is serious about negotiating a peace agreement in South Waziristan Agency if the government shows seriousness.
“If the government shows it is serious in pursuing talks, then we, under the TTP leadership, are also serious about holding talks to restore peace in South Waziristan,” Haji Daud, the spokesman for the Hakimullah Mehsud faction, said on Sunday.
The Shehryar Mehsud-led faction has fought bloody clashes with a rival faction – Waliur Rehman Group, led by Khan Said, aka Sajna – since April. Since then, dozens of fighters from both sides have been killed in clashes. Last week, the Sajna faction broke away split from the TTP, accusing the group of criminality.
The government’s nascent peace initiative had hit a deadlock due to the TTP infighting, though Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had insisted that they expected some headway from a second round of talks with the TTP Political Shura. However, the two sides could not set the date and time for a second face-to-face meeting between their negotiators.
On Wednesday, Sajna’s spokesman Azam Tariq announced the separation of the Waliur Rehman Group from the TTP. In his statement, he accused the TTP of involvement in armed robberies and extortion, and claimed the group had “fallen prey to conspiracies hatched by an organised gang”.
The government has not commented on the split – and it’s yet to be seen how this would affect the government’s peace initiative.
Daud, however, said the split would not affect the TTP. “Khan Said only has a limited number of fighters,” he told reporters via telephone from an undisclosed location. “His [Sajna’s] separation from the TTP is a trick by Pakistan’s secret agencies to weaken us.”
“Such conspiracies will be defeated by the TTP,” he said.
Daud said the Hakimullah Mehsud Group was still ready to make peace with Sajna despite his separation from the TTP. “We have confidence and trust in Mullah Fazlullah and the TTP leadership, and will follow their instructions the same way we followed Hakimullah Mehsud,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2014.