ISLAMABAD: Differences within the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seem to have further deepened after a commander of the splinter group was expelled by the parent outfit.
“The TTP leadership, after approval by the honourable Ameer, has removed Commander Abdulwaki, alias Omar Khalid Khorasani, as the chief of Mohmand agency unity and also cancelled his basic membership,” TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said on Thursday.
The TTP on Thursday explained that Khorasani, the group’s chief in Mohmand tribal region, has been removed because of his interference in affairs of the Afghan Taliban and his contacts with the mysterious groups – Ahrar-ul-Hind and Junud-e-Khorasan.
TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said the TTP will soon announce a new leader for Mohmand agency.
In what seems to be an angry response to the TTP move, the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar splinter group expelled TTP chief Maulvi Fazalullah.
Differences in Taliban ranks deepen at a time when they are under attack by the security forces in their last sanctuary of North Waziristan. The army said Wednesday that over 900 militants have been killed and many of their hideouts and bomb factories dismantled. The TTP’s splinter group’s however disputed the army’s statement and said Taliban have only lost 30 members.
Despite expelling Khorasani, the TTP’s spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid played down differences in the Taliban ranks and said that the TTP leadership has the capability to resolve disputes under sharia.
He referred to previous instances where differences had emerged in Bajaur, South Waziristan and Khyber Agency and all issues were amicably settled.
“Differences in the ranks of the Muslims and Mujahdeen on some issues are natural, however, deviation from its solution on the basis of Sharia and stubbornness is very dangerous as such an approach can cause collective damage to the Muslims,” the TTP spokesperson said in a veiled reference to the recent split.
Explaining Khorasani’s expulsion, Shahid accused him of interfering in internal affairs of the Afghan Taliban in a sheer violation of the TTP’s policy that had damaged reputation of the group in the eyes of other outfits.
“This policy had even brought the TTP in to direct confrontation with the Afghan Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban),” Shahid said. He also recalled expulsion of former TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, for issuing statements against the Afghan Taliban.
Shahid said the Ahra-ul-Hind and Junud-e-Khorasan are mysterious groups and news of Khorasani and Ehsan joining it is an attempt to create rift between the ranks of the Taliban and to defame the Afghan Taliban. He said Ehsan had been known as a suspicious character as he had also interfered in affairs of other units.
Ehsan expels Fazlullah in tit for tat move
Shortly after the TTP expelled Khorasani, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesperson Ehsan said his group has expelled Fazalullah and the people around him.
Ehsan, who has previously served as a spokesperson to Khorasani, issued a long charge-sheet against the TTP leadership, accusing them of serving “their personal interests.”
“It was lack of leadership quality that TTP had been involved in bloody clashes that has taken lives of known Mujahideen. The leadership had no policy to deal with this situation,” Ehsan said in a statement.
He disclosed nearly 200 Taliban from Mehsud tribe have lost lives as the result of internal fighting. He also said the Taliban had killed the TTP Rawalpindi chief Commander Nadeem Abbas alias Enteqami but his killers have not yet been tried in their Islamic court.
“It is still a mystery as to who has killed the members of central council Asmatullah Shaheen Bitani and Tairq Afridi,” he asked.
Despite their internal rift both groups however declared their allegiance to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar, and accepted him as their supreme leader.
Pakistani Taliban have always considered Mullah Omar as their leader; however, the Afghan Taliban never formally owned them despite their strong links.
Afghan Taliban refuse to comment on Zawahiri’s video
A day after al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri’s new video message of forming a new branch in the Indian subcontinent, the Afghan Taliban declined to offer comment.
When asked about these developments, the Afghan Taliban distanced themselves. “We do not want to comment,” was a brief response of Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, when The Express Tribune sought his comments on Zawahiri’s remarks.