Published On: Fri, Apr 18th, 2014

Pakistan inquired Afghan Taliban to clear its Stance about TTP

Afghan-Taliban

In an unprecedented move, like in a game of chess, the Pakistani establishment is reported to have issued a stern warning to the Haqqani Network, once considered its ally and to the Afghan Taliban to choose between the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the state of Pakistan.

The News reports that the timing of this warning from the Pakistani establishment is crucial because the the Pakistani Taliban are in the midst of peace talks with the government in Islamabad, amidst demands to release over 800 Taliban prisoners and to set up a free peace zone in Waziristan and the Afghan Taliban is reported to be preparing for a spring offensive against the allied troops as they prepare to withdraw, to reclaim Afghanistan, with help from the TTP.

According to well-informed sources, the warning from the establishment was prompted by the growing cooperation among the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani Taliban, which has reinforced the military power of TTP in its current conflict with the security forces in Pakistan.

The TTP spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, already admitted publicly on October 6, 2013 in an interview that the Afghan Taliban supports the TTP financially and provides its members sanctuary in Afghanistan.

The fugitive TTP Ameer, Mullah Fazlullah, who had claimed responsibility last year for killing GOC Swat Major General Sanaullah Niazi is also being sheltered by the Afghan Taliban in the Kunar Province.

However, The News says, what seems to have caused the Pakistani establishment to snap are the allegations from the Afghan and the Pakistani Taliban, blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for the November 11, 2013 mystery murder (in Islamabad) of Dr Nasiruddin Haqqani, the top fundraiser and organiser of Haqqani Network as well as its liaison man with the Pakistani security establishment.

Dr Nasiruddin, the real brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, was killed by unknown gunmen in the federal capital 10 days after the November 1, 2013 killing of the TTP Ameer in a US drone attack in North Waziristan. Both were laid to rest in the Dandey Darapa Khel area of North Waziristan which also headquarters the Haqqani Network as well as the TTP.

The decades-old cozy relationship between the Pakistani establishment and the Haqqanis was shattered with the mystery murder of Dr Nasiruddin when a spokesman of Haqqani network (Najeebullah) immediately blamed the Pakistani intelligence agencies. He said: “Dr Nasiruddin had been mediating between a powerful intelligence agency and the Pakistani Taliban for peace talks. But he had refused to mediate further following Hakimullah’s death and the subsequent announcement of TTP not to hold peace talks with the government. Nasiruddin’s reluctance to mediate anymore after Hakimullah’s killing must have annoyed the agency which decided to eliminate him physically,” the Haqqanis’ spokesman was quoted by the media as saying.

On his part, the TTP spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, also blamed a Pakistani intelligence agency for the murder, vowing to take revenge. “Nasiruddin Haqqani has been martyred by none other than the ISI. He was killed because he had bravely backed our Ameer Hakimullah Mehsud,” Shahidullah told AFP when asked about possible killers.

However, the ISI circles refuted the allegations of involvement in the murder, saying Dr Nasiruddin Haqqani was either killed by the TTP or by the Afghan National Directorate of Security.

The allegations levelled by the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network were followed by Pakistani intelligence reports that both the groups were supporting and financing the TTP in its terror spree against the khakis and the civilians alike.

The Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban are closely allied and both aim to impose a strict version of Islamic laws or Shariah in Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, their leadership and targets differ. While the Pakistani Taliban mostly focus their terrorist attacks in Pakistan against the security forces which they think are an American ally, the Afghan Taliban target the Afghan and the Allied forces. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif recently told Reuters in an interview that the Pakistan government was worried about the possibility of increasing convergence between the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban. “Then the Pakistani Taliban will have a powerhouse behind them,” Khawaja Asif had said. Analysts believe that these concerns might have prompted the Pakistani security establishment to warn the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban against backing the TTP.

However, there are already reports that the Ameer of the Afghan Taliban is persuading the Pakistani Taliban to end their infighting in South Waziristan as he wants to secure their support against the foreign troops in Afghanistan to launch the annual spring offensive.

Analysts believe the Pakistani security establishment’s warning was meant to dissuade the Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban from siding with the Pakistani Taliban in their conflict with the state of Pakistan at a time when the Allied forces are set to withdraw from Afghanistan and both the Afghan militia groups would require the crucial support of Islamabad to stage a comeback in Kabul.

The ultimate agenda of the Pakistani Taliban is believed to be the establishment of their own state- the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan (on the pattern of Mullah Omar’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) in Fata where they can impose the Islamic Shariah. On the other hand, the ultimate agenda of the Afghan Taliban is the revival of the lost Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The News reports that following the Pakistani establishment’s warning, Mullah Omar will have to decide whether to befriend the Pakistani Taliban or the state of Pakistan. Commander Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Haqqani Network is bound to follow suit being a disciple of Mullah Omar just like the Pakistani and the Afghan Taliban. Well informed sources in the establishment say logically speaking Mullah Omar would like to remain a friend of Pakistan instead of inviting its wrath by opting for the TTP over the state of Pakistan.

However, there are those in the Taliban circles who believe that if the Afghan Taliban succeed in regaining power in Kabul after the withdrawal of the Allied troops, there would be greater chances of their joining hands with the Pakistani Taliban whose aims and objectives and those of the Ameerul Momineen are the same. However, the establishment circles say, in such an eventuality, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network must know that “strategic depth” would no longer be a consideration of the establishment if the Pakistan government finally orders a military strike in North Waziristan after the failure of the talks with the TTP.

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