Islamabad, May 29 – Pakistani Taliban today suffered a major setback after a powerful faction split from it citing the umbrella organisation’s involvement in criminal activities and bombing of public places, complicating the already-fragile peace dialogue with the government.
The ‘Khan Sajna’ group has parted ways from the Maulana Fazlullah-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) due to its involvement in criminal activities and policy of bombing public places, Azam Tariq, former TTP spokesman and a member of its powerful shura (council), said.
“We announce our defection from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, we have chosen Khalid Mehsud as the new leader for South Waziristan,” Tariq said. “The TTP leadership has fallen into the hands of a bunch of conspirators, the umbrella organisation is involved in criminal activities like robbery and extortion,” he said in a statement.
Khalid Mehsud, known as Khan Saeed Sajna, was a contender for the TTP’s leadership after its former chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike last year.
The break-away faction belongs to the Mehsud tribe, considered to be one of the most important and powerful of the various groups that comprise the TTP. Tariq said there were differences within the rebels over the issue of peace talks with the government, which are currently stalled. He said the TTP needs reforms.
It is not know whether intelligence agencies had a hand in the split. Pakistani Air Force jets last week pounded Taliban targets in the country’s restive tribal region near the Afghan border. The death toll in the air strikes has crossed 80, with over 75 militants and four security personnel among those killed.