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Is it the engame for Pakistani Taliban?

The so-called Pakistani Taliban [Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP] led by Hakimullah Mehsood faces an existential crisis with an eruption of splits in its ranks, encouraged no doubt from outside. Splits have appeared all across the tribal areas – Bajaur, Orakzai, Mohmand, Kurram, etc. The split of commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani in Kurram agency this week is the most serious. He has openly voiced opposition to TTP’s attack on Pakistan as the reason for the split. He said he will continue to be part of the resistance to the US occupation in Afghanistan. He is linked to Sirajuddin Haqqani (Haqqani network). Possibly, Pakistani military used Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, who was Saeed Haqqani’s mentor, to get through to him — or even Sirajuddin.

The strategy adopted by the Pakistani military is a wise one – to focus on the ‘political track’ aimed at incrementally weakening Hakimullah’s TTP to the point of making it a residual force that can be mopped up at low cost in future security operations. This approach flies in the face of the ‘hammer-and-anvil’ strategy advocated by the US commander Davis Petraeus — NATO banging from the north and the Pak military from the south and thereby crushing the militants in between. The Pakistani military saw that the collateral damage would be so heavy that the tribal areas might as well be lost forever. This was sound judgment, although it displeased the US.

The Pakistani military has also struck peace deals with two TTP groups (Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan). Thus, Hakimullah and his TTP men are increasingly getting confined to a few areas of South Waziristan and are steadily losing contact with the Afghan border region. The US and Afghan intelligence operatives across the border will be hard-pressed to liaise with them. (This may partly explain the obscure happenings and the increased tension on the remote Afghan-Pak border region which is closed to the outside world.) The advantage certainly goes to the Pakistani military. The decimation of the TTP is a pre-requisite for the Pakistani military to fully concentrate on the Afghan endgame.

Posted in Military, Politics.

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