PESHAWAR: A key faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced Wednesday that it was splitting from the militant outfit following bloody clashes with a rival group.
The break-away faction belongs to the Mehsud tribe, widely considered the most important of the various groups that comprise the umbrella TTP which has fought the Pakistani government since 2007.
Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the group, said the breakaway faction would be lead by Khalid Mehsud, famously known by the name of Khan Said alias Sajna.
“We announce our defection from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, we have chosen Khalid Mehsud as the new leader for South Waziristan,” announced Tariq.
Khalid Mehsud was a key ally of former Mehsud Taliban chief and former TTP number two Waliur Rehman Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in May last year.
Speaking in an interview at an undisclosed location, Tariq said individual ideologies had created a rift among the Taliban and they were deviating from “the real cause”.
He claimed that the present TTP regime was carrying out bomb attacks on public places with bogus names and money was also being extorted from madrassahs and other institutions which, he said, was unacceptable.
“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.
He said other Taliban factions were also becoming distrustful of the main umbrella organisation.
Azam further said that the group had tried to reform the TTP, claiming that, despite its efforts, conniving elements in the organisation had emerged successful.
The spokesman said that these elements had handed over management of the central organisation into the hands of “shadowy forces”.
Two factions of the TTP, the umbrella grouping for disparate militant organisations, have been locked in bloody clashes for the past several weeks.
Differences emerged in the militant organisation after former chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a US drone in November last year and a crisis developed over the future leadership of the group.
Khalid Mehsud was a contender for the TTP’s top slot after Hakimullah’s death, but the post eventually was handed to Maulana Fazlullah who hails from the scenic Swat valley and is the first non-Mehsud to lead the TTP.
The conflict brought those backing Khalid Mehsud against supporters of Taliban commander Sheheryar Mehsud, who claim to be the followers of the late Hakimullah Mehsud.
Infighting among the factions has also impeded and undermined what little progress had been made in peace negotiations with the government.