Islamabad: Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud has been in isolation for over a year, and is rapidly losing control over the terrorist group that he once led with absolute command and authority, his associates and Pakistani intelligence officials have said.
Hakimullah might soon be facing more rebels from within the TTP after last week’s defection by one of his top commanders, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, The Express Tribune quoted TTP insiders and intelligence officials in Islamabad, as saying.
Fazal Saeed, who was appointed by Hakimullah for the strategic Kurram tribal region, announced to separate his group of more than 1,000 fighters from the main outfit in what appeared to be the first serious fracture for the TTP.
The defection took place within days after unknown attackers killed a spokesperson for the TTP’s Fidayeen-e-Islam group – the suicide bombing squad.
The killing of key TTP figure Shakirullah Shakir in a North Waziristan town has raised questions over how influential Hakimullah still is in the region.
“It was like a slap on the face for him. Nobody could have imagined such things here sometime back,” a tribal source commented on the murder, which is still unsolved.
A day after Fazal Saeed’s announcement to split, a group of the Taliban from Khyber Agency attacked their counterparts from Orakzai in what appeared to be another sign of growing friction within the TTP and lack of a centralised and coordinated leadership.
“All these incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. There may be a series of challenges for him … you will see more of his boys turning against him and this is exactly what we desired and have been working on,” claimed an official, who deals with counter-terror operations in the tribal areas.
His comments were verified by some of Hakimullah’s associates, with one of them saying: “It looks as though he is just a figurehead now. He can hardly communicate with his commanders in other parts of the tribal areas … he is in total isolation. Only a few people within the TTP know where he is.”
Although Pakistani military officials have claimed credit for Hakimullah’s isolation, tribal sources said that it was more likely due to fears of being hit by drones rather than anything else.