Pak Taliban rejects reports of rift in its top leadership
Islamabad: The outlawed Pakistani Taliban on Monday rejected reports of a rift in its top leadership and said there was no move to replace its chief Hakimullah Mehsud with Wali-ur-Rehman.
"The reports have no truth, we held the main shura (council) meeting two weeks back in North Waziristan Agency and all the 42 members or their representatives attended the meeting chaired by Hakimullah Mehsud, which is sufficient to rebuff reports of any change in Tehrik-e-Taliban's top slot," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said.
Ihsan was quoted as saying by the website of the Dawn newspaper that he too had attended the meeting of the shura.
"Wali-ur-Rehman and all the other top leadership from Mohmand, Bajaur, Dara Adam Khel and the rest of Pakistan had attended the meeting and reposed confidence in Hakimullah Mehsud besides discussing organisational affairs of the TTP," he said.
Only Mullah Fazlullah, the erstwhile Taliban chief of Swat Valley, was absent from the meeting and had sent his representative as he was unable to travel due to "security concerns".
Fazlullah escaped from Swat after the Pakistani military launched an operation in 2009 and is currently believed to be in Afghanistan.
Ihsan rejected a media report that Wali-ur-Rehman was in touch with the government to finalise some sort of peace deal and start a "rebellion against Hakimullah Meshud".
A recent Western media report had quoted Pakistani military officials in Waziristan as saying that Rehman could replace Mehsud as the chief of the TTP as the latter was no longer fully in control of the organisation's activities.
Asked about a possible change in the TTP's leadership, Ihsan said: "(As long as) our amir (leader) is following the Shariah laws and talking decisions according to the Islamic Shariah, no one is going to defect or rise against him and the reports in this regard are merely a propaganda".
He ruled out any truce with the government, which is following "dictates from abroad".
Answering another question about Mehsud's relations with Rehman and Fazlullah, Ihsan said: "There is no problem at all".
Referring to the upcoming withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the transportation of military hardware via Pakistani land routes, Ihsan said: "We are waiting for this target since long and have already planned to destroy it".
He said, "There is no doubt that this (equipment) will not go back in one piece. The US and their Pakistani counterparts are one and the same for the TTP and would be targeted alike".