LAHORE - There is a strong possibility that the pro-peace lobby in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will assist the security services in combing out anti-peace elements in the militants’ ranks if the talks failed to reach a logical conclusion.
As the clashes between pro-peace and anti-peace elements among the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are increasing in the tribal area, there is a strong possibility that the pro-peace elements among the TTP ranks will vehemently support the security services to neutralise the anti-peace Taliban in case the talks fail, says a former spymaster who, in his time, looked after Khyber Pukhtunkhawa and tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
In a recent fierce clash which took place on Monday (April 7) in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan Agency (SWA) between anti-talks and pro-peace groups of the TTP, a senior anti-dialogue commander was killed along with his fighters.
The bloody gun battle took place between Khan Said Sajna and Rasheed Mehsud groups in which the latter who was opposing the peace process was reportedly killed along with his fighters.
In an earlier such clash, senior TTP shura member Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani was killed reportedly by pro-peace elements among the Pakistani Taliban.
Some of the TTP members were pointing fingers at certain security services which they alleged were carrying out covert operations with the support of some TTP groups.
However, well-placed sources in the security establishment told this correspondent on Tuesday that they were closely monitoring the infighting between the pro-peace and anti-peace elements for assessing the success of talks with the militants.
They said they had no remotest connection with the infighting among various groups of the TTP as the security services were virtually observing the stand-down since they announced ceasefire in the tribal region following the civilian government’s directions to pursue the peace process of which they were also an important part.
The security sources revealed that certain groups of the TTP had made indirect contacts with them to offer their services against the trouble-makers, however, they decided to keep distance from them until the peace process reached its logical end.
Requesting not to be named, the former spymaster observed: “I think the country’s premier secret service has already achieved the target of differentiating between the good and bad Taliban and if the need arises in case of failure of talks, targeted special operations will be carried out against the troublemakers with the assistance of the pro-peace members of the TTP.”
Sharing his experience, being the former top intelligence man of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa and tribal belt, he said, “The hardliners among TTP, especially those who carried out major attacks against the Pak Army and civilians, and foreign militants are the main problem. As the mentioned elements among the TTP ranks foresee a little or no flexibility for them on part of the security establishment, they want to derail the peace efforts.”
Two members of the government peace committee, when contacted, remained tight-lipped and just said, “We should hope for success of peace talks and we are making all efforts humanly possible to bring peace.”
Asked about security of the second direct round of talks with TTP shura, keeping in view the fierce infighting between the pro-peace and anti-peace Taliban, they declined a direct comment, saying, “Wait and see what happens next.”
Meanwhile, the security establishment sources confided to The Nation that the premier security agency along with another intelligence service of the military was reviewing the list of TTP non-combatants in custody, besides preparing a list of Pakistani prisoners in the TTP captivity for a possible swap.
However, they could not say anything about the matter of militant prisoners of TTP at this stage, as this class of prisoners was involved in serious crimes.
Rustam Shah Mohmand, a senior government committee member, when contacted, said, “It has been decided at the highest government level that the state will release all those TTP prisoners against whom it has failed to establish a single case in the past four to five years.”
A member of the civilian security setup told this scribe that primarily ISI and secondarily MI were looking after the prisoners’ matter.