LAHORE - Mediators have failed to bring peace between two warring Taliban groups in South Waziristan as the fighting has spread to other areas of the agency.
Khan Said Sajna Mehsud and Shehryar Mehsud groups of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are engaged in fierce fighting for more than a week now.
Some local tribesmen told The Nation on Sunday that some central leaders of the TTP arrived in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) few days back to reconcile the two groups but their efforts have not succeeded so far. The fight comes to a temporary halt in some areas but then it starts in some other areas, they said.
On the other hand, sources close to TTP-named peace facilitators told this scribe that there was strong possibility of announcement of permanent ceasefire and release of some prisoners by the TTP in the second round of direct talks between the two sides.
TTP spokesman Shahid Ullah Shahid said in a media statement that Taliban shura was making efforts to bring calm between the two groups, which he claimed have no connection with TTP. He also said the local fight will not affect TTP talks with government.
But local contacts said they did not see a chance of permanent peace between the two groups. When asked why they call them pro-peace and anti-peace, they said, “Sajna Mehsud was in favour of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with the state when hardliner Hakimullah Mehsud was alive, but Shehryar Mehsud – like Hakimullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud – supported continuing the war with government forces.”
They added that Sajna aspired for top position in TTP when Hakimullah died in a drone strike and he does not recognise Maulvi Fazalullah as the real ameer of the militant organisation. They said TTP spokesman Shahid has made a poor effort to distract the observers by saying that this infighting has no effect on the TTP and that it would not impact the peace talks.
A senior member of the security establishment, who had been looking after the affairs of tribal areas in the recent past, said, “I think the security services have achieved half of their target, with the assistance of government emissaries. The TTP is now visibly divided into pro-peace and anti-peace groups, no matter what their so-called leaders claim.”
He said, “It is now up to the government how quickly it would exploit the situation. The TTP is now vulnerable and that’s why its leadership have hinted at the strong possibilities of announcement of permanent ceasefire and release of prisoners.”
He insisted that the Taliban, now having fissures within, cannot pose a serious threat to the state anymore and TTP commanders very well know that they have no other option than a phase-wise negotiated settlement. However, he added that small-scale activities from some anti-peace and splinter groups could be not be ruled out, but those should be seen as gasps of a ‘dying dinosaur’.