ISLAMABAD - Tension surfaced in the relations of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and newly formed militant outfit Jamat ul Ahrar on Thursday when Maulana Fazlullah claimed that the leader of Mohmand Taliban, Commander Abdul Wali Aka Omar Khalid Khurassani, was stripped off his leadership for his alleged "interference in the affairs of Afghan Taliban" and his relations with "dubious" militants outfits like "Janud-e-Khurassani (JeK)" and "Ahrar ul Hind (IuH)".

JuA responded by saying that Maulana Fazlullah, with only a handful of followers, does not have the capacity to remove Omar Khalid Khurassani because the outfit is a separate group with its own decision-making body to decide the leadership and other matters.

"In a meeting of the central Shura of TPP, Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid Khurassani was sacked as Ameer of Taliban in Mohmand Agency and his TTP membership was also cancelled. He not only violated the rules and regulations of TTP but also kept relations with dubious organisations. Maulana Fazlullah endorsed the decision of Shura," said Shahidullah Shahid, the central spokesperson of TTP, in a statement.

According to Shahidullah Shahid, Khurassani has time and again violated the policies of the organization. "Khurassani while going against the order of Maulana Fazlullah announced affiliation with IuH, a dubious outfit in the eyes of jihadi circles and Muslims. Previously he headed JeK, a dubious jihadi outfit in Afghanistan that had created tensions between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban," he said and further added, "TTP terms Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as its center and reveres Mullah Omar as its supreme leader".

According to Shahidullah, "TTP will announce a new leader for Mohmand Agency after consultation with local militants".

On the other hand, Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesperson of JuA, claimed that majority of the founding leaders of Pakistani Taliban like Omar Khalid Khurassani, Qari Shakeel Ahmad Haqqani and Maulana Qasim Khurassani were with JuA and Maulana Fazlullah was no more the leader of all Pakistani Taliban. The relatives of Baitullah Mehsud, the founding head of TTP, and Hakimullah Mehsud have also joined JuA, so the Taliban movement in Pakistan belongs to the newly emerged group of the militants. "As majority of the founding leaders of the movement are with us, so we are going to announce the expulsion of Maulana Fazlullah and some of his cronies from Pakistani Taliban movement", said Ihsanullah Ihsan and he added "Omar Khurassani is now the leader of JuA and only the Shura of this outfit could decide his fate not the Maulana".

According to JuA Omar Khalid Khurassani has no relation with JeK, a militant outfit previously active in Afghanistan as alleged by Shahidullah Shahid. "We have no relation with JeK while AuH was purely a faction of militants from Malakand division that has rejoined the main Taliban group". 

AuH was a splinter group of TTP that emerged earlier in March this year when TTP had started peace talks with the government and it opposed the negotiations. Maulana Umar Qasmi headed the group while Abu Mansoor worked as spokesperson for IuH. The group claimed carrying a number of attacks in different parts of the country, especially at a time when the TTP had announced ceasefire. On August 26, when leading commanders of TTP announced the formation of Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuH), the AuH was merged into it.

Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed that Maulana Fazlullah has been left with a handful of fighters and some of them were involved in the killing of Taliban commanders. "The Maulana has turned blind eye on the killers of Taliban commanders. Why the killers of Nadeem Abbas Intiqami (TTP head of Rawalpindi chapter), Asmatullah Shaheen Bitanni (TTP head of central Shura) and Tariq Afridi (the head of Dara Adamkhail TTP) are still at large. Actually the killers live side by side with Maulana Fazlullah," said Ihsan.

Despite severe differences, both the groups consider Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar as their supreme commander. "We have always shown confidence in the leadership of Mullah Omar and will obey him in future", said Ihsanullah Ihsan and added "some elements had tried to create tension between us and Afghan Taliban (but they will never succeed)".