The government does not seem to know how the Pakistani Taliban emerged, and what they are up to. If it knew, it would realize that only the application of force can make the TTP give up its raison d’etre, of which killing innocent Pakistanis is an integral part. FATA was a peaceful place until the beginning of 2002. Then things began to change. After being dislodged from Afghanistan by American led NATO forces, the Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan relocated themselves in North and South Waziristan.

Al Qaeda already had sympathizers in FATA, and it was able to raise a mercenary force to protect itself and to further its agenda. These mercenaries came to be known as “Pakistani Taliban”. To consolidate its position more, Al Qaeda ordered the killing of maliks, the traditional chieftains, and also ended the traditional jirga system of resolving disputes. Over 700 maliks were killed in North and South Waziristan.

The government at the time made half-hearted attempts to capture members of Al Qaeda and the I.M.U. but the Pakistani Taliban stood in its way. The Haqqani Network, on the other hand, was provided safe haven in North Waziristan by the government.

In 2007, the various bands of Pakistani Taliban, consolidated themselves into three groups:- 1) Tehrik-e- Taliban-e- Pakistan, 2) Gul Bahadur group, 3) Moulvi Nazir group. Tribesmen from various agencies are members of TTP, but most of its members are from the Mehsud, which is the second largest tribe in FATA, and is spread over both Waziristans. The Wazirs form the largest tribe in FATA. Fighters of the Gul Bahadur group are recruited from Uthmanzai Wazirs based in N.Waziristan, while Moulvi Nazir group located in S.Waziristan consists of Ahmadzai Wazirs. TTP fights for Al Qaeda, while the other two groups fight for the Haqqanis.

The Haqqanis and Al Qaeda have close historical ties and work as partners. Their respective agendas also overlap. The goal of the Afghan Taliban, of which the Haqqani Network is a part, is to recapture power in Afghanistan, and to provide sanctuary to jihadists from all over the world. Al Qaeda wants to keep on destabilizing Pakistan, to use that territory for conducting global jihad.

With an area of 4707 sq. km, North Waziristan is like a small province. This means that both of these foreign entities can maintain extensive training facilities and large arsenals in full secrecy They can sneak people in, including foreigners. They can bring in any amount of money, any type of goods and armament. TTP fighters and suicide-bombers are trained by experts associated with Al Qaeda. Extensive research on explosives is also undertaken. The Haqqani Network manufactures sophisticated improvised explosive devices, which it uses across the border against the International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan army with telling effect. In recent years this weapon is being used by the TTP also, and has overtaken the suicide-bomber as the most destructive weapon in use. So the secret of running a “successful” militant organization is to establish a stronghold over a very large area .

Al Qaeda finances itself through donations received from abroad. It has made TTP financially independent by teaching it how to make money through kidnappings, bank robberies, and by imposing charges on truckers, traders, and drug and timber mafias . TTP’s earnings have been estimated at anything between Rs360 million and Rs. 3 billion a year. A look at the top leadership of TTP over the years shows that none of them had completed even basic madrassa education, let alone being conversant with modern knowledge. Names like Baitullah Mehsud, Hakeemullah Mehsud, and the current amir, Fazlullah, come to mind. Then how is it that the TTP can carry out elaborately-planned acts of terrorism with remarkable accuracy and success? This has been possible because the attacks have been planned by the Al Qaeda core. This core includes highly-educated and IT-savvy individuals capable of critical thinking.

Another reason why TTP has become such an efficient killing-machine is because of the rigidly hierarchical chain of command that it has to follow. All important orders are issued by Al Qaeda and these have to be followed down the line. No operation is outsourced, and no independent militant group is allowed to function in FATA. However, to confuse the state, non-existent bands are sometimes shown as owning responsibility for certain acts of terror.

One such fictitious group which everybody thinks is independently operative is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The original LeJ, an offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba, was in the death throes by 2004. Some from the original LeJ then joined the Pakistani Taliban. Subsequently, Al Qaeda has been using the name LeJ for those TTP teams that target Shias. However, some or none from the original LeJ may be members of such teams. Recently, a gang of assassins identifying themselves with LeJ, have been busted in Lahore. Apart from murdering Shias, they have also killed Khurram Raza Qadri of Sunni Tehrik for his anti-Taliban views, and the driver of TV commentator Raza Rumi as a warning to Mr. Rumi to desist from criticizing militant extremists. These so called LeJ gangs have no qualms about killing Sunnis either.

The Haqqani , Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir groups use Pakistani territory to make forays into Afghanistan, while the TTP, with help from the IMU and with Al Qaeda as the mentor, causes devastation within Pakistan. As a result, both countries are in a state of turmoil. The death and destruction witnessed in the last twelve years has been unprecedented. The reason for this is that successive Pakistani governments have not tried to stop non-state actors, both foreign and local, from forming a state within the State. Does any respectable country allow foreigners or local private armies to take over big regions of its territory?

The people have given PMLN a mandate to bring peace to the land. The enabling condition for that is to re-establish the constitutional authority of the government over FATA in general, and North Waziristan in particular. A year has passed and all that the present administration has done is start a halting dialogue with one of the six groups mentioned above. Meanwhile, the blood of hapless citizens continues to be shed.

 The writer is a freelance columnist.