PESHAWAR - An internecine feud within Maulana Fazlullah-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has become so severe that more than 70 per cent of the leading fighters in the outfit are ready to defect the TTP and announce the formation of their own independent factions, according to a senior Taliban commander.

The differences within TTP emerged after the start of military operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15, and with each passing day the tension is mounting further. “There is severe indiscipline in the central TTP and some people very close to Maulana Fazlullah are responsible for it,” said the commander who wished not to be named and added, “We complained about the indiscipline to the central leadership but Fazlullah has so far paid no heed to it.”

According to well-placed militant sources, some people who are unfit for the job have been appointed on key posts while others are demanding suitable persons to replace those blue-eyed persons.

“We are still waiting for the high leadership to listen to our demands; otherwise in the coming days Malakand Agency, Mohmand Agency and Khyber Agency chapters of Taliban will announce the formation of their own regional set-ups. More than 70 per cent disgruntled members are ready to leave the central TTP,” according to the commander.

According to sources among the militants, if these powerful groups separate themselves from the central TTP, Fazlullah will be left with very limited fighters. “Amongst the leading TTP leaders, Commander Shehriar Mehsud, Khalifa Omar Mansoor (Dara Adamkhail), Shahidullah Shahid, current spokesperson, and Sheikh Khalid Haqqani are still close to Fazlullah. If the concerns of disgruntled members are not addressed, it could pose a serious risk to the TTP,” according to multiple militant sources.

The disgruntled members of TTP have also criticised the central spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid for his poor role during the ongoing military operation.

Earlier this year when TTP initiated peace talks with the government, a group of militants separated itself from the TTP and announced formation of Ahrar-ul-Hind (AuH). AuH under the leadership of Maulana Umar Qasmi has been joined by senior commanders of TTP from different parts of the country. Maulana Habibul Haq alias Nazim Sahib, Maulana Yaseen and Maulana Salih from Malakand Agency, Maulana Hamza from Mohmand Agency, Maulana Naik Salam Haider from Orakzai Agency, Misbahuddin Sayyad from Kohat and Abu Ibrahim from Punjab have joined AuH who were once leading commanders of the TTP.

Since the formation of AuH, TTP has not carried out any major attacks while AuH has claimed a number of attacks across the country.

After the formation of AuH, another big blow to TTP was the separation of Khan Said alias Commander Sajna, who leads one of the strongest factions of militants in South Waziristan. The departure of Sajna was not only an irrecoverable loss for Fazlullah but it was also the end of TTP control in Mehsud dominated tribal agency.

With the start of military operation Zarb-e-Azb, Fazlullah-led TTP has almost receded into background. The group has neither shown any retaliation nor its central spokesperson Shahid has appeared in the media to defend the stance of the outfit. During this period, Mohmand Taliban, the group led by Omar Khalid Khurassani, remained active that sheltered some fleeing militants from North Waziristan and has also carried out a media campaign.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-ul-Ihraar (JuI), a new group within the TTP, has emerged comprising senior Taliban commanders. According to a post of JuI in the social media, Maulana Qasim Khurassani is head of the group’s central Shura. Other Shura members include Qari Ismail (Khyber Agency), Mullah Yaseen (Swat), Maulana Abdullah (Bajaur), Maulana Shakeel Ahmad Haqqani (Charsadda), Mufti Misbah (Peshawar), Maulana Haider Mansoor (Orakzai Agency) and Omar Khalid Khurassani (Mohmand Agency).

Ihsanullah Ihsan is the spokesperson of the group who on Friday claimed the group’s involvement in the attack on Samungali and Khalid airbases in Quetta along with Sajna group and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).