Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

Special Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan slain chief Mullah Fazlullah. (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018

Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief

Consultations underway to choose new TTP chief
  • Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan lost its chief Mullah Fazlullah along with four guards last week when a US drone fired on his vehicle after he attended an 'iftar' party
  • Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander

ISLAMABAD: Senior Pakistani Taliban leaders have been in hectic consultations over the past few days to appoint their new chief after a US spy aircraft killed the group’s chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, locals and journalists told Arab News.
Fazlullah was killed along with his four guards on June 13 when a drone fired missiles on his vehicle shortly after he attended an “iftar” party at the center of the Taliban militants from Swat valley based in Kunar’s Marora district.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the death of Fazlullah, who had led a violent campaign against security forces in Swat until 2009, and later appeared in Afghanistan, where he had regrouped his fighters. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, however, has not yet confirmed the leader’s death.
A senior journalist from Waziristan, who extensively reports on the Pakistani Taliban, has confirmed that the Taliban are involved in consultations to appoint a new leader.
Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an expert on Taliban affairs who writes for international media, said on Monday the Taliban leaders are delaying the announcement of Fazlullah’s death before the appointment of his successor to avoid any internal rift.
“Huge divisions surfaced following the death of previous TTP leader Ameer Hakimulllah Mehsud in a US drone strike. The rift resulted in the killing of dozens of Taliban from the Sajna and Sheharyar Mehsud factions,” Tipu told Arab News.
Hakimullah was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on Nov. 1, 2013. Taliban militants from the Mehsud factions involved in fighting after Hakimullah’s death and infighting had reportedly claimed lives of nearly 200 people from both sides.
Members of the TTP "shoura" have been involved in consultations since the death of Fazlullah to name a new commander but have not yet reached a consensus on who should lead the group.
“Discussions have been held about three candidates — Omar Rehman, known as Ustad Fateh (Swat), Sheikh Khalid Haqqani (Swabi) and Zahid Qari (Bajaur),” another source close to the Taliban told Arab News.
Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, alias Abu Asim, the TTP deputy chief and Mohammed Azeem, alias Maulvi Khatir, who heads the Mehsud faction of the Taliban, are also among the possible candidates. Both are from South Waziristan.
Earlier it was reported that the TTP’s "shoura" elected Fateh, a close confidant of Fazlullah, as their new chief.
A senior journalist in South Waziristan, Ishtiaq Mehsud, disagreed with the reports about the appointment of Ustad Fateh as the TTP new leader and insisted that consultations were still underway.
Ishtiaq said that the delay to name the new chief was not because of TTP’s differences but because the commanders faced difficulties in contacting each other as they live in different areas.
“There are no differences in the TTP’s ranks and according to my information the majority of the commanders are in favor of Mufti Noor Wali to lead the group,” Ishtiaq told Arab News.
Wali, author of “Inquilab Mehsud,” was appointed deputy TTP chief after a US drone killed Khan Said Sajna in February this year. He previously headed the powerful Mehsud Taliban.
Mohammed Khorasani, the TTP spokesman, did not reply to several emails from Arab News about the death and the consultation process to name the new chief.