James Forsyth

Splits emerging in Pakistani Taliban

Splits emerging in Pakistani Taliban
Text settings
Comments

Splits appear to be emerging in the Pakistani Taliban after a US drone-strike reportedly killed its leader. The New York Times says that a ‘Pakistani government official and an intelligence official said Hakimullah Mehsud, a young and aggressive aide to the former Taliban leader, had been shot dead in a fight with Waliur Rehman, another commander who was seeking to become the leader.’

As a US official tells the paper, splits within the group can be exploited by the US and the Pakistanis. Also anything that limits the Pakistani Taliban’s effectiveness is to be welcomed—the Pakistani state fully collapsing under jihadi pressure is the nightmare scenario. However, a split within the movement could give more power and influence to al Qaeda.

Interestingly, al Qaeda’s Arab fighters y prefer to be accompanied by Punjabis because they can move around central Pakistan unnoticed unlike the Taliban who are Pashtuns. The emergence of an alliance between al Qaeda and Punjabi militants would be a very alarming development.