TTP under Mullah Fazlullah: A Profile of Major Attacks

21 May, 2014    ·   4461

Riffath Khaji analyses the objectives of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan under Mullah Fazlullah's leadership

Riffath Khaji
Riffath Khaji
Research Intern

On 7 November 2013, following the death of Hakimullah Mehsud by the US’ drone strikes, Mullah Fazlullah, popularly known as Mullah Radio was elected as the new chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The geographic profile of their targets, and the objectives of the attacks, can be outlined as follows:

Geographic Profile 
Most of the attacks carried out by the TTP have been executed in different parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces. Parachinar has been battered by ethnic and sectarian violence for many years. The region has witnessed near continuous violence between Shia and Sunni sects especially. 

Other oft-targeted regions are Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency, and South and North Waziristan. Major cities of KP such as Peshawar, Charsadda, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Bannu have also been targeted. Fazlullah is originally from Swat, which was his operational base before he assumed leadership of the TTP. 

Who are the targets?
The TTP have targeted law-enforcing agencies; the military; the politicians; minority sects such as the Shias, the Ahmadiyyas, the Christians, and private school owners. This shows that their targets are both the State and civil society. Initially they began attacking the State and its agencies, and proceeded to attack the minorities such as Shias and Ahmaddiyas. Though most of the attacks have been reported in the aforementioned provinces, the TTP has also been accused of other prominent attacks that took place in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Lahore. This shows that they have the wherewithal, network and the means to carry out attacks at anywhere in Pakistan.

What are the Objectives of Carrying out the Attacks? 
Mullah Fazlullah is completely different from the two previous chiefs of the TTP – Baitullah and Hakimullah Mehsud. He had consistently propagated his version of Islam in Swat before 2013. He believes in implementing the Sharia. The leadership of the TTP has connections with the Afghan Taliban who want to implement Sharia in Pakistan and administer the country like the way the Taliban did during their rule of Afghanistan. The TTP has, in several occasions, signalled to the government, that they are unwilling to compromise on declaring Islamic rule. 

The objectives of the attacks are multi-faceted: to unite against coalition forces in Afghanistan; carry out offensives against the Pakistani Army; demand the release Imam Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid; the abolition of all military checkpoints in the FATA; and refuse future peace deals with the Government of Pakistan.

The TTP never considered the minority Shias as Muslims due to ideological differences. They list them as heretics; and the Ahmaddiyas too are categorised in a similar fashion. Their justification is that violence against Shias and Ahmaddiyas is to avenge the atrocities committed by the Shias against the Sunnis in Syria, Iran and Iraq. However, this justification isn’t strong because sectarian violence existed in Pakistan even before civil war broke out in in Syria and Iraq.   

On 3 March, militants attacked a court building in Islamabad, killing 11, including the judge. The attack began with gunfire followed by two suicide bombings. It marked the first suicide bombing in Islamabad since the 2011, and the TTP claimed responsibility.

The policemen too haven’t been spared by the TTP. Recently, in a major attack on Fazlullah’s command, five policemen and a civilian were killed at the Zangli Checkpost on the Kohat Peshawar road in Peshawar – the provincial capital of KP. The police arrested several injured people from Peshawar hospitals in connection to the attack. Reports have stated that the suspects belonged to the Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). On 22 April, Nasir Khan Durrani, Inspector General of Police, KP, stated that the aforementioned attack was a repercussion of the police force’s search operation against terrorists on the outskirts of Peshawar. 

In March 2014, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initiated direct talks with the Pakistani Taliban, sending a four-man team to North Waziristan near the Afghan border, to meet members of the TTP’s shura. A TTP spokesman stated that they wanted the release of all non-combatant prisoners, a peace zone in South Waziristan for future talks, and a halt to operations against the Pakistan Taliban, and added that so far they haven’t been granted any concession.

There is near-complete consensus among all the political parties in Pakistan vis-à-vis the talks with the TTP. The talks, however, have been far from fruitful. It appears that the military intelligence has no control over these frontier-based violent groups, unlike their counter parts in eastern Pakistan, especially in Punjab. 

While the frontier-based groups consistently attack both state establishments and minority communities, the government is clueless and appears confused over devising potential solutions.