Home Contact Us  

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4308, 14 February 2014

Taliban Tracker

TTP under Mullah Fazlullah: What Next for the Pakistani Taliban?
D Suba Chandran
Director, IPCS

Almost two months after the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, the former head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), by a drone attack in the Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where does the TTP stand today? Is it demoralised, or renewed, under the leadership of the new head, Mullah Fazlullah? More importantly, how would the TTP evolve from here, under the leadership of its new leader, who is believed to have been personally chosen by Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban?

Will Fazlullah make the TTP a more “veritable arm” of the Afghan Taliban and fight for its political cause in Afghanistan? Or will he convert it into a jihadi organization, fighting for a religious cause within Pakistan?

TTP Today: Has it Become Weak after the Assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud?
On the first question, today, the TTP has certainly not been weakened. Despite losing several of its leaders (more due to drone attacks, instead of Pakistan’s anti-militancy operations), the TTP remains a deadly organisation. Recent attacks, even after the assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud late last year, proves how active the TTP has remained.

Mullah Fazlullah’s measured response to the Pakistani State’s offer for talks also highlights the absence of panic and/or anxiety in the TTP ranks. In a calculated move, it has announced a committee consisting Maulana Abdul Aziz,  Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) leader Maulana Sami ul Haq, and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) leader Professor Mohammad Ibrahim; two more nominated members, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Mufti Kifayatullah, refused to be a part of this committee.

The fact that the TTP has chosen leaders of political parties as its representatives illustrates the confidence it has. On the other hand, the political leadership in Pakistan has displayed a lot of angst and undertaken extensive preparation, cutting across party lines.  The All Parties Meeting for the umpteenth time recommended initiating a talk about talks with the Pakistani Taliban, again.  Clearly, the TTP still thinks it is not weakened vis-à-vis the State.

The second set of questions – on the implications of Mullah Fazlullah reportedly being chosen by Mullah Omar himself – warrants a larger discussion, not just in Pakistan, but also in Afghanistan, India, and the rest of international community.

Ever since its creation, the TTP’s leadership remained with the Mehsuds in North and South Waziristan. Former leaders such as Baitullah and Hakimullah belonged to the Mehsud clan of the Pashtun ethnic group. They were chosen by the Shura, or imposed themselves over the latter, due to their clout and fighting power. Today, it is widely believed that the Mehsuds in general and the TTP leadership in Waziristan in particular, were supported by the al Qaeda and its affiliates such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

TTP Tomorrow: Will it Become Deadly Under Mullah Fazlullah?
Mullah Fazlullah, who has taken over as the new leader of the TTP is no ordinary militant. The previous leaders of the TTP – both Baitullah Mehsud and his successor Hakimullah Mehsud – were more aggressive in nature, using violence as a strategy against the Pakistani Establishment. Neither of them were trained in religious discourse; and nor did they use religion even in a crude form. They imposed their own version of Islam.

Mullah Fazlullah is completely different in this context. He is a ‘Mullah’; in fact, he is referred as “Radio Mullah” for his effective use of FM to propagate his own version of Islam. As a leader of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi, (TNSM) which later became the Swat Taliban, he propagated his own version of Islam. Unlike Baituallh and Hakimullah, Fazlullah believed in a religious cause for implementing the Shariah. As a leader of the TNSM, one of his as well as his father-in-law and TNSM founder, Sufi Muhammad’s, main demands has been to implement the Shariah law in Pakistan. Mullah Fazlullah has also been anti-women; he had girls’ schools bulldozed and imposed a strict code on women, restricting their movements in public places in Swat. From polio vaccination to music CDs, he has had an extremely narrow interpretation of religion.

This is where one could expect the main difference in the TTP’s focus under Fazlullah, as compared to that of the Mehsuds. Neither Baitullah nor Hakimullah Mehsud attempted to impose their version of Islam. In fact, it would not be wrong even to state that both the Mehsuds did not even have a version of Islam that they attempted to impose. They were ruthless more in carrying out a violent vendetta against the State of Pakistan, than attempting to change its society. The sectarian attacks were perpetrated by the TTP franchisees rather than the main group in Waziristan.

Operationally, Mullah Fazlullah is equally ruthless as the Mehsuds have been vis-à-vis the Pakistani Establishment. In fact the military had to fight a bloody battle to recapture Swat valley from Fazlullah. 

Furthermore, under Fazlullah’s leadership, the TTP is likely to undergo a major transformation in terms of its linkages with the Afghan Taliban and Mullah Omar. Since Fazlullah himself has been fighting in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, it is unlikely that his focus would remain focussed only against the Pakistani State.

The above suppositions need a deeper and wider analysis. More importantly, it is highly likely that Fazlullah might become a bridge between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. What would that mean? To use Admiral Mike Mullen’s phrase, “will the TTP become a veritable arm of the Afghan Taliban?” What would be the implications if that happens?

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
D Suba Chandran,
"Talks with the TTP: How Far will the State Go?," 7 February 2014
D Suba Chandran,
"Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse," 3 February 2014
C Uday Bhaskar,
"Targeting Minorities: Emerging Trend in Bangladesh and Pakistan," 27 January 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Will the Genie Want to Go Back?

The Fall of Rajapaksa: Why Democracies Fail Strongmen

Pakistan: The Military Courts

From Kashmir to Kabul

A Fractured Mandate: The Big Picture

And Now, They Are Coming For Our Children

Pak-Afghan Reset: Will the Taliban and al Qaeda follow?

Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues

Rise India, avoid regional pitfalls

Foreign Fighters of Pakistan: Why Pashtuns and Punjabis?

Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?

The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Strong Leaders, Hard Issues

Pakistan: The Coup that didn’t take

Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis

Processes at the cost of peace?

Cost of Peace

Rise of Democratic Anarchists

Don’t steal the election now

Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the “Eliminate or Extradite” Approach

The Tahirul Qadri Affair

Dhaka as the Gateway to India’s Look East Policy

Modi, Sharif and the Cross-LoC Interactions

Region by Sub-regions

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February  March
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.