A week after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan removed Maulvi Faqir Muhammad from the post of deputy commander, federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday announced that the TTP had split into two groups.
However, the Minister did not elaborate though the split opens up an opportunity for the government to deal with a weakened TTP which has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks inside the country. Trouble has been brewing within the TTP for a while now after Maulvi Faqir — who headed the Bajaur unit of the outfit — warmed up to the offer of talks made by the government late last year. By January it had become evident that he was engaged in peace talks with the government and the TTP announced his removal from the post last week over differences with chief Hakimullah Mehsud. His removal irked some of his supporters, who threatened to form a rival group.
Some TTP commanders told Peshawar-based reporters over telephone that the decision of the shura (leadership council) had disappointed the Bajaur Taliban and added that this could create a rift within the mujahideen.
Meanwhile, the tribal areas witnessed two drone attacks through the day, reportedly killing over a dozen people including some senior commanders of the Maulvi Nazir faction of the Taliban in South Waziristan. The U.S. considers the Nazir faction to be among those in the Taliban who are pro-Pakistan but attack the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.