As the government continues with its talk-talk and fight-fight approach towards the Taliban, two major and six smaller militant groups will support a ceasefire announced by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella group and continue to be part of the negotiations process.
But the Adnan Afridi Group, Jandullah, Azam Brigade, Ghazi brigade, Karachi’s Bengali Group, Mast Gul Group, Swat’s Mufti Hasan Group, Ahrarul Hind, and Swat and Lakki Marwat’s Zakir Group are not part of the TTP any longer and will not respect the truce it announced. Al Qaeda and the various Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmen and Chechen militant groups in FATA are also not part of the peace process.
“The senseless killings must stop for any of the TTP’s offers to be taken seriously,” said foreign minister Khawaja Asif. “And the TTP needs to condemn the killings immediately.”
“We are responsible for our own conduct only,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said by phone. “We think that certain intelligence agencies that don’t want the talks to succeed are behind the Islamabad attacks.”
In Islamabad, Lal Masjid cleric and member of the TTP’s negotiations committee Abdul Aziz condemned Monday’s attack. “There is no need for the attacks in Islamabad and we condemn them,” he said. “I don’t want to speculate on who is responsible,” he said to a question, “but elements on both sides are responsible for disturbing peace.”
The terrorist attack on Islamabad courts was claimed by a previously unknown group Ahrarul Hind, which was formed in early February by militant commander Umar Farooq in Kurram Agency. According to a counter terrorism in Punjab, their spokesman Asad Mansoor was previously involved with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and “is on the red-book in Punjab”. The group has links with Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade, he said, and strong influence and sleeper cells in urban Punjab. Key members of the group reside in North Waziristan and inside Afghanistan.
[quote]Uzbek militants linked with Al Qaeda provide the TTP with suicide attackers [/quote]
Meanwhile, the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan has been extraordinarily quiet on the government-TTP talks. The network is raising concerns about the Pakistani peace process in the rest of the world, for example in its blogs and forums spread over the internet.
Al Qaeda chief Aymen al Zawahiri has urged fighters to “create a safe haven for Mujahideen in Pakistan” so that it can become a base for “establishing an Islamic system”.
Zawahiri, who was behind the first-ever suicide bombing in Pakistan in November 1995 on the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, has issued fatwas against the legitimacy of the state of Pakistan and its military. He has influence over Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jandullah, the 313 Brigade, Punjabi Taliban, and other smaller terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Among them is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist group formed in 1991 that operates entirely from North Waziristan. The head of the group, Usman Ghazi, has condemned the TTP’s peace talks with the Pakistani government, and its religious ideologue Abu Zar al Burmi is close to Zwahiri. Usman Ghazi provides the TTP with Uzbek suicide attackers for attacks on urban areas in Pakistan.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jandullah had joined Al Qaeda under Sheikh Khaled Muhammad when he was in Karachi. They work as service providers and proxies for Al Qaeda, and also continue to attacking minority faiths, especially Shia targets.
In a recent meeting with military and civilian leaders, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared to be in a fix. “It has been a very emotional experience for the prime minister,” a close aide said. “The military and many cabinet members want an all-out operation, but he wants to exercise maximum restraint so the country would back the government if we finally carry out an operation.”
“The government seems confused on how to deal with terrorism,” opposition leader Khurshid Shah said. “The PPP led government took a stand in Swat and you saw the results. Today, the terrorists have hit the heart of Islamabad and the government has done nothing but confused the situation even more.”