Dated: January 1, 2016
According to FRC reports divisions and disputes are on the rise in Hakimullah group of South Waziristan Agency. Hakimullah group which came into existence in 2011 due to the differences between Hakimullah Mahsud head of TTP and Wali Rehman Mahsud head of Mahsud Taliban of South Waziristan Agency. After the death of Hakimullah Mahsud in an American drone attack in November 2013 in North Waziristan Sheryar Mahsud was appointed the head of Hakimullah Mahsud group. The differences in the group are said to have started since the past six months due to the group future policies regarding joining hands with ISIS or keep its independent status. Hakimullah group has a soft corner for ISIS and they do cooperate with ISIS militants but so far they have not announced merging their group with ISIS due to some unknown reasons. Another reason for the widening rift among the different commanders of the notorious group is shortage of cash to cope up with the escalating operational expenses of the group.
In the context it is pertinent to mention here that before the onset of intensive military operations “Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber 1&2”, Hakimullah Mahsud Group used to generate huge amount of money through extortions and kidnapping for ransom of rich businessmen , government employees and NGO workers from distinct areas of FATA, Kyberpakhtunkhwa, Karachi and Baluchistan province. The group used to abduct people from the above mentioned areas and bring them to Mir Ali or Miranshah towns of North Waziristan Agency where the group had established safe houses for keeping the kidnapped victims. However, thanks to the employment of hardcore approaches on part of the incumbent government, particularly after the initiation of military operations in South and North Waziristan had tightened the noose around the militant networks operational in the area. The intensive use of Kinetic force has not only denied them [Hakimullah Group] of their bases and safe houses coercing majority of them to shift to relatively safer abodes inside Afghanistan but has also denied them from the only and vital tool for generating economic resources for the group i.e. extortions and abduction for ransom.
The escalating operational cost of the group and the inability of the group to generate the required money to cope up with the exacerbating expanses of the group have created heaps of problem for the group because they have no other means to generate money. This has created rifts and disputes among different commanders of the group. Likewise, Sheryar Mahsud head of the group grip on the group is weakening with the passage of time as senior commanders like Shaker Mahsud, Ghalib Mahsud, Haji Dawood, Hazratullah Mahsud, Gillaman Mahsud and Qari Saifullah are following their own agendas and they are virtually independent in their decision making. Like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakista (TTP) which was an umbrella organization of forty different groups independent in their respective areas, every commander of Hakimullah Mahsud Group is autonomous in the areas under their control both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Likewise, they [Commanders of Hakeemullah Group] are making their own alliances in the areas under their control as all the above mentioned commanders have their own followers in their respective groups and are also responsible for generating economic resources to cope up with the operational expanse their groups. For instance, Gillaman Mahsud a senior and an important commander of Hakimullah group is now a days is said to be based in Kurrum Agency. FRC sources reveal that they [Gillaman Group] have established distinct checkpoints in Thall side of Kurrum Agency along the border with Afghanistan and are checking vehicles and people coming from and going to Afghanistan. According to Gillaman Mahsud, his men have caught three Punjabi passengers from a vehicle going to Afghanistan and were hanged by his group suspecting them to be spies of Pakistani intelligence agencies. “We would soon provide the names of the hanged punjabis to the journalists of FATA to confirm our claim”, said Gilman Mahsud.
Gillaman Mahsud is also very angry with Sheryar Mahsud and says that “Sheryar is a weak and incompetent commander and he is not fit to head the group any more”. He further says that now that the group is facing problems and has lost its sanctuaries in the twin agencies of Waziristan Sheryar Mahsud is sitting silently in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. However, he didn’t mention why Sheryar Mahsud in Kabul and what business he has there.
Likewise Kurrum Agency , the only Agency in FATA where Shias are forty percent of the Population of the Agency; and the head of TTP Kurrum Agency Daulat Khan is said to be very close to ISIS and it is believed that he is no more with TTP and now a day he represent ISIS in the Agency increases the chances that Gillaman Mahsud may make an alliance with Daulat Khan of ISIS which would be beneficial for both commanders and this would strengthen both groups in Kurrum Agency.
In the pretext of ISIS penetration in the socioeconomic and political landscape of Pak-Afghan region and growing rift and financial problems of Hakeemullah group, it is pertinent to mention here that If an alliance between Gillaman and Daulat khan is made in Kurrum Agency then there are chances that Shia Sunni clashes may again erupt in the said Agency. Sectarian conflict in the past like the five years long violent sectarian conflict from 2007 to 2012 left thousands of people killed from both sides and was ended after the Murree accord between the leaders of the two sects in 2012 in Murree.