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Top Taliban leader quits the Pakistan Taliban

A top Taliban commander says he is quitting the Pakistan Taliban because of a spate of suicide bombings. It's the first sign of fracture in Pakistan's Taliban and could benefit both Pakistan and the US, say experts.

By Owais TohidCorrespondent / June 29, 2011



Karachi, Pakistan

The defection of a top Taliban militant commander in the troubled Kurrum tribal belt bordering Afghanistan is the first major sign of a split within the Pakistani Taliban. The split could benefit both Pakistan and the US, say analysts.

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The notorious militant commander, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, announced his decision to quit the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) along with hundreds of militants and form his own group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Islami.

“I repeatedly told the leadership of the TTP that they should stop suicide attacks against mosques, markets, and other civilian targets,” the commander, who is in his late 30s, told reporters in Kurrum Agency on Monday.



“The TTP is doing in Pakistan what Americans are doing in Afghanistan, killing innocent civilians,” said the commander, adding that he would continue his fight against the Americans.



The TTP, or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, claims responsibility for most of the recent deadly suicide attacks across the country. The fracture within this terrorist outfit may be welcome news to Pakistan’s military, which has failed to break its backbone despite increasing US pressure and military offensives along the Afghan border.



“It is a good message for Pakistan and America both,” says Peshawar-based analyst Brig. (Ret.) Mehmood Shah. “This is the first dissenting voice from within and that, too, is coming from a powerful commander. It will definitely fracture the TTP, isolate it, and there might be more cracks to be seen in the near future.”



“It’s like clipping the wings of the TTP, especially in the important tribal area of Kurrum,” he suggests.



Location, location, location

Kurrum carries tremendous significance for Pakistan and the US as it is the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan (here's a map of Kurrum). It borders Khost in the south, Paktia in the southwest, and Nagarhar in the north – all provinces considered to be strongholds of the Afghan Taliban.



The Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani terror network, under the pressure of American drones in North Waziristan, have been eyeing Kurrum to get access to Afghanistan in order to join the Afghan Taliban in their fight against the US-led forces.


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