Split within Taliban comes to surface

* Sheheryar Mehsud's group accuses Khan Said Sajna faction of conspiring to take full control of the 'Islamic Emirate of Waziristan'

ISLAMABAD: Differences between two groups of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have come to the forefront.
According to a private TV channel, spokesman of TTP’s Hakimullah Mehsud group, Haji Daud said on Monday that Khan Saeed Sajna wanted to seize control of South Waziristan. Daud added that he was opposed to Sajna’s steps. The TTP Hakimullah group spokesman further said he had complete confidence in TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah and would accept his decision about the next amir (chief) of South Waziristan. In a recent statement TTP shura member Maulana Azam Tariq downplayed the infighting between the Taliban groups. Azam Tariq said the issue was hyped up by the media, and misgivings between the two groups had been removed.
The political shura of the Pakistani Taliban met at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan on Monday in a bid to chalk out its plan of action for the next direct talks with the government. However, instead of ironing out the agenda for the talks with the government negotiators, the focus of TTP leadership shifted to the infighting between two rival factions of the Mehsud clan, sources monitoring developments in North Waziristan revealed. The political shura of Pakistani Taliban met at an undisclosed location in North Waziristan.
The government negotiating committee is expected to meet the Taliban side any day now, but clashes in South Waziristan between groups associated with slain Taliban leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman have so far kept the government team away. According to sources, the highest decision-making body of the Taliban focused on four issues during the meeting – ceasefire with the government, exchange of non-combatant prisoners, creation of a free zone in South Waziristan and infighting between two rival factions of the Taliban, which had so far claimed more than 50 lives. 
The meeting, according to sources, couldn’t resolve the thorny issue of infighting in the Mehsud clan amidst claims of Shura members that the issue has been settled. The meeting was attended by several Taliban leaders, including Qari Shakeel, head of Taliban political shura, Azam Tariq, shura’s member, and Khalid Haqqani, deputy chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Although some members expressed opposition to extension of expired ceasefire but the most intricate issue for the participants of the meeting remained the unresolved animosity between the two Mehsud groups over the control of TTP’s resources. 
Qari Shakeel and Azam Tariq, the sources said, tried to convince the militant commanders that resorting to violence at this stage would further dent the umbrella organisation’s image. Although the defunct TTP has claimed that internal clashes between Mehsud groups have been resolved but locals say that the blame-game still continues. While the shura meeting was underway, members of Khan Said Sajna and Sheheryar Mehsud were accusing each other of having “despicable intentions”. Haji Daud, claiming to be a spokesman for Sheheryar’s group, said that Sajna was planning to take full control of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan, media reports said. He did not specify whether Sajna wants to replace Maulana Fazlullah, nicknamed Mullah Radio, as TTP’s chief. Daud, however, demanded that any leader nominated by TTP chief to head Waziristan region would be acceptable to them.
Meanwhile, the unyielding internal strife has also drawn attention of the Afghan Taliban. According to sources, several Afghan commanders held separate meetings with both sides in a bid to patch up their differences, but to no avail. They also distributed pamphlets among locals in the region pleading to pray for resolution of the dispute between the rival Mehsud factions.

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