News / Asia

Pakistan Taliban Split Imperils Peace Efforts

FILE: The Pakistani Taliban, fighting to topple the government through terrorist attacks, is dividing. In Peshawar, a sprawling city on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, police gather evidence after a suicide bombing that killed at least nine bystanders
FILE: The Pakistani Taliban, fighting to topple the government through terrorist attacks, is dividing. In Peshawar, a sprawling city on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, police gather evidence after a suicide bombing that killed at least nine bystanders
Ayaz Gul
A long-anticipated split in the Pakistani Taliban appears to have finally occurred, dealing a blow to the unified command of the outlawed militant organization. But critics are skeptical about whether it bodes well for what they consider the “controversial and confused” peace efforts of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Formed in late 2007, the loosely knit alliance of dozens of armed anti-state groups, called the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, has killed thousands of Pakistanis through suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks.
But this week, a key faction within the militant organization announced it was no longer part of the TTP, commonly referred to as the Pakistani Taliban.
A spokesman for the breakaway group, led by militant commander Khalid Said Sajna, cited what he called “un-Islamic” terrorism policies of TTP leaders, and its practice of raising funds through kidnapping and extortion.
It is still not clear whether Pakistani government policies or the intervention of its intelligence service may have encouraged the split. It is also not clear whether the breakaway group is interested in negotiating for peace.
“This wedge might have been encouraged by the security establishment [the military] and the position of the TTP has been weakened,” former army brigadier Said Nazir said, but militants “have not announced any sort of cease-fire.”
Nazir said the split could give authorities greater leverage in attempts to strike a peace deal over areas where the militants are in control.
Preparing for foreign troops’ departure
As U.S.-led foreign troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, both Afghan and Pakistani leaders are scrambling to anticipate the fallout from their departure.
In Pakistan, pressure is increasing on the government to extend its writ to the militant-infested border regions, particularly in North Waziristan, a known hub of Afghan insurgents.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's peace efforts have been criticized.Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's peace efforts have been criticized.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's peace efforts have been criticized.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's peace efforts have been criticized.
The central government’s influence has long been weak in the tribal areas and the military has struggled for years to subdue militants who fight against the state.
Ehsan ul Haq, a retired army general and former chief of Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI, said securing the border region is critical for both Kabul and Islamabad.  
“We only have a very short time window to put our own house in order, operationalize our response, gain and consolidate control over all our territories, including North Waziristan,” Haq said, citing a need to regulate “the Pak-Afghan border.”
“Our efforts at gaining control over our territories and negating the misperception of the sanctuaries ultimately hinge on our decision on the border issue,” he said.
U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused the Pakistani military, particularly the ISI, of assisting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, citing Islamabad’s alleged reluctance to undertake a major offensive against militant bases in the Waziristan region.
The former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, suggested the long-running problem tests Pakistan’s international credibility.
If a country can’t maintain law and order in its frontier regions, fueling cross-border concerns with other countries, “it is a little hard to see how that country will pursue its objectives, whether regionally or globally,” she said.
Peace talks criticized
Earlier this year, Sharif, the prime minister, opened peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, hoping that diplomacy could succeed where years of military offensives did not.
However, the initiative drew severe criticism from progressive and civil society groups. They said it was pointless negotiating with a group whose mission is the violent overthrow of Pakistan’s political system.
Critics like Lodhi also say the effort contributed to an overall uncoordinated policy on addressing the Taliban threat.
“So, for us, the fundamental issue is to align all the elements of state power or national power,” she said. “I am afraid they are not aligned right now. The elements of national power are in complete disarray. Nor is there a strategic clarity about how do we pursue these goals to bring about the kind of domestic peace and stability that our people deserve.”
Some critics fear the split in the Pakistani Taliban could increase Islamabad’s tensions with Kabul because the breakaway militant faction is known for close links with Afghan insurgents. Some believe the militants could be seeking peace deals in Pakistan so they can concentrate on helping the Taliban insurgency across the Afghan border during the pivotal year when foreign troops withdraw.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
May 30, 2014 12:01 PM
Finding peace with the Taliban and their supporters is almost impossible, because of the "Unequal Treaty" Pakistan has with the US, that allows the US killer drones to kill suspected anti-Americans (Al-Qaeda and Taliban) terrorists, their families, and other innocent Pakistan civilians with impunity? --
Pakistan didn't have a war with the Taliban, until they took the US money, and signed the "Unequal Treaty" -- and then the US killer drone bombings and war began? --- (Stop the bombings, and start NEGOTIATING?)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs