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Dialogue with Pakistan broke down because of Ayman Al Zawahiri’s killing—TTP Chief

In a recent interview Pakistan Taliban chief Noor Wali Mehsud blames Islamabad for the breakdown of talks (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@Bahot_Baluch)

The killing of Ayman Al Zawahiri in a drone strike broke the dialogue between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Pakistan Taliban and Islamabad.

In an interview published on the website Khorasan Diary, the TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud said that the “drone attack that took place in Kabul has been the biggest hurdle in taking the negotiations process ahead as far as I can think.”

Though Mehsud did not elaborate, it is widely suspected that the Pakistani intelligence had a role in compromising the late Al Qaeda chief’s location in a Kabul safehouse, apart from providing the airspace for the drone to fly. A specially designed Harpoon missile launched by the drone shredded Al Zawahiri on the safe-house’s balcony.

Terror kingpins are afraid that the Pakistanis would betray their locations—the penultimate step of being droned down by the Americans.

In August four top honchos of the TTP, who were travelling together in a vehicle, were killed not by a drone but in a IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast. The attack took place in the Birmal area of Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Those killed were Maulvi Abdul Wali aka Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani, Mufti Hasan, Hafiz Dawlat Khan and the son-in-law of Abdul Wali.

In response to question on Khorasani’s death, Mehsud said: “The investigations into the attack on Omar Khalid Khorasani are still underway but one thing that is clear to us is that there was a definite involvement of Pakistani secret agencies in the attack.”

Asked whether he feared being  targeted by the Americans like Zawahiri, Mehsud said:

“As a human, death is certain for everyone. If dying in an American drone attack is my fate, so be it.”

The TTP chief stressed that his organisation was opposed to the Al Qaeda on ideological grounds as the group that believed in monopolising global power under a Caliphate.

“Al Qaeda is a global organisation while we (TTP) do not have any foreign agenda. Our fight is only against Pakistani security organisations. Yes, some individuals and factions have joined TTP but they have done so after parting ways with Al Qaeda’s ideology of a global struggle and after embracing “manhaj” and have joined us in our fight against the Pakistani security apparatus only.”

Mehsud acknowledged that the TTP empathised with Baloch cause, but had not provided any material support so far.

“Baloch as an ethnicity has always been oppressed by the security forces of Pakistan and as fellow Muslims, it is our duty to help them. We have not been able to help them so far because of our own shortcomings and weaknesses but we are trying to extend our struggle to the Baloch lands on a large scale so that we can truly avenge the atrocities committed against the Baloch nation.”

Mehsud pointed out that there was no rift between the TTP and the Afghan Taliban. “We maintain our old stance and reaffirm that our enemy and target is only the Pakistani security apparatus and we are fighting against them from within Pakistan itself. In such a scenario, the notion that anything might disturb the relationship between us and the Emirate is misconstrued and far from reality.”

Regarding Pakistan, he said that Islamabad must “roll back the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and give FATA a status that was promised by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with the locals in an agreement”.

Also Read: After Ayman Al Zawahiri, did Pakistan and the US work together to kill TTP leader Khorasani?