Are the top 2 Pakistani Taliban leaders 'at each other's throats'?
Video of Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman Mehsud's press conference in Sararogha on Oct. 4, 2009. They denied reports that they were at odds back then.
According to Reuters, Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and his deputy, Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's South Waziristan branch, are ready to kill each other. From Reuters:
"You will soon hear that one of them has eliminated the other, though hectic efforts are going on by other commanders and common friends to resolve differences between the two," one TTP commander said.
Waliur Rehman denied the report:
"There are no differences between us," Rahman said.
Perhaps this is true. But then again, Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman have been said to be "at each other's throats" for years. Remember the "battle at the shura" back in 2009, when Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman supposedly killed each other while fighting at a meeting that was held to decide who would succeed Baitullah Mehsud? We do. The so-called battle never happened, and Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman gave a joint press conference denying the reports shortly after that "incident" was said to have occurred.
These rumors of intense internal divisions within the Pakistani Taliban are often floated by Pakistani military and intelligence officials keen to show the group is weak. The "battle at the shura" story was told by Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister. Pakistani intelligence officials backed him up, but they were all silent when Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman appeared together and denied the premature reports of their demise.