Pakistan plans to back ‘good Taliban’ in South Waziristan


Haji Turkistan Bhittani.

According to this report in the Daily Times, the Pakistani government is planning on installing the Abdullah Mehsud and Bhittani groups, the so-called ‘good’ Taliban, into power in the Mehsud tribal areas in Sauth Waziristan as the military operation there winds down and civilians return to the region:

“The real worry for the military is how to bar the return of TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan] terrorists when civilians return to their areas next year. We believe you can only cut iron with iron and using (pro-government) splinter groups against the Hakeemullah Mehsud-led TTP can be a viable solution,” sources told Daily Times on condition of anonymity.

Support: The sources said the Turkistan Bhittani and Abdullah groups were being considered to play the leading role in the post-operation era and their “contribution” would be significant to keep the TTP at bay.

“We are working on this idea and hopefully it will be a successful project,” the sources said. “Without this project we will not be able to keep Mehsud areas out of bound for the TTP.”

Here’s a refresher on Haji Turkistan Bhittani and the Abdullah Mehsud groups, since it has been a while since these groups have popped up in the media (excerpted from here & here):

Three minor Taliban commanders based in South Waziristan and active in the adjoining districts of Tank and Dera Ismail Khan have banded together and reformed the Abdullah Mehsud Group.

Haji Turkistan Bhittani, Haji Tehsil Khan Wazir, and Ikhlas Khan Mehsud recently joined forces and appointed Ikhlas as the leader of the Abdullah Mehsud Group. The Taliban commanders have recently established offices in the eastern areas of South Waziristan that border Tank and Dera Ismail Khan…

Abdullah Mehsud, the found of the group, had been a senior Taliban leader in South Waziristan before he was killed during a shootout with Pakistani security forces in Zhob in Baluchistan province. Zainuddin and his followers subsequently accused Baitullah of providing information to the Pakistani military that led to Abdullah’s death.

Abdullah had also been a detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Abdullah and his followers sent Taliban forces into Afghanistan to battle Coalition forces…

Haji Turkistan Bhittani, a leader in the Abdullah Mehsud Group based in the South Waziristan region, said he would take on NATO forces in southern Afghanistan after defeating his Taliban enemies in South Waziristan. Bhittani claimed to have 5,000 fighters under his command.

“After dealing with my opponents in South Waziristan, I will go to Helmand to reorganize my leader Abdullah Mehsud’s group against foreign forces,” Bhittani told Pajhwok Afghan News. Bhittani reaffirmed his loyalty to overall Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • T Ruth says:

    This story is representative of all that is wrong with the nation of Pakistan:
    1 Superimposed rule
    2 Of common crooks
    3 Followed by violence
    4 Instigated by the Army
    5 Unable to maintain peace
    This swirl of feudalism, corruption, violence, army/isi ‘political’ power is slowly but surely degenerating and swallowing up this country.
    It is not India that is Pakistan’s greatest enemy, not her much-disliked ally the USA, not even the Taliban (alone), but actually the whole body politic of Pakistan that is degenerate.
    Yes the Army is an inherrent part of this disease.
    (As creator, contributor and victim.)


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