From a brutal militia, to an embattled group, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been cornered in its stronghold.
With mass appeal, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is giving tough competition to the TTP. On Tuesday, six of top TTP commanders including its spokesman declared allegiance to the ISIS. Many feel that the move may lead to the break-up of the militia’s network in the country.
Analysts comment that unlike TTP which has limited its operations to Pakistan, ISIS operates on the pattern of al Qaeda and will encourage its allies to indulge in cross-border terrorism in the region.
In a statement to Peshawar-based journalists, the TTP downplayed the development but accepted that a number of its allies have now joined ISIS.
The appearance of ISIS in Pakistan is a cause for worry not just for the TTP but for Pakistan Army also. The Pakistan Army will now have one more powerful entity to contend with.
While terrorist attacks in Pakistan have considerably been reduced following the military operation, some fear that the militants are now re-grouping for further strikes. “Groups pledging allegiance to ISIS and moving away from the weakened TTP should be seen in that context,” said Talat Masood, a military analyst and retired general.
It is significant that all those groups that have teamed up with ISIS were initially opposed to talks with the Pakistan military.
For its part, the TTP faces a possible break-up with disgruntled groups withdrawing support. The ISIS may replace TTP in Pakistan.
“From an operation that spread across Pakistan and Afghanistan which the TTP did, now we will be fighting an entity that stretches as far as Syria to the other end of Asia,” said Journalist Amir Mir. Groups like Hafiz Saeed’s JuD and the Jaish-e-Muhammad may also want to strike an equation with the ISIS.
However, Pakistani security officials hope for turf war between the terrorist groups instead. There is a possibility that the ISIS and TTP battle for supremacy in Pakistan’s troubled tribal areas.