Real Character of Fazllulah
After the killing of the Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack on November 1, this year, Taliban Shura decided to appoint the most ferocious and notorious militant Maulana Fazlullah as chief of the TTP.
In this regard, a controversy arose for the selection of new leader, as many TTP insurgents had been intensely whispering against Fazllulah by arguing that their head should have been from Mehsud tribe, as many voted for Khan Saeed alias Sajna who belongs to the same tribe. Setting aside the rift between TTP ranks and files, Taliban Shura favoured Fazllulah. This came as a shock to all Mehsud tribal cliques who have serious objections against Fazllulah’s selection as head of TTP.
A majority of the Mehsud tribe believes that only Mehsuds have the right to lead TTP, and they also assert that selection of Fazllulah has created differences among TTP factions. Mehsuds also feel disturbed as TTP’s leadership has been taken away from them, whereas till now they were the leaders of the outfit.
On the other side, the TTP new Chief Maulana Fazlullah dismissed the proposed peace negotiations with the government as a “waste of time”, and vowed to target the prime minister, chief minister, chief of army staff and corpse commanders.
In fact, Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike on information provided by a senior TTP leader Latifullah Mehsud who was captured by US Special Forces in Afghanistan. He revealed the secret location of Hakimullah Mehsud to American investigators. He did so because he wanted to get money from US. Moreover, he was against Hakimullah for agreeing to start peace talks with Pakistan Government. Reportedly, internal differences and rift in TTP leaders existed which was exploited by Fazllulah to get top leadership of the outfit.
Notably, unlike the TTP new Chief Maulana Fazlullah, Saeed is a moderate, who strongly supported the peace dialogue with the government.
The choice of Fazlullah as the new head of TTP has no significance because of his obvious vicious trend and stained mind set. The people of Pakistan, Swat and law-enforcing agencies have no doubt about his stature as a non-state actor with power-motives and greedy agenda. However, Fazllulah is a familiar character, also known as Mullah Radio due to his infamous FM Radio Operations conducted against the state of Pakistan and Pak Army in Swat, while People of Pakistan especially the inhabitants of Swat recognize him as a killer with a history of criminal pathology, social delinquency, wicked brutality and cruel outlook. In this context, his real character needs special attention. Maulana Fazlullah who belongs to Babukarkhel clan of Yusafzai tribe of Swat district, is son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad who had founded Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), which was banned by Pakistan Government. On January 12, 2002, he became the leader of TNSM since Sufi had been sent to jail. During his control in Swat, he left no stone unturned in misinterpreting Islam by broadcasting his fiery speeches, preaching virtue and exhorting the people to abstain from vices in order to get their sympathy.
Having duality, he opposed the western system, and propagated that imposition of Islamic laws was the sole cure for all the evils in the society. As his supporters grew in size, he started taking practical action against so-called evil-doers by torching electronic and video shops. His militant threatened barbers not to shave beards and were forced to close their shops. Fazlullah also rejected anti-polio move in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while his insurgents targeted even women in this regard. He prohibited women from taking part in education and imposed ban on female education in Swat district. Some 400 schools enrolling 4000 girls were shut down and 170 schools were burnt. He had also ordered death of Malala Yusafzai because she favoured the education of girls. During his reign of terror in Swat and other adjoining areas, Maulana Fazlullah allowed his militants to follow un-Islamic activities such as forced marriages, slaughter of captives, beheadings in public, floggings, kidnappings for ransom, suicide bombings, targeted killings, and eliminating the dissidents. It was due to his brutal methods that Green Square in Mingora earned the name of ‘Khooni Chowk.’ He acted upon cruel methods to frighten the people so as to impose his brand of hard-line Shariah on them.
In some tribal areas and Swat, insurgents led by Fazlullah have been involved in a number of anti-social and un-Islamic practices like drug-smuggling, car-snatching etc. They justified that thus, they collect money to wage the holy war. From wealth, collected through unfair means, he constructed a Madrassa in Mingora worth Rs 25 crores, which became his base of operation and he used it for the purpose of training terrorists. While making Swat a state within a state, his militants also killed several personnel of the security forces. Optimistically, the Pakistan Government signed peace deals with Maulana Sufi and Fazlullah by agreeing to introduce Nizam-e-Adal in Malakand District and these insurgent leaders agreed to renounce violence. But, contrarily, Fazllulah’s terrorists occupied Dir and Buner by transgressing the Swat agreement.
When Pakistan’s armed forces successfully ejected the TTP militants out of these areas through Swat and Malakand military operations, the new leader of the TTP Maulana Fazlullah who had close connections with Pakistan-based TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud, had run to Afghanistan. Based in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan—with the support of Indian secret agency RAW, Afghan spy service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) which also have tactical backing of the US, his insurgents intensified subversive activities in Pakistan by sending heavily-equipped militants. Notably, in the past few years, in connivance with the South Wazirstan-based TTP and its affiliated outfits, his militants killed thousands of persons across Pakistan through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, beheadings, assaults on military troops, police stations, sectarian violence etc. Besides, they also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, and disgraced dead bodies.
It is mentionable that Latifullah Mehsud also confessed that Afghanistan and India were involved in promoting terrorist activities inside Pakistan. He also revealed that while waging proxy wars in Pakistan, terrorist attacks on Gen. Sanaullah Khan Niazi in Upper Dir, at Peshawar Church, in Qissa Khawani Bazar and elsewhere had been planned by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies. Particularly, regarding terror-attack at Peshawar church, TTP did not claim responsibility, but it proved when the outfit misinterpreted Islam by indicating that it was in accordance with Sharia.
Nevertheless, Maulana Fazlullah and his so-called followers have also been playing a key role in recruiting very young boys—and after their brainwashing through indoctrination; they train them for suicide bombings. The planners misguide these Muslims by convincing that they will have a noble place in the Heavens in exchange of suicide attacks. As a matter of fact, Fazlullah is a hypocrite, as he deserted his followers in Swat due to Army operation, and managed his own survival because he was standing through foreign funding and supply of arms cache to launch terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. In these terms, his morality is also questionable and so is the case of his heroism. Simply speaking, Fazllulah represents ‘bad’ Taliban who are at war with Pakistan on behest of their foreign masters. His open verdict for not resuming peace talks with the Pakistan Government points at his future strategy to continue terrorist attacks. To Fazllulah’s full appeasement, TTP has already declared to avenge Hakimullah Mehsud’s death.
Nonetheless, return of Fazllulah as TTP leader is not a big deal, as all stake holders in Pakistan exactly know his double game. He is undoubtedly an instrument of foreign secret agencies which back him to destabilize Pakistan.
So, our political, religious entities and domestic media must assertively project the real character of Fazllulah and his terrorist activities. They must expose the anti-Pakistan forces which do not approve the idea of peace talks with TTP and would certainly go on assisting idiotic criminals like Fazllulah to further weaken Pakistan. Pakistan’s public must also know that Maulana Fazllulah is not a Mehsud by tribe, but gained popularity in TTP due to his links with external secret agencies and maliciously harsh conduct. He is a propagandist who quickly manipulates information about current developments to keep him relevant in criminal band of TTP.
Fazalullah is a hypocrite who propagates Islamic laws, but violates all norms and values of Islam to gratify his power-motives. He only understands the language of force and his time appears to be up, unless he mends his ways.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations Email: firstname.lastname@example.org