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"A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan"

A Pro-Taliban militant stands guard at a shrine along Afghanistan's border, Tuesday, July 31, 2007.
AP Photo

"A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan"

Journal Article, CTC Sentinel, volume 1, issue 2, pages 1-4

January 2008

Author: Hassan Abbas, Former Senior Advisor, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


"The organizational strength, military strategy and leadership quality of the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal territories has qualitatively improved during the last few years. At the time of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, allies and sympathizers of the Taliban in Pakistan were not identified as "Taliban" themselves. That reality is now a distant memory. Today, Pakistan's indigenous Taliban are an effective fighting force and are engaging the Pakistani military on one side and NATO forces on the other.

The transition from being Taliban supporters and sympathizers to becoming a mainstream Taliban force in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) initiated when many small militant groups operating independently in the area started networking with one another. This sequence of developments occurred while Pakistani forces were spending the majority of their resources finding "foreigners" in the area linked to al-Qa`ida (roughly in the 2002–04 period). Soon, many other local extremist groups, which were banned in Pakistan, started joining the Taliban ranks in FATA — some as followers while others as partners.

During this process, the Pakistani Taliban never really merged into the organizational structure of the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar; instead, they developed a distinct identity. From their perspective, they intelligently created a space for themselves in Pakistan by engaging in military attacks while at other times cutting deals with the Pakistani government to establish their autonomy in the area.1 B default, they were accepted as a legitimate voice in at least two FATA agencies — South Waziristan and North Waziristan.

During this process, the Pakistani Taliban effectively established themselves as an alternative leadership to the traditional tribal elders. By the time the Pakistani government realized the changing dynamics and tried to resurrect the tribal jirga institution, it was too late. The Taliban had killed approximately 200 of the tribal elders under charges of being Pakistani and American spies.

These developments explain the genesis of a new formation: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP refers to the Taliban "movement" in Pakistan that coalesced in December 2007 under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud — a wanted militant leader from South Waziristan. This analysis discusses the origin, nature, capabilities and potential of this organization."


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Abbas, Hassan. "A Profile of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan." CTC Sentinel 1, no. 2 (January 2008): 1-4.

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