WANA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Taliban, one of the world’s most feared militant groups, are preparing for a leadership change that could mean less violence against the state but more attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, Pakistani military sources said.
Hakimullah Mehsud, a ruthless commander who has led the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the last three years, has lost operational control of the movement and the trust of his fighters, said a senior Pakistan army official based in the South Waziristan tribal region, the group’s stronghold.
The organization’s more moderate deputy leader, Wali-ur-Rehman, 40, is poised to succeed Mehsud, whose extreme violence has alienated enough of his fighters to significantly weaken him, the military sources told Reuters.
“Rehman is fast emerging as a consensus candidate to formally replace Hakimullah,” said the army official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. “Now we may see the brutal commander replaced by a more pragmatic one for whom reconciliation with the Pakistani government has become a priority.”
If you’re wondering what the effect on Pakistan/US relations might be from this development – none whatsoever, based upon past evidence. Just because the Pak military and ISI have spent millions of US aid dollars in bribing and cajoling the TTP into coming back to the proxy-group fold, attacking only the folk the ISI tell them to again, is absolutely no reason the US cannot continue to be Pakistan’s sugar-daddy.