LAHORE - The split in the ranks of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders have widened following the killing of Waliur Rehman in a US drone strike, security experts and intelligence sources say. Sources disclosed to TheNation on Monday that the split would further weaken the TTP.

Many Taliban commanders believe Hakimullah Mehsud and his faction of TTP managed to get Waliur Rehman killed. “Obviously, the aim was to eliminate their opponent and to get the financial award from the US,” a source familiar with the development said.

Fazal Farooq Haqqani, leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Kurram Agency near the border with Afghanistan, has also separated from the main outfit and formed a new group called Tehreek-e-Taliban (Waziristan). The TTP leader believed he formed the new group because Hakimullah Mehsud betrayed the TTP by helping Americans kill the TTP leading commander, Rehman, in the drone attack.

Intelligence sources believe the move could bring further splits in the ranks of Taliban leaders in the future. In recent years, visible factions amongst the Taliban leaders are seen and this has resulted to shifting positions among the group members on peace negotiations with the Pakistani government, they said.

Earlier, US intelligence operatives disclosed that TTP No 2 leader, Waliur Rehman, had been killed in a drone attack on a tip off provided by an informer from Hakimullah Mehsud’s faction of TTP.

Security analysts and political pundits maintain that drone attack at this stage was aimed at sabotaging the projected peace talks with TTP and that it would further put pressure on the newly elected government in Pakistan. “The hope of halting terrorism appears to have been sabotaged by the US drone attacks. Drone attacks are now posing as a tough challenge for the newly-elected government of Nawaz Sharif which needs to be reevaluated under the fresh setting,” says defense analyst, Brig (retired) Farooq Hameed Khan.

He also said that drone attacks are counter productive as well as against the sovereignty of Pakistan. “Killing of Waliur Rehman as a rebel is one thing but violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty is another vital issue,” he underlined. The entire leadership must stand united to get rid of drone attacks and settle the issue of war on terror as well.

There is no doubt that any sort of split in Taliban’s leadership would be in direct interest of the anti-insurgency campaign and the ongoing peace efforts. Therefore, such moves must be welcomed by government of Pakistan, the opposition, and the world peace brokers as well.

Security experts while condemning Hakimullah Mehsud and his faction for acting without scruple and playing in the hands of foreign masters including CIA and RAW, said that the split between TTP factions of Waliur Rehman group and Hakimullah ended with killing of Waliur Rehman. This has been a grave blow to Waliur Rehman’s faction of TTP while Hakimullah Mehsud succeeded in his designs to eliminate his major opponent in TTP.

Terrorism experts suggested that the new TTP leader Khan Saeed alias Sajna hailing from Mehsud tribe of Shobikhel would realise that their leader had been eliminated by Hakimullah Mehsud’s group to get the award of $5million from the US.

Reportedly, the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan claimed that the TTP second-in-command was killed in a drone attack on a tip off provided by an informer from Hakimullah Mehsud group. The US officials refused to disclose the real name of the informer belonging Hakimullah group. However, they confirmed that the award would be paid to the deserving informer. Hakimullah Mehsud’s long desired to eliminate Waliur Rehman, made numerous attempts in the past to kill Rehman and his plot succeeded by providing information to CIA.  Repercussions of drone attacks are dangerous for Pakistan as the entire nation now expects retaliation from the TTP. The terror outfit has lost the visionary leader who was also inclined to start negotiations with the newly-elected government of Pakistan to reach a peace accord and bring peace in the country.