ISLAMABAD - The success of military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, in North Waziristan Agency has forced different rival groups of militants to join forces and they are joining hands to fight against the state forces and launch terrorist attacks.

Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) and Commander Sajna’s South Waziristan based group which had separated from Mullah Fazlullah’s Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have reportedly carried out some attacks on security forces as joint ventures with the central TTP.

On Saturday, while announcing the death of Taliban Commander Hassan Afghani in clashes with security forces, TTP central spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid said, “Hassan was killed during a fight against Pakistan Army in Boya in North Waziristan. The (Taliban) attack was jointly carried out by local Taliban (from North Waziristan), the Mehsud Taliban (from South Waziristan) and TTP,” he said.

This clearly showed that despite their internal differences which sometimes turn into gory clashes amongst the different Taliban factions, the militant outfits coordinate with each other when it comes to fighting against the Pakistani security forces or attacking sensitive government installations across the country.

According to Shahidullah Shahid, Commander Muhammad Hassan Afghani, who hailed from Kabul, was a commander of TTP and was recently released from an Afghan prison. The pictures sent to the media show the slain commander and his funeral prayer which was led by Mullah Fazlullah. The statement of the TTP for the first time revealed that an important commander of the outfit has been killed during military operation Zarb-i-Azb which is underway in North Waziristan since June 15.

But it also carries a message that despite their differences the Mehsud Taliban and TTP are still fighting side by side against the security forces. Earlier this year, clashes between Commander Sajna and Fazlullah-backed Shehriar Mehsud had resulted in the killing of scores of fighters from both sides that also forced the former commander to defect from TTP and form his own group, TTP Halqa-i-Mehsud.

On August 15, militants attacked two different airbases in Quetta. It was the time when the Mohmand Taliban had not yet separated from Fazlullah-led TTP.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesperson of the Mohmand Taliban and Azam Tariq, the media coordinator of the Mehsud Taliban, both issued similar statements and supported each other’s claims that “the attack was carried out by the Mehsud, the Mohmand (TTP) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), jointly”.

Omar Khalid Khurassani, the head of militants in Mohmand Agency, on August 27 defected from the TTP and the differences went to such an extent that the spokespersons of both the leaders issued statements levelling serious allegations against each other. But both the groups have similar approaches when they confront the Army claims of winning the battle during the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan or other such issues.

ISPR on September 3 claimed, “Since the start of the operation, 910 terrorists have been killed. So far security forces have cleared the major towns of Miranshah, Mirali, Datta Khel, Boya and Degan, which were considered strongholds of terrorists”.

The responses of both groups were similar. “These exaggerated claims by the media are nothing but complete lies. The army wants to win this war by using the media,” according to Ehsanullah Ehsan while Shahidullah Shahid commented on the same issue, saying, “We blatantly refute these claims, as our central leadership is safe and sound and we are confronting the forces. The paid media is misleading the people about truth.”

Both TTP and JuA claim that the majority of the people killed during the North Waziristan operation were innocent civilians which included women and children.