Little-known militant group claims it represents urban areas and will not agree to any cessation of violence if peace talks restricted to tribal areas.
An offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, the relatively unknown Ahrar-ul-Hind, has threatened to stage suicide attacks across the country if the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan agrees to a ceasefire with the Government of Pakistan.
In a one-page statement, available with Newsweek Pakistan, a spokesman of the group has warned that they are not bound by any ceasefire agreement. “The TTP mujahideen are our brethren … but we are not bound to follow a ceasefire of any kind with the Pakistan government if they agree to it.”
The Government of Pakistan initiated peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban last week. In the first formal meeting between the government- and Taliban-appointed committees, both sides agreed that the talks should be conducted within the framework of the Constitution. They also agreed that the scope of the talks should be confined to the tribal areas, not the entire country. On Saturday, Professor Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Maulana Yousaf met the Taliban’s shura in North Waziristan to submit the government’s demands and hear the militants’ response.
The Ahrar-ul-Hind statement, dated Feb. 9 and written in Urdu, criticizes the decision to focus on the tribal areas. “Some of our leaders have become prey to compromises and have agreed to conduct dialogue only to get the tribal areas liberated,” said Asad Mansoor, a spokesman for the group. “Restricting talks to the tribal areas amounts to neglecting the urban areas and the mujahideen,” he added.
According to the statement, the Ahrar-ul-Hind has been assembled under Amir Maulana Umar Qasmi, who will lead the group independently of the TTP. “We will now continue activities [previously conducted with other jihadi organizations] on our own by the wish of God,” it said. “We belong to the urban areas of Pakistan and so will restrict our activities to the urban areas.”
Hinting at a deeper discord, a senior Taliban leader told Newsweek Pakistan that Ahrar-ul-Hind would respect the TTP’s decisions and would follow its accords. However, the Ahrar-ul-Hind statement unequivocally claims the group will never accept a ceasefire that is restricted to the tribal areas.