The recent Taliban raid of a jail in Bannu, a town close to the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan, is a reminder of the group’s capacity to wreak havoc in Pakistan. After breaking into Bannu Jail, the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistani (TTP), successfully released 384 prisoners, many whom were militants. While the biggest jail break in Pakistan’s history sparks the question of whether the Taliban received support, and if so from whom, it is also a stark reminder that the TTP is a palpable and distinct threat from the Afghan Taliban. As an umbrella organization, its various groups have diverse yet interconnected motives aligned against the Pakistani state. Below is an abstract and link to a report by Shehzad H. Qazi, a Research Associate at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, which explores the decentralized structure, strategies, and tactics of one of Pakistan’s biggest internal threats.
According to an ISPU press release :
The Pakistani Taliban is a distinct movement, with a different agenda, history and mission from the Afghan Taliban, says Institute for Social Policy and Understanding scholar Shehzad Qazi in a new ISPU Policy Brief, “An Extended Profile of the Pakistani Taliban.” Until now, little was known about the structural organization of the group, which Qazi charts with fresh analysis of the group’s leadership.
The Pakistani Taliban is a conglomeration of about forty Taliban chapters with a total membership of 30,000-35,000 and an increasing alliance with Al Qaeda. The various chapters often have different goals and missions and are frequently at odds with each other, says Qazi. While the various chapters agree on the ultimate objective of expelling US and other foreign troops from the region, the tactics vary widely—some are focused on carrying out attacks on the state of Pakistan, others on the NATO troops in Afghanistan, while several have a more localized agenda varying depending on local politics.
In a rare look at the decentralized structural organization of the group, particularly the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the brief discloses the group’s operations, tactics and strategies. Qazi goes on to discuss the history and background of the conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, address the ideology of the Pakistani Taliban, and explain the essential characteristics of the movement. The brief also looks into the group’s recruitment patterns including the social factors that pull in recruits, and the tactics of teen abduction used to reinforce membership.
The brief comes at a critical time with the United States and Pakistan attempting to rebuild relations and work together to fight the Taliban in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan.