In the first week of July, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant organization announced the return of the Hakimullah Mehsud group to its fold. The faction and several others like the Mehsud division led by Khan Said “Sajna” and the Jamaatul Ahrar group commanded by Omar Khalid Khurasani splintered from the TTP in 2014 following violent inter-factional feuds after then-Emir Hakimullah Mehsud’s death in a U.S. drone strike. Compounded by the government’s launching of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the same year, this reduced the TTP to a shadow of its former self. The alliance of Islamist outfits based in Pakistan’s erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had plunged the country into unprecedented levels of violence after its formation in 2007. This included notable plots such as the assault on the Karachi airport in June 2014 and the Peshawar army school attack in December 2014.
The return of the Hakimullah Mehsud faction is by no means unprecedented, given developments such as the merger of the Sajna faction in 2017 and the rehabilitation of the Jamaatul Ahrar outfit within the framework of the TTP’s ideology in 2015, albeit with a great degree of operational independence.