Posts Tagged ‘Taliban in Karachi’


By Zia Ur Rehman

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


As the third phase of the local bodies polls neared, electoral campaigns of parties participating in the elections intensified. However, for the Awami National Party (ANP) it was not just the preparation which took its toll, but security concerns also escalated.

Young activists stood guard at the entrance of the venue, situated in Ittehad Town, where the party’s rally was about to kick off, while some others frisked attendees appearing suspicious.


This had, over a period of three years, turned out to be a standard operating procedure for the ANP in the wake of innumerable attacks carried out at its gatherings, during the 2013 general elections, by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Swat faction, headed by Mullah Fazlullah.

However, what added to the heightened security concerns of party members was the area in which the gathering was being conducted – the Ittehad Town neighbourhood of district West, notorious for the presence of Taliban.

Residents of the area had breathed a sigh of relief, albeit short, following the crackdown on militants by the law enforcement agencies.

However, the November 20 attack on Rangers personnel in the area which resulted in the deaths of four soldiers had once again whipped up fear among the residents, especially the ANP workers, who bore the brunt of Taliban attacks carried out in the locality.

Contesting for the slot of union committee chairman, Mian Syed Wahid, an elderly ANP leader for whose electoral campaign the rally was organised, had himself sustained critical injuries when militants had attacked a prize-distribution ceremony underway at one of the schools in the area, in March 2013.

The school’s principal and a girl student were killed in the attack, while 20 students were injured; the attack was claimed by the same group.

Younas Buneri, the party’s provincial secretary general, said the entire party leadership was concerned over their candidates’ security, “Especially in areas which serve as strongholds of the Taliban”. According to him, the ANP had fielded more than 180 candidates across the city for slots of chairman, vice-chairman and ward councillors.

“Despite several requests by our leadership, the government was yet to provide security to our candidates,” he said.

Speaking of the Ittehad Town attack, Buneri said the law enforcement officials asked party candidates to adopt security measures since it was the same group of extremists which had attacked them previously.

“Our candidates are now adopting security measures on their own,” he maintained.

The ANP had been on a downward spiral in the city for several reasons, however, according to political analysts the attacks on the party’s leaders and political gatherings served as the final nail in the party’s coffin.

The Taliban’s unabated attacks on the party, especially in district West, had compelled the party to stop conducting overt political activities in the city.

In June 2012, the Taliban had asked ANP leaders in the city to quit the party, remove its flags and banners from atop their homes and shops, and close its offices or prepare for their wrath.

Over 100 activists of the party had fallen victim to the attacks. Three ANP district West presidents, Saeed Ahmed Khan, Ameer Sardar, Dr Ziauddin, Haji Saifullah Afridi, and general secretary Advocate Hanif were among those recently targeted.

Several members, serving as the party’s central leadership either moved back to their hometowns or to Islamabad.

The party’s provincial secretary general Bashir Jan, had according to party insiders, had left for the United States after seeking asylum due to increasing security threats, while others had joined in the ranks of right-wing political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

SSP West Azfar Mahesar, while speaking to The News, said 60 percent of his district had been declared ‘highly-sensitive’ for the local bodies poll.

“Around 8,000 security personnel including police, Rangers, army troops, Rapid Response Force, Quick Response Force and Anti-Riot Force will be deployed throughout the district on the election day.”




By Zia Ur Rehman

April 5, 2015


While the law enforcement agencies have been busy taking down three factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Karachi, a new group called the “Afridi militants” has emerged in many Pashtun-majority areas of the city, The News has learnt.

Pashtun elders and traders in the city say that the Afridi militants are active in Sohrab Goth, Ali Town, Keamari and Banaras.

They have been sending extortion threats to traders who have arrived in the city from Khyber Agency, Frontier Region Peshawar, Charsadda and Kohat. “Three days ago, I received a call from a local number and was told to pay extortion money,” a trader in Ali Town told The News requesting anonymity. “The caller was talking in the Afridi accent of Pashto.”

The trader has not informed police so far as he thinks the militants might harm his family living in Matani, a suburban area of Peshawar.

Although it is not clear as to which Taliban faction these militants belong to, Pashtun elders suspect that they are either members of the Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI), a Khyber Agency-based militant group headed by Mangal Bagh, or affiliated with the TTP Darra Adamkhel chapter, founded by Tariq Afridi alias Geedar.

Truckers involved in transporting fuel to Nato forces at their bases in Afghanistan from Karachi are mostly members of the Afridi and Shinwari clans of Khyber Agency.

“We used to regularly pay ‘protection money’ to Bagh’s militants in Khyber Agency for protecting our trucks and families,” said an oil-tanker truck owner in Karachi.

Police say that they are not aware of the presence of the Afridi militants in the city.

“The Taliban could be extorting Pashtun traders with a new name to dodge the law enforcement agencies,” said an officer at the Sohrab Goth police station. He also suspected the involvement of some other criminals.

Three factions of the TTP – Swat, Mohmand and Mehsud – have been active in Karachi since mid-2011 and their networks have been shattered by Rangers and the other law enforcement agencies in an ongoing crackdown.

Many of their key leaders have been killed.

Security forces are engaged in an operation codenamed “Khyber One” against the LeI since October last year in different parts of Khyber Agency.

Besides, the TTP Darra Adamkhel chapter has been weakened after the killing of its chief, Tariq Afridi.

Last month, the LeI had decided to merge with the TTP for its survival.

The TTP factions have been working to form a collective front for their survival in Karachi.

This decision is part of the recently announced reunification of Taliban groups at the central level. Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesperson for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar (TTP-JA), in an email sent to the media recently, claimed that his faction, the TTP loyal to Maulana Fazlullah and the Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) had reunited following a joint consultative meeting between their leaders.

Sources and security experts familiar with the network of the Taliban in Karachi believe that after the meeting of their central leaders somewhere in the Pak-Afghan bordering area, three factions of the TTP in the city were forging an alliance for their survival.

They agree that the recent crackdown has badly disrupted the Taliban’s network in the city.

Asmat Khan Wazir, an Islamabad-based independent security analyst from North Waziristan, says that the military operation, Zarb-e-Azab, under way in North Waziristan since June last year, had shattered the Taliban’s control-and-command system, affecting the activities of their Karachi factions.


By Zia Ur Rehman and Declan Walsh

August 11, 2014

KARACHI, Pakistan — Karachi’s embattled police force recently passed a grim milestone — the killing of its 100th police officer this year, putting the force on track to exceed the 2013 toll of 166 police deaths, which was itself a record.

Some killings stemmed from the factors that have roiled Karachi, a restless megalopolis of 20 million people, for decades: ethnic politics, sectarian militancy and old-fashioned criminal gangs. But much of the toll came from the city’s newest force for violent chaos, the Pakistani Taliban.

The Taliban have been steadily expanding in Karachi for two years, running extortion rackets, killing political rivals and carrying out audacious attacks on prominent targets, including the city airport in June.

Now they have trained their sights on the city police. In the sprawling Pashtun slums on the city’s eastern and northern flanks, Taliban militants have gunned down police officers, assaulted poorly defended police stations and sent suicide bombers to assassinate top police commanders.

The killings offer new proof, officials say, that the guerrilla war that was once confined to the tribal belt in northwestern Pakistan, the Taliban’s stamping ground, has spread to its biggest city.

“It’s a very serious threat,” said Ghulam Qadir Thebo, the Karachi police chief. “The Taliban are well trained and well organized, with a network that is linked to global jihad.”

The Taliban threat has spurred the police, previously known for ineptitude and corruption, to take aggressive action. Security has been tightened at police stations and around police officers’ homes. More than 1,000 former soldiers have been inducted into the force. And officers have mounted a series of hard-hitting operations, in conjunction with the paramilitary Rangers and intelligence services, that have hit the Taliban hard but have also drawn accusations of police brutality and extrajudicial executions.

At least 201 bodies turned up in Karachi in the first six months of this year, many with signs of having been tortured or shot at close range, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The group linked many of the killings to the security forces.

One case that stirred outrage involved Noman Khan, a 15-year-old who disappeared on June 28. In interviews, about two dozen witnesses said uniformed men had picked up the teenager as he ate watermelon with his friends after a game of cricket.

Nine days later, his body was returned to his family. The family and human rights activists said it showed signs of torture.

Police officials initially described the boy as an extortionist and said he had died in an exchange of gunfire. Then they said he was a member of the Taliban.

“This was my son,” his father, Bakht Zada, said in a recent interview, with tears in his eyes. He held an old photograph of the boy standing beside Shahid Afridi, a former captain of the Pakistani cricket team, whom Mr. Zada described as his son’s hero.

A police spokesman did not respond to the family’s accusations that officers had killed Noman, and said the matter was still under investigation. A friend of Noman’s, Ismail Khan, was later charged with the murder of a police officer.

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Exactly who bears responsibility for the spate of extrajudicial killings is unclear. Senior police officials privately accuse the military’s intelligence services of committing the worst abuses, and complain that their men bear the brunt of Taliban reprisals. One retired officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, offered a still-murkier explanation: that in some cases, intelligence operatives tortured suspected militants, then handed them to allied police officers for execution.

Whatever the truth, experts say, the growing spate of killings on both sides amounts to a shadow war that, for now, is limited to Karachi’s Pashtun neighborhoods.

“It’s about territorial control,” Laurent Gayer, a French academic and author of a recent book, “Karachi: Ordered Disorder and the Struggle for the City,” said in an interview.

“The Taliban have taken over areas, brought in their people and established strongholds,” Mr. Gayer said. “The question is how far they can go.”

In many ways, Karachi has become an adjunct of the conflict in the tribal belt. The city’s militant factions are organized according to conflict-hit northwestern districts like Waziristan, the Swat Valley and Mohmand. Their extortion rackets target ethnic Pashtun traders, and their guns have been trained on members of the Awami National Party, a secular Pashtun party that opposes the Taliban ideology.

The Taliban’s internecine disputes, often over the proceeds of crime, also spill onto the streets of Karachi, although in the past year, the Swat Taliban have become the dominant faction since their leader, Maulana Fazlullah, assumed overall control of the movement.

All of that has made the Taliban powerful players in the city’s already complicated mosaic of violent gangs linked to crime, politics and ethnic groups. Taliban attacks have killed 80 members of the Awami National Party, the party says, and largely driven it from the city. Polio transmission rates have shot up after militant attacks on vaccination teams. And the police have come under unprecedented attack.

In January, a militant suicide bomber killed Muhammad Aslam Khan, widely known as Chaudry Aslam, perhaps the city’s most famous police officer, who used to boast of his prowess in capturing and killing Taliban fighters. In the section of the city where the Taliban are most active, only five of 15 police stations are now considered safe, said Irfan Ali Baloch, a senior police commander.

The police station in one neighborhood, Mominabad, offers an example of the threat. Militants have bombed it three times in recent months, officers said. One policeman was killed and two others were wounded in an attack in June, as they waited to have their vehicle repaired. In July, a police inspector was shot dead as he traveled to work.

The authorities have responded by raising the station walls and installing surveillance cameras. Yet several officers said they had applied for a transfer. Some are considering quitting the force.

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The officers, like several other people interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the news media, or feared reprisals.

Even the traffic police have come under fire. After June 30, when two traffic officers were shot dead in the neighborhood of Orangi, the traffic police were issued firearms. “We’re a soft target,” said one officer directing traffic at a busy junction.

A police-led crackdown on the Taliban, which started in September 2013, has had some success. A Taliban militant, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the police had killed several leaders of the Mohmand Taliban, which were believed to have killed Mr. Khan, and seriously disrupted the group’s activities in Karachi. In other areas, the police have wrested territory from militant control.

Recognizing that some officers are vulnerable in their homes, senior officers say they plan to move about 225 officers into secure accommodations. Western donors are helping, too. Since 2011, the State Department has donated $29 million to the police in Sindh Province, whose capital is Karachi, for training, equipment and vehicles.

The police are further hamstrung by intense politicization in their ranks — senior officers are often chosen for their allegiance to a political party — while the force is dismally understaffed. Karachi has just one active-duty police officer for every 1,524 inhabitants, said Mr. Gayer, the academic.

The rich and powerful contribute to that weakness. Of the city’s 27,000 officers, including clerical staff members, about 8,500 are permanently engaged in “V.I.P. duty” — guarding businessmen, politicians and government officials.

Experts have long called for an overhaul of the police force as an urgently needed step to bolster Pakistan’s stability. “The people of Pakistan are resilient, but state institutions are failing them,” Hassan Abbas, author of “The Taliban Revival,” a new book on the militant threat, said in an interview.

The Taliban, meanwhile, claimed their 102nd police victim on Thursday, the police said.

Gunmen ambushed the victim, Muhammad Sajjad Abbasi, a 35-year-old constable, as he pulled into a gas station on his motorcycle. He had been dressed in civilian clothing, the police said.

It was the fifth police death at the Pirabad police station this year, and Haq Nawaz, the officer in charge, said the matter was under investigation. But the most likely culprits, he added, are the Taliban.

Zia ur-Rehman reported from Karachi, and Declan Walsh from London. Hasan Abdullah contributed reporting from Karachi.


By Zia Ur Rehman

March 9, 2014

They came in trickles and floods; as individuals, whole families, and entire caravans. Fleeing the insurgencies and operations in their homes, displaced persons from various parts of FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sought refuge in Karachi as well as other cities. But along with the tormented, came their tormentors: the very Taliban the refugees were fleeing from.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) may have been born in the tribal agencies, it might have even ruled Swat, but it is Karachi that has been crucial to the TTP’s perpetuation of power across the country. It is Karachi that helped fund the TTP’s war in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as the organisation routinely conducted bank heists to generate finances. It is also Karachi where members of the TTP found sanctuary as security forces pounded their hideouts. Slowly but surely, the largest city of Pakhtun people has witnessed three factions of the TTP taking control of a number of areas and exert their influence in many others. This is a process that has spanned more than half a decade; it promises to decisively shape the future of the city.

Back in 2007, as the Pakistan government began an operation to regain control of the Swat valley, thousands left their homes to escape being caught in the crossfire. The choice of Karachi was a natural one for these victims of war; with some four million Pakhtuns living in this megacity, many of the internally displaced people (IDPs) had kin they could count on, and with whom they could shelter until they returned home.

In 2009, guised as IDPs, militants from Swat, South Waziristan, Mohmand Agency, Bajaur, Dir, and elsewhere began taking refuge in Karachi, as the military operations reached their respective areas. At first, they did their best to blend in: a number of militants who fled to Karachi shaved their breads, cut their trademark long hair, and worked in the city as petty labourers. Thus disguised, they waited for the right time to establish and reinforce their networks in the city.

Prior to such large-scale migrations, small cells of various TTP groups existed in the city; their job was primarily to raise funds for the operations of their parent groups, largely through bank robberies. “In the beginning, the TTP did not get involved in subversive activities. This was in line with the TTP policy of using Karachi only for fund-raising, rest and recuperation,” said a Mehsud tribal elder living in Ittehad Town.

“But then they seem to have changed their strategy for Karachi. Political leaders from Swat say that Swati militants who fled to Karachi had been assassinating pro-government Swat residents in the city, all under the cover of then ongoing ethno-political targeted killings.”

In short, the TTP took advantage of the chaos of Karachi to, quite literally, get away with murder.

The perfect distraction : ‘Target killing’

When the TTP entered Karachi proper, it found a city in the midst of politico-ethnic conflict. At the time, it was convenient for both the police and political parties to sweep any so-called ‘target killings’ under the larger rug of ethnically-fuelled violence and political turf wars. Assassinations carried out by the Taliban also came under this catch-all phrase.

In fact, it was largely thanks to the peculiar political dynamics of Karachi that the Taliban presence remained mostly unnoticed and unremarked. When the MQM, in 2010 and 2011, began to warn that the Taliban militants were acquiring a presence in the city, the ANP accused it of trying to use that claim as a pretext to ‘ethnically cleanse’ Karachi’s Pakhtuns.

“MQM chief Altaf Hussain had pointed out the presence of the TTP in Karachi years ago, but the authorities, despite taking the issue seriously, denied the reports regarding the presence of the TTP in the city,” said Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan, a MQM leader.

Privately, members of other political parties and analysts say that the MQM’s claims may have been proved true later on, but they were definitely written off as politically-motivated when first raised. There was no trust between the ANP and MQM, and the Taliban effectively took advantage of this gap, eventually becoming a direct threat to both parties.

Background interviews with Pakhtun elders, analysts and police officials familiar with the network of the TTP in Karachi suggest that most of the Pakhtun-populated areas of the city are now under partial or complete influence of the TTP.

A direct result of this dominance is the deterioration of the law and order situation in these areas. Here, the various factions of the TTP have joined hands with banned sectarian outfits and criminal syndicates in the city to increase both their subversive activities and fund-raising campaigns (mostly through extortion, robberies and kidnapping for ransom). These areas have become extremely dangerous not just for law enforcement agencies, but also for political activists of mainstream parties, especially the ANP, polio vaccinators and non-governmental organisations.

The battle of Pakhtun representation : ANP pummeled 

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has traditionally tolerated no opposition, political or otherwise, when establishing a stranglehold over local populations. In keeping with their modus operandi, the TTP first went after local Pakhtun leadership in Karachi — which in this case was also the Awami National Party (ANP).

“Killing influential Pakhtun elders is a key strategy of Taliban groups, first successfully carried out in Afghanistan, then FATA and KP, and now in Karachi,” said Kahar Zalmay, an Islamabad-based security analyst who monitors the network of TTP across the country, saying that through an organised campaign of killing influential Pakhtun political leaders and elders in Karachi and forcing the ANP to vacate most of its traditional strongholds, now all Pakhtun-majority areas of the city are under varying degrees of TTP influence.

In fact, the first open acknowledgment by the TTP of its presence in this city came as a threat to the ANP. In June 2012, it openly threatened ANP activists to quit the party, remove their party’s flags and graffiti and close their offices.

The TTP then claimed the responsibility for killing Amir Sardar, an ANP leader and former union council mayor, in the Frontier Colony area in August the same year.

On Feb 21 this year, three ANP activists — Dr Israr, Jamshed Khan and Razeemullah — were shot dead along with two guests by unidentified people in MPR colony in Orangi Town. Israr’s relatives said that the three party activists were receiving threats from the TTP Swat chapter. Earlier, on Feb 8, grenades were thrown at the Sher Shah residence of Raza Jadoon, then Sindh president of Pakhtun Students Federation as well as at the home of ANP leader Rahim Swati in Qasba Colony area. Jadoon said that he had been receiving threatening calls from the TTP with the phone code of Afghanistan.

In a series of interviews with Pakhtun political and civil society activists, it emerges that the TTP Swat faction has killed a number of political activists mainly belonging to the ANP as well as social activists in different parts of the city.

Shahi Syed, Sindh president of the ANP, claimed that around 80 leaders and office-bearers of ANP have been killed by the Taliban. As a result, party offices across the city, including even the Baacha Khan Markaz, the provincial party headquarter situated in Pirabad, have been closed. Perhaps there can be no greater example of how serious the threat is than the fact that several leaders of the party have left Karachi and migrated to their native towns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of threats issued by the TTP.

The political strength of the ANP has also diminished as a direct result of this: In the 2008 general elections, the ANP won two provincial assembly seats from Karachi’s two largest Pakhtun-populated areas — SITE Town and Landhi industrial area. But in the 2013 polls, the rallies and offices of ANP candidates — Bashir Jan and Amanullah Mehsud — from these two areas were targeted by TTP militants, killing and injuring several party activists. The TTP claimed the responsibility of the May 2, 2013 killing of Sadiq Zaman Khattak, an ANP candidate from NA-254 Korangi, in the Bilal Colony area.

Because of the attacks on the ANP, some party members and leaders sought safer pastures, joining other political parties such as the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and even the Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ). Khurshid Inqilabi, an ANP candidate in the general elections from Baldia Town area, has recently joined the PTI. Inqilabi’s family sources said that he joined the PTI in order to save his life as he was also receiving threats from the TTP.

Besides the ANP, the TTP Swat faction has also started targeting leaders of the PPP. On Jan 24, Mujibur Rehman, president of the PPP PS-96, was killed near Banaras chowk. A Pakhtun leader of PPP in district West said that they are also feeling insecure because of the tough statements issued from the party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari against the TTP. They fear that the TTPs retaliation will target them.

But political parties are only a few of the targets. In Karachi, the TTPs Swat faction had also killed dozens of Swati pro-government elders and those who were associated with peace committees in Swat or who supported the security forces during the operation. “A number of influential political figures and members of anti-Taliban committees of Swat travelling to Karachi for personal or business reasons have been murdered since 2009,” said Sardar Ahmed Yousafzai, a political analyst and president of Kabal Tehsil Bar Association in Swat, adding that majority of assassinated people were from Kabal tehsil as that area was the birth-place of TTP Swat. He said that dozens of Swati families living in Karachi for the last three to four decades have recently migrated to Swat because of the security situation in Pakhtun neighbourhoods.

The golden goose of the TTP: 

All three TTP factions have been involved in collecting extortions from the Pakhtun traders and transporters, school and hospital owners and even madressahs for the last several years in Karachi. A number of Pakhtun traders interviewed for this report revealed that increasing incidents of extortions remained unreported because of immense pressure and threats by the TTP. The use of hand grenades as a scare tactic, and the killing of those who refuse to pay on time is part of their strategy. And, as usual, they prey mostly on those who are ethnically and tribally connected to them. “They know very well about the wealth of everyone belonging to their own tribe,” said a Mehsud transporter.

The TTP Mehsud faction, for example, has systematically occupied the trade bodies of the business of heavy machinery (heavy-duty vehicles) and local truck and mini-bus associations of Sohrab Goth and imposed fixed taxes on the traders and transporters associated with these bodies. Of course, the reason is that Mehsud tribesmen are largely involved in these businesses. The TTP Mohmand faction has been collecting extortion money from Mohmand tribesmen based in Karachi, who are well-off and mainly involved in selling timber and construction material.

Analysts are of the view that the TTP has been facing a severe financial crisis and a shortage of funds in wake of the measures taken by Pakistani authorities to cut off their international sources of income, especially from gulf countries. Now, the central leadership of all three TTP factions have directed their Karachi members to collect funds through extortion and kidnapping for ransom from the businessmen and transporters belonging to tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These funds are then used to purchase equipment, weaponry and fill the many expenses associated with running an insurgency.

Killing of law enforcement personnel : 

In keeping with their increased strength on the ground and their raised profile, the TTP also started posing a greater threat to law enforcement agencies. In recent months, a number of personnel of Police and other law enforcement agencies and their informers have been murdered in different Pakhtun areas of Karachi.

Police officials believe that the TTP is working off a hit list that includes police officers involved in the arrests and deaths of a number of militants, including its key commanders in Karachi. Bahaddin Babar, a well-known police officer, was gunned down on Dec 31 2013 by unknown assailants near the Bab-i-Khyber in the Metroville area of SITE Town. At the time, Chaudary Aslam said that the TTP Swat faction killed Babar because he was actively working against TTP operatives in the city. But after nine days of the killing of Babar, Aslam was also killed along with his two guards in a massive bombing on Jan 9 this year.

Several police stations and mobiles have also been regularly targeted in the areas under the influence of the TTP. For example, in February, Pirabad Police station was targeted with hand grenades twice in eight days. Similarly, Sohrab Goth, Mominabad and Mangophir police stations have been attacked several times by Taliban militants. Recently, trenches were dug around the Sohrab Goth and Surjani Town police stations while the same measures will be implemented in other sensitive police stations of the city soon.

In interviews with low-ranked police personnel, they said that the TTP militants target policemen standing on the roadsides, attack their vans by hurling grenades and in some cases, carry out grenade attacks near their houses when they are not on duty. “It has become very dangerous to patrol in these areas during night,” said a police officer deputed in the Mominabad police station.

Ongoing operation and the TTP: 

Although law enforcement agencies, and especially the Rangers, claim to have arrested several suspects belonging to banned militant outfits recently, leaders of political parties — especially the ANP and the MQM — and Pakhtun residents said that law enforcement agencies have not focused on the TTP in the whole operation.

“It is true that the ongoing operation has disrupted the network of targeted killers belonging to different political and sectarian groups and extortionists of different gangs, but the TTP-linked militants are still openly threatening and killing the people,” said a Pakhtun trader in the Pathan Colony area. In interviews with Pakhtun residents of different areas, they claimed that law enforcement agencies largely apprehend innocent people during the operation while militants flee the area before the arrival of the law enforcers.

“We have asked the government several times to take action against the TTP militants, who are killing our ANP members and capturing the Pakhtun areas, but instead of taking the matter seriously, no action has been initiated so far,” said Shahi Syed. The MQM has also similar reservations. Izharul Hassan said that the ongoing operation in Karachi was being conducted against the MQM and not against the Taliban militants.

However, sources familiar with the network of TTP in Karachi said that operation has in fact shattered the network of TTP Mohmand chapter in Karachi by killing its key leaders in encounters. However, the LEAs have not arrested or killed any significant leader of the Swat and Mehsud factions.

Sindh Rangers’ director general Major Rizwan Akhter, in a Feb 25 interview with an Urdu daily, claimed that they have arrested and killed a number of militants associated with different Taliban groups and that reports of ‘No-go areas’ for law enforcement agencies is baseless.

Implications : 

The strengthening of the TTP in Karachi has nationwide security and political implications. Karachi is considered a key area in the nexus of terrorism in the country because it has become the main hub of militants’ fundraising and alliances. Security experts, politicians and law enforcement all agree that TTP wants to tighten, where they already have great influence in the Pakhtun dominated suburban areas. It not only adds to the city’s already worst security situation, but also adds to TTPs financial and strategic assets.

The TTP militants in Karachi are drawing their strength from the continuing silence of the government and a lack of focus by the security forces. Government is still in position to control the spreading TTP network in the city through launching a ‘selective and surgical’ operation against various factions of TTP in Karachi. Although a month-long ceasefire between the TTP and the government has been announced, analysts believe that it will not stop the TTP’s campaign of fund-raising and killing Pakhtun leaders.

“The TTP can stop targeting law enforcement agencies in Karachi but their campaign of fund-raising and killing Pakhtun leaders in the city will continue,” said Kahar Zalmay.


TTP Network in Karachi 

It is important to note that the TTP is not a monolith and is, in fact, composed of different groups. As TTP militants moved into Karachi, they predictably organised into factions according to where they had come from. In Karachi, three factions of TTP — Mehsud, Swat and Mohmand — are active and running their network in various neighbourhoods of the city.

Swati and Mehsud militants migrated to Karachi after military operation began in Swat and South Waziristan in 2008 and 2009 respectively while the TTP Mohmand chapter sent their militants to Karachi for fund-raising in 2011. The three groups have their own leadership structures but support each other in subversive activities.

And the network of terror spreads further beyond TTP proper as well.

Analysts say that TTP’s tribal militants don’t have the resources, skills and expertise to conduct specialised operations in Karachi like the Abbas Town attack or the attack on the Mehran base. Therefore, they have joined hands with local sectarian and jihadi outfits, especially Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and this nexus has increased the risk of terrorist attacks in Karachi.

TTP-Mehsud :

The most powerful faction of the TTP in Karachi is dominated by the Mehsud tribe. In Karachi, the TTP Mehsud faction was organisationally divided into two groups — one is loyal to TTP’s former chief Hakimullah Mehsud while the second is loyal to TTP-South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud.

Hakimullah Mehsud appointed Qari Yar Muhammad as TTP Karachi chief and Sher Khan as operational commander for Karachi. Similarly, Waliur Rehman Mehsud appointed Mufti Noor Wali as TTP Karachi chief and Khan Zaman as Karachi commander.

However, after infighting between both factions in Karachi, the Waliur Rehman faction has expelled the Hakimullah group from Karachi. Infighting between both factions began when militants belonging to Waliur Rehman killed Sher Khan in the Manghopir area on Aug 16. At least 30 key leaders of Hakimullah Mehsud have been murdered by the rival faction since August.

Khan Saeed, alias Sajna, who was appointed as successor to Waliur Rehman after his killing, has strengthened the group in Karachi. It is important to note that the Sajna faction depends on militants of its own Mehsud tribe but also supports the Swat and Mohmand factions. They also settle the business disputes of Mehsud tribesmen through jirgas.

Now, Khan Zaman runs the powerful network of the TTP in Karachi. Other key commanders of this group are: Zikria Mehsud (head of TTP Sohrab Goth chapter), Mufti Javed, Fareed Mehsud, Landay, Muqadam Wazir and Rafiq alias Tor. They are active in suburban areas of the city including Ittehad Town, Mangophir, Kunwari Colony, Pakhtun Abad, Sohrab Goth and settlements on Super Highway, Pipri, Shah Latif Town and Gulshen-i-Buner (Landhi) areas — all of these are largely Mehsud tribe-dominated areas.


Another Taliban faction largely comprises Swati militants who are loyal to TTP Swat leader Maulana Fazlullah, the incumbent central leader of the organisation.

There was little information available about the leadership of Swati militants operating in Karachi but the CID Karachi on Feb 3 claimed that Azizullah alias Shamzai is heading Karachi network of TTP Swat faction. His deputies are Qari Shakir and Wakeel, according to the CID officials.

An intelligence official in Swat said that since 2009, notorious TTP Swat’s commander Ibn-i-Amin, of the lower Shawar area of Swat, was issuing directions to Swati militants hiding in Karachi but then he was killed in a drone attack in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency in December 2010.

Most Swati militants operating in Karachi belong to Kanju, Kabal, Matta and Charbagh sub-divisions of Swat valley. TTP Swati militants operate in Ittehad Town, Pirabad, Qasba Colony, Frontier Colony, Banaras, Metroville, Future Colony, Sherpao Colony and Gulshen-i-Buner. Unlike the Mehsud militants, Swati militants do not settle family and business disputes of the people of Malakand division.


The Mohmand chapter of TTP has also formed its organisational setup in Karachi for collecting protection money from the people belonging to Mohmand Agency.

Unlike the Mehsud and Swati militants, they did not come to Karachi under the guise of displaced people. There are two reasons for this: first, there was no massive displacement in Mohmand Agency; and second, because Mohmand tribesmen mainly choose Peshawar and Rawalpindi over Karachi.

TTP-Mohmand chief Abdul Wali, popularly known as Omar Khalid Khorasani and his deputy Qari Shakeel, developed a network and sent it to Karachi to raise funds. After killing of several leaders of the TTP Mohmand faction in Karachi by law-enforcement agencies, there is very little information about their Karachi leadership.

However, Mohmand tribal elders in Karachi claim that TTP Mohmand’s network is run by Haleem Syed. They are not concentrated in any specific areas because it is believed that their sanctuaries are in settlements on the Northern Bypass and in the Manghopir area.



By Zia Ur Rehman

October 25, 2013

A large number of Taliban militants have been killed in a recent turf war between two of their factions in the suburbs of Karachi.

Infighting between the factions of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman began when fighters loyal to Waliur Rehman killed Sher Khan, an operational commander appointed by Hakimullah Mehsud, in the Manghopir area of Karachi on August 16.

More than 10 of Hakimullah’s key men have been killed in the city since then, a Mehsud tribal elder said. Amongst them are Soor Baba, Warghoom Kay, Spin Baba and Misray, from Sohrab Goth.  The most recent of these killings took place on September 27, when local commander Mir Hatim Mehsud died in a clash in the Gulshen-e-Buner area of Landhi.

The Waliur Rehman group has expelled the Hakimullah Mehsud faction from Landhi, Sohrab Goth, Ittehad Town, and Manghopir, amongst other areas of Karachi, according to an intelligence officer monitoring TTP activities in the city.

“The fighting between the two factions is in fact part of a larger turf war,” he said. “They had developed serious differences over money they extort from the people of Karachi.”

A source associated with the Waliur Rehman faction, who identified himself as Haji, said his men were the real heirs of Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP in Karachi. He said his group consists solely of members of the Mehsud tribe, while Hakimullah’s fighters included Swati, Mohmand, Punjabi and Mohajir men.

Taliban fighters from Swat and Mohmand went underground during the military operations that began in 2009, and moved to Karachi. Key Mehsud militants from North and South Waziristan also moved to Karachi to escape relentless US drone attacks on key Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in their area. In their new homes in the Pashtun neighborhoods of Karachi, they began to form groups based on where they had come from.

The three key factions of the TTP active in Karachi are from South Waziristan, Swat and Mohmand. Their networks are especially strong in Ittehad Town, Manghopir, Kunwari Colony, Pashtunabad, Pipri, Gulshen-e-Buner, SITE Town and some settlements in Sohrab Goth.

Mehsud militants of the TTP’s South Wazisitan faction, considered more powerful and fierce than others, are further divided into two organizational groups – one loyal to TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, and the other reporting to TTP South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman, who was killed in a drone strike in Miranshah town of North Waziristan on May 29. The two groups do share the same broad agenda.

Hakimullah had appointed Qari Yar Muhammad the chief of his faction in Karachi, and the recently killed Sher Khan as the operational commander in the city. Waliur Rehman had appointed Khan Zaman Mehsud the commander of his group in Karachi.

Waliur Rehman’s successor Khan Saeed, also known as Sajna, strengthened the group in the port city after he won the support of all the Mehsud tribal elders of South Waziristan, a source said. He oversees the affairs of the Taliban in Karachi directly from Miranshah.

The Mohmand chapter of TTP has also strengthened its network in Karachi, collecting protection money from settlers belonging to Mohmand Agency. TTP Mohmand chief Abdul Wali, popularly known as Omar Khalid, and his spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand organized their network in the city to raise more funds.

In first week of October, law enforcement agencies claimed they had killed four Mohmand chapter leaders – Dr Maqbool, Abdul Rehman alias Lamboo, Kifayat, and Muhammad Sami – in two separate shootouts. Omar Khalid said in a press statement that the men were picked up from Quetta Town near Sohrab Goth and killed in fake encounter.

Another Taliban faction strong in Karachi belongs to militants from Swat loyal to TTP Malakand chief Mullah Fazlullah. Not much is known about its local leaders, but sources say it is being led by Ibn-e-Aqeel alias Khog, and Sher Muhammad alias Yaseen. Swati militants initially killed dozens of anti-Taliban elders and political leaders of Swat who were travelling to or living in Karachi. Then they began killing local ANP leaders and collecting protection money from the residents of areas in which they have influence.

ctc sentinel

Author : Zia Ur Rehman

May 23, 2013

In the run-up to Pakistan’s general elections in May 2013, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants displayed their might in the country’s largest city of Karachi. On May 3, the TTP assassinated Sadiq Zaman Khattak, a candidate from the secular Awami National Party (ANP).[1] On May 11, election day, TTP militants tried to assassinate ANP candidate Amanullah Mehsud by detonating a powerful bomb that killed 11 people in the city’s Landhi neighborhood.[2]

Far from their traditional home in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP), TTP militants have increasingly moved to this bustling commercial hub to escape Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes. Although the TTP’s movement to Karachi has been visible since at least 2009,[3] the group began to escalate violent activities in June 2012, threatening to destabilize one of Pakistan’s preeminent cities—home to the country’s central bank and stock exchange.[4] Today, evidence suggests that entire Pashtun neighborhoods in Karachi are under the influence of TTP militants.[5] In October 2012, a report submitted to Pakistan’s Supreme Court claimed that 7,000 TTP militants have infiltrated Karachi.[6]

This article identifies the various TTP factions operating in the city, explains how the TTP uses extortion to raise funds in Karachi, shows how the group is targeting secular political parties and law enforcement, and then reveals the implications of these developments. It finds that the TTP has increased its influence in Karachi and is escalating violent activities—a trend that could negatively impact Karachi’s economy and put the city’s security at risk.

The TTP’s Karachi Network
Since 2009, TTP militants have moved from FATA and the KP to Karachi. Security analysts attribute this migration to Pakistan’s military operations in the country’s northwest as well as increasingly frequent and deadly U.S. drone strikes in FATA.[7] Karachi is attractive to the TTP because it is Pakistan’s largest city—with approximately 20 million people—and is home to many different ethnic and linguistic groups, making it easier to operate clandestinely.[8] More significantly, approximately five million Pashtuns[9]—the ethnic group to which almost all Taliban belong—live in Karachi, and tribal militants can find sanctuaries in Pashtun neighborhoods.[10] A number of other militant groups operate in the city—such as Jaysh-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jammatul Furqan, Harkat-ul-Jihad-Islami, and Jundullah—some of which are sectarian in nature and generally share the TTP’s more radical outlook.[11] In the early stages of the TTP’s movement to Karachi, the group’s primary purpose was for fundraising, as well as rest and recuperation.[12] Beginning in June 2012, however, the group escalated its violent fundraising tactics and increasingly attacked secular politicians and law enforcement personnel.[13]

As TTP militants moved into Karachi, they organized into three factions: the Mehsud faction, the Swat faction and the Mohmand faction. All three factions operate from Pashtun neighborhoods in Karachi.[14] These areas include Ittehad Town, Mingophir, Kunwari Colony, Pashtun Abad, Pipri, Gulshen-e-Buner, Metrovele, Pathan Colony, Frontier Colony and settlements in the Sohrab Goth area.[15]

The most powerful TTP faction in Karachi is dominated by the Mehsud tribe of South Waziristan. The TTP Mehsud faction in Karachi is organizationally divided into two groups: one is loyal to TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, and the second one reports to TTP South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud.[16] Both leaders belong to the Mehsud tribe, and within the TTP they each have their own militias but share the same agenda.[17]

The leadership structure of the TTP Mehsud faction in Karachi is relatively unknown. TTP militants and Mehsud tribal elders, however, claim that Hakimullah Mehsud appointed Qari Yar Muhammad as the TTP’s Karachi chief and Sher Khan as the operational commander.[18] Waliur Rehman Mehsud reportedly appointed Khan Zaman Mehsud as his Karachi commander.[19] Other Karachi commanders for Waliur Rehman’s faction include Naimatullah Mehsud, Abid Mehsud and Ghazan Gul.[20] Naimatullah Mehsud, the chief for Sohrab Goth, was killed in the Lasi Goth area of Sohrab Goth during a Pakistani paramilitary operation on April 5, 2013.[21] His successor is unknown.

Both TTP Mehsud factions are active in Mehsud tribe dominated suburban neighborhoods in Karachi.[22] Before June 2012, these militants operated under the cover of political and religious parties to avoid the attention of law enforcement agencies, but now they have brazenly formed several organizations in Pashtun neighborhoods. These organizations, such as the Sohrab Goth-based Insaf Aman Committee (Committee for Justice and Peace), are increasingly arbitrating small disputes among Mehsud tribesmen over property, family feuds, and business matters according to Shari`a (Islamic law).[23] Due to the long delays of working within Pakistan’s state judicial system, some find the TTP’s arbitration methods more attractive.[24]

Another Taliban faction in Karachi is largely comprised of militants from the Swat Valley who are loyal to TTP Swat chief Maulana Fazlullah. The commander for the Swat militants in Karachi is unknown, but anti-Taliban elders in Swat allege that the Karachi-based group is mainly led by Ibn-e-Aqeel (also known as Khog) and Sher Muhammad (also known as Yaseen).[25] Both of these men are wanted by the authorities in Swat. TTP commander Ibn-e-Amin established the Karachi chapter of the TTP’s Swat faction three and a half years ago in the tribal areas.[26] A U.S. drone killed Ibn-e-Amin in the Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency in December 2010.[27]

Beginning in 2011, Swat militants killed dozens of anti-Taliban elders and political figures from Swat who were traveling to or living in Karachi.[28] In June 2012, however, they began to kill local ANP leaders in Karachi as well.[29] Sher Shah Khan, a parliamentarian elected from Swat, alleged in 2012 that “a number of other Swati political and social figures have also been killed in the streets of Karachi by militants loyal to TTP Swat chief Maulana Fazlullah.”[30]  Unlike the Mehsud faction, however, the Swat faction does not offer arbitration services to settle family and business disputes in Karachi.[31]

The Mohmand chapter of the TTP has also formed its own faction in Karachi, where it primarily extorts workers who have families in Mohmand Agency.[32] TTP Mohmand chief Abdul Wali (popularly known as Omar Khalid) and spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand developed the network to raise money.[33] Qari Shakeel, the deputy to Abdul Wali, calls the Karachi workers himself, threatening to kill their relatives in Mohmand if they refuse to pay protection money.[34] The network, led by TTP commander Haleem Syed in Karachi, has already killed several traders who refused to pay.[35]

TTP Extortion Schemes in Karachi
Since June 2012, the TTP factions in Karachi have become more brazen and violent. Dozens of truckers in Karachi whose families live in South Waziristan, Mohmand and Khyber tribal agencies have paid tens of thousands of dollars during the last year to free their family members from TTP militants.[36] As part of these extortion rackets, TTP militants often threaten a Karachi-based worker, saying that their fellow militants in FATA will kidnap or kill the worker’s family unless “protection” or ransom money is paid. Demands range from $10,000 to $50,000.[37] Many of these incidents go unreported due to threats from TTP militants.[38] In addition to these extortion rackets and kidnap-for-ransom schemes, Pashtun truckers who carry supplies from the port of Karachi on the Indian Ocean to NATO forces in Afghanistan have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in protection money to avoid being targeted by the TTP.[39]

Some argue that the TTP escalated its fundraising efforts due to a shortage of money in the wake of anti-terrorism financing measures taken by Pakistani authorities, which have restricted the TTP’s sources of income from abroad.[40] In response, TTP leaders in the tribal regions reportedly directed their Karachi-based operatives to collect funds through extortion, kidnap-for-ransom, as well as bank heists.[41] In the first four months of 2013, for example, 11 bank robberies netted approximately $800,000, and authorities believe that most of the robberies were aimed at helping the TTP as well as other groups such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.[42]

The TTP leadership in FATA monitors the fundraising campaign closely, and has punished operatives who embezzle funds. In early 2013, TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud reportedly ordered his men to kill his former Karachi leader, Sher Zaman Mehsud, for stealing money that was collected through extortion and bank robberies.[43]

Political Killings and Attacks on Law Enforcement
During the past year, the TTP has increased operations targeting secular political parties and law enforcement personnel. In June 2012, TTP operatives sent a message to the ANP’s local leaders demanding that they quit the party, take down ANP flags and posters, and close their offices.[44] According to the ANP, the TTP has killed 70 ANP leaders in Karachi since that warning.[45] Approximately 44 ANP party offices have been closed across the city, and several party leaders have left Karachi and moved to Islamabad due to persistent TTP threats.[46] In addition to targeting the ANP, the TTP has also threatened the secular Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a political party that largely represents the Urdu-speaking Muslim community.[47]

The TTP has not, however, targeted Karachi’s religious parties, such as Jamiat-i-Ulama-i-Islam-Fazlur (JUI-F). According to JUI-F candidate Mullah Karim Abid, who spoke to reporters before the May 11 polls, their campaign was not affected by the Taliban.[48] When asked about the TTP’s strong-arm tactics in the city, he replied, “Taliban? What Taliban? There are no real Taliban on the ground. All these things are fabricated by authorities.”[49]

During the recent election campaign, TTP militants attacked rallies and offices of the ANP, MQM and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in various parts of Karachi, killing and injuring dozens of people.[50] The TTP placed pamphlets at mosques and at polling stations, warning Pakistanis not to vote for the ANP, PPP and MQM candidates.[51] The group assassinated an ANP candidate on May 3, and tried to assassinate an ANP candidate on election day.[52]

TTP militants in Karachi are also targeting law enforcement. Police believe that the TTP has a “hit list” that includes police officers who have been involved in the arrests and deaths of TTP commanders and militants.[53] These police officials include Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Chaudhry Aslam Khan, Superintendent of Police Mazhar Mashwani, SSP Raja Omar Khitab, SSP Khurram Waris and SSP Farooq Awan.[54] Taliban militants have attacked the Sohrab Goth and Mangophir police stations several times, while dozens of law enforcement personnel have been killed in areas of Karachi under TTP influence.[55] According to former Sindh Police Chief Fayyaz Leghari, TTP militants and other banned outfits such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi killed 27 personnel from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Karachi police between November 1 and December 15, 2012.[56]

The TTP’s escalating violence in Karachi has major security and political implications for Pakistan. Media reports suggest that of the 20 million people living in Karachi, roughly one million live in neighborhoods where the TTP has a presence.[57] Police suspect that Taliban militants in Karachi operate in small cells, each consisting of 10-15 militants.[58] If the group’s attacks on secular society and law enforcement continue, it could threaten stability in a city that earns 60-70% of Pakistan’s national revenue.[59]

On the political front, the Taliban’s growing strength in Karachi will weaken Pakistan’s more secular political parties, especially the anti-Taliban ANP and MQM.[60] The ANP leadership claims that TTP pressure and attacks in the lead-up to election day prevented them from openly contesting the polls in Karachi, and they were forced to limit outreach activities.[61] Perhaps partly as a result of this intimidation, the ANP, which had won two seats out of 42 in Karachi in the 2008 elections, lost both of its provincial assembly seats.[62] The PPP lost two national and three provincial assembly seats that it had won in previous elections as well.[63]

Therefore, if the TTP’s Karachi network grows, it could weaken the local economy, constrain Karachi’s secular parties, and threaten the city’s overall security.[64]

Pakistani security experts, politicians, and law enforcement all agree that the TTP wants to tighten its grip on Karachi.[65] The government is still in the position to roll-back the TTP’s spreading Karachi network, yet Karachi’s police force continues to downplay the TTP threat to the city, insisting that the number of tribal militants operating in Karachi is low.[66] Analysts suspect that the police want to avoid the perception that they have failed to maintain law-and-order in the city. If Pakistan fails to confront these developments soon, the TTP’s Karachi network will weaken the city’s overall security and stability, and this will have a national impact on Pakistan.

Nevertheless, although the TTP’s influence in Karachi is alarming, the city will not “fall” to the Taliban. Karachi is home to powerful liberal secular elements, as well as progressive political parties such as the MQM, PPP and ANP.[67] It does not share a border with either Afghanistan or the tribal areas, which will at least slow the TTP’s ability to infiltrate the city. These factors will help restrain the TTP from rapid advances.

Zia Ur Rehman is a journalist and researcher who covers militancy and politics in Pakistan. He has written for The Friday Times, The Jamestown Foundation, The News International, The National and has contributed to the New York Times. He is also the author of the book Karachi in Turmoil.

[1] “Taliban Claim Responsibility: ANP Candidate, Son Shot Dead in Karachi,” Dawn, May 4, 2013.

[2] “Poll-Related Violence Claims 38 Lives,” Dawn, May 12, 2013.

[3] For the past decade, Afghan and Pakistani Taliban factions have used Karachi for fundraising purposes. After Pakistan’s military operations in the Swat Valley in 2009—as well as operations in South Waziristan Agency and Mohmand Agency—TTP militants expanded operations in Karachi. The scale of their operations increased dramatically beginning in June 2012.

[4] Karachi generates at least 60% of national revenue. For details, see Declan Walsh and Zia Ur Rehman, “Taliban Spread Terror in Karachi as the New Gang in Town,” New York Times, March 28, 2013; Zia Ur Rehman, “Taliban Bringing Their War to Streets of Karachi,” Friday Times, August 10, 2012; “Karachi Contributes 60-70pc of Revenue,” The Nation, July 25, 2010.

[5] Rehman, “Taliban Bringing Their War to Streets of Karachi.”

[6] “SC Orders IG Sindh, Officials to Submit Report on 7,000 Taliban Infiltrating Karachi,” Express Tribune, October 3, 2012; Fahim Zaman and Naziha Syed Ali, “Taliban in Karachi: The Real Story,” Dawn, March 31, 2013; “Taliban Flex Muscle in Karachi Ahead of Pakistan Vote,” Agence France-Presse, May 11, 2013.

[7] Syed Aarfeen, “Karachi Main Security Idray Baihis, Mukhbar Qatal, Intelligence Khatm Hogai,” Daily Jang [Karachi], February 2, 2013; Ali Arqam, “The Taliban in Karachi?” Pakistan Today, April 4, 2013; personal interview, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, senior Karachi police official, Karachi, Pakistan, February 25, 2013.

[8] Salman Masood, “New Exodus Fuels Concerns in Pakistan,” New York Times, May 15, 2009; personal interview, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, senior Karachi police official, Karachi, Pakistan, February 25, 2013.

[9] Farrukh Saleem, “Why Karachi is Bleeding,” The News International, October 21, 2010.

[10] Personal interview, Sohail Khattak, a journalist based in Karachi who has covered militancy in the city extensively, Karachi, Pakistan, April 12, 2013.

[11] Amir Mir, “Karachi Taken Hostage by 25 Jihadi Groups,” The News International, November 5, 2012.

[12] Zia Ur Rehman, “Taliban Recruiting and Fundraising in Karachi,” CTC Sentinel 5:7 (2012); personal interview, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, senior Karachi police official, Karachi, Pakistan, February 25, 2013; personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013.

[13] Personal interview, Shahi Syed, Sindh president of Awami National Party and a member of Pakistani Senate, Karachi, Pakistan, April 7, 2013. Syed said that before June 2012, there were only a few cases of the TTP threatening Pashtun traders and leaders at the organizational level. For more details, see Zia Ur Rehman, “Taliban Collect Funds Through Extortion, Forced Zakat, Officials Say,” Central Asia Online, August 1, 2012; personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013.

[14] Zia Ur Rehman, “Karachi Police Continue Crackdown on TTP,” Central Asia Online, December 3, 2012.

[15] Personal interview, Sohail Khattak, a journalist based in Karachi who has covered militancy in the city extensively, Karachi, Pakistan, April 12, 2013; Aarfeen.

[16] Personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013.

[17] Some media reports suggest that the two leaders are on poor terms due to prior disputes over TTP leadership succession. See “A New Pakistani Taliban Chief Emerging?” Dawn, December 6, 2012.

[18] Personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013; personal interview, former leader of the ANP from the Mehsud clan, Karachi, Pakistan, April 12, 2013.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Taliban Commander Killed in Sohrab Goth Raid,” The News International, April 6, 2013; “‘TTP Man’ Killed in Lasi Goth,” Dawn, April 6, 2013.

[22] Zaman and Ali.

[23] “‘TTP Man’ Arrested in Sohrab Goth,” Dawn, April 11, 2013; Salis bin Perwaiz, “‘Commander’ who Recruited 50 Youths for TTP Arrested,” The News International, April 11, 2013.

[24] Personal interview, Ali Muhammad, Pashtun transporter in Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan, April 12, 2013; “‘TTP Man’ Arrested in Sohrab Goth”; “Pakistan Taliban Setup Sharia Courts in Karachi,” The News Tribe, January 31, 2013; Ahmed Wali Mujeeb, “How the Taliban Gripped Karachi,” BBC, March 21, 2013.

[25] Zia Ur Rehman, “Karachi Targeted Killings of Pashtuns Tied to Militant Groups,” Central Asia Online, April 1, 2011.

[26] Personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013.

[27] “Extremist Commander Killed in Khyber,” The News International, December 20, 2010.

[28] Rehman, “Karachi Targeted Killings of Pashtuns Tied to Militant Groups.”

[29] Personal interview, Shahi Syed, Sindh president of Awami National Party and a member of Pakistani Senate, Karachi, Pakistan, April 7, 2013; Javed Mahmood, “TTP Warns ANP Workers to Quit Party,” Central Asia Online, July 7, 2013; Sohail Khattak, “Settling Scores: Taliban on a Killing Spree in Karachi,” Express Tribune, August 16, 2012.

[30] Rehman, “Taliban Bringing their War to Streets of Karachi.”

[31] Personal interview, TTP associate in Karachi who identified himself as “Mohsin,” Karachi, Pakistan, April 8, 2013.

[32] Ali Arqam, “The Taliban in Karachi?” Pakistan Today, April 4, 2013.

[33] Rehman, “Taliban Bringing Their War to Streets of Karachi.”

[34] Ibid.

[35] Personal interview, timber trader in Karachi from Mohmand Agency, Karachi, Pakistan, April 10, 2013.

[36] Rehman, “Taliban Recruiting and Fundraising in Karachi.”

[37] The ransom amounts are reportedly negotiable, but payment is not. See Walsh and Rehman.

[38] Personal interview, Pashtun transporter in Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan, April 12, 2013.

[39] Ibid.; Saeed Shah, “Sprawling Karachi Becomes an Islamic Extremist Melting Pot,” McClatchy Newspapers, June 9, 2010.

[40] Personal interview, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, senior Karachi police official, Karachi, Pakistan, February 25, 2013; Javed Mahmood, “Pakistani Banks to Issue Alerts About Suspicious Transactions,” Central Asia Online, September 9, 2012.

[41] Saud Khan, “Rs 76.4m Looted in 11 Bank Heists This Year,” Daily Times, May 2, 2013; “‘Taliban Bank Robber’ Held,” The News International, May 8, 2013.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Karachi: Taliban nay Raqam ke Tanazeh par apnay commander ka sar qalam kardia, Express to video Mosool,” Daily Express [Karachi], March 11, 2013.

[44] Maqbool Ahmed and Mansoor Khan, “Troubled North-West Comes to Town,” Herald, December 16, 2012.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Personal interview, Shahi Syed, Sindh president of Awami National Party and a member of Pakistani Senate, Karachi, Pakistan, April 7, 2013.

[47] Urdu-speaking Muslims migrated to Pakistan when the country became independent from the British in 1947, and they largely settled in Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh Province. The MQM has openly denounced the TTP in the past. See Zahir Shah Sherazi, “Pakistan Taliban Threaten to Target MQM,” Dawn, November 2, 2012; “Pakistani Taliban Claim Responsibility for MQM MPA’s Killing,” Dawn, January 17, 2013.

[48] “Taliban Flex Muscle in Karachi Ahead of Pakistan Vote.”

[49] Ibid.

[50] “Taliban Attack on ANP Meeting Kills Ten in Karachi,” Dawn, April 26, 2013; Imran Kazmi, “Attacks on MQM, PPP in Karachi; Five Killed,” Dawn, April 28, 2013.

[51] “Plan B for ANP Candidates: Live the Country,” Express Tribune, May 11, 2013.

[52] Mansoor Khan, “Taliban Bullets Kill ANP Candidate, Son in Karachi,” The Nation, May 4, 2013; Salis Bin Perwaiz, “Explosions Rock Karachi; Punjab, KP Remain Relatively Peaceful,” The News International, May 12, 2013.

[53] Zia Ur Rehman, “Karachi Police Determined to Eliminate Terror Network,” Central Asia Online, December 12, 2012.

[54] Personal interview, Chaudhry Aslam Khan, senior Karachi police official, Karachi, Pakistan, February 25, 2013; “Police Officers Were Receiving Threats from Terrorists in Karachi: Sources,” Samaa TV, September 19, 2011.

[55] Aarfeen.

[56] Zia Ur Rehman, “Karachi Police Determined to Eliminate Terror Network.”

[57] Zaman and Ali.

[58] Ibid.

[59] “Karachi Contributes 60-70pc of Revenue.”

[60] Ali K. Chishti, “Terror Threat Looms in Karachi,” Friday Times, April 12-18, 2013.

[61] Personal interview, Younas Khan, an ANP candidate contesting elections from Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan, May 10, 2013.

[62] Ibid.; Tahir Hasan Khan, “PPP and ANP Lose their Share in City,” The News International, May 13, 2013.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Personal interview, Abdul Waheed, president of Bright Education Society, an NGO working in Pashtun neighborhoods of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan, April 16, 2013.

[65] Personal interview, Shahi Syed, Sindh president of Awami National Party and a member of Pakistani Senate, Karachi, Pakistan, April 7, 2013.

[66] Aarfeen.

[67] Personal interview, Muhammad Nafees, a Karachi-based independent security analyst, Karachi, Pakistan, April 16, 2013.

CTCSentinel-Vol6Iss5 (2)

by Zia Ur Rehman

Aug 10-16, 2012

Taliban militants have brought their war to the streets of Karachi, threatening key leaders of the Pashtun-dominated secular-leaning Awami National Party (ANP) and raising funds through extortions, killing those who refuse to pay.

Leaders of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have recently threatened to kill Pashtuns from the Mehsud tribe living in Karachi if they do not leave the ANP. The threats came from people linked with Waliur Rehman Mehsud, chief of TTP’s South Waziristan chapter, party sources said.

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city, and about 5 million of its estimated 18 million residents are Pashtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Balochistan. A large number of Pashtuns migrated to the city after unrest and violence in northern Pakistan since the war on terror began in 2001. After the killing of key Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in drone attacks and military operations, a number of militants have also fled to Karachi in recent years, security experts and police officials say.

Although there are several Karachi-based militant outfits associated with Al Qaeda and Taliban consisting mainly of non-Pashtun members, militants from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have recently been found involved in extortion and seeking protection money from Pashtun traders and transporters, and are believed to have killed a number of rival political figures.

“In the beginning, the militants from the tribal areas did not get involved in subversive activities. This was in line with a TTP policy to use Karachi only for fundraising and rest and recuperation,” said a tribal elder based in Sohrab Goth. “But now they seem to have changed their strategy.”

Taking advantage of the ongoing ethnic violence in the city, militants belonging to TTP’s Swat chapter killed dozens of elders and political figures of Swat who were travelling to or living in Karachi.

On June 18, Sher Ali Khan, head of the Swat Qaumi Ittehad and chairman of the Pakistan Seamen’s Union, was killed in the Frontier Colony area. His relatives blamed his death on Swati militants hiding in the city. Some of his family members, especially his nephew, former councilor Malik Riaz, were killed by the Taliban when they controlled Swat.

On January 5, Saeed Ahmed Khan, district president of ANP, was killed in an attack on his house in the Metroville area of SITE Town. Belonging to Manja village of Swat’s Kabal tehsil, he was an influential political figure in both Swat and Karachi. One of the attackers shot dead by a police constable assigned to Saeed Khan’s security was identified as Aminullah, a fugitive TTP Swat militant.

“A number of other Swati political and social figures have also been killed in the streets of Karachi by militants loyal to TTP Swat chief Maulana Fazlullah,” said Sher Shah Khan, a parliamentarian elected from Swat.

The militant group involved in the killings of pro-government elders of Swat in Karachi is mainly led by Ibn-e-Aqeel alias Khog, and Sher Muhammad alias Yaseen. Both are among the most wanted people in Swat. The task of these assassinations was assigned to them two and half years ago by TTP commander Ibn-e-Amin, of the lower Shawar area of Swat. Ibn-e-Amin – among the most dangerous militant commanders in Swat and linked with Al Qaeda – was killed in a drone attack in Tirah valley of Khyber Agency in December 2010.

Another militant group active in Karachi is loyal to TTP South Waziristan chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud, led in the city by Khan Zaman. In the beginning, they were believed to be involved in extortion from Mehsud tribesmen from South Waziristan who run transport and heavy machinery businesses in Karachi. The sum they asked for ranged from Rs1 million to Rs5 million.

But recently, they have started threatening the people from the Mehsud tribe to leave the ANP. “Most of the party’s offices in Sohrab Goth, Mingopir, Kunwari Colony, Pashtunabad and New Sultanabad have been closed down after the threats, and party members belonging to the Mehsud clan have gone underground,” a provincial leader of the ANP said. He requested anonymity for security reasons.

Mehsud tribesmen living in Karachi are seen as supporters of the ANP. Two of the party’s elected members of Sindh Assembly also belong to the Mehsud tribe. Although the ANP was the main target of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and had lost scores of party workers and lawmakers in attacks carried out by TTP because of their opposition to militancy and extremism, their Karachi leaders have never been threatened by Taliban groups before.

The Mohmand chapter of TTP has also formed a cell in Karachi for collecting protection money from the people belonging to Mohmand Agency. The network was developed by TTP Mohmand chief Omar Khalid and spokesman Ikramullah Mohmand to raise funds, said an elder from the Mohmand agency. Qari Shakeel, deputy to Omar Khalid, calls the traders himself, demanding money, he added. The network, led by TTP commander Yousaf Khan Mian in Karachi, has killed several traders who refused to pay, the elder said. Mohmand tribesmen based in Karachi usually sell timber and construction material.

Taliban militants are also involved in the July 17 attack on a WHO doctor and a July 20 slaying of a local community activist working with Polio eradication campaign in Sohrab Goth area, police say.

Mazshar Mashwani, a senior official at the Crime Investigation Department (CID), said Taliban militants hiding in Karachi had been killing ANP leaders and CID personnel for the last few months. “A group of TTP consisting of 9 or 10 militants has become active in the remits of SITE, Pirabad and Mingophir police stations, and killed several ANP and CID men,” he said. The militants, he said, were also carrying out fundraising through kidnapping for ransom, extortion and other means. Several CID and Rangers personnel involved in a crackdown against Taliban militants were killed in Pashtun dominated areas of Karachi in the last few weeks.

Experts and tribal elders say law-enforcement agencies should launch a “selective and surgical” operation in Karachi against militants who are hiding in the city.

A number of Taliban suspects have been arrested for murder, extortion and abduction in the last three months, according to news reports. They include Nazeerullah Mehsud (July 25), Faisal Mehsud and Khan Mohammad alias Sajid (July 2), Jahangir Khan Akakhel (June 9) and Muhammad Yaseen Mehsud alias Naib-Commander (May 28).

Police have also killed Omar Khitab, a key TTP leader, in a July 27 encounter. Khitab, belonging to South Waziristan, used to collect forced donations from Pashtun traders in Karachi, said Chaudhry Bashir, in charge of Mingophir police station.

The writer is a journalist and researcher and currently writing a book titled ‘Karachi in Turmoil’. Email: