TTP shows 'desperation for attention' by falsely claiming Singh's slaying

By Zahir Shah


KP minority leader Sardar Soran Singh's alleged killers are shown in police custody in Peshawar April 25. [Zahir Shah]

PESHAWAR -- The badly weakened Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is flailing for attention, as revealed by its false claims of responsibility for every major act of violence occurring in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), officials and security analysts say.

The TTP took responsibility on its website for killing KP minority leader Sardar Soran Singh in Buner District April 22.

That claim turned out to be false, police say. The suspected slayers soon confessed to police and said their motivation was political, Malakand Range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Azad Khan told Central Asia Online.

The TTP's phony claim demonstrates its desperation and attempt to inflate its relevance, KP officials and security analysts stay.

Instead of terrorists, four hired assassins working for accused plotter Baldev Kumar, a district councillor affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, assassinated Singh, DIG Khan said.

"Police carried out a quick scientific investigation that disproved the TTP's claim," Khan said. "The suspected shooters confessed to killing Singh on Kumar's behest."

Kumar was angry that Singh beat him out in 2013 for a KP Assembly seat set aside for minorities, police say.

TTP frustrated by recent defeats

Recent defeats by the military are leaving the TTP unable to make good on its threats, observers say.

The terrorist movement has never recovered from Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a two-year-long offensive that the army mounted in North Waziristan, starting in June 2014.

"The TTP's claim [to have killed Singh] looks like a sign of frustration," KP Assembly member Nighat Orakzai, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party, told Central Asia Online. "Its abilities have been greatly reduced by military operations."

The TTP's lies about killing Singh show that "it just wanted to live through the media by claiming every incident", Mukhtar Bacha, president of the KP chapter of the Balochistan-based National Party, told Central Asia Online.

Not the 1st time

The Singh episode is not the first time that the TTP has bragged about something it did not do, A. Z. Hilali, a professor in the University of Peshawar Political Science Department, told Central Asia Online.

"In the past, the TTP, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Jamatul Ahrar, Jundullah and many groups have all taken responsibility for the same attack," he said. "The recent incident indicates that the militants' survival lies in publicity. This time they tried to cash in on Soran Singh's death, but they failed."

"The terrorists appear to be on a ventilator," Arshad Mehmood of Peshawar, leader of the KP chapter of the Islamabad-based NGO Strengthening Participatory Organisation, told Central Asia Online. "They are looking for new life by claiming such attacks."

Jaffar Shah, an Awami National Party-affiliated member of the KP Assembly, agreed with such views.

His party, which vigorously opposes militancy, has suffered many assassinations over the years.

"Militant groups are resorting to gimmicks to ... make the people feel their presence," he told Central Asia Online.

Shattered in the countryside and in the cities

The TTP is showing how headless and directionless it is, Shugafta Riat of Peshawar, an employee of the KP NGO Community Welfare Organisation, told Central Asia Online.

"First, Operation Zarb-e-Azb rooted them out of their tribal havens," she said. "Now the National Action Plan [NAP, a counter-terrorism strategy in effect since December 2014] has severed their chains of support in the big cities."

"NAP has almost wiped them out," she continued. "That's why they tried to use Soran Singh's murder to get attention."

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