Pakistan Taliban reject ISIS leader’s claim to be ‘caliph’
The Pakistani Taliban operate separately from the Afghan insurgents of the same name, but are loosely aligned with them
Pakistan’s Taliban have rejected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s claim to be the global leader of all Muslims, the movement said in a statement seen by Reuters on Saturday.
The Pakistani Taliban's statement comes after a similar rejection by the Afghan Taliban following pledges of allegiance from low-level commanders of both Islamist movements to the Middle East-based ISIS.
Last year, ISIS, an al-Qaeda offshoot, proclaimed its leader as "caliph" - the head of the state. Al-Baghdadi aspires to establish a global caliphate with himself at its head.
The latest statement from the Pakistani Taliban comes amid speculation that the movement’s leadership, whose goal is to topple the government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif and set up a sharia state, is actually wary of ISIS, which is driven by different ambitions that have little to do with South Asia.
“Baghdadi is not Khalifa (caliph) because in Islam, Khalifa means that he has command over all the Muslim world, while Baghdadi has no such command; he has command over a specific people and territory,” the Pakistan Taliban said in a statement.
“Baghdadi is not an Islamic Khalifa because his selection is not according to Islamic rules,” the statement said, adding that the ISIS leader had little control in Muslim countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban operate separately from the Afghan insurgents of the same name, but are loosely aligned with them.
Late last year, a few breakaway factions of the Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to ISIS and ordered militants across the region to join its campaign to set up a global Islamic caliphate.
Pakistani authorities say ISIS has no financial ties with any Pakistani group. But there are concerns about further turmoil in the region as U.S.-led foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan, with groups like the Haqqani network and ISIS likely to exploit the security vacuum.
The entry of ISIS, while its numbers remain small, will also complicate Pakistan's fight against indigenous Islamist militants fighting to overthrow the government.
The Pakistani Taliban have been beset by bitter internal rivalries in the recent past, with the influential Mehsud tribal faction of the group refusing to accept the authority of Mullah Fazlullah, who came to power in late 2013.
ISIS, in an effort to extend its global reach, could exploit these rivalries to its advantage, wading into a region ripe with fierce anti-Western ideology and full of young unemployed men ready to take up guns and fight for Islam.
In its latest statement, the Pakistani Taliban, like the Afghan Taliban, also condemn the ‘barbarity’ of ISIS’s rule.
“Baghdadi’s caliphate is not Islamic because in a real caliphate you provide real justice while Baghdadi’s men kill many innocent mujahideen (fighters) of other groups,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, the Afghan Taliban sent a letter to al-Baghdadi to stop recruiting in Afghanistan, saying there is room for only “one flag, one leadership” in their fight to re-establish strict Islamist rule.
Pakistan hangs four convicted of Taliban massacre at schoolMen were responsible for killing 134 children at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar last year Gulf
Pakistan and Afghan leaders vow to resume Taliban peace talksA statement by Pakistan's government outlined it would work alongside the Afghan government against 'those who refuse to take the path of peace' Gulf
Pakistan anti-Taliban hero dies aged 89Prominent Pashtun leader Afzal Khan Lala was feted nationwide after his stand in Swat Gulf
Pakistan says cannot kill Taliban while inviting them to peace talksPM Nawaz Sharif was apparently referring to U.S. calls for Pakistan to crack down on Taliban and other militant sanctuaries within Pakistan Gulf
U.S., Pakistan call for Taliban to return to talksSome in Washington believe Pakistan has not done enough to bring its influence to bear and to persuade the group to renounce violence Gulf
Pakistan PM pushes new peace talks with Afghan TalibanIslamabad organized the first set of direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in July Gulf
Taliban storm mosque, kill 16 during attack on Pakistan baseThe attack triggered an hours-long firefight with Pakistani troops at the base, during which an officer and two guards were also killed Gulf
Nobel winner Malala opens school for Syrian refugeesMalala became a symbol of defiance after she was shot on a school bus in Pakistan 2012 by the Taliban for advocating girls' rights to education Variety