TTP chief: ‘Open to guidance’ from Ulema

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Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, chief of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has said that his group is “open to guidance” from Pakistan’s religious scholars if they believe “the direction of our jihad” is wrong.

In a video message addressed to the religious scholars, Noor Wali Mehsud, who also uses the nom de guerre of Abu Mansour Asim, sought to justify the TTP’s violent campaign against “the international agenda of infidel forces” which started in the region after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

“If you find any problem in the jihad that we waged [against this global infidel agenda], if you believe we have changed our direction, that we have gone astray, then you’re requested to guide us. We’re always ready to listen to your arguments happily,” the TTP chief said, calling his audience “our elders, our teachers, and our religious guides”.

“But if you agree that our direction is right but don’t want to speak up in our support due to expediencies, then I request you not to call us terrorists or misguided, the names given to us by the enemy,” said Mufti Noor Wali, who has been hiding in TTP’s safe haven across the border in Afghanistan. “We will consider your silence as our support.”

The video statement came amid an uptick in terrorist violence in the country with the government ruling out resumption of negotiations with the TTP which publicly tore up a ceasefire agreement in November, last year, to step up its bloody campaign.

“We held talks with Pakistan’s government through the mediation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for one year,” the TTP chief said before seeking to shift the blame for the “revenge and retaliatory attacks” of his group on the Pakistan government while insisting that they have yet not scrapped the truce.