PR Editorials

End of Omar Khalid Khorasani: Will Punjab sleep in peace? Will the JuA disintegrate?

Photo: The Express Tribune

Another Taliban leader was killed by an American drone. Omar Khalid Khorasani, the leader of Jamaat ul Ahrar (JuA) was confirmed dead. 

Khorasani, born as Abdul Wali in the Mohmand Agency in the FATA, was one of the founder commanders of the Pakistani Taliban. Leadership issues within the TTP after the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in November 2013 (by another drone), resulted in he leaving the TTP along with other fighters to form the JuA. According to reports, he differed with Fazlullah, who took over the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban on many counts – especially in having any dialogue with the Pakistani State.

After Khorasani’s killing, will Punjab sleep in peace? Khorasani had links with the sectarian militants from Punjab through another organization – Ahrar ul Hind. The latter merged into JuA in 2014; perhaps providing the much needed outreach for Khorasani into the Punjab heartland, especially Lahore. The Wagah attack (November 2014), attacks on two Churches in Lahore (March 2015), Easter Suicide bombing of a park in Lahore (March 2016), and Suicide attack on Mall Road in Lahore (February 2017) were some of the major attacks by the JuA in Lahore. 

Will JuA disintegrate? Much will depend on who will take over the JuA leadership after Khorasani. Given the sociological nature of the FATA society and its militant commanders, replacing a leader has never been an issue. From the days of Nek Mohammad, there has been a steady flow of militant commanders from below, filling the leadership. There has never been a vacuum at the top level within the Pakistani Taliban. There were too many leaders, sometimes leading to an internal power struggle; however, the new leader has always been able to consolidate his position. 


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