Speaking to the media today, a commander for Afghanistan’s Taliban, the nation’s governing faction before the 2001 US invasion, insisted that his group is not only completely distinct from the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but that they have no association with one another.
“Afghan Taliban leaders have not crossed the border,” commander Toor Jan insisted, saying his group are only targeting coalition and NATO forces, and are operating only inside Afghanistan.
The TTP, which is alternatively called the “Pakistani Taliban” in some reports, has likewise gone out of its way to distant itself from the Afghan Taliban, and the two groups have often had conflicting goals.
Even within Pakistan, the term “Taliban” (simply the plural of the Pashto word for religious students) is used in the name of a variety of Pashtun organizations, and a Mohmand group with Taliban in their name angrily complained over the summer that the TTP was causing confusion with them. The TTP has also had its share of name disputes, pressuring the Fidayeen-e Islam, the group which attacked the Islamabad Marriot last year, to change its name because they have an auxiliary group that also has that name.
Since most (though not all) of the groups with Taliban in their name are banned, they cannot exactly register for trademarks over the term “Taliban,” which is increasingly being used as a generic identifier for conservative Pashtun religious organizations (including the TNSM, the Tehreek-e Nifaz-e Shariat-e Mohammadi, which doesn’t even have Taliban in its name).
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