In a speech repeatedly broadcast over the past two days on the radio, Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud has cautioned against fleeing from the battlefield, insisting that no member of the group could leave without permission from their commander.
Hakimullah, who replaced former leader Baitullah Mehsud in August, said militants with the group have a religious duty to continue fighting against the Pakistani government. He cautioned that deserters were coward and “will go to hell and that is a very bad place.”
The TTP’s primary base of operations, the South Waziristan Agency, has been under direct attack for several weeks by the Pakistani military, which is reportedly encountering heavy resistance.
It is unclear how this relates to comments by TTP spokesman Azam Tariq about “tactical retreats” in South Waziristan. Hakimullah may be attempting to discourage such tactics, or he may simply be making it clear to his followers that those decisions are to be made only by the group’s leadership.