Taliban, Pak Punjab terror groups' coalition fast turning into a 'witches' brew': Experts

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New York, May 7 (ANI): When it was being believed that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been dealt a heavy blow by the Pakistan Army and continuous US drone strikes, the extremist outfit seems to have survived through all attempts to dismantle its terror network by aligning with other splinter groups, specially those which operate from Pakistan's Punjab province and have India on top of their 'jihad' hit list, officials and analysts said.

The Taliban and several other smaller terror groups operating from Pakistan's terror safe havens have joined hands together which has made it difficult to distinguish between them, and the coalition has virtually become a "witches' brew."

The recent arrest of an American civilian of Pakistani origin, Faisal Shahzad over his alleged role in plotting the bungled New York bombing, and subsequent investigation suggesting him having links with the Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM), a terror group which primarily targets India, presents a very dangerous emerging picture.

"They (Pakistan based terror groups) trade bomb makers and people around. It's becoming this witches' brew," The New York Times quoted a senior US intelligence official, as saying during an interview earlier this week.

The official said that in recent years the overall ability and lethality of these groups had dropped, but the threat to countries like the US had increased because they cooperate against a range of targets.

Experts pointed out that the Taliban, on its own, did not have any international agenda, but as it has become the local partner of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan its reach has certainly expanded.

"The Taliban is the local partner of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. It has no capacity for an international agenda on its own," said Amir Rana, director, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

One of the most dangerous and disturbing element in this coalition of terror groups is the addition of militants from the Punjab province.

The Punjabi terror groups were originally fathered and funded by the country's military to run a proxy war against India, and support the Kashmir 'struggle.'

"The Punjabi groups have surpassed many of their peers in the technical ability and the viciousness of their attacks. But members can often move among the groups or be members of groups simultaneously. They cross-fertilize each other," the newspaper quoted Rana, as explaining.

The newspaper pointed out that it should not be surprising if links between Times Square would be bomber (Faisal Shahzad) and these Punjabi groups, which use the education system, mosques and religious parties to recruit for Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are established. (ANI)

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