Associates of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and intelligence officials in Islamabad say Mehsud’s position is tenuous following the defection of one of his top commanders last week, Pakistan’s Express Tribune daily newspaper.

The defecting commander, Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who was the Taliban leader in the Kurram region on the Afghan border, told Reuters in late June that he left over the group’s “brutal” attacks on civilians. Haqqani has pledged to fight against the Pakistani Taliban and U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

“It looks as though he is just a figurehead now,” the Express Tribune quoted one of Mehsud’s associates as saying of the Pakistani Taliban commander.

“He can hardly communicate with his commanders in other parts of the tribal areas … he is in total isolation. Only a few people within the TTP know where he is.”

The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is an umbrella alliance of about 12 militant factions strung out through the northwestern Pashtun lands along the border.