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Abdullah Mehsud Abdullah Mehsud Taliban Afghanistan/South Asia 20050811  

India-Pakistan
Karachi hitman who established 'reign of terror' killed in encounter: Rangers
2019-12-22
[DAWN] An alleged hitman who had established a "reign of terror" in several areas of Bloody Karachi
...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It is among the largest cities in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous...
was killed on Saturday in an "encounter" with law enforcement agencies, a Rangers spokesperson said.

According to the Rangers spokesperson, the paramilitary force and police jointly conducted a raid in Manghopir area on a tip-off about the presence of criminal elements. The alleged gangster and his associates opened fire on law enforcers when they reached the area.

The spokesperson said that following the encounter, the law enforcers arrested the "hitman", Abdullah Mehsud, and his two accomplices, Shairullah alias Sheena and Mohammed Sohail, in an injured state. Two other accomplices managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness, he added.

The three injured suspects were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where doctors pronounced Mehsud dead on arrival. Later on, the remaining two were shifted to Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for further treatment.

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India-Pakistan
Four Afghan Taliban arrested in Balochistan, security forces claim
2014-10-27
[DAWN] Security forces apprehended four Afghan Taliban near Zhob district of Balochistan
...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it...
on Sunday.

A security official who requested anonymity told Dawn that the forces jugged
Drop the heater, Studs, or you're hist'try!
the Afghan Taliban along the Zhob Dera Ismail Khan
... the Pearl of Pashtunistan ...
road. The Afghan Taliban, who were found to be injured, were apparently moving to Beautiful Downtown Peshawar
...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire.
for medical treatment when their vehicle was intercepted by law enforcement agencies.

The forces shifted the apprehended Taliban for interrogation to some holy man's guesthouse an undisclosed location. They were later handed over to police and a case was registered against them. The condition of the injured Taliban was yet to be ascertained, the security official said.

The Taliban were identified as Mohammad Bashir, Maulana Noor-ul-Haq, Maulavi Maqbool and Mohammad Ismail.

Zhob's borders extend along both Pakistain's tribal belt and neighbouring Afghanistan. In 2007, a top Pak Taliban capo Abdullah Mehsud was killed in security forces' operation Zhob.

Security was tightened in and around Zhob as operation Zarb-e-Azb
..the Pak offensive against Qaeda in Pakistain and the Pak Taliban in North Wazoo. The name refers to the sword of the Prophet (PTUI!)...
was launched by armed forces in the volatile North Wazoo tribal region to stop the flow of hard boyz into the bordering town of Balochistan province.
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India-Pakistan
Militants seeking berth in parliament: minister
2012-11-29
[Dawn] The Beautiful Downtown Peshawar
...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire.
High Court on Tuesday directed the provincial government to end the suspension of former Bannu Commissioner Abdullah Mehsud and appoint him to an office of his grade.

The directions were issued by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth during the hearing into a petition of Mr Mehsud, who was suspended over the April 2012 escape of over 300 prisoners from Bannu Jail after a Death Eater attack, for restoration of his service.

The bench observed that under the Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules, a government official couldn't be placed under suspension for more than six months and since the petitioner had been suspended for more than that period, he should be reinstated to the service.

It observed that an official had already been posted to the Bannu commissioner's office and therefore, the government should appoint the petitioner to some other office of his grade.

The bench later admitted the petition to full hearing and gave 20 days to the provincial government for compliance with its directions.

During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the bench had conducted a judicial inquiry into the April 15, 2012 Bannu jailbreak and its findings were startling.

He observed that the inquiry revealed that the attackers had reached Bannu from Mir Ali in North Wazoo Agency after crossing eight checkposts of law-enforcement agencies and that they were armed with modern weapons, including rocket propelled grenades.

The chief justice observed that the inquiry also revealed that messages about attackers were conveyed to law-enforcement agencies but they didn't respond.

When the chief justice asked the petitioner why he had not responded to the attack, he replied that he was informed by the relevant telephone operator that it was a normal attack.

The bench observed how an attack on a prison could be declared a normal attack.

Jehanzeb Mehsud, lawyer for the petitioner, said he was first suspended by the government on May 28 for three months and his suspension was extended on Aug 26 for three months.

He said several officers were suspended over the jailbreak and they were restored and appointed to different posts but the petitioner continued to be under suspension.

The lawyer said there was no lapse on part of the petitioner over the jailbreak.
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India-Pakistan
Official removed after jailbreak restored
2012-11-29
[Dawn] The Beautiful Downtown Peshawar
...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire.
High Court on Tuesday directed the provincial government to end the suspension of former Bannu Commissioner Abdullah Mehsud and appoint him to an office of his grade.

The directions were issued by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth during the hearing into a petition of Mr Mehsud, who was suspended over the April 2012 escape of over 300 prisoners from Bannu Jail after a turban attack, for restoration of his service.

The bench observed that under the Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules, a government official couldn't be placed under suspension for more than six months and since the petitioner had been suspended for more than that period, he should be reinstated to the service.

It observed that an official had already been posted to the Bannu commissioner's office and therefore, the government should appoint the petitioner to some other office of his grade.

The bench later admitted the petition to full hearing and gave 20 days to the provincial government for compliance with its directions.

During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the bench had conducted a judicial inquiry into the April 15, 2012 Bannu jailbreak and its findings were startling.

He observed that the inquiry revealed that the attackers had reached Bannu from Mir Ali in North Wazoo Agency after crossing eight checkposts of law-enforcement agencies and that they were armed with modern weapons, including rocket propelled grenades.

The chief justice observed that the inquiry also revealed that messages about attackers were conveyed to law-enforcement agencies but they didn't respond.

When the chief justice asked the petitioner why he had not responded to the attack, he replied that he was informed by the relevant telephone operator that it was a normal attack.

The bench observed how an attack on a prison could be declared a normal attack.

Jehanzeb Mehsud, lawyer for the petitioner, said he was first suspended by the government on May 28 for three months and his suspension was extended on Aug 26 for three months.

He said several officers were suspended over the jailbreak and they were restored and appointed to different posts but the petitioner continued to be under suspension.

The lawyer said there was no lapse on part of the petitioner over the jailbreak.
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India-Pakistan
Why Pakistani Taliban matter
2012-07-02
[Dawn] UNLIKE the Afghan Taliban, the international community does not appear keen to engage the Pak Taliban in talks.

The emphasis in western and regional capitals is on reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban and that obviously forms part of the NATO
...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A collection of multinational and multilingual and multicultural armed forces, all of differing capabilities, working toward a common goal by pulling in different directions...
exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Although there is little reason so far to be optimistic about the future of engaging with the Afghan Taliban, at least weighing the different options is under way. One may be excused for concluding that the western and regional capitals consider the burden of sorting out the Pak Taliban to be Islamabad's alone.

The security, strategic, political and ideological implications of the post-NATO scenario in the region and the future of the Pak Taliban is not getting the deserved attention in Islamabad's policy circles. No rationale for this attitude is available, except for the ambiguous threat perception about the Pak Taliban, especially amid false notions of their reconcilability and the externalisation of the threat.

In that context, there is a need to identify the potential of the Pak Taliban and their strength, which may help remove any ambiguities in threat perception. The Pak Taliban's main strength lies in their ideological bond with Al Qaeda and their connection with the Islamisation discourse in Pakistain. They gain political and moral legitimacy by associating themselves with the Afghan Taliban. Their tribal and ethnic ties provide social space and acceptance among a segment of society.

At their core, the Pak Taliban espouse Deobandi sectarian teachings. This commonality allows them to function under a single umbrella, even though their political interpretation of Deobandi principles is at times not monolithic. As a group, they maintain a dogmatic stance by espousing an interpretation that is intolerant of all other Moslem sects.

This ought to isolate the Taliban from the majority of Paks who adhere to the Barelvi tradition. In reality, this was only
partially the case when the insurgency began as the Pak Taliban craftily created a narrative around their movement that found sympathy across the sectarian divide. They strove to portray their struggle as one aiming at driving out foreign 'occupation' forces from Afghanistan in the short run, and all 'infidel' forces from Moslem lands in the long run.

By doing so, they not only tied in with transnational jihadi groups in a material sense but also presented themselves as ideologically similar. More tangibly, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistain (TTP) leadership, especially its first head Baitullah Mehsud, also tried to portray the outfit as an operation under Mullah Omar
... a minor Pashtun commander in the war against the Soviets who made good as leader of the Taliban. As ruler of Afghanistan, he took the title Leader of the Faithful. The imposition of Pashtunkhwa on the nation institutionalized ignorance and brutality already notable for its own fair share of ignorance and brutality...
's Afghan Taliban. Every cut-thoat faction that wished to join the TTP had to take an oath of commitment to the enforcement of the Sharia and of allegiance to Mullah Omar. By doing so, Baitullah hoped to gain more legitimacy and further portray his struggle as Afghanistan-focused.

Baitullah knew that existing as an overt anti-Pakistain group aiming to target the Pak state would quickly generate a consensus against his activities, and therefore he used the TTP's ideological, ethnic and sociopolitical ties with the Afghan Taliban to stress a natural cohesion between their operations and goals. This strategy was also instrumental in attracting other sectarian groups, such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
... a 'more violent' offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistain. LeJ's purpose in life is to murder anyone who's not of utmost religious purity, starting with Shiites but including Brelvis, Ahmadis, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Rosicrucians, and just about anyone else you can think of. They are currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of al-Qaeda ...
(LJ), and splinter groups of Kashmire-oriented outfits to work closely with the TTP.

The Pak Taliban not only had a well-defined ideological base, the geo-strategic milieu also worked in their favour.

While the Pak Taliban may not enjoy moral or political support from neighbouring states, they have strong connections with non-state actors in those territories, which allow them to thrive despite opposition from the Pak state.

The TTP has connections with smugglers and mafias in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistain, and have support from international terrorist networks, including Al Qaeda. Coupled with the Pak state's belief that the conflict in Afghanistan is upsetting the regional power balance in favour of its adversaries, and that the war is entertaining covert wars of international and regional spy agencies and players, it has distracted the counterinsurgency focus.

Another strategic advantage for the Taliban has been its dynamic leadership; evident especially in the case of killed leaders such as Nek Muhammad, Abdullah Mehsud, Baitullah Mehsud, as well as the current TTP head Hakeemullah Mehsud, who emerged as a 'charismatic strategist'. Hakeemullah also quickly realised the benefit in associating himself with global terrorism rings, and used it as a means to enhance his own and his outfit's stature.

Hakeemullah's appearance in 2009 in a video with a Jordanian jacket wallah, who later killed several CIA agents in the Afghan province of Khost
...which coincidentally borders North Wazoo and Kurram Agency...
, put his name on the list of high-value cut-thoat targets for the US. This endorsed his stature as a worthy successor to Baitullah. Similarly, TTP's fingerprints on the failed Time Square bombing by Pak-born Faisal Shehzad in May 2010 elevated the TTP's stature as a group that could directly threaten America on its own soil.

The challenge for the Pak state is complex, with dire implications for the country's internal security. Al Qaeda, the TTP and cut-thoat groups in Punjab, Bloody Karachi
...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous...
and elsewhere have developed a nexus. Splinter groups of banned Death Eaters organizations or emerging groups have been involved in the recent wave of terror in mainland Pakistain.

These groups, tagged as the 'Punjabi Taliban', are the product of a narrative of destruction fostered within the country over the past three decades. Their agendas revolve around Islamisation and sectarianism. Their operational capabilities have been enhanced by Al Qaeda providing them training and logistics, and by the Pak Taliban offering safe sanctuaries.

Breaking these links between Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and mainland cut-thoat groups is not an easy task, especially when the state continues to lack the vision to build a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy, and the capacity for effective implementation.

Even if all of these things materialise, the central, and the most difficult, task for the state in the post-Taliban insurgency scenario will be to overhaul and rehabilitate tribal society, as well as restructure the administrative, political and economic systems in the areas where the Taliban claim to provide an alternative to the state.
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Afghanistan
Taliban not in direct conflict with India: spokesman
2010-03-28
[Dawn] Claiming that they were not in direct conflict with India, Taliban have said there was a possibility of reconciliation even as they justified the February 26 Kabul attack on Indians as a legitimate action.

In an interview with Times of India, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed his organisation did not want India out of Afghanistan but assailed the country for supporting Hamid Karzai's government and western forces.

"If the Taliban return to power, we would like to maintain normal relations with countries including India. It's possible for the Taliban and India to reconcile with each other," Mujahid said.

He said: "India's role is different from those countries that sent troops to occupy Afghanistan." At the same time, he added that "India isn't neutral in the Afghan conflict as it is supporting the military presence of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and working for the strengthening of the Hamid Karzai government".

Also, he said, "India has never condemned the civilian casualties caused by the occupying forces".

Asked about the February 26 attack in which Indians, housed in two hotels in Kabul, were targeted, the spokesman said Taliban were responsible for it.

He said it was carried out by "Taliban fighters after we got intelligence information that RAW agents were holding a meeting there". The attack claimed the lives of seven Indians. Claiming that India was supporting the Afghan government and the western forces, Mujahid said the country was "therefore, a legitimate target for us".

Asked if Taliban wanted India out of Afghanistan, he said, "We are not saying that India should be out of Afghanistan. Nor can India be completely expelled from Afghanistan."

The Taliban spokesman noted that India and Afghanistan have had historic ties and said: "The Taliban aren't in any direct conflict with India. India troops aren't part of Nato forces, they haven't occupied Afghanistan."

He claimed that Taliban "favour neither India nor Pakistan" but hastened to add that they cannot "ignore Pakistan as it is a neighbouring Islamic country" and was on good terms with them when they were in power.

"India, on the other hand, backed anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance and refused to do business with our government... India backed the NA, and is now supporting the Karzai government."
Just to recap quickly for those who haven't been paying attention: After the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance and the newly-created "Southern Alliance" that hacked up Karzai chased the Taliban government out, the Pak government decided it was going to keep them ticking along in the interests of "Strategic Depth." If there was peace and prosperity in Afghanistan then Pakistan would have nothing to do to draw attention to its pretensions to being a regional power.

Mullah Omar's Quetta Shurah took over conduct of the war in Kandahar and the south, operating openly. AP, UPI, TASS, Xinhua, and Vanity Fair all knew where to find them for interviews, though the Pak intel services were unable to do so. Hekmatyar came back from Iran, escaped a dronezap, and set up shop under the protection of the MMA government and the Jamaat-e-Islami, just like he'd done in the Good Old Days. Even though they didn't like him the Quetta Shurah and al-Qaeda allied with him, assuming there was nobody for him to sell them out to, other than the Americans, and that the Americans wouldn't let him be in charge.

Haqqani allied with al-Qaeda and set up shop in North Wazoo, operating in the eastern part of the Afghanistan. The Pak government remains incapable for finding them, even though they're listed in the phone book. We've been pointing their locations out lately with regular dronezaps.

Al-Qaeda set up shop, with Binny probably in Chitral when he's not traveling. Zawahiri hangs around pretty much with the Haqqani guys, which is the general area where al-Q's operations shurah is.

There is an al-Qaeda in Afghanistan branch and an al-Qaeda in Pakistain branch. The latter is made up of Pakistain's local crop of terrorist organizations, most notably Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Fazlur Rehman Khalil's outfit, whatever they're called these days, and likely Jaish-e-Muhammad.

Had things remained in that state the status would probably still be quo within Pak. They didn't, so it's not. When Perv Musharraf was pushed out of power Nawaz Sharif and his brother reestablished the PML-N in control of the Punjab. Uncle Fester was hand-in-glove with the Talibs.

Things got out of hand with the rise of the domestic Taliban. First there was Nek Muhammad, then Abdullah Mehsud, and finally Baitullah, setting up alliances that crossed some unusual clan and tribal lines. Many was the comely 12-year-old packed off to seal this or that deal, with folks who a mere ten or twenty years before had been on heavy weapons shootin' terms.

Finally there was the TNSM and its leader, Sufi Mohammad, sitting in jug for several years after the fiasco of 2001. With the MMA in power Sufi was a protected species, his conditions in jug no doubt pretty posh. Fazl and Qazi and Sami (until he was squeezed out) were convincing Perv that Sufi was much too holy to be handled roughly. The old man's son-in-law, Mullah Fazlullah, was driving around in his SUV in Swat, broadcasting on his illegal FM channel whenever he got the urge, and he was making alliances with the Mehsuds and with their circle of affiliates. The Mighty Pak Army actually went into Swat and restored order just as Perv was exiting the scene. Nawaz and, to a lesser extent, Zardari pulled back on the order restoration thing and decided to be peacemakers. As we saw, that worked well.

When Swat erupted Sufi was released from jug to act as "peacemaker" with his son-in-law, the objective being to establish shariah throughout the land. Sufi made a deal that was advantageous to the TNSM and to the Talibs, which involved the government caving on all points. Mullah Fazlullah proceeded to break it. By that point the TNSM had ceased to have an independent existence -- it had been swallowed up by the Pak Taliban, the TTP. When the TTP began oozing out of Swat in the direction of Islamabad itself even Nawaz couldn't stop the government from protecting its existence. After all, no government, no boodle.

This time when the Mighty Pak Army went into Swat they weren't fighting the TNSM, the Pony League of Terrorism. They were fighting harder core tough guys, to include Arabs, Chechens, and Uzbeks. It took them longer to clean the place out, and the bad guyz will continue trying to sneak back in.

Adding to the Pak government's concerns was the fact that Baitullah was turning into Pakistain's Zarqawi, only without the insanity. He was responsible for Benazir's assassination, he was responsible for kaboom after kaboom, directed at the Pak government, and he was spreading his tentacles everywhere in open alliance with al-Qaeda. He was also in alliance with the Taliban, especially with the Haqqani shurah, though professing subordination to Mullah Omar. Pak Talibs were trotting off to Afghanistan to fight the infidel and were returning with their skills honed to fight their own government. At one point boomers hit Pak's very intel HQ. That was probably the tipping point for ISI. Even Hamid Gul couldn't do much from that point.

War's not a static thing. Both sides -- or in the case of Pakistain, all eleven sides -- are making moves all the time. Serendipity occasionally dips.

Baitullah got dronezapped. He's now dead, whether blown into his component parts all at once or lingering for weeks in agony is irrelevant. No sooner was Hakimullah named his successor than the drones started looking for him, too. Eventually they seem to have gotten him. While they were looking for Baitullah and Hakimullah they were also hitting other TTP, Qaeda, Haqqani, and Hekmatyar big turbans. Great was the carnage upon the land.

While all this was going on the Marines, the Brits, and the Afghans were warning about the impending operation in Marjah and the vicinity. There were behind the scenes negotiations to break the Taliban from al-Qaeda, Hekmatyar from both, and all three from the Pak Talibs. We mentioned we were going to start drone zapping Quetta.

Last November the ISI moved the Quetta Shurah to Karachi. By this month half the 15-member shurah had been arrested. Qureshi sez today that the Pak government is against a Taliban government in Afghanistan, possibly without his lips falling off.

Mullah Omar is at this point feeling naked and misunderstood. There isn't anyone he can make reassuring noises to except India, but he's doing what he can.
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India-Pakistan
Four Turkish nationals arrested from Zhob
2009-11-11
[Dawn] Security forces arrested four Turkish nationals, including a woman, in Balochistan's Zhob district.

Official sources said the Turkish nationals were arrested from the Mari Khawa check post. They were travelling from Dera Ismail Khan to Zhob and did not have any valid travel documents.

Sources added that security agencies were interrogating the four Turkish nationals.

However, they said it was premature to speculate over their affiliation with any militant group.

Zhob is considered to be a transit point for militants. Pakistani Taliban leader Abdullah Mehsud was killed in an operation in the area in July 2007.
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India-Pakistan
Battle for Waziristan looms
2009-10-02
After fighting brief skirmishes against militants, the Pakistan Army plans to unfold in the next few days what military officials characterise as the mother of all battles in South Waziristan, senior military and security officials said on Thursday.
Now that they're practiced and gotten a bit of confidence against the TNSM cannon fodder reinforced by jihadi remnants in Swat and Buner they've got the confidence to try their hand at the real nasty Mehsud face-makers reinforced by al-Qaeda's Arabs and IMU's Uzbeks. They've already had the snot beaten out of them by that team two or three times, but maybe this time they'll use actual soldiers instead of paramilitaries made up of the bad guyz' cousins.
'If we don't take the battle to them, they will bring the battle to us,' a senior military official said of the militants.
Ummm... Who've they been bringing it to?
'The epicentre of the behemoth called the Taliban lies in South Waziristan, and this is where we will be fighting the toughest of all battles.'
That's the behemoth known as the domestic Taliban. The Afghan Taliban's a separate organization -- in the same business, often cooperating, but a different company. The Mighty Pak Army's not going to do anything against it...
One division of the corporation is a problem, whereas the other is turning a profit ...
For three months, the military has been drawing up plans, holding in-depth deliberations and carrying out studies on past expeditions to make what seems to be the last grand stand against Pakistani Taliban in the Mehsud heartland a success. 'We are ready. The environment is ready,' the senior officer said. But military officials also admit Waziristan will not be an easy battle. 'It will not be a walkover. This is going to be casualty-intensive hard fighting. The nation will have to bear the pain,' said another officer.

Already this past summer, the military has lost more than three hundred of its soldiers in the Swat valley. One out of ten was officer — the highest soldier-to-officer casualty ratio in any war, skirmish or operation in the world, a spokesman for the military said.

By the military's own reckoning, the past two operations against the tribal militants in South Waziristan ended in failure. The Jan 2004 operation led to the infamous Shakai peace agreement in April 2004, followed by another agreement with the now-dead Tehrik-i-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud on Feb 5, 2005.

In late January last year, the military launched Operation Zalzala with the stated goal of dislodging Baitullah Mehsud from his stronghold. The operation did not cause even a tremor and only 12 days later, were authorities struggling to revive the dead Sararogha agreement.

With that went even the pretence of any state authority as control of the volatile region was ceded to now emboldened militants.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then, military officials add. Militants have been driven out of Swat; with additional forces available Bajaur is just heading there and Mohmand is close to being cleared.

'The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan as a monolithic organisation remains no more,' a security official claimed.

The icing on the cake came with the death of Baitullah Mehsud in a drone attack in August. His death complemented the military's plan that included an economic blockade already in place since June.

Thousands of army soldiers — two divisions — are now sitting on the fringes of the Mehsud mainland waiting for orders from the high command to move in. A debate is raging within some circles whether the military could have mounted an assault shortly after BM's death. 'As far as we are concerned the operation should have been launched three months ago,' a senior government official said.

'Baitullah is dead and his group seems to be in some sort of disarray. And this provides the best opportunity to go after them,' the official said.

'That may have been correct,' acknowledged a senior military official. 'We thought that Baitullah's death would unravel the Mehsud militant group and galvanise the tribe to stand up to the people who have caused them suffering. It didn't happen,' the official argued.

And one major factor for the delay, according to this official, was also the availability of additional forces and resources. 'We have the men and material now and everything is in place,' he added.

With additional force available, the blockade has been made more effective by occupying three strategic heights along Mehsuds' border with North Waziristan besides virtually sealing all four access points in the battle-zone from Razmak-Makeen, Wana-Ludda, Jandola-Sararogha and Kanigoram-Jandola. Perhaps the only escape route available to the militants now is to the Shawal mountains.

In addition to this, the government has been able to neutralise Commander Nazir Group in Wana, in the Ahmadzai Wazir area of South Waziristan, and Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan.

The killing of seventeen militants of the Nazir group, reportedly by pro-Baitullah Uzbek fighters inside Mehsud territory, drove the last nail in the coffin of a pan-Waziristan alliance between the three groups, cobbled together by the late Baitullah last year.

There is a sense within the military establishment that the situation in South Waziristan could not be allowed to drag on. The blockade is nearly three-months old and the military is sitting on the fringes, firing artillery and fighting off attacks from seemingly desperate Mehsud fighters.

Also, the army is running out of targets for air strikes and quick get-in and get-out type surgical strikes due to intelligence problems. Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently described the Mehsud badlands as an intelligence black hole. 'We have to move in,' he said.

Military planners hope that by moving in physically, they would be able to garner crucial support from reluctant Mehsud tribesmen to provide intelligence.

Equally useful support in terms of intelligence may also come from Misbahuddin, who leads the anti-Baitullah group formed by Abdullah Mehsud before he was killed.

Indeed, Misbahuddin's group has been on the trail and hunt of Baitullah's men, either picking them directly or pointing them out to law enforcers in cities as far away as Karachi and Peshawar.

In another boon for the army, a large number of Mehsud tribesmen have already relocated to Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, giving a relatively free hand to the high command to mount a massive operation in an area spread over 2,419 square kilometres.

But all agree that the battle ahead is formidable. Questions remain if the army would be able to hold and sustain the operation in what is widely believed to be a tough and treacherous terrain.

Weather may also play a significant role in shaping up the battle in a place where temperature drops to 20 degrees centigrade below freezing point in winters.

In the Mehsud heartland, snow starts to set in towards the end of November and that may restrict logistic supplies to un-acclimatised troops fighting in an inhospitable territory. But military strategists say the weather problem would hit the militants more than it would hit the troops.The militants have the advantage of knowing their terrain and territory. 'It is difficult to dislodge someone holding the high-ground,' acknowledged one officer.

To strengthen their defences, Mehsuds have the support of some two thousand ferocious fighters. The total strength of the Mehsud-Uzbek and non-local Pakistani militant combine is stated to be between six thousand and seven thousand. 'It is going to be a battle with the Uzbeks more than anybody else,' the officer said.

And then there is the external element — the Haqqani and Al Qaeda network that is heavily dependent on the Mehsud fighting force. 'They will defend their power base and fight to the last man,' the officer remarked.

In line with their tradition, the officer said, the Mehsuds may try and ignite fire elsewhere in Pakistan. Suicide bombing is their most time-proven and lethal weapon.

Already, 71 people have died in six suicide bombings in the NWFP last month. Qari Hussain, the mastermind of suicide bombings in Pakistan, has already issued a chilling warning to unleash his bombers and 'inflict pain' to avenge the death of Baitullah and Hakeemullah's brother.

To slow down any military movement, the militants are believed to have planted improvised explosive devices and fortified their positions. 'They are as much ready for the battle as we are,' a senior official maintained.

'Let's not assume that the battle will be over in three to four days. It may take us three to four weeks. We have done our homework and are ready for the battle. But in the final analysis, it is God's will that will determine the course of action. And that's the punch-line,' the official remarked.
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India-Pakistan
Top Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar detained
2009-08-18
Yale had better hurry up if they are going to offer him a scholarship.
PAKISTANI security forces have captured top Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar, weeks after the reported death of his boss, feared warlord Baitullah Mehsud, military officials said today. The bearded and heavy-set Omar, a leading spokesman for the militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was arrested by a local militia yesterday in the northwest tribal district of Mohmand, officials said.

"A very, very important militant has been arrested," said Major Fazal Ur Rehman, head of the military's media cell, declining to give the militant's identity ahead of a news conference in Mohmand.

But government, military and security officials confirmed the detainee was Omar, and photos of the militant in detention were widely circulated.

Omar - a former perfume seller who joined Taliban ranks as a fighter in 2004 - was a close aide of Mehsud, who Washington has accused of being "a key al-Qaeda facilitator" in Pakistan's tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Javed Ali Khan, a local government official in Mohmand, said a tribal militia picked up Omar and two associates as they travelled in a car late Monday and handed them over to security forces.

Residents and officials in the area said the TTP spokesman's real name was Sayed Mohammad, and Maulvi Omar was his guerrilla name.

Believed to be about 40 years old, Omar rose to become the insurgents' spokesman in 2007 - the same year Mehsud took over as top Taliban commander after one-legged former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Abdullah Mehsud was killed. Omar frequently called reporters to claim responsibility for a string of deadly assaults.

Attacks linked to militants have killed more than 2,000 people around Pakistan in the past two years, and most have been blamed on TTP.

Mehsud was reported killed earlier this month in a US drone missile strike in South Waziristan. Islamabad has stopped short of confirming his death, but officials say TTP is plagued with infighting over his succession. The Taliban has denied this and says its leader is simply "a bit sick," but has provided no evidence that he is still alive.
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India-Pakistan
Pakistan: Taliban leader's fate in doubt
2009-08-11
By Syed Saleem Shahzad - As speculation continues about the fate of Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud it is worth recalling what happened when Pakistani militant Abdullah Mehsud faked his own death. In 2005 Abdullah Mehsud, then the Taliban commander of South Waziristan, abducted two Chinese engineers working on the Gomal Zam Dam in North West Frontier Province.

His Al-Qaeda patrons, including some top Pakistani militants advised him that given Pakistan's friendship with China, the army would have to mount a major operation and in the subsequent rescue attempt, one of the hostages was killed.

The militants and the Pakistani army agreed that Abdullah Mehsud, who was injured in the security operation, would be declared dead.

Several of his comrades issued statements to the media that that he was buried in Shawal in the North Waziristan.

Abdullah Mehsud kept a low profile for several months and then resumed his activities, before committing suicide last year when Pakistani security forces surrounded him in Baluchistan.

The ongoing controversy about Baitullah Mehsud raises the same questions even though the Pakistani government has pledged to provide DNA evidence that he was killed with his wife in a US drone attack on his father-in-law's house in South Waziristan on Wednesday.

Pakistan's federal minister for interior affairs Rehman Malik on Monday insisted that Baitullah Mehsud was killed in the attack on the night of August 5.

Journalists in the tribal areas strongly believe that Baitullah Mehsud was killed. His rival Haji Turkestan appears to be the source, backed by some local witnesses.

But a high profile and well-connected Taliban source whose name cannot be revealed insists that the man widely considered responsible for the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is still alive.

The chief of the Taliban in Wana, South Waziristan, also contradicted reports of his demise.

Baitullah's umbrella Tehrik-i-Taliban group has brought together around 5,000 fighters, who together with Al-Qaeda militants keep the army engaged in an elaborate game of hide and seek.

The US predator drones, which can fire lethal missiles on precise targets, have killed scores of militants including high ranking Al-Qaeda militants.

Baitullah tried to strike a deal with Pakistani security forces in 2005 and has at times been branded a spy for the US and Britain. He was also called an agent for India's Research and Analysis Wing intelligence agency.

As US drones stepped up their attacks and the army advanced against him,Baitullah may simply have decided to disappear.

Al-Qaeda used this tactic with Osama Bin Laden when the US invested heavily in Pakistan and Afghanistan to capture him after he fled Afghanistan in 2001.

In 2005, several special forces operations were closing in on him and then he completely disappeared, fuelling fresh speculation about whether he was dead or alive.

A similar tactic was adopted by Rashid Rauf, a dual British and Pakistani citizen arrested in Pakistan in relation to a trans-Atlantic aircraft plot in August 2006.

He fled to North Waziristan and despite reports of his death in a drone attack in November 2008, Adnkronos International (AKI) understands he is alive and well.

Despite official claims that Baitullah Mehsud was killed with his wife and bodyguards, no-one is yet certain whether this charismatic and ruthless leader is dead or alive.
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India-Pakistan
Mehsud, 40 aides killed, says Turkistan
2009-08-10
Baitullah Mehsud and 40 of his aides were killed in the US drone strike last Wednesday, and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief was buried in his house, a rival group's leader claimed on Sunday.

Abdullah Mehsud Group>Abdullah Mehsud Group commander Haji Turkistan Bhitani told several private TV channels that suicide attack trainer, Qari Hussain, was also seriously injured in the attack, APP reported. He claimed that Waliur Rehman and Hakeemullah, two contenders for Baitullah's position, had also been killed, along with several aides, during a clash over the leadership during a Taliban shura meeting. Bhitani claimed that differences between TTP members were intensifying, predicting the organisation would cease to exist within a month, Online reported.
Haji Turkestan is also the guy who said Baitullah was a Zionist agent bought and paid for by the CIA. I think his lips fell off many years ago.
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India-Pakistan
New Taliban group slams Baitullah
2009-07-23
Three Taliban groups in South Waziristan have formed a new anti-Baitullah Mehsud alliance, with Ikhlas Khan alias Waziristan Baba as its chief, reported a private TV channel on Wednesday.

According to the channel, the groups -- Turkistan Bathni, Haji Tehsil Khan Wazir and Ikhlas Khan Mehsud factions -- have named the alliance Abdullah Mehsud group. The new group has already established offices in Gomal, Umar Adda, Jandola, Pang, and Sheikh Autar areas of South Waziristan.

Waziristan Baba, 42, believes that Baitullah was behind the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He said he would avenge the killings of innocent people who fell victim to attacks launched by Baitullah. "Those who destroy hospitals and schools and kill our brothers and sisters are not our well-wishers," he said.

The alliance comes after Baitullah assassinated archrival Qari Zainuddin -- who was gunned down by one of his own bodyguards. Zainuddin had been urging tribesmen to rise up against Baitullah's TTP. The TTP chief and his followers have said that anybody working against the group would meet a similar fate.
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