Mullah Fazlullah – commander whose fighters tried to assassinate teenage education campaigner Malala Yousafzai last year has been named as the new chief of the Pakistani Taliban.
NO TALKS WITH PAKISTAN says TTP
Taliban spokesman Shahid explicitly told Reuters: “There will be no more talks as Mullah Fazlullah is already against negotiations with the Pakistan government.” Michael Kugelman, Senior Program Associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, called Fazlullah’s ascension a “death knell” for such peace talks. “Fazlullah is a hardline fighter to the core who has expressed little interest in negotiations,” Kugelman said. “It’s unlikely the Pakistani military will sanction talks between the government and the Fazlullah-led TTP.”
- Leader of Taliban in Swat in north-west Pakistan
- Ousted from Swat by troops in 2009 – now based on Afghanistan-Pakistan border
- First Pakistan Taliban leader not from tribal areas – all were from Waziristan so far
- His fighters shot schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai
- Known as Mullah Radio for his fiery broadcasts
Nicknamed Mullah Radio because of broadcast messages used to spread his ideology, Fazlullah once controlled the Swat valley in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
He led militants in Swat between 2007 and 2009, but fled to Afghanistan when his militiamen were forced out of the valley by a big Pakistani military operation.
He is now based in either Kunar or Nuristan province in Afghanistan, from where his fighters often launch attacks on Pakistani border towns.
Analysts say the nomination of Fazlullah, whose two-year rule in Swat saw public beheadings and floggings, was an indication that Islamist militants are not interested in peace talks with the Pakistani government.
“It is very dangerous, horrible for Pakistan,” said Fida Khan, an author and analyst with extensive knowledge of Islamic militancy.
“He is much more radicalised than Mehsud. He will unleash terrorism in the way he did in Swat. It was brutal.”
Fazlullah, in his late 30s, was behind the killing of a Pakistani general in September, days after top politicians backed a plan by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to open peace talks with the militants.
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said a delegation of clerics had been scheduled to meet Taliban leaders on Saturday but the death of Mehsud had derailed the process.
Khan called the drone strike that killed Mehsud an “act of sabotage” to harm the government plan to seek peace in the region.
At least three members of Tekrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organisation of more than a dozen militant outfits, confirmed Fazlullah was picked for the top slot.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the TTP, says the Taliban will never hold peace talks with the government.
Sajjad Momand, another TTP commander, said Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, a cleric who once headed the Taliban shura, had been nominated as second-in-command.
Source : AAP & BBC