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Friday, 7 August 2009

Baitullah Mehsud killed. Our condolences to Imran Khan, Ijaz-ul-Haq and Mullah Munawar Hasan

Is the despised leader of the Deobandi-Wahhabi alliance in Pakistan, namely Taliban (or Sipah-e-Sahaba or Al-Qaeda), finally killed? Is the spiritual son of General Zia-ul-Haq killed?

Our condolences to the supporters of Taliban, namely Ijaz-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Mullah Munawar Hassan, and Mullah Fazlur-Rehman.

Here is a report by BBC News:

There are growing indications that Pakistan's most wanted man, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, has been killed by a US missile.

A Mehsud aide reportedly confirmed that he had died when a drone attacked the house where he was staying.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quresh said the government was seeking "ground verification".

Taliban leaders have gathered in South Waziristan to choose a successor, local sources have told the BBC.

Orla Guerin, BBC News, Islamabad
Orla Guerin, BBC News, Islamabad

Mehsud's death would be seen in Pakistan as a huge step forward.

He has been the country's most wanted man, blamed for a string of suicide attacks and also accused of being behind the assassination of the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. He has also been on America's wanted list, with a price of $5m on his head. He is seen there as an al-Qaeda facilitator.

In the past month or so, both the Pakistanis and Americans have been working hard to tighten the net around him, with US drone strikes but also with air strikes by the Pakistani authorities.

If reports of his death are confirmed, this will be seen here as the elimination of a key enemy of this country and of a man who has caused the killing of hundreds of civilians.

Three names are under consideration says Abdul Hai Kakar, a BBC reporter based in Peshawar.

Hakimullah Mehsud, Maulana Azmatullah and Wali-ur-Rehman were all mentioned as possible successors.

People living close to the scene of the missile attack in South Waziristan told the BBC Baitullah Mehsud had been killed along with his wife early on Wednesday.

The remoteness of the location is contributing to the delay in establishing the facts, the BBC's Orla Guerin reports from Islamabad.

A US official said there was "reason to believe reports of his death may be true but it cannot be confirmed".

Previous reports of Baitullah Mehsud's death have proved to be unfounded.

South Waziristan is a stronghold of the Taliban chief, who has been blamed by Pakistan for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country.

'Hit on the roof'

Kafayat Ullah, described as an aide to Baitullah Mehsud, told the Associated Press by telephone on Friday that his leader had been killed along with his second wife by a US missile. He gave no further details.

Baitullah Mehsud at a news conference in  South Waziristan, 24 May 2008
There is a sense of awe as this short, plump, bearded man greets us
Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC reporter on meeting
Baitullah Meshud in 2008

The missile fired by the US drone hit the home of the Taliban chief's father-in-law, Malik Ikramuddin, in the Zangarha area, 15km (9 miles) north-east of Ladha, at around 0100 on Wednesday (1900 GMT Tuesday).

At the time of the attack, the Taliban leader was said to be on the roof, suffering from an illness for which he was taking medication, local people told our Peshawar reporter.

Some who had reportedly seen his body said that it had been half-destroyed by the blast.

Baitullah Mehsud was buried in the nearby village of Nardusai, the witnesses told our reporter.

Several of Baitullah Mehsud's relatives were also injured, local people told the BBC earlier.

Pakistan's foreign minister told reporters in Islamabad that "to be 100% sure [of the Taliban leader's death], we are going for ground verification".

One factor complicating verification of his death is the lack of photographs of the Taliban leader.

Pakistan's foreign minister: "We are going for ground verification"

When the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan went to interview him in South Waziristan in May 2008, he found himself sitting down before a short, plump, bearded man, reluctant to allow his picture to be taken.

Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, told the BBC that even if DNA could be recovered at the scene, the authorities did not have a sample from a male relative of the Taliban leader to compare it with.


Deobandistan or Pashtunistan: The Taliban will survive Baitullah Mehsud
Sat Aug 8, 2009 4:12 pm (PDT)

The Taliban will survive Baitullah Mehsud

The Taliban may have been decapitated in Pakistan, but their success is not about the leadership of any one man

o Jason Burke
o guardian.co.uk, Friday 7 August 2009 17.00 BST


Behind the rise of Baitullah Mehsud in Pakistan lie factors that are not going to be resolved by a missile fired from a drone.

Firstly, there is the fusion of Pashtun tribal identity with a radical Islamic identity. The latter has only ever really thrived when grafted onto a sense of local belonging. Hamas in the Gaza Strip represent radical Islam and Palestinians. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, about the only off-shoot of the terror group that is thriving at the moment, are, as their name suggests, firmly fixed on a real location. Al-Qaida in Iraq failed through being insufficiently Iraqi, reduced at the end to pretending leaders were from Baghdad when they were Egyptian. But the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) knew who they were and where they were from. They were Pashtuns from the Pakistani side of the frontier that has split their tribal lands for over a century.

In 1998 and 1999, I travelled widely in FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies or Areas) where the TTP and Mehsud were strongest. At the time, I met no hostility. In 2001, as bombs rained on Afghanistan, I travelled up into the Khyber Agency and was warned by Pashtun contacts that the Taliban’s war was their war. So, they added, was that waged by al-Qaida. This remains the case today. This intertwining of ethnic identity, religion and politics will take decades to undo.

Secondly, there is the marginalisation of the FATA’s population of four million within Pakistan. That Mehsud led the Pakistani Taliban indicates the residual attraction of the Pakistani state. The Pashtun tribes of the FATA have the lowest levels of literacy, economic development and infrastructural development of anywhere in Pakistan. They are not considered full citizens. Pushed to the margins, they are, in one sense, trying to fight their way into the centre of national political and economic life.

Thirdly, this marginalisation is reflected within the society of the North-West frontier too. The militants are often men who would normally be consigned to the edges of a tribe in terms of status, wealth and power. Mangal Bagh, a major militant leader in the Khyber Agency, is a former truck driver. Mullah Fazlullah, who masterminded the recent Taliban take over of Swat, worked as a labourer on Pakistan’s only ski lift. In Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, the pattern is repeated with senior militants including mechanics, small shopkeepers, itinerant religious teachers. Captured militants I interviewed in Bajaur last year confirm the trend. Mehsud himself has no formal education, only a basic religious understanding and no claim to any authority. He, like many other militants, also comes from a relatively minor sub-tribe and has thus been doubly marginalised. There are social dynamics to this war that escape the casual onlooker.

Finally, over the last three decades something that could be termed the “Deobandi complex” has emerged in the broad spread of land between the Indus and the central Afghan highlands. It is not a state but has virtually every other attribute of statehood short of printing stamps and money. There is religious homogeneity: the conservative southwest Asian Deobandi strand of Sunni Islam that has established itself with its system of mosques and free schools across the region. There is ethnic homogeneity: the Pashtuns. There is a commercial sector of big businessmen involved in smuggling, transport, timber, drugs and a range of legitimate businesses. There is political representation: parties such as Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islami. There is diplomacy with connections to the Gulf and elsewhere in the Islamic world. There are significant flows of cash in and out, often through remittances from overseas workers. There is a broadly accepted culture: the conservative, rural, re ligiously-infused values of the Pashun hill tribes. And there is a military: the various Taliban groups. It is unsurprising that those marginalised by other relatively unstable and relatively chaotic political entities € ¦’¶ such as Pakistan € ¦’¶ should look to find a home within Deobandistan or Pashtunistan or whatever name might eventually be put on its passport stamps.

Put all this together and it is fairly clear that drones may tackle symptoms but not causes. It is also clear why, as my colleague Declan Walsh points out elsewhere on this site, another Mehsud may well emerge soon.


Jahan Panah said...

Shame on you Taliban Khan Imran Khan

Shaheryar Ali said...

lanat on both. but the news is not CONFIRMED. Today Hakeem ullah Mehsood called BBC himself. he too was declared dead
for heavens sake. even Hamid Mir has questioned.
i hope he is dead but dont say it untill theu give evidence.

Abdul Nishapuri said...

Sherry, pata naheen. Anecdotal evidence however does suggest that the lanati has been killed. Another will emerge soon, nevertheless, thanks to the unholy mullah-military-alliance.

Shaheryar Ali said...

i am really skeptic. i will only believe when i will see an evidence

Abdul Nishapuri said...

Sherry, this is what Talat Masood (a relatively sane voice in our ex-army lot) has to say:

After Baitullah’s death

Monday, August 17, 2009
Talat Masood

The death of Baitullah Mehsud is no ordinary event in Pakistan’s recent fight against insurgency. By his masterly manipulation of ‘peace deals’ and taking advantage of the vacuum that existed during the transition from military to civilian rule Baitullah Mehsud consolidated his power. After establishing the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah extended his influence far beyond South Waziristan and gave the movement an ideological boost and force-multiplier. As is generally believed he was the mastermind behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Maulana Sarfaraz Naeemi and several terrorist attacks on military and civilian installations. He was responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis and foreigners.

The killing of a leader is one of the critical elements in the decline, or even end, of a terrorist group. There are a few recent examples of how the death or removal of a leader weakened his movement. In Peru when the ‘Shiny Path’ leader Guzman was captured the movement suffered a serious setback and eventually collapsed. Similarly, the arrest of Real Irish Republican Army leader Michael McKevitt resulted in the abandonment of resistance. Every insurgency, however, is different and there are several other variables that determine how events unfold.

Baitullah’s departure no doubt has been highly demoralising for his followers and has led to a power struggle. He had developed a stature, was holding together disparate factions within his tribe and had established a relationship with Al Qaeda, the Haqqani group and others that worked to his advantage. He was forceful enough to keep Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir at bay and never allowed the Gul Bahadur’s party, the Tehrik-e-Taliban, to gain influence in his area.

Among the several contending militant leaders Hakeemullah and Mufti Wali-ur-Rehman stand a good chance. Hakeemullah was Baitullah’s deputy. He is not known to be very assertive but could change if elected. Mufti Wali-ur-Rehman is apparently respected for his religious background. The third aspirant, Qari Hussain, is currently responsible for the training and ideological motivation of suicide bombers and for planning and execution of terrorist attacks. He is the most viscous one.

Clearly, Baitullah’s demise is a major setback for the Taliban, but this by no means implies that the insurgency will soon disappear. The social, political and ideological structure, as it exists today in FATA, favours the continuation of militancy. Unstable Afghanistan, the presence of American and NATO forces and the absence of human resource development and physical infrastructure will always lead to a nationalist impulse that will continue to unite the Pashtuns and lean towards growth of militant forces.

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