Baitullah Mehsud Ready for Talks with Pakistan

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 8 months ago

Baitullah Mehsud in the commander of Tehrek-e-Taliban-Pakistan, but the Pakistani Taliban is a factious organization.

Though members of militant Islamic groups such as the Pakistani Taliban and other jihadis have almost the same anti-United States and pro-al-Qaeda worldview, they are not especially disciplined when it comes to organizational matters. Difficulty in this area explains the existence of so many extremist factions operating under different leaders and commanders who sometimes express conflicting opinions on domestic and international issues.

The formation of an umbrella organization, Tehrek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (Movement of Pakistani Taliban, or TTP) on December 14, 2007, was meant to bring the different Taliban groups operating in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) into one formation and improve their coordination (The News International [Islamabad], December 15, 2007). Its spokesman, Maulvi Omar, a shadowy figure using a fake name, claimed that 27 Taliban factions operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were part of the movement. Nobody was surprised when Baitullah Mehsud, amir of the Taliban in the territory populated by the Mehsud Pashtun tribe in South Waziristan, was named as leader of the TTP. He was the most powerful among the Pakistani Taliban commanders and it was natural that he would lead the organization.

The tribal nature of some of the Taliban groups soon became evident when militants in North Waziristan warned the Mehsud-led Taliban in neighboring South Waziristan not to launch attacks against the Pakistan Army in their part of the tribal region (The News International, January 30). The warning came from Hafiz Gul Bahadur, the amir of the Taliban in North Waziristan, despite the fact that he was earlier named deputy to Mehsud in the Tehrek-e-Taliban-Pakistan. Association with the TTP and being its deputy leader did not mean much when it came to the territorial and tribal limits of each Taliban group and commander. Hafiz Gul Bahadur was particularly furious when Mehsud’s men started firing rockets into the army’s camp at Razmak, a town in North Waziristan, during the recent fighting between the military and the Mehsud-commanded militants.

Regardless of the lack of an overall command structure that forces coherence in policy or strategy, the one thing that will not be allowed within the Taliban is any action that could be seen as unfaithfulness to the cause.  Two al-Qaeda leaders in the north of Pakistan have called on their supporters to wage a new Jihad against security forces and seize control of Islamabad.  In a recent video, Takfiri militants Qadri Tahir Yaldeshiv and Abdul Khaliq Haqqani called for urgent action against the Pakistani armed forces to avenge the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) operation in 2007.

“Jihad is compulsory in Pakistan as it is compulsory in Afghanistan,” Tahir said in the video message.

Sitting on a chair reading notes from a laptop computer flanked by a black flag, Tahir talked about the need for strict Sharia law in Pakistan.

“Pakistan came into being on the name of Islam, therefore Islam should be enforced in the country,” he said in the video …

Tahir Yaldeshiv, the chief of the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan and the chief of Uzbek militants in North Waziristan, called for a Jihad against Pakistani forces.

Abdul Khaliq Haqqani also urged the people to fight against Pakistani forces.

The video also shows what are said to be images of a government offensive in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan in October 2007, including footage of dead soldiers and destroyed vehicles. It also shows graphic footage of a man slitting the throat of a Pakistani soldier.

There were also reports that Haji Nazeer, a local Pakistani Taliban commander in favour of reconciliation with Pakistani government was seriously wounded in the conflict.

“Haji Nazeer has now sent a message of reconciliation to our camp but it is not possible now. He has to face the music for what he has done in the past.”

Facing “the music” for supporting the Pakistani government means that the statistical mortality tables no longer apply to Nazeer.  Negotiations with Pakistan will occur only at the highest levels, and in this case, it means Baitullah Mehsud.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud has said that he is ready for talks with the new government if it stops President Musharraf’s war on terror in tribal areas.

The Taliban do not want hostile relations with the new government and are ready for talks with political parties for a lasting peace in the NWFP and the tribal region, Baitullahs spokesman Maulvi Umar told journalists on phone from an undisclosed location.

Baitullah’s men had earlier this month declared a ceasefire in South Waziristan where elections were postponed because of clashes.

According to the Dawn, Maulvi Umar expressed the hope that the new government would not follow the flawed policies of President Musharraf and would respect the peoples mandate.

We are ready for negotiations with the new government if it doesn’t re-impose a war on us. If it (new government) continues with the policies of President Musharraf we will resume our activities, he warned.

He welcomed the victory of opposition parties in the elections and said they had won because of sacrifices rendered by the local Taliban.

But notice the ultimatum Mehsud gives.  Policy will change and the global war on terror will stand down in the NWFP of Pakistan, or there will be no end to the Taliban war on Pakistan.  In reality, the Taliban will not stop until Pakistan is a fundamentalist Islamic state much like Afghanistan before 9/11, but Mehsud is negotiating, dishonestly so, from a position of strength.  He is a high level Taliban commander.  No middle level Taliban commander will break with senior leadership without his life being in danger.


You are currently reading "Baitullah Mehsud Ready for Talks with Pakistan", entry #1019 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) al Qaeda,Baitullah Mehsud,Pakistan,Taliban and was published March 30th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

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