‘Sacked’ Pakistani Taliban commander backs talk
KHAR A SENIOR commander sacked as deputy to Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud came out publicly to back peace talks with the government and said he was not directly informed of his dismissal.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad is the Taliban commander in Bajaur, one of Pakistan’s seven districts in the tribal belt on the Afghan border and one that has seen a recent lull in fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani soldiers.
He was sacked on Sunday at a meeting presided over by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud at a secret location in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP.
Ehsan gave no reason for the removal. Neither was a successor announced.
Speaking to AFP from an undisclosed location on Tuesday, Mohammad said the Taliban did not inform him directly of his sacking or give an explanation.
“I came to know through the media. I was not given any notice. I don’t know the background of this decision,” he said, speaking by telephone.
Giving one possible reason, he said: The leadership might be angry with my talks with Pakistani government. If it was so, I talked to them with the permission of my leadership.” A source close to the Taliban previously told AFP on condition of anonymity that the Bajaur commander fell out of favour with Mehsud over his alleged support for peace talks with the Pakistani government.
Asked whether he still favours talks with Pakistan, Mohammad said: “I don’t think it is something bad.” The TTP is a loose confederation of militant commanders founded and run by Baitullah Mehsud until his death in a US drone strike in August 2009. His killing sparked a bitter succession battle won by Hakimullah Mehsud.
Northwestern Pakistan, particularly the main city of Peshawar, has seen a recent increase in suicide and gun attacks blamed on Taliban.
Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban, reportedly asked his Pakistani counterparts to stop attacks within Pakistan, considered vital in any peace process in Afghanistan.
The only TTP commander who refused to comply was Mehsud, an Afghan Taliban member recently told AFP.
Young and impetuous, the TTP leader has reputedly said there will be no end to attacks until Washington stops drone strikes.