|Top militant commanders resolve rift|
|Saturday, February 21, 2009
By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: In a dramatic development, three prominent Pakistani militant commanders — Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer ñ on Friday set aside their differences and promised to jointly fight their enemy in future.
A senior militant commander of Maulvi Nazeer group told this correspondent on condition of anonymity that all the three militant commanders, in a meeting held somewhere in the South Waziristan Agency, resolved all their differences and promised to live peacefully with each other in future.
“I am extremely excited today. It’s an Eid for us. I even danced and fired shots in the air as we succeeded in removing misunderstandings created by the Pakistan government,” remarked the Taliban commander while talking to The News from Wana by telephone.
He said senior Pakistani and Afghan Taliban commanders had played a role in resolving differences among the three militant commanders. He said a 14-member Shura was formed after their final meeting that would comprise banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Taliban commander in North Waziristan and Maulvi Nazeer, militant commander in South Waziristan. Ten other people had been drawn from Baitullah Mehsud’s tribe, Gul Bahadur’s Utmanzai Wazir tribe and Maulvi Nazeer’s Ahmadzai Wazir tribe. The Taliban commander said in an earlier meeting it was suggested to nominate Maulvi Nazeer as the new head of the organisation. However, Maulvi Nazeer expressed his unwillingness to head the organisation and left the matter to the next meeting of the Shura.
The commander said all the three militant groups pardoned each other for the previous killings of their people and material losses.
When asked whether Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer would become a part of the TTP, the commander said it would be decided in the next meeting.
Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who is the Taliban chief in North Waziristan, had signed a peace accord with the government on Feb 17, 2008 and was considered a pro-government militant commander as he ceased attacks on security forces and government installations. However, the frequent drone attacks by the US forces in his tribal region have annoyed him.
On one occasion, when Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP became a serious threat to the government, the government tried to unite other militant groups against Baitullah Mehsud, thus, bringing together Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer.
Maulvi Nazeer, who is the chief of Ahmadzai Wazir Taliban militants in South Waziristan, was until now considered a pro-government militant commander as he had led an armed campaign against the Uzbek nationals, evicting them from his soil after bloody clashes.
He later lost some of his senior commanders in attacks by unknown people, but he blamed his rival Uzbeks for it.
Nazeer also accused Baitullah Mehsud and his men of sheltering the Uzbeks on their soil but Baitullah always denied the charges.
If the three men, who now rule South and North Waziristan tribal region in true sense, got united, they could give a tough time to the government in future.
The militants from Wana said now they had understood Pakistan’s divide and rule policy, and decided to get united and fight together against it in future. “Pakistan caused more losses to the Mujahideen than the US. It handed over 700 Arab Mujahideen to the US and jailed our people,” the commander alleged.
Responding to a question, he said the issue of Uzbeks had been resolved but didn’t mention whether the Ahmadzai Wazirs would like to welcome them back to Wana and Azam Warsak. He, however, added: “We respect the Mujahideen.” (The News)
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