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Baitullah Mehsud: Militants Unite As Taliban Movement of Pakistan

In an interview with BBC Urdu, the South Waziristan neo-Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud says that the assortment of militant groups in Pakistan’s seven tribal agencies and neighboring Malakand region of the NWFP (including Swat) have united under a new umbrella named the “Taliban Movement of Pakistan” (TMP) or Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan.

The movement is led by Mehsud as amir and Maulvi Omar as spokesperson. TMP consists of a 40 member shura (advisory) council and was formed in a meeting of 20 representatives of the neo-Taliban, concluding a month or so of continuous talks.

Mehsud said the new organization’s objective vis-a-vis the government is to unite the neo-Taliban’s disparate, localized groups so that it can deliver the next government a “complete response” to “set its mind straight.”

Maulvi Omar stated that the TMP provide a unified council that would engage or oppose the government on behalf of all member groups. This would bring an end to the localized and discordant neo-Taliban dealings with the government, noting that the government is crushing the neo-Taliban in Swat, while there are talks being conducted in Bajaur, and accords have been made in Waziristan.

He gave the Pakistani military a ten day ultimatum to:

  • cease its operations in Swat and vacate the territory;
  • close its checkpoints in in North and South Waziristan and Swat;
  • release the previous khateeb of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), Maulana Abdul Aziz Ghazi, as well as other neo-Taliban prisoners.

Omar added that his group’s fundamental goal has been to oppose or impede the U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan, but because of the Pakistani government’s “incorrect policies”, it was compelled to wage a “defensive jihad” within the country.

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Editor:

Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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