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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Baitullah Mehsud’s Time Is Up

February 22, 2009

Dan Qayyum |

It seems Baitullah Mehsud has outlived his shelf-life and is of no further use to his American and Indian masters.

After receiving a kicking in Bajaur and the implementation of Sharia in Swat, he has now been cornered into South Waziristan with his area of influence having been greatly reduced in recent days. In what seemed like a sign of desperation, he hit out at Kashmiri jihadi groups last week, threatening to eliminate their leaders if they did not join him in fighting the Pakistan army.

Accusing them of 'only fighting external enemies such as the US and India', Baitullah Mehsud's 'Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan' (TTP) justified attacking members of these Jihadi outfits by pointing out that these outfits 'do not fight the Pakistan Army' and commit mass murder of innocent Pakistani citizens like the TTP has been doing for a some time now.

It is also interesting to note that the Afghan Taleban's Supreme Commander Mullah Mohammad Omar had issued a statement over a year ago distancing himself and the Afghan Taleban from the TTP and its chief Baitullah Mehsud. He had also condemned Baitullah Mehsud in strong words for fighting against the Pakistan Army instead of with the NATO forces.

This recent report in NYT makes interesting reading.

It is unclear why the Obama administration decided to carry out the attacks, which American and Pakistani officials said occurred last Saturday and again on Monday, hitting camps run by Mr. Mehsud's network. The Saturday strike was aimed specifically at Mr. Mehsud, but he was not killed, according to Pakistani and American officials.

For months, Pakistani military and intelligence officials have complained about Washington's refusal to strike at Baitullah Mehsud, even while C.I.A. drones struck at Qaeda figures and leaders of the network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader believed responsible for a campaign of violence against American troops in Afghanistan.

According to one senior Pakistani official, Pakistan's intelligence service on two occasions in recent months gave the United States detailed intelligence about Mr. Mehsud's whereabouts, but said the United States had not acted on the information. Bush administration officials had charged that it was the Pakistanis who were reluctant to take on Mr. Mehsud and his network.

It now increasingly looks like Baitullah Mehsud is living on borrowed time. It would be interesting to see who gets to him first, the Pakistanis or the Americans. Pakistani Army would be well advised to attempt to capture him alive, something that the Americans and Indians would try and ensure does not happen.

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