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Thursday Nov 07, 2013

Pakistani Taliban appoint Mullah Fazlullah as new chief

PESHAWAR: Mullah Fazlullah alias Mullah Radio has been elected as the new chief of the Pakistani Taliban following the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.

The decision to appoint the new Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) chief and his deputy Sheikh Khalid Haqqani was taken during the meeting of the Taliban ruling council.

Mullah Fazlullah led the Taliban’s brutal two year rule in Pakistan’s northwest valley of Swat in 2007-2009 before a military operation retook the area. Since the operation in Swat, Fazlullah took shelter in Afghanistan and directed attacks against Pakistan.

Pakistani intelligence believes Fazlullah has links to the attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai in Swat in October 2012, an attack which was claimed by the TTP. He is also said to be involved in the high profile killing of Major General (retd) Sanaullah Khan Niazi, General Officer Commanding Swat, in Upper Dir in an IED blast.

Following his appointment, the Taliban rejected talks with Islamabad stating Mullah Fazlullah is against negotiations with the Pakistani government.

The killing of Mehsud on Friday came as government representatives prepared to meet the TTP with a view to opening peace talks. It triggered an angry response from Islamabad, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar accusing Washington of sabotaging peace efforts.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was more measured, but said his government was committed to seeking peace through dialogue and stressing that an end to bloodshed could not be achieved "by unleashing senseless force".