Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maulvi Faqeer acting Tehrik-i-Taliban chief: report

Wednesday, 19 Aug, 2009

PESHAWAR: Taliban commander Maulvi Faqeer Mohammad from Bajaur has claimed taking up the position of Baitullah Mehsud temporarily, the BBC reported. He has also announced the appointment of Muslim Khan as the Tehrik-i-Taliban’s chief spokesperson.

Maulvi Faqeer spoke to the BBC over the telephone from an undisclosed location. He strongly denied reports regarding the death of Baitullah Mehsud.

He said Baitullah Mehsud has not died, adding that Baitullah is ill and for that reason he is underground. However, Maulvi Faqeer said ‘even if Baitullah Mehsud is martyred, it will not affect the Taliban movement’.

Regarding continuous questions over Baitullah’s death, he said there is no conclusive evidence that can prove his death. He said it was because of Baitullah’s illness that he had been made the acting chief of the group and after Maulvi Omar’s arrest, Muslim Khan is now the group’s chief spokesperson.

He said there has been no congregation regarding the election of a new chief and reports to that effect have no truth in them.

Responding to a question, he said ‘Maulvi Waliur Rehman or Hakimullah Mehsud have no authority to appoint a new chief without consulting the Taliban in various areas and neither can the Waziristan Taliban make such decisions.’

‘The congregation of Taliban leaders has 32 members and no important decision can be taken without their consultation,’ Maulvi Faqeer was quoted by the BBC as saying.

He said although the Waziristan Taliban ‘have given a lot to the movement and Waliur Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud are capable of carrying out leadership responsibilities, however, a decision like this will only be taken through consultation and consensus.’

He said Maulvi Omar has resigned from his position of chief spokesperson before his arrest. He had resigned because due to the deteriorating telecommunication facilities it was difficult to get in touch with the media.

Maulvi Faqeer said he would also talk to the Taliban leaders for changing the group’s name fromTehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan to Tehrik-i-Ittehad Taliban as according to him the whole world had its eyes on the movement.

Separately, the Tehrik-i-Taliban has alleged that the authorities have forced Maulvi Omar to say that Baitullah Mehsud died during a US drone strike.

The Taliban commander in Mohmand agency, Omar Khalid, told BBC that Maulvi Omar was forced into saying that Baitullah had died. Therefore, Maulvi Omar’s so-called admission has no meaning, he said.

Omar Khalid reiterated Maulvi Faqeer’s stance that Baitullah Mehsud is alive.

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