Declaring that “the negotiations with the government were a component of war which is still continuing”, the ameer of the Swati Taliban Mullah Fazlullah has threatened to target Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani the way his men had targeted the General Officer Commanding of Swat Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi [and killed him on September 15].
Appearing in an official Taliban video released on the Facebook page of Umar Media, the official propaganda organ of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Fazlullah has claimed responsibility for having killed Maj Gen Sanaullah, adding that his ultimate target was General Ashfaq Kayani.
“Our next target is [General] Kayani and Corps Commander (Peshawar). Allah willing, we will attack them. We are working on it”, Fazlullah can be heard in the video as saying.
The video first shows a footage which captured the blast that killed GOC Swat and his two aides in the Upper Dir IED blast on September 15. A military vehicle is seen traveling along a road on the side of a mountain when it is hit with a massive blast. The vehicle explodes and then careens down the mountainside, to be followed by slogans of Allah-o-Akbar by the Taliban.
The video then shows Fazlullah giving an interview and detailing the attack that killed Major General Sanaullah Khan along with a lieutenant colonel who commanded the 33 Baloch Regiment, and a sepoy.
“We had also hit Major General Javed Iqbal’s helicopter last year. The Pakistan Army is still unable to understand as to how we had done that. The attack was actually meant to avenge the killing of our respected teacher, Maulana Waliullah Kabalgrami (who had died in the custody of the Pakistani security forces in 2009). In fact, Maulana Waliullah was an active member of the Sufi Muhammad-led Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).
But his close proximity with Fazlullah was first noticed in 2009 when the Pakistani Army had launched a massive operation clean up in Swat to uproot the jehadi network of Mullah Fazlullah who was not only the ameer of the Swat chapter of the TTP but was also heading the Swat chapter of the TNSM.
Well placed sources in the establishment say Maulana Waliullah used to provide shelter to the members of the private army of Mullah Fazlullah besides helping them escape to Kabalgram from Buner via Martung. As the Pakistani security forces captured Martung, Waliullah decided to surrender in a bid to save his life. He was released by the Pakistan Army in July 2010 but re-arrested shortly afterwards. He remained in the custody of the security agencies till his death on December 7, 2010 under mysterious circumstances. While the establishment’s circles say the Maulana had died because of a sudden heart attack, the Taliban allege that he was killed by the security forces to send a message to the Taliban.
In the latter part of his interview, Fazlullah has also addressed the issue of peace talks with the Pakistani government, while making it clear that the Pakistani Taliban would not accept anything short of enforcing Shariah in the country as the supreme law of the land besides uprooting democratic form of government.
“The government of Pakistan is enslaved and is not autonomous. In the past, it has not abided by a single peace pact with the Taliban.
Negotiations [with the government] are a component of war and this war is still continuing”, said Fazlullah, who is also known in the jehadi circles as Mullah Radio for his radical sermons.
Narrating his future plans in the interview, Mullah Fazlullah has vowed to continue his fight against the Pakistani state to regain control of Swat and the surrounding districts with the help of his supporters. Fazlullah then claimed that he was getting support not just from some members of the general public but also from some powerful members of the state. “There are people in this government and in the armed forces who agree with our ideology. Pakistan was made on the basis of this ideology and, therefore, many of these Muslims support us on ideological grounds. The examples of Taliban successfully breaking jails across Pakistan and conducting other major operations are a proof of the level of our penetration”.
Fazlullah, who continues to command the Taliban mafia in Dir and Malakand division despite operating from Afghanistan, had also ordered the killing of Malala Yousufzai by accusing her of violating Islamic Shariah and for speaking against Taliban in Swat.
It has been four years since Fazlullah and his henchmen were ousted from the Malakand Division in a successful military operation, however the fear of the Taliban is still in the back of the minds of local inhabitants.
The Karzai administration remains in a state of denial about Fazlullah’s presence in Afghanistan despite having been provided credible information about his precise locations in the Kamadesh and Chapa Dara districts of the Nuristan and Kunar provinces.