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Pakistani Taliban Picks Mullah Fazlullah As New Leader

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

The Pakistani Taliban's new leader Mullah Fazlullah (file photo)

The Pakistani Taliban's new leader Mullah Fazlullah (file photo)

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, has selected Mullah Fazlullah to be the group's new leader.

He replaces Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike last week.

A TTP commander, identified as Jafar Khurasani, confirmed Fazlullah's election to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal.

Fazlullah is the chief of the Taliban faction from Swat Valley and reportedly the person who ordered the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old education activist who was shot in the head in October 2012.

Fazlullah's group controlled the Swat Valley area in northwestern Pakistan from 2007-09.

Beheadings

During the time of Fazlullah's control, men in Swat were forced to grow beards, women were discouraged from going outside, and beheadings and public beatings were routinely meted out to offenders of Fazlullah's form of Shari'a.

Pakistani analyst and journalist, Mushtaq Yousufzai told RFE/RL that Fazlullah's selection likely heralds a worsening of violence in Pakistan.

"The problems for Pakistan will increase if Maulana Fazlullah becomes the chief of the TTP. There are vast differences between Maulana Fazlullah and the [Pakistani] government," Yousufzai said.

"Maulana Fazlullah was expelled [by the government] from Swat, many of his colleagues have been killed, and many others are under detention [by Pakistani authorities]. [In this situation], if [Fazlullah] becomes the TTP chief, then it is believed that the problems for the Pakistan [government] will increase even more."

The Pakistani government was set to renew peace talks with the TTP and according to some reports, former TTP leader Mehsud planned to enter into negotiations with Pakistani authorities.

Fazlullah seems unlikely to pursue the same policy and not long after the announcement of Fazlullah's election.

Taliban spokesman Shaidullah Shahid said, "There will be no more talks as Mullah Fazlullah is already against negotiations with the Pakistan government."

With reporting by AFP
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