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Father of Taliban dies

world Updated: Jan 11, 2011 23:33 IST
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Major General Naseerullah Babar, 82, the man credited with creating the Taliban, passed away due to protracted illness in a Peshawar hospital on Monday.

A retired army officer who had trained in Dehra Dun, Babar served as Pakistan's interior minister during Benazir Bhutto's second term in government from 1993-1996.

In 1996, he led the operation against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party in Karachi and arrested hundreds of activists on charges that they were involved in anti-state activities, including links with India.

In the mid 90's, Babar as interior minister led a convoy of trucks into Afghanistan to open up trade in the country. He is also remembered for his singular support for the Taliban militia, although he retired from public life before the Taliban finally emerged as a force.

He was suffering paralysis for last two and half years and was under treatment at Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar, where he died on Monday. He was buried in his ancestral graveyard in Pirpai, Nowshera. He is survived by wife and daughter.

Born in 1928, Babar served in the Pakistan Army from 1948 to 1974 and joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the 1970s. He was considered to be extremely close to the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Babar's role in propping up and supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan was also pivotal. He made no bones about the fact that he was the father of the Taliban and commanded respect within the Taliban leadership.

However, Babar looked at Taliban as a 'strategic and political ally', not an organisation he was ideologically connected to, and believed a Taliban government could help Pakistan strategically.

In his twilight years, Babar distanced himself from the PPP over the issue of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance - of which he was a bitter critic - choosing to leave the party and formally end his political career.