Quetta worries that it's next in the line of fire
US forces tracked down and killed their most wanted enemy Osama bin Laden after a 10-year manhunt ended in a quiet Pakistani town. Now who is next?world Updated: May 15, 2011 00:31 IST
US forces tracked down and killed their most wanted enemy Osama bin Laden after a 10-year manhunt ended in a quiet Pakistani town. Now who is next?
After killing the al Qaeda leader in a May 2 raid, the United States has made clear it will go after Islamist militants in Pakistan if it finds them, and at the top of any list would be Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
For years, US officials have said the one-eyed Omar is based is in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, not far from the Afghan border, where he heads a Taliban leadership council, or shura.
Pakistan rejects assertions that Omar is in Pakistan, or even that the so-called Quetta shura exists. But such denials ring hollow after the al Qaeda leader was found in the country after years of similar protestations.
People in Quetta are nervous and some are scornful of both sides in the fight against Islamist militancy.
"I have no sympathy at all for Mullah Omar or the Taliban but I have none for the Americans either," said Zulfiqar Tareen, a pharmaceutical company representative.
"Yes, the Taliban are terrorists but so is America."
Quetta has a population of about 2.5 million and sprawls across a flat valley surrounded by rocky mountains.
The city has long been a hub for Afghan refugees and Taliban sympathisers.
Afghan officials say Quetta is a virtual rear base for the Taliban where fighters can rest and get medical care and where their leaders plot.