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Taliban sacks its Pakistan Chief

Taliban chief Mullah Omar has removed the wanted militant leader Baitullah Mehsud as the commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for fighting the Pakistani army.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2008 23:20 IST

Taliban chief Mullah Omar has removed the wanted militant leader Baitullah Mehsud as the commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for fighting the Pakistani army, a news report has said.

Asia Times Online quoted Mullah Omar as telling other Taliban commanders to turn their focus on NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan even as President Pervez Musharraf has ordered intensified military operations against the pro-Taliban militants in South Waziristan.

Mehsud, appointed by Omar as the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, was expected to provide support to the Taliban in Afghanistan, but instead directed all his fighters against Pakistani security forces. Now, Omar has sacked Mehsud for fighting against the Pakistan Army instead of with NATO forces, said the report of the Hong Kong-based online.

“The Afghan front is quiet because the Taliban and al Qaeda militants are heavily engaged in fighting Pakistani security forces in Waziristan. Therefore, Mullah Omar has put his foot down to reset goals for the Taliban: struggle in Afghanistan and not against Pakistan, as was being done by Mehsud,” the report said.

It quoted intelligence sources as saying that the top Taliban cleric appointed Maulvi Faqir Muhammad as TTP chief. However, Faqir has refused to accept the post, after which the local Taliban were trying to find a replacement for Baitullah.

With the isolation of Baitullah, who has already been named by the government as the main suspect behind former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination, his loyalists are on their own to fight against the Pakistani forces.