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Taliban to retaliate if Musharraf breaks truce

Taliban will hit back if Musharraf breaks the truce between the Pakistan Army and pro-Taliban tribal chiefs.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2006 17:19 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Taliban have threatened to retaliate if Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf breaks the recent truce between the Pakistan Army and pro-Taliban tribal chiefs of northern Waziristan.

"I told the Pakistani tribal militants that fighting in Waziristan was in the interest of America. My argument was that we should fight the US, Britain and armies of other Western countries," Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah Akhundsaid onsatellite phone from an undisclosed location on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Taliban have claimed credit for facilitating the agreement to end military operations and pull back from the area.

Akhund, who is the most wanted Taliban leader after its chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, said their fight was with the Americans and their allies, and not with the Pakistan Army.

The agreement signed on September 7 is hailed by the Pakistan government as a major achievement in the fight against terrorism. Even as the US administration has given the pact a qualified approval, the US think tanks have called it a "surrender" to terror groups in the region.

The Pakistani media, while welcoming the pact, has termed it as a "face-saving measure" by a government that realised that it could not indefinitely fight the tribals and the well-entrenched insurgents.

The northern and southern Waziristan area is the hub of Taliban activities, where Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Omar are believed to be hiding.

Akhund said the Taliban would be justified in retaliating if Musharraf broke the truce and went back on his word for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

"Violation of the recent peace agreement in Waziristan would cause problems and destabilise the whole area," he stressed.

"We know General Musharraf has been siding with President George Bush against fellow Muslims. At the behest of the US, he has waged war against the Taliban in Waziristan and is now publicly proposing to President Hamid Karzai to jointly fight the Taliban," Akhund maintained.

The Taliban leader, who lost a leg while fighting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan some years ago, has made some fresh claims about the strength of the Taliban, which was ousted from Kabul in November 2001.

He claimed 500 suicide bombers were at his disposal to launch them on mission any time. "Other Taliban commanders have their own list of fidayeens, which is on the increase with new volunteers joining," he said.

Akhund also claimed that 12,000 Taliban fighters were resisting the US-led foreign forces in the four troubled south-western provinces of Afghanistan.

He said deployment of additional NATO troops in southern Afghanistan would not make any difference to the Taliban operations.

"We have no shortage of fighters. In fact, we have so many of them that it is difficult to accommodate and arm and equip them. Some of them have been waiting for a year or more for their turn to be sent to the battlefield," Akhund claimed.

The US had cleverly handed over the troubled provinces to the British, Canadian and Dutch troops and withdrew their troops from the region, he said.

First Published: Sep 17, 2006 17:09 IST