How could they kill their own guru?

The fate of  Col Imam is still shrouded in mystery; Pakistani Taliban under Hakeemullah Mehsud have claimed to have killed the guru of Afghan Taliban and a decorated hero of Charlie Wilson’s war but other elements still think that it is a drama and that he was still alive. The Mehsud-led fighters have an interesting charge-sheet against the  retired colonel and one of the charges make him responsible for handing over of Pakistani bases to the USA. Very interesting indeed, as if he was the man ruling Pakistan after 9/11. But this makes one thing very clear; if Col Imam was indeed a guru of Afghan Taliban, Waziristan would be the last place to serve as Taliban sanctuary.

Will the US now stop asking Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan after it has been confirmed that the Agency is not a sanctuary of Afghan Taliban? If it was under Taliban control, the Taliban Godfather would not have been made captive in the first instance. His subsequent execution indicates that the area is under the control of those elements who are opposed to Taliban, and if Pakistan has any clandestine links with Afghan Taliban then those elements are controlling the agency that are anti-Pakistan or are opposed to its security apparatus. You do not need to be a security analyst to figure out that Pakistan’s FATA is infested with anti Pakistan elements that target only Pakistanis forces, its innocent citizens and its state symbols. Colonel Imam, a senior figure in Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, was an appropriately decorated soldier who rendered valiant services during Afghan Jihad aided and funded by Pakistan, USA and Saudi Arabia to fight Russian invasion. He was credited with training several leaders of the current Taliban-led insurgency and was honored by President George Bush for playing a key role in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, the Congressman who launched Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahedeen in their resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. He remained a strong supporter of the Taliban-led insurgency against NATO forces after it was ousted in 2001, but was kidnapped in North Waziristan in March last year along with another former ISI spy and a British television journalist. On Monday night sources close to one Taliban faction in North Waziristan said the group was holding an inquiry to establish which faction had killed him and warned those responsible will be killed.

Quoting Pakistani analysts, The Telegraph says in a report that his murder revealed the weakness of the main Afghan Taliban leadership in North Waziristan and challenged Washington’s claim that the tribal area is a stronghold of Taliban-led insurgents attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan. The United States has said a Pakistan Army offensive against militant ’safe havens’ in North Waziristan is vital to any victory against the Afghan insurgency.

A source close to Maulvi Nazir, leader of a traditionally pro-Islamabad faction of the Pakistan Taliban, vowed revenge for his killing. General Hamid Gul, Pakistan’s former intelligence chief who was accused along with Colonel Imam of backing the Afghan Taliban insurgency, warned there will be bloodshed to avenge his friend’s death and said he had last been held by a group associated with Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. He said the restless region of North Waziristan was full of “loose groups” beholden to no one and that his killers’ demand for ransom to return his body had caused anger.

He was kidnapped by the unknown Asian Tigers, led by Usman Punjabi, but was later seized by another militant commander, Sabir Mehsud, whose group attacked Punjabi and killed five of his men. Sabir Mehsud was in turn killed by militants led by Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud who first demanded the release of 160 jailed militants but later asked for 110,000 pounds ransom. General Gul said Colonel Imam’s supporters were in contact with his kidnappers and had sent medicines for him on December 20th. “They will be in trouble. I think Hakimullah Mehsud will face questions about this,” he added.

Related story:

The Long War Journal: Hakeemullah Mehsud alive, shown on tape executing ISI officer

Express Tribune: Taliban video solves two mysteries

Express Tribune: What is the TTP’s real agenda?