Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Swat Taliban, has surfaced in Afghanistan and has threatened to reignite the insurgency in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. From BBC:
“I have reached Afghanistan safely,” Maulana Fazlullah told BBC Urdu. “We are soon going to launch full-fledged punitive raids against the army in Swat.”
The voice was recognisably Maulana Fazlullah’s – he has a very distinct way of pronouncing words. I have spoken to him on several occasions and met him twice.
Maulana Fazlullah was calling from an Afghan number and sounded in good spirits when he called on Monday. He said that those claiming success for the Swat operation should try to prevent drone attacks and the US security firm Blackwater from operating in Pakistan.
He issued a warning to the North West Frontier Province’s information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
“The authorities should beware, especially Mian Iftikhar Hussain, whose fate will be like that of Najibullah,” he warned, referring to Dr Najibullah who was Afghan president before the Taliban hanged him in 1996 when they took Kabul.
The Pakistani military and government had Fazlullah written off as dead several times last summer. It would be interesting to know where Fazlullah is in Afghanistan. Good money would put him somewhere in Nuristan or Kunar, where US forces are shutting down bases and allowing the Taliban to openly govern in parts of these provinces.
The Taliban said the US pullback from Nuristan has given the group new life to operate. These claims were dismissed by some Western observers as Taliban propaganda. But Fazlullah’s emergence in Afghanistan shows the claims are not merely propaganda.
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