Islamabad, Nov 9 (): Pakistan’s Taliban have named hardline commander Mullah Fazlullah as their new leader, after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack.
Mullah Fazlullah led a brutal campaign in Swat between 2008 and 2009, enforcing hard-line Islamic law that included burning schools, and public floggings and beheadings. His men shot the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.
The announcement about their new leader was made by the Taliban’s caretaker leader Asmatullah Shaheen at a news conference in an undisclosed location. The Taliban’s ruling council took seven days to reach a decision.
Fazlullah is wanted by Pakistan for the killing of security forces and the previous government had announced a Rs 5 million bounty on his head.
The Pakistani Taliban are fighting to knock down the government and impose Islamist rule in the nuclear-armed nation. He is also on the usually secret ”kill list” of US and could be the target of a drone strike – as his two predecessors were at any time.
After naming Mullah Fazlullah as their new leader, the Pakistani Taliban announced on Friday that they would organise a wave of revenge attacks against the government.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government still wants to resolve issues with the Taliban through talks in order to avoid further bloodshed and killing in Pakistan.
Security agencies have cautioned government officials of a severe backlash from TTP after former leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike. The counter attack may include targeting security and government installations in Punjab province, the central leadership of the ruling PML-N and the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Former chief, Mehsud and his allies had been tentatively open to the concept of ceasefire talks with the government, but Fazlullah, whose men were behind the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai last year, strongly oppose any negotiations.
No meaningful talks have taken place since Sharif’s election and the rise of Fazlullah could signal the start of a new period of uncertainty and violence in the already unstable region.