Baitullah is on his own, say Afghan Taliban
PESHAWAR, Jan 28: The Taliban in Afghanistan have distanced themselves from Pakistani militants led by Baitullah Mehsud, saying they don’t support any militant activity in Pakistan.“We do not support any militant activity and operation in Pakistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Dawn on telephone from an undisclosed location on Monday.
The spokesman denied media reports that the Taliban had expelled Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.“Baitullah is a Pakistani and we as the Afghan Taliban have nothing to do with his appointment or his expulsion. We did not appoint him and we have not expelled him,” he said.
A spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud has already denied the expulsion report in a Hong Kong magazine and said that the militant leader continued to be the amir of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan.“He has not been expelled and he continues to be the amir of Pakistani Taliban,” Baitullah’s spokesman Maulavi Omar said.
The Asia Times Online in a report last week claimed that the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had removed Baitullah from the leadership of the Taliban movement for fighting in Pakistan at the expense of ‘Jihad’ in Afghanistan.“We have no concern with anybody joining or leaving the Taliban movement in Pakistan. Ours is an Afghan movement and we as a matter of policy do not support militant activity in Pakistan,” the Taliban spokesman said.“Had he been an Afghan we would have expelled him the same way we expelled Mansoor Dadullah for disobeying the orders of Mullah Omar. But Baitullah is a Pakistani Talib and whatever he does is his decision. We have nothing to do with it,” Mr Mujahid maintained.“We have nothing to do with anybody’s appointment or expulsion in the Pakistani Taliban movement,” he insisted.
Baitullah, who has been accused of plotting the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto, told Al Jazeera in an interview that he had taken baya’h (oath of allegiance) to Mullah Muhammad Omar and obeyed his orders.But the Taliban spokesman said the oath of allegiance did not mean that Pakistani militants were under direct operational control of Mullah Omar.“There are mujahideen in Iraq who have taken baya’h to Mullah Omar and there are mujahideen in Saudi Arabia who have taken baya’h to him. So taking baya’h does not mean that Mullah Omar has direct operational control over them,” the spokesman said.
"DAWN" OF KARACHI 29-1-08