Pakistan to Hunt Taliban Leader Baitullah Mehsud in al-Qaida Stronghold Waziristan

June 15, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Pakistan has reportedly ordered its military to launch a full-scale hunt for warlord Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban and his militant network, in his mountain hideout in South Waziristan. Mehsud has become the most wanted man in Pakistan for his role in dozens of suicide bombings in major cities over the past two years, many of them in recent weeks. The government says he has killed over 1,200 people and was blamed for the assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, an accusation he denies.

Washington regards the tribal region as a particularly troublesome hideout for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters suspected of attacks on US forces in neighboring Afghanistan. South Waziristan is a rugged mountainous area that is considered a possible hiding place of Osama bin Laden and perhaps the last stronghold for al-Qaeda in Pakistan.  Pakistan has fought Mehsud three times since 2004 but has lost each encounter and then been forced to cut a peace deal that only emboldened the Taliban.  But with public support and new found political will,  Pakistan must win this time, and in so doing will strike a decisive blow to the Taliban and al-Qaida.


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