PESHAWAR - The proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has ruled out the possibility of holding a dialogue with the Pakistan government, saying talks with the 'US slaves' were no longer possible.
“The (Pakistan) government has given us the present of Hakimullah Mehsud’s dead body,” said Shahidullah Shahid, spokesman of the banned TTP, in a media statement which has come amid optimistic statements from the Pakistan government regarding the fate of the proposed peace talks.
Shahid said the selection of Hakimullah’s successor will be made in the next couple of days. Earlier today he said the TTP had appointed an interim leader to head the group temporarily after the death of the banned terrorist organisation’s head Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.
"Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, the head of the supreme shura, has been appointed as temporary head of the TTP," Shahid said, adding that prayers for Mehsud were still going on. Mehsud, who had a $5 million US government price on him, was killed along with four cadres in North Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border on Friday.
On the other hand, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman said on Sunday that his party will offer unconditional support to Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) decision on Nato supplies blockade. The JUI-F chief stressed that there is a need to assess the situation following the killing of TTP chief, according to a private TV channel report.
“There is a dire need for another All Parties Conference (APC) in the aftermath of the killing,” he said. “Following the APC, efforts were underway to get the country out of crisis. However, the drone attacks have changed the situation and the dialogue with Taliban has been affected,” he said.
A resolution regarding the blockade of Nato supplies would be presented in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday. Fazl said that PTI should issue a notification in this regard, adding that his party will support the move unconditionally. However, he said that PTI should not take decisions regarding drone attacks single handily, adding that the rival party should have supported JUI-F’s resolution on drone attacks too.
As for the TTP leadership, interim chief Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani will run the routine affairs of the organisation during the interim period. Local media said Bhittani was selected after differences emerged among various ranks of the Taliban over selection of a new leader. He would oversee the transition of power but there were speculations that the succession issue could lead to internal friction and even disintegration of the group.
Until now Khan Syed alias Sajna is said to be the frontrunner in the race for headship while Umar Khalid Khurasani, Mullah Fazlullah and Ghalib Mehsud are prominent contenders for the position. Interstingly, Bhittani too has been touted as a potential permanent replacement. He is a leader of TTP’s South Waziristan chapter as well as head of the central Shura who was close to Mehsud.
Earlier reports said that Khan Syed alias Khalid Sajna had been appointed as the new chief of TTP, but a spokesman from Taliban's South Waziristan chapter later denied the reports and said the new chief will be elected in the next couple of days. Mehsud's death represents a significant blow for the TTP, which is blamed for killing thousands of soldiers, police and civilians in its six-year campaign against the Pakistani state.
But it prompted a furious response from the Pakistani government, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar accusing Washington of "scuttling" the peace process - though no talks had actually begun.