[The Mullah-Military (ISI-Taliban) Alliance Remains Intact?]
Monday August 03, 2009
Alex Crawford, Asia correspondent
Sky News has obtained exclusive and conclusive proof that one of Pakistan’s most feared Taliban leaders is alive – contradicting government claims that he was killed months ago.
The Pakistani Government said Khalid died months ago
Umer Khalid, who is also known as Abdul Wali, was thought to have died in the Pakistani government’s crackdown against extremists.
But our pictures show him not only alive and well, but with four hostages whom he is threatening to kill unless the authorities free Taliban prisoners they are holding.
Khalid allowed himself to be filmed to disprove the official claims and apparently to initiate negotiations with the authorities.
The Interior Minister Rehamn Malik told reporters in January that Khalid was among those killed in an attack on militant extremists in the Mohmand Agency, part of Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The claims were denied by the Taliban at the time.
The footage – which was filmed within the last few days – shows Khalid relaxing and smiling with a group of young, armed men who form his fighting group.
He says he has 35,000 fighters under his control but this figure is impossible to verify.
Sky’s cameraman is allowed to film the militant leader signing a paper giving his access to the four hostages.
The four hostages are sitting together in a line still wearing their security uniforms.
They belong to the Frontier Constabulary, which is the security force operating in the tribal areas.
One of the men addresses the camera and says they have been held for three months.
He appeals to the government to release Taliban prisoners in exchange for their freedom.
Khalid tells Sky News that he has already killed two of his hostages but is willing to free the remaining four if five Taliban prisoners are let out of custody.
He appears to indicate he is ready to negotiate with the authorities.
The pictures of the Taliban leader coincide with concerns voiced by the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan over the success of the military operation in the Swat Valley.
Richard Holbrooke said he was not sure whether the operation had achieved its aim of driving the Taliban out of the former tourist spot.
There are increasing worries that the militants may have just shifted to other areas in the country or gone underground.
Holbrooke is the first high-profile member of the Obama administration to voice doubts over the operation in public.
The new US administration has up until now given great support to Pakistan’s attempts to curb extremism in the country.
The pictures showing Umer Khalid alive are likely to heap further embarrassment on the government.
‘Army majors arrested for collaborating with terrorists’
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Elements in the intelligence agencies who were sympathetic towards terrorists had resigned and had been arrested, a private TV channel quoted Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday, adding they were officers of the rank of major and wanted to target army generals.
He said there have been some elements in the intelligence agencies who have had links with terrorists, including Baithullah Mehsud, Qari Ilyas and Qari Hussain and with banned organisations.
To a question, he said South Waziristan had become a hub of anti-state activities and terrorists from various areas, including Hangu, Bajaur and Mohmand agencies, were operating against security forces.
Malik said he would bring the culprits behind Benazir Bhutto’s murder to justice.
He said terrorists were responsible for the current economic and law and order situation.
He said the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Muhammad supported Taliban and Al Qaeda in destabilising the country, adding all madrassas were not involved in illegal activities. (Daily Times, 4 August 2009)