Hakimullah Mehsud calls media, says he is alive
PTI 10 August 2009, 09:20pm IST / Source The Times of India
ISLAMABAD: Two days after reports emerged that he had been killed in a shootout with a rival, Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud contacted the media organisations to say that he was “alive”.
Hakimullah, one of several top Taliban commanders considered as contenders for leading the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan following the reported death of Baitullah Mehsud, telephoned Pakistani and foreign media organisations to deny reports of his death in fighting with rival Wali-ur-Rehman.
Talking to Geo News channel, Hakimullah said no scuffle had occurred between him and Rehman. He said he was “safe, hale and hearty”.
He also claimed that Baitullah was alive despite the contention of the Pakistan and US governments that they are now certain the Taliban chief was killed in a Predator drone attack in South Waziristan on August 5.
Hakimullah said if Interior Minister Rehman Malik could not present any evidence regarding the killing of Baitullah, he would “table proofs to deny the reports regarding his death”.
He said the Pakistani Taliban remained united despite the government’s claims that there was infighting among militant factions.
Baitullah’s death – Good news for Pakistan
Indrani Bagchi Friday August 07, 2009
The killing of Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud by a US drone is the first piece of good news that Pakistan can celebrate, certainly since its been near impossible to capture or kill any high-value terrorist. Mehsud was the biggest obstacle to Pakistan’s campaign in Waziristan. The Pakistan army’s job should be made easier in Waziristan, but only if they can exploit the advantages of Mehsud’s post death confusion. Certainly before either Hakimullah Mehsud or Maulana Azmatullah, both able deputies of Mehsud take over.
In a different way, the death of Mehsud, should be used by the Pakistan government to justify their usage which had created a strange situation in Pakistan.
Third, Pakistan is now an established base for the US carrying out its covert operations in this region. Out of the almost $2 billion that is coming Pakistan’s way in 2009 as “security-related aid” the Pentagon has just added an extra $114 million under section 1206 for training and equipment.
According to Pentagon figures, Pakistan will get $80 million for Mi-17 helicopters, $17 million for counter-terror package for special ops forces, $13 million for ground-based intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capability for counter-terrorism operations and $3 million for helicopter maintenance shelters.
This means Pakistan, despite all the cribbing by its president Asif Ali Zardari about less aid from overseas, will be getting about $5.3 billion in 2009 alone, in security and economic aid from the US. Interestingly, from India’s point of view, the new kinds of aid to Pakistan should not be entirely unwelcome, US is no longer giving Pakistan money that it would have otherwise spent on military equipment against India, but is targeting them for counter-terror operations. On the other hand, as the US shoulders Pakistan’s burden of fighting the Taliban, Pakistan gets to free up that much resources to use against India.
But the US is clearly pitching its tents for a long stay in the Af-Pak region, using Islamabad as its hub. According to reports in Pakistan last week, the US embassy in Islamabad is undergoing a huge makeover — having acquired 18 acres of land in Islamabad, with 1000 more personnel, bringing their strength to almost 1800, supposedly including 350 Marines (later the Pakistan foreign office spokesperson was later quoted as saying that 1000 Marines would be stationed there), 250 housing units as well as hundreds of armoured personnel carriers.
In other words, US diplomatic and military presence in Pakistan is being ramped up significantly, far beyond the call of its relationship with Pakistan.
In the years 2002 to 2009, US gave Pakistan $10.8 billion in military aid and only a paltry $4.4 billion in economic aid.
In the years after 9/11, Pakistan got US defence supplies in plenty, most of them to be used against India, not terrorists.
According to US Pentagon reports, Pakistan bought the following from the US in those years – weapons and military equipment bought with a variety of resources – some, Pakistan’s own money, some US’ foreign military financing, some from what is called excess defense articles, some from a fund known as coalition support funds (CSF) given to Pakistan for fighting terrorists.
Pakistan’s big-ticket conventional military buys include, 18 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft (valued at $1.43 billion; none delivered yet), F-16 armaments including 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 1,450 2,000-pound bombs; 500 JDAM tail kits for gravity bombs; and 1,600 enhanced pave way laser-guided kits, also used for gravity bombs ($629 million); 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles ($298 million); 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles ($95 million); and six Phalanx close-in naval guns ($80 million).
The Pentagon made $4.89 billion worth foreign military sales (FMS) agreements with Pakistan between 2002 and 2008, although the bulk includes the F-16 sales. The US gave $1.9 billion military financing (FMF) with what they call a “base program” of $300 million a year from 2005-2009 and these have been used to buy US military equipment.
Pakistan bought 8 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and their refurbishment (valued at $474 million); about 5,250 TOW anti-armor missiles ($186 million; 2,007 delivered); more than 5,600 military radio sets ($163 million); six AN/TPS-77 surveillance radars ($100 million); six C-130E transport aircraft and their refurbishment ($76 million); and 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters for an added $65 million.