Pakistani Taliban rescind peace talks offer after drone strike

Cross-purposes? Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in a statement on Thursday that the group will not participate in peace talks with Nawaz Sharif’s incoming government and will exact "revenge in the strongest way" for the death of its deputy commander Waliur Rehman in a drone strike on Wednesday (ET, Post). Ehsan blamed the Pakistani government ...

A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Image
A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Image
A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Image

Cross-purposes?

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in a statement on Thursday that the group will not participate in peace talks with Nawaz Sharif's incoming government and will exact "revenge in the strongest way" for the death of its deputy commander Waliur Rehman in a drone strike on Wednesday (ETPost). Ehsan blamed the Pakistani government for not stopping U.S. drone strikes in the country and said it was complicit in the CIA campaign.  Meanwhile, six Taliban commanders allied with Rehman unilaterally declared Khan Said as Rehman's successor on Thursday morning, a decision that didn't appear to go through Taliban central command and could indicate a fracture in the coalition (ReutersNYT).

Cross-purposes?

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in a statement on Thursday that the group will not participate in peace talks with Nawaz Sharif’s incoming government and will exact "revenge in the strongest way" for the death of its deputy commander Waliur Rehman in a drone strike on Wednesday (ETPost). Ehsan blamed the Pakistani government for not stopping U.S. drone strikes in the country and said it was complicit in the CIA campaign.  Meanwhile, six Taliban commanders allied with Rehman unilaterally declared Khan Said as Rehman’s successor on Thursday morning, a decision that didn’t appear to go through Taliban central command and could indicate a fracture in the coalition (ReutersNYT).

In the tribal region of Orakzai, at least three soldiers were killed and 15 were injured in a clash with militants on Friday (Dawn).  Government officials said more than 100 fighters assaulted a security checkpoint and that at least 20 militants were dead and 13 were injured. Sources familiar with the incident said the attack had been launched to avenge the death of Rehman.  

In a meeting with James Dobbins, the U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif emphasized the need to end drone strikes Pakistan’s tribal regions if the country is to support the United States’ Afghan exit strategy (Dawn). Dobbins is the first senior administration official to visit Pakistan since its national election early this month. 

Najeeb Khan, a member of the Masho Khel Aman Lashker peace committee, was killed in roadside bomb blast early Friday morning in Peshawar (DawnET).  The buried improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated remotely as Khan passed on his motorbike. In Swat, another local peace committee member, Mian Sher Ali Jaja, was killed and seven others were wounded when a remote-controlled IED was detonated by his car (ET).  No one has claimed responsibility for either attack. 

In Bannu, a local girls’ school was badly damaged in an attack late Thursday night and two bombs targeted a local leader, killed one security guard and injuring three others (DawnET). 

Operation cessation

Following Wednesday’s suicide attack on its office in Jalalabad, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has halted its operations across Afghanistan (DawnPajhwok).  ICRC spokesman Abdul Haseeb Rahimi confirmed the humanitarian organization had closed its office in Nangarhar province and suspended work in 16 regions of the country (ET).  The ICRC has been in Afghanistan since 1987 and currently has about 1,800 employees in the country.

Afghan security forces killed seven militant fighters in Logar province Thursday night, preventing them from launching an attack on the district government’s headquarters (Pajhwok). Another seven militants were killed and two were detained for questioning in a separate operation in Paktika province (Pajhwok). 

In the recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, the U.S. State Department states that while al Qaeda may have been weakened due to attacks on its senior leadership, it still has the ability to inspire, plot, and launch terrorist attacks from its Pakistani safe haven (Pajhwok). The report also notes that groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, and the Haqqani Network can conduct operations against U.S., coalition, Afghan, and Pakistani interests from both Afghanistan and Pakistan.   

Make it work

Earlier this week, Karachi Fashion Week held the country’s first-ever Men’s Fashion Show, showcasing collections from leading menswear designers in Karachi and Lahore (Dawn).  The two-day event featured 10 designers and was organized to gain global support and recognition for Pakistan’s established and emerging menswear mavens.  The looks featured eastern cuts, sporty formals, traditional sherwanis, and men’s jeans. 

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall 

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