PESHAWAR: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has called up army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to confirm the death of Pakistani Taliban’s top commander as The Express Tribune acquired the pictures of the purported graves of Mullah Fazlullah and his four lieutenants killed in the June 13 US drone strike in north-eastern Afghanistan.
President Ghani telephoned Gen Qamar Friday night – hours after Afghan and American officials formally confirmed the death of the most ferocious chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the umbrella of terrorist groups responsible for most violence in the country.
Mullah Fazlullah and his four commanders – identified as Abu Bakar, Sajid, Umar, and Imran – were killed in the US drone strike in the Dangam district of the Afghan province of Kunar, near the Pakistan border.
Mullah Fazlullah and his loyalists had been hiding in north-eastern Afghanistan since they were defeated in a massive operation by the Pakistani military in Swat district in 2009.
A 17-year-old son of the ultra-extremist cleric, Abdullah, along with 20 other terrorists had been killed in a US drone strike, also in Kunar province in March, this year.
“The killing of Fazlullah is a positive development,” the military’s media wing, the ISPR, said in a statement in which it also confirmed that President Ghani called army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“It [Fazlullah’s killing] gives relief to scores of Pakistani families who fell victim to [the] TTP terror [campaign] including the APS massacre,” the ISPR said in the statement.
Mullah Fazlullah had claimed credit for the gruesome slaughter of more than 140 pupils and staff at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in December 2014.
According to the ISPR, the Pakistani military leadership has always maintained that a cooperative and coordinated approach is the best response to the menace of terrorism.
Hours after the telephone call between President Ghani and Gen Qamar, The Express Tribune acquired pictures of the purported graves of Mullah Fazlullah and his four commanders somewhere in eastern Afghanistan.
The deadly US drone strike coincided with a unscheduled brief trip to Kabul by Gen Qamar where he met the Afghan leadership and commanders of the Operation Resolute Support Mission.
President Ghani made a separate telephone call to the caretaker prime minister, Nasir-ul-Mulk, to confirm Mullah Fazlullah’s death, according to Radio Pakistan.
The premier thanked Ghani and termed Mullah Fazlullah’s killing “a significant development in the fight against terrorism”.
“Finally, action has been taken against an enemy of the people and state of Pakistan,” he added. “This news would be received throughout Pakistan with relief, as Pakistanis have borne the brunt of TTP’s terrorist actions.”
President Ghani also informed Premier Mulk about positive developments following the recent ceasefire announcement which would help pave the way for the Afghan peace process to consolidate.
The prime minister assured him that Pakistan would facilitate Afghan led and Afghan owned peace efforts.