ISLAMABAD: Pakistan spy agencies have traced the hideout of the fugitive Swat Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah in an eastern Afghan province and want international forces stationed there to get him out.
Officials in the intelligence agencies told The Express Tribune on Sunday that Fazlullah, also known as Mullah Radio, was hiding in Kunar province of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan’s Chitral district and Bajaur tribal region.
They said top security operatives have tipped their Afghan and American counterparts about the presence of Fazlullah in a district controlled by one of anti-Pakistan commanders but there hasn’t been any action so far.
“We know exactly where he (Fazlullah) is in Afghanistan…we have told Americans and Afghans to get him. But they hardly seem to be interested in moving against him,” said one security official based in Peshawar.
The assertion speaks of a ‘deep mistrust’ between US and Pakistani intelligence outfits, which otherwise are allies in the war on terror.
The revelation comes days after Fazlullah featured in a video addressing his would-be suicide bombers and warning that his Taliban would take the valley they once ruled back from security forces.
On Saturday Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain’s son was killed by unknown assassins. Taliban claimed responsibility for the murder.
It was Fazlullah who once warned Hussain of dire consequences.
All these incidents indicate Swat Taliban, who were flushed out from the valley in a military operation last summer, could still be a threat and might be in a position to re-launch them.
Intelligence officials said security agencies lost track of Fazlullah immediately after a military operation was launched in May last year to retake the valley from Taliban led by him.
According to them, the Mullah Radio might have crossed over the border using one of several secret routes from Swat into Upper Dir and from there to Kunar province.
One official said the intelligence outfits believe Fazlullah left Swat before the military moved into his stronghold of Ghat Peochar in upper parts of the valley, betraying his commanders.
In November last year, he rang up a Peshawar-based BBC journalist, Hai Kakar, from Kunar province of Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2010.