The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has appointed Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, the head of the Supreme Shura, as the interim leader to head the group, a spokesman said on Sunday.
Former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed along with four cadres in North Waziristan Agency near the Afghan border on Friday. Shahidullah Shahid, the central spokesman for the TTP, said a permanent replacement had not been chosen yet.
“Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani, the head of the Supreme Shura, has been appointed as temporary head of the TTP,” Shahid said, adding that prayers for Hakimullah were still going on.
The killing of Hakimullah sparked a furious reaction from the government, which accused Washington of sabotaging fledgling efforts towards peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said a group of religious scholars had been ready to go and meet the TTP to initiate talks, which have been backed by all major political parties, when the drone struck.
Shahid refused to say there was no chance of the talks going ahead, but accused the government of kowtowing to Washington and cutting a deal to ‘sell’ the militants.
“Nobody in history has ever negotiated with slaves,” he said. “We were waiting for a meeting, while the Pakistan Army and government were sitting with the US finalising deals to sell us.”
Shahid stopped short of vowing revenge for Hakimullah. “Time will tell whether we take revenge of his martyrdom or not,” he said.
In the past, the TTP has responded to its leaders being killed with deadly violence.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th,2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ