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Ear to the Ground

Pakistani Taliban Pick Provisional Leader

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Posted on Nov 3, 2013
AP/Shakil Adil

Supporters of the Pakistani religious party Jamaat-u-Dawa burn a representation of an American flag in Karachi on Friday, the day Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone strike.

After Friday’s U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, the militant network was left without a leader, but by Sunday, the position was filled for the time being.

Shortly after the Pakistani Taliban confirmed Mehsud’s death, the group announced that Asmatullah Shaheen Bhittani had been tapped to take charge.

His promotion is technically temporary, but Bhittani might be in it for the long haul, depending on what Taliban officials decide in meetings over the next few days. Another member under consideration to be Mehsud’s long-term replacement is Said Khan, according to Voice of America, and CBS News reported Saturday that Mullah Fazlullah could also be in the running.

Bhittani holds another prominent position—on Pakistan’s most wanted list.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Information Minister Pervez Rasheed said that proposed peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the nation’s government would go forward. 

CNN reported:

The group, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, will not be making an announcement on a new permanent leader for several more days, according to Azam Tariq, a member of the Pakistan Taliban’s Shura Council, their centralized decision-making body..
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad was summoned to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry did not explain why the envoy was summoned. A U.S. State Department official confirmed the meeting to CNN but would not disclose details about it.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson.

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