Less than 24 hours after the announcement of the death of Pakistani Taliban deputy commander Wali ur-Rehman in a U.S. drone strike in the North Waziristan region Wednesday, the group is said to have chosen a new No. 2.
The quick replacement is typical in the United States’ global war on terror. No matter how many of the opposition’s leaders the military kills, new ones swiftly pop up in their place.
A committee met late Wednesday as Rehman was buried in a “low-key ceremony,” The Guardian reported. The sources of the information, who are members of the Taliban, said the new deputy commander, Khan Said, 38, had served as Rehman’s assistant. He helped plan a 2011 attack on a Pakistani naval base in Karachi that killed 18 people, as well as a 2012 jailbreak that released almost 400 militant inmates.
“There was absolute consensus over Khan Said,” one Pakistani Taliban member said.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, though allied with them. Known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, they have launched devastating attacks against Pakistani military and civilians.
Rehman had been tipped to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud as leader of the Pakistani Taliban and had been viewed as someone less hostile to the Pakistani military than some other top operatives. His death could be viewed as a setback for incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to end violence.
Sharif criticised drone strikes during the election campaign, describing them as a challenge to Pakistan’s sovereignty. He also offered to hold talks with the militants. “Wali ur-Rehman was a serious and mature man. His death could hurt prospects for an expected peace initiative considered by the new government,” a senior security official told Reuters.
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