MIRAMSHAH, Nov 3: Asmatullah Shaheen was appointed on Sunday interim chief of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, two days after Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike.

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told this correspondent on phone from an unspecified place that Asmatullah would head the organisation till the appointment of a new chief.

Asmatullah, who belongs to Jandola in South Waziristan, heads the executive council of Taliban.

“According to the procedure, the head of the executive council (Aali Shura) is named interim chief till the appointment of new leader,” the spokesman said, adding that consultations for choosing Hakeemullah’s successor were under way.

Hakeemullah, his uncle and four others were killed when the drone fired two missiles at his compound and a vehicle in Dandy Derpakhel area of North Waziristan.

The spokesman said the TTP was waiting for an official jirga sent to discuss modalities for peace talks but, he alleged, the government in league with the US spoiled the process.

AFP adds: Shahidullah 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 the government were sitting with the US finalising deals to sell us.”

And he stopped short of vowing revenge for the death of Hakeemullah who took over as TTP chief after its founder Baitullah Mehsud was eliminated in a drone strike in 2009. “Time will tell whether we take revenge of his martyrdom or not,” he said.

In the past, TTP has responded to death of its leaders with deadly violence.


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