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In this July 28, 2011 file photo, Taliban No 2 commander  Waliur Rehman talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Shawal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border in Pakistan. — AP Photo.
In this July 28, 2011 file photo, Taliban No 2 commander Waliur Rehman talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Shawal area of South Waziristan along the Afghanistan border in Pakistan. — AP Photo.

ISLAMABAD: The killing of the Pakistani Taliban's deputy leader is a heavy blow to the militants but could also complicate peace efforts due to the loss of a relatively moderate voice, analysts say.

Waliur Rehman, second-in-command of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in the early hours of Wednesday by a US drone attack in the tribal district of North Waziristan, according to Pakistani security officials.

The TTP has killed thousands in its bloody campaign of gun and bomb attacks in recent years, attacking the Pakistani state for being insufficiently Islamic and for allying itself with the US “war on terror”.

Washington refused to confirm Rehman's death but said that if true it would mean the TTP had lost its “chief military strategist”, blamed for assaults on US forces in Afghanistan including a suicide attack that killed seven CIA agents.

The TTP groups numerous different tribal and militant factions, sometimes competing. Analyst Saifullah Khan Mehsud said the 42-year-old Rehman was the only figure since Baitullah Mehsud, the network's founder, to inspire respect across the spectrum. “His death is a big blow to the TTP, they have lost their statesman, they have lost a man who had the support of the rank and file and I believe that it will be very difficult for the TTP to replace him,” Mehsud, executive director of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) Research Centre, told AFP.

“When we look at the current leadership, mid- and high leadership among the TTP, we don't see anyone who has supposedly the capability to replace Waliur Rehman.” Rehman, who had three wives and was a member of the Mehsud tribe which dominates the TTP, was a key figure in the outfit from its inception in 2007. He came from a religious background and set up a seminary in his native South Waziristan before taking up arms.

Pakistan's incoming prime minister Nawaz Sharif has raised the possibility of talks with the Taliban to try to end the bombings and shootings that plague life on an almost daily basis. Tribal affairs and security expert Rahimullah Yusufzai said Rehman's links to the mainstream religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party, seen as a possible go-between in any talks, could have made him a useful interlocutor.

“A common perception about Rehman was his political mind – he was considered as a man who believed in talks,” Yusufzai told AFP. “He was close to JUIF and his elimination from the scene would be a great setback to the peace efforts.”

TTP supremo Hakimullah Mehsud, himself several times mistakenly reported killed by US drone strikes, is seen as a more hardline militant and Mehsud the analyst said negotiating with him would be difficult. “He is considered as very volatile and considering his crimes against the Pakistani state, it would be very, very difficult for the Pakistani state to come to terms with the fact that they will have to talk with someone like him,” he said. In any event, peace talks look a distant prospect. Sharif has set accepting the Constitution and the rule of law as a condition for coming to the table, something the TTP reject. Moreover, meaningful dialogue could only go ahead with the blessing of the armed forces, Pakistan's most powerful institution.

Last month the military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani made it clear the militants could not dictate terms for talks. “We sincerely desire that all those who have strayed and have picked up arms against the nation, return to the national fold,” he said in a speech. “However, this is only possible once they unconditionally submit to the state, its Constitution and the rule of law. There is no room for doubts when it comes to dealing with rebellion against the state.”

Yusufzai said the killing could well drive the TTP even further away from the path to peace. “Taliban will take revenge as they had already said that Pakistan military are cooperating with US on drone strikes,” he said. “But Taliban cannot take revenge on Americans, which means they will speed up their attacks on Pakistan military and security forces.”

Analyst Hasan Askari said the drone strike would raise pressure on the Taliban because they were powerless to strike back against the Americans. “It is a setback for the Pakistani Taliban. It has shown the US capacity and it will build more psychological effects on the Taliban,” Askari said.

Comments (36) Closed

ashok May 30, 2013 08:23pm

usa speaks he language which terrorists understand

saeed May 30, 2013 08:41pm

These so called analysts calling him a moderate who is killing thousandsof innocents is a joke.please stop making people fool.

Tamilselvan May 30, 2013 08:55pm

Here is a so called moderate Taliban whose thugs have killed hundreds across three countries and when he was alive he could not talk peace and now the article states that his death will stall peace efforts. As Gen. Kayani has stated they need to come to the table to talk with no preconditions. Need more drone attacks to wipe out people who kill innocents. Thank you America

MSA May 30, 2013 09:15pm

Who says drone attacks are not working or effective? They should kill as many of TTP as possible. Negotiating with these killer insurgents does not make sense.

Jaseem May 30, 2013 10:03pm

The killing of the Pakistani Taliban's deputy leader by American Drones is a bad news, because that means more beheadings of innocent Pakistani Muslim soldiers and Muslim civilians as a way to push Sharifs and Imran to take more aggressive stand against Drones!!!

kam May 30, 2013 10:23pm

Perhaps Pakistan should consider allowing the US military soldiers to come and conduct ground operations if the Taliban attack Pakistans military.

Jawwad May 30, 2013 10:38pm

This is the job of Pakistani State to eliminate the threat of TTP and not US. If you don't clean house, someone else will which is essentially being happening. Talks or no talks, TTP is effectively killing our innocent citizen so favor has been returned.

gangadin May 30, 2013 10:46pm

Obviously some one wants to thwart peace effort in Pakistan. Well let's see who is benefiting from all this disturbance in the country?

Nadeem May 30, 2013 11:02pm

Why Americans were waiting for 4 years to kill Waliur Rehman? Actually they don't peace in Pakistan, they hate Pakistani live peacefully. When they realize New Governmnet and TTP are going to bring peace in Pakistan, Americans killed Waliur Rehman.

Nadeem May 30, 2013 11:06pm

Smart Americans - Poor Pakistani. Now we have to be united as a nation and tell them "No more Putli Tamasha."

Aik Pakistani May 30, 2013 11:28pm

Thank you America for getting rid of this bearded animal. The world is a much better place without these violent fanatics. These mullah bigots have ruined Pakistan for the past decade. I hope US continues eliminate these taliban terrorists.

syed ahmed May 31, 2013 12:06am

Justice dealt.

syed ahmed May 31, 2013 12:05am

justice dealt

kulukkubaba May 31, 2013 12:19am

Super o Super. I am a jolly good boy!

Iqbal May 31, 2013 02:25am

Every time Pakistan is working on peace, the effort is sabotaged by a drone... this is not the first time... and this will not be the last time.

TM May 31, 2013 02:30am

US army bringing justice to killers of Pakistani army men. Better late than never,

javed May 31, 2013 03:02am

Over 40,000 innocent Pakistanis have been killed by the TTP and their ilk. This man was guilty of murder. his spokesman calls the media to boast every time they kill Pakistanis. Stop trying to romanticize him and make him some sort of a hero. He was a murderer.

Chris May 31, 2013 03:46am

@gangadin: The TTP is benefiting from it obviously. They are safe in Pakistan, at least from the military and inteligence forces.

g May 31, 2013 04:18am

Excellent news. Please nominate his replacement so he can be killed also.

Akil Akhtar May 31, 2013 04:36am

@gangadin: US and India... sadly our so called liberals are too busy in pleaseing them to see the reality

gohar May 31, 2013 04:37am

suspicious timing I must say. While I dont support dialogue with these maniacs the timing of this attack is horrible and raises doubts about US intentions. We should pack all these murderers up and send them back to their financiers in india!

Muhammad Farooq May 31, 2013 05:13am

Relatively moderate voice??? death and destruction caused by TTP is horrible. What goes around comes around. Since elections the incoming govt gave clear indications to TTP for talks, negotiation and peace. But they did not stop bombing around in Pakistan on a daily basis. Now when their # 2 is killed they have called off talks? This sounds so ironical so unfair so unjust on their part. In fact, now they are on the defensive. This is the time to strike again. The govt should officially permit drone attacks with care, accuracy and precision so this issue is resolved.

Khokhar May 31, 2013 05:39am

As he was willing to talk, that didnt go well with either the TTP leadership or some one else who dont want even a chance of peace in Pakistan! you do the maths.

Azhar Hussain May 31, 2013 07:37am

They continued killing our brothers during the elections, talks with these barbarians is futile.

Goldy May 31, 2013 08:33am

Plan B executed already. No need for Plan A (talks) .....drones are useful. I dont know what would the drone haters say now

Akbar Khan May 31, 2013 08:34am

I don't understand one thing, why Pakistan Army does not go full fledge against these people with all its might and force, taking help from USA (in finding their locations); chase them out wherever they are hiding., whether its South Waziristan or North Waziristan. If the reply is that it would create a war like situation in our tribal areas then let it be, we and the tribal areas are not living in peace anyway....I don't know why..

Ibrahim May 31, 2013 09:16am

The killing of the Pakistani Taliban's deputy leader is a heavy blow to the militants but could also complicate peace efforts due to the loss of a relatively moderate voice, analysts say== now analysts say is exactly the same label as Naamaaloom afraaad. Why do unknown people make statements that are difficult to decipher. It is also difficult to understand how someone who has been a chief strategist for TTP which has not refrained from blowing up schools, children, women and been completely blinded by their thirst to to make a bloody impact could be called moderate. All wear the same shell and they would only negotiate when TTP thinks its not in their good interest to continue the war like this. Peace talks would not be successful due to a kind heart among them, will only happen because of a smart brain among the top ranks in TTP. A Dumb ranger will eventually get them all killed eventually!

N K Ali May 31, 2013 10:11am

This is classical example of American mischief. The immediate benefits accrue to the USA and the long-term damage is to our national structure. As soon as the political parties want peace and economic development, BANG! something invariably happens. Salams

Prakash Rao May 31, 2013 10:23am

Militants thrive by creating chaos. They will come to negotiating table ONLY when they are cornered and face a defeat. You cannot talk peace with militants of any hues. You have to isolate, defeat and annihilate them. Srilanka has set an example by decisively defeating the Tamil tigers and killing Prabhakaran who was the most dreaded Militant.

Darbullah May 31, 2013 10:59am

Looks like drones are able to do what the Pakistani Army is not able to. Hats off to the drones. Looks like we need thousands more over Pakistani sky.

muzammil ullah khan May 31, 2013 11:46am

Those who think peace with Taliban is possible live in fools paradise . How can you talk peace to people who want to eliminate democracy , abrogate the constitution and enact laws which are very retrogressive in nature . The kind of Islam they want to impose on others is not acceptable to a large majority as seen in the elimination of religious parties in these elections . These are a bunch of criminals supported by foreign powers . The solution to Taliban problem is their total elimination but cowards like Imran and Nawaz cannot do it . Imran is a typical fellow following in the foot steps of another Niazi , the one who surrendered to the Indians ! He wants to surrender to these thugs who call themselves TTP !!

bauke May 31, 2013 12:12pm

@Khokhar: ......"didn't go well with teh TTP leadership....." He himself was second in the TTP leadership.

akram May 31, 2013 01:44pm

He got a taste of his own medicine. The way to deal with these militants is to target their income sources, they are basically just thieves dressed as 'Taliban'.

syed baqar ahsan May 31, 2013 01:49pm

Yousafzai bhai/Hasan Askari bhai why we should confuse each other TTP was created to destroy writ of Pakistan at all cost,anybody in time to come from TTP think of peace talks will be honourable killed.At show a high pedestal why you confuse the govt,Lal Masjid is classic reference case for all studies related to TTP.

Ravi Ingale from University of Pune May 31, 2013 02:39pm

Bakare ki maa kab tak khair manati, kabhi na kabhi to halal hona hi tha.

p.mohamed faheem May 31, 2013 07:28pm

drone strikes are a blessing in disguise.anyone opposing it should guarantee the safety of lives of innocent lives who are easy targets in the hands of merciless killers these ttp coward