Taliban deny claim Mehsud demanded release of 50 militants

Published September 19, 2013
Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is seen on the left in this picture. — File photo by AP
Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is seen on the left in this picture. — File photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Taliban have denied claims that their chief Hakimullah Mehsud Thursday contacted a former Pakistani lawmaker, demanding release of 50 militants detained in various prisons across the country, DawnNews reported.

Javed Ibrahim Paracha, a former member of the National Assembly had earlier claimed that the chief of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) telephoned him and named 50 Taliban prisoners for their release, said a report aired on DawnNews.

Inmates belonging to banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-i-Sahaba – a former proscribed sectarian militant group – and the TTP were included in the list.

Paracha, who later visited Adiala Jail and met Taliban prisoners, had informed the media that a procedure for the militants’ release was under consideration.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, along with an anonymous Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) representative, had reportedly met with Paracha also.

Sources said that both the government and the Taliban were currently engaged in expediting the potential peace negotiations.

New list of proscribed organisations

On the other hand, the federal government has prepared a new list of proscribed outfits involved in militancy and extremism, said a report on BBC Urdu quoting sources in the interior ministry.

With an increase of more than 50 per cent, total number of banned organisations has reached 52, says the report.

A previous list, prepared by the interior ministry under former ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), had 23 such outfits.

According to the sources, al Qaeda tops the new list. In the previous list, the LeJ had secured the first place with TTP on the second spot.

Interestingly, the Punjabi Taliban – which were regrouping in Punjab and, according to former interior minister Rehman Malik, were behind major terrorist activities – are not included in the list.

Ghazi Force, Harkatul Jihad Islami, Al-Rashid Trust and Al-Akhtar Trust, all of which were put on the watch-list formerly, have made it to the main list this time. The new watch-list has been reduced from five to only two such organisations.

Various rival factions of the TTP operating in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have also been added to the list. They include Jundullah group, Qari Abid group, Noorullah group, Waliur Rehman group, Nizam group and Tauheed group, among others.

The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan National Liberation Front, Balochistan Republican Army, Lashkar Balochistan, Balochistan Musallah Difa Tanzeem and Balochistan Unit Army also made it to the list.

Other than the mentioned outfits, the LeJ was also active in Balochistan targeting Shia Hazara community.

Tanzeem Naujawanan Ahle-Sunnat, Muslim Student Organisation, Markaz-i-Sabeel Organisation and Shia Talba Action Committee from Gilgit-Baltistan were also included in the list.

Muhajir Republican Army, which came in the limelight when it was mentioned in the Supreme Court last month during a hearing of the Karachi law and order implementation case, has also been put on the watch-list.

Earlier during the day, the interior minister had said the outfit under observation has no links with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

According to sources in the interior ministry, LeJ, Sunni Tehrik, Tehrik-i-Nifaz Shariat-i-Muhammadi, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) are most active in Punjab province. Some members of al Qaeda have also been apprehended recently in the province.

The sources said the list of proscribed organisations was being prepared in the light of intelligence provided by the civil and military secret agencies.

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