SOMEWHERE IN WAZIRISTAN: The Afghan Taliban are financially supporting the Pakistani militants and providing sanctuary to them in Afghanistan, spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban has said.
The disclosure, which the spokesman made on Saturday in an interview with a small group of reporters, is meaningful because Pakistan has long been accused of pursuing a policy of differentiating between the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban as so-called ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants --- even though Islamabad denies this.
“The Afghan Taliban are our jihadi brothers,” said Shahidullah Shahid in an interview in Waziristan, the Taliban’s main tribal sanctuary in Pakistan along the Afghan border.
“In the beginning, we were helping them, but now they are strong enough and they don’t need our help, but they are now supporting us financially.”
The Afghan Taliban were also providing sanctuary for a prominent Pakistani commander, Mullah Fazlullah, in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, said Shahid.
The Pakistani Taliban have financed many of their attacks through a combination of kidnapping for ransom cases, extortion and bank robberies. But Shahid’s comments indicate these sources of financing do not always provide the funds they need.
Shahid reiterated the Taliban’s view that peace talks would not succeed unless the government released all militant prisoners and withdrew the army from the tribal region. He also demanded an end to US drone strikes targeting militants in the tribal region.
“Yes, we are terrorists, but we are against the system of the infidels,” said Shahid. “We will fight up to our last drop of blood to impose Sharia (Islamic) law in the country.”
The interview took place in a guestroom attached to a mud house. The Taliban requested that the reporters refrain from revealing exactly where in Waziristan the house was located.
Shahid arrived at the house surrounded by bodyguards in a vehicle with tinted windows. He wore white shalwar kameez and a green army jacket. One of the pockets contained a grenade.
After the interview, the reporters were served a meal of beef curry, rice, fruit and cold Pepsi and Mountain Dew.—AP