Orakzai Taliban chief extends full help

November 06, 2001

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KOHAT, Nov 5: The patron-in-chief of Taliban of Orakzai Agency, Akhunzada Aslam Farooqui, has assured the Taliban in Afghanistan of full cooperation of tribesmen and offered them 12,000 men with arms and ammunition against the US-led military offensive.

Mr Akhunzada, a close friend of Mullah Mohammad Omar and Bin Ladenn, who led a 21-member delegation to Afghanistan recently returned on Saturday after holding meetings with leading commanders including governor of Nangarhar, Mullah Mohammad Kabir.

Talking to Dawn on telephone from his remote village in the Teerah valley of the Orakzai Agency on Monday, he said the Taliban appreciated the cooperation extended the tribesmen. The governor told the delegation that their morale was high and said their forces were ready to face the ground offensive.

He said the US had contacted many former warring factions including the Hizb-i-Islami of Gulbadin Hekmatyar for help to fight Taliban and arrest Osama but they had refused to extend any kind of cooperation to them and condemned the bombing over civilian population. However, he welcomed any move towards a peaceful settlement of the terrorism issue through dialogue.

He observed that the British forces were afraid of launching ground offensive unless the Northern Alliance takes over Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul and helped them in the establishment of their headquarters in any one of these places.

He said strategically both these areas were of immense importance for the winter offensive, which would have little success chances if launched from extreme south i.e. Kandahar. The US and its allies were planning to land their forces in the central Afghanistan or in the west and operate from there in the guidance of the Northern Alliance or any other friendly group. They would certainly like to capture the air bases in the north-west and the centre. Mr Akhunzada is only 31 and a close friend of 34-year-old Mullah Omar and claims to have more than seven hundred thousand followers.