PAKISTAN, January 5, 2013 ― A US drone attack killed Taliban leader Maulvi Nazir on 2 January 2013.
It is believed that Nazir had good relations with Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). His area of influence included South Waziristan and the neighboring Afghanistan. A suicide attack on Nazir in November 2011 injured him, but he survived it.
The death of a Taliban leader is cause for celebration in US. The Obama Administration considered Nazir a very dangerous person in the context that he openly claimed his association with Al-Qaeda. Americans believed he recruited militants from Punjab and then sent them into neighboring Afghanistan to fight NATO forces. Although he was not an enemy of the Pakistani government, he was responsible for the deaths of many US troops in Afghanistan.
Nazir’s strategy to fight American troops in Afghanistan was different from al Qaeda’s, but his goal was the same – to damage American troops in Afghanistan. For this purpose he regularly sent fighters to carry out attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
During the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Nazir was associated with Hezbe Islami. Hezbe Islami was supported by Pakistani ISI. After Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, Nazir joined the Taliban and associated himself with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl-ur-Rahman Group). In 2006, he established Islamic law in South Waziristan. At the same time, he fought the influence of Uzbeks in Waziristan. He engaged in a fight against them and killed the Uzbek leader. Later on Nazir reconciled with the Uzbeks residing in South Waziristan.
Nazir’s fighters were part of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). TTP is a group of more than a dozen factions of Taliban. TTP was united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in August 2009. After his death, infighting broke out in the TTP. Nazir’s camp was attacked by Baitullah Mehsud’s supporters in late August, resulting in the deaths of many of Nazir’s men.
Nazir also had connections with the Haqqani network, which operates in north Waziristan. US administrations have repeatedly claimed that Al-Qaeda is hiding in the far off areas of Pakistan. The killing of Osama Bin Laden by US navy seals in Pakistan in May, 2012, is an indication of how closely al Qaeda is related to Pakistan. Recently, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton labelled the Haqqani network a terrorist outfit. Maulvi Nazir had connections with both al Qaeda and the Haqqani network.
Admiral Mike Mullen before his retirement claimed that ISI uses the Haqqani network as a veritable arm. Later, the US administration claimed that ISI supports the Haqqani network. The Haqqani network is responsible for many of the attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. These attacks have been deadly for many NATO troops. Nazir also enjoyed good relations with the ISI.
In the context of Nazir’s relations with the ISI, his death is considered a blow not just to al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, but also to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, which provide a safe heaven to the Taliban.
In the drone attack, not only was Nazir killed, but also ten of his close associates. The deaths of his men will result in a vacuum of leadership within his faction. There is an interesting inference that the Nazir’s death will result in vengeance against not just the US, but also against Pakistan, because it is believed by the Taliban that the drone attacks are carried out with the explicit approval of the Pakistani military.
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