Pakistan’s Taliban chief was killed by a CIA missile strike, a militant commander confirmed Friday — a severe blow to extremists threatening the stability of this nuclear-armed nation and a possible boost to U.S.-Pakistani cooperation in fighting insurgents who wreak havoc along the Afghan border.
Pakistani officials vowed to dismantle the rest of the network run by Baitullah Mehsud regardless of who takes over, a move seen as essential to crippling the violent Islamists behind dozens of suicide attacks and beheadings in the country.
Already, the Taliban were holding a “shura” council in the lawless, rugged South Waziristan tribal region to choose Mehsud’s successor, intelligence officials and militants told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. It was unclear when they might reach a decision.
Pakistan considered the al-Qaida-linked Mehsud its No. 1 internal threat. He was suspected in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and many other assaults. He claimed responsibility for some, including an audacious attack on a police academy in March that killed 12 people.
……”I confirm that Baitullah Mehsud and his wife died in the American missile attack in South Waziristan,” Taliban commander Kafayat Ullah told AP by telephone.
Hey Ullah, just give us a few days to get the GPS on your location so that you and Mehsud will share occupancy in hell.
……A tribesman who spoke on condition his name not be used said the missile struck Mehsud’s father-in-law’s house. He said a doctor was treating Taliban leader there for a kidney ailment. The tribesman said he attended Mehsud’s funeral.
Pakistan has served as a safe haven for Taliban cells for years. There are Taliban sympathizers in their government, military, and intelligence service.
Aside from that, the rugged terrain of the north Pakistan/southern Afghanistan border provides excellent cover, concealment, and secluded supply routes.
A comprehensive analysis of the Pakistan/Afghanistan battlespace can be found at Stratfor:
We also have to contend with tribal loyalty, which manifests itself in hostility toward outsiders and a region which is virtually ungovernable.
I’ve always maintained that we made a huge mistake washing our hands of Afghanistan after we helped the mujahedin kick out the Soviets. Power loves a vacuum, and the frothing Islamic zealots were right there to fill it.
Between the political complexities, the endless manufacture of terrorist cells across the Middle East, and the half-assed efforts of Pakistan in this fight, anything short of a scorched earth policy will drag this shit out for decades.