Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Good Taliban, Bad Taliban? Pakistani Commander's Killing Exposes Blurry Lines

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Good Taliban, Bad Taliban? Pakistani Commander's Killing Exposes Blurry Lines

Article excerpt

The US drone killing of Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir threatens to unleash new anti-government violence against the countrys weak government or civilian targets, and expose fractures in the countrys military and security forces, analysts say.

Mr. Nazir was traveling in a car in troubled South Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, Thursday, when his vehicle was hit by a missile, according to media reports. He and six other Pakistanis believed to be militants were killed.

The attacks highlight the convoluted interconnections among insurgent factions in Pakistan, some of whom are focused on fighting US forces in Afghanistan, others of whom seek to topple Pakistans government. Still other groups target Indian forces. Many of the factions are backed or financed by military and intelligence agencies in Pakistan, who have differing agendas themselves.

The killing was confirmed by Pakistani intelligence officials in the nearby city of Peshawar who spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Mr. Nazir, who survived a suicide attack in November reputedly organized by rival Taliban commanders, was considered to be pro- government, a rare stance among Pakistani Taliban. He had agreed in the past to restrain his fighters from targeting Pakistani government forces, instead focusing efforts on the Taliban-led anti- US insurgency in Afghanistan. That had led some to label him a good" Taliban.

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With his killing, however, some analysts say his successor and followers may now turn their guns on civilian and military targets within Pakistan.

Such [drone] attacks are not the first ones to have occurred and they have definitely created rifts between the Pakistani military and the likes of Maulvi Nazir-led Taliban, says Mehreen Zahra Malik, an Islamabad-based columnist who recently visited Wana, the town in South Waziristan where Nazir was based.

Adding to the problem is widespread outrage among most Pakistanis toward US drone strikes. The government and military have harnessed that anger to pressure Washington. The Good Taliban forces increasingly suspect these attacks are being carried out with the consent of the Pakistani security establishment, Ms. …

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