The top Taliban leader in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan has denied that he ordered other “militants” to vacate areas under his control.
Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the emir of the Taliban in North Waziristan, said recent reports that he ordered Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and others to leave the tribal agency were “fabricated.” Bahadar made the statement through his official spokesman, Ahmadullah Ahmadi, according to The News.
Ahmadi warned Pakistani reporters not to attribute false statements and said the Taliban had launched an investigation into the reports.
“We always respected journalists and will continue our cooperation with them in future as well but request them to show honesty and professionalism while writing about sensitive issues,” Ahmadi told The News. “We will not tolerate those involved in defaming the Taliban by such fabricated stories.”
As recently as July 26, a report emerged at IRNA that Bahadar’s Shura-e-Mujahideen had issued a “last warning to those who had attacked the [Pakistani] security forces” after Pakistani troops were killed in an IED attack in North Waziristan. “They should avoid any such action in future otherwise practical steps would be taken against them,” read the statement attributed to Bahadar.
Ahmadi also claimed that there were no “militants” in North Waziristan, and that Bahadar’s Taliban faction has lived up to its terms of a peace agreement with the Pakistani military. But, as documented here at The Long War Journal numerous times, Bahadar provides support and shelter for top al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
North Waziristan serves as a base for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and non-aligned Taliban groups, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, and a host of Pakistani terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban.