Pak Taliban names Swat ultra as chief; vows to up attacks news
08 November 2013

The Pakistani Taliban announced today that it would orchestrate a wave of attacks against the Pakistan government, soon after naming hardline commander Mullah Fazlullah, one of their most ruthless leaders, as its new leader.

It was Fazlullah's men who shot Malala Yousafzai, the now internationally famous girls' education activist, in the head in October 2012 as she was on a bus.

But his notoriety does not stem entirely from this incident. The promotion of Mullah Fazlullah, known for his fierce Islamist views and rejection of peace talks, by the Taliban shura, or leadership council, follows the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, the previous leader, in a US drone strike on 1 November.

"We will target security forces, government installations, political leaders and police," Asmatullah Shaheen, head of the shura, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He said the Taliban's main target included army and government installations in Punjab province, the political stronghold of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"We have a plan. But I want to make one thing clear. We will not target civilians, bazaars or public places. People do not need to be afraid," Shaheen said.

Militant attacks in Pakistan have been on the rise since Nawaz Sharif came to power in May.

Fazlullah is still remembered by liberal Pakistanis for his atrocities in the Swat Valley, where Malala was shot, for ransacking music shops, carrying out public executions and attempting to enforce his own version of Islamic law in addition to banning girls' education and destroying schools.

He was the pioneer of what many in Pakistan and abroad believe to be a senseless campaign against a United Nations-funded polio vaccination drive.

His elevation has taken aback Pakistani officials who had been pushing for a peace dialogue with Taliban.

He is well-known to the government. In 2009 it accepted all his conditions and enacted Sharia law in Swat, but Mullah Fazlullah still refused to disarm.

Many in Pakistan believe that his appointment could trigger divisions within the faction-riddled Taliban.

Members of the Mehsud tribe in particular may not be too happy with his elevation. They form the backbone of the Pakistani Taliban and a majority of them were close to the faction led by Waliur Rehman, who was killed in a drone strike in May.

Earlier in August, a faction of the Taliban has warned the Pakistan government of dire consequences if it went ahead with its plans to end a five-year moratorium on the execution and hanging of militants (See: Taliban warns of dire consequences if Pak hangs militants).

The stay on executions was put in place by the previous Pakistan People's Party-led government, which the currently ruling Pakistan Muslim League led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been trying to undo

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Pak Taliban names Swat ultra as chief; vows to up attacks