US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke says Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud’s elimination last week was a “very big deal” in terms of security efforts in Pakistan.
“The end of Baitullah Mehsud, as we all know, is a very big deal,” he said on Wednesday, citing reports of “disarray among his people, of other factions manoeuvring” following the apparent death of the Taliban leader in a missile strike.
“Everyone is thrashing around … This is very good news for all of us,” Holbrooke said at a panel organized by a Washington think tank. “There’s going to be some major readjustment coming up. We don’t know what it is,” he said of the Taliban and it’s allies in Pakistan.
Washington says there is a “90 percent certainty” that Mehsud was killed in a strike by a pilotless CIA drone earlier this month in South Waziristan. Mehsud’s aides have disputed the claim and say he is alive.
Holbrooke, who is visiting Pakistan this weekend to meet top leaders, said Mehsud operated as an “independent subsidiary of al-Qaida” and targeted Pakistanis.
Addressing the question of Taliban hideouts in the tribal areas was central to the overall security efforts in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, he said. Holbrooke also praised the anti-Taliban consensus among the people of Pakistan.
Taliban Pakistan, an alliance of around 13 militant groups, is blamed for a wave of bomb and suicide attacks across Pakistan, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.