ISLAMABAD - The dramatic killing of Mullah Fazlullah, a fugitive leader of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in a US drone strike in Afghanistan will have far-reaching implications on the war on terror and militancy which has engulfed the region since 9/11 terror incident in the United States.

Since then, the geopolitical settings of the entire region had changed and gave birth to proxy wars in one way or the other.

However, Pakistan, which had suffered hugely in terms of men and material, changed the tide against terrorism through phased military operations.

Mullah Fazlullah was one of the non-state actors who fled to Afghanistan during the military operation in Swat and Malakand.

Also known as Mullah Radio, Fazlullah had masterminded a number of major terrorist attacks in Pakistan by using Afghan soil.

The US drone strike comes amid a seven-day ceasefire between the Afghan Taliban and government security forces to allow Afghan citizens to observe the last days of Ramazan and Eid peacefully.

According to details, a US drone targeted, and apparently, killed the banned Mullah Fazlullah in the Afghan province of Kunar, and as a result, a number of his companions including his son were killed on the spot on June 13.

Fazlullah was reportedly travelling in a vehicle along with four other commanders when they were targeted by a drone strike at 11 pm on June 13 in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. Fazlullah presided over a two-year Taliban rule in Swat that saw ‘offenders’ being decapitated and schools being razed.

In a swift reaction to the killing of Fazullah, terrorists from across the Pak-Afghan border attempted multiple physical and fire raids on Pakistan Army posts along Pak-Afghan Border in Shawal, North Waziristan Agency on Friday. According to military’s media wing, ISPR, security forces valiantly repulsed all attempts to overrun posts and inflict major damage to them. Five terrorists were killed during their failed attempts.

During the exchange of fire, three Pakistan army soldiers, Havildar Iftikhar, a resident of Sargodha, Sepoy Aftab from Chitral and Sepoy Usman, a resident of Gujrat, embraced martyrdom.

Fazlullah who was born in the Swat valley’s Fazal Hayat area studied at a seminary. He worked as a chairlift operator and traded in firewood before joining his father-in-law’s Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).

Under Taliban’s rule, Mingora’s Green Square became infamous as “Bloody Square” for the slaughtered, bullet-ridden bodies placed there almost daily.

After the US-led forces entered Afghanistan in 2001, Fazlullah joined thousands who crossed the border to fight what they termed a “holy war” against “infidels”. Arrested on his way back to Pakistan but later released on bail, “Mullah Radio” stepped into his father-in-law’s shoes after the latter was jailed. His incendiary sermons attacking girls’ education and anti-polio initiatives earned him the aforementioned epithet in 2006.

After the military mounted an operation to clear Islamabad’s Lal Masjid, Fazlullah merged the TSNM with the then-fledgling TTP. As he strengthened his hold over Swat, “Mullah Radio” presided over “Sharia courts” handing down barbaric ‘verdicts’.

In 2009, Malala Yousefzai, an 11-year-old Swat girl began chronicling life under the Taliban. The TTP attempted to kill her in October for campaigning against them. The girl, shot in the head, survived and went on to become a global icon.

While Malala Yousafzai would go on to court international fame, Fazlullah would flee to eastern Afghanistan after the military’s successful Swat operation. From his Afghan refuge, “Mullah Radio” would orchestrate attacks across Pakistan.

In September, soon after Pakistan’s political parties backed a government plan for peace talks with the Taliban, Fazlullah’s men responded with violence. A bomb attack killed two senior army officers, including a major general, in the country’s northwest, a galling blow for the military. Fazlullah claimed the attack in a video message in which he spelled out his hardliner position.

Fazlullah also green-lighted the heinous 2014 Peshawar carnage wherein gunmen strode through Army Public School corridors and classrooms spraying teachers and pupils with bullets. The men killed 148 people — at least 132 of whom were children.

This gory incident was followed by a major military operation code-named Zarb-e-Azb, the Pakistan Army launched to clear the entire border regions with Afghanistan from the militants. Consequently, some of the TTP commanders and followers escaped into Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, another key TTP commander was also killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan.  He was Mufti Noor Wali, who enjoyed the backing of Fazlullah.

Khan Sajna, 36, was believed to be involved in an attack on a Naval-base in Karachi and is also credited with masterminding a 2012 jailbreak in which the Taliban freed 400 inmates in the northwestern city of Bannu.

Last week, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa led a high powered delegation to Kabul and interactions with Afghan leadership and commander US-led forces in Afghanistan. Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation to bring peace in Afghanistan.  

Pakistan had wiped out a major chunk of militants from its soil as most of them had either been killed or fled into Afghanistan.

Now efforts are underway to stabilize those areas where military operations had been carried out, while intelligence-based operations under Ruddul Fassad continue across the country to take on the remaining sleeping cells of the TTP and its associates.

Defence analysts are viewing the killing of Mullah Fazullah as a positive development that would greatly help enhance relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States.

One of the leading defence analysts Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood while commenting on the killing of TTP leader maintained that this development would further bring Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US closer.

He believed that relations between Pakistan and the US were on the mend following Pakistan’s positive efforts to push Haqqani Network and members of the Afghan Shura from Pakistan.

Gen (retd) Masood sounded optimistic that the era of proxy wars in the region was on down now as both Pakistan and Afghanistan seemed firmed not to allow non-state actors to use each other’s soil for carrying out attacks on their respective countries.

 

 

Militancy will

peter out