Friday, February 15, 2008

Baitullah Mehsud to send delegation to meet Zardari

By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: Militant leader of South Waziristan, Baitullah Mehsud will send a seven-member delegation to meet PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari to condole the death of Benazir Bhutto, it is reliably learnt.

The delegation, comprising prominent tribal elders and religious scholars from South Waziristan, will deliver a written condolence letter from Mehsud to Asif Zardari.

Mehsud had formed this delegation many days ago and tried to send it to Naudero but some members of the delegation could not manage to come out of the tribal area due to the prevailing tension. Now the situation is normalising and members of the delegation are once again ready to go to Islamabad or Lahore to meet Asif Zardari.

A member, nominated for the delegation, told The News that Mehsud was indirectly in contact with the PPP leadership before October 18, 2007, when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan after a long time and faced bomb attack in Karachi.

He had assured the PPP before October 18 that he has no plans to attack Benazir Bhutto. The government claimed after the attack that it was a suicide attack but Benazir Bhutto had doubts. She said many times that it was a time bomb not a suicide attack. After her assassination on December 27, government again claimed that Mehsud was the mastermind behind the attack but Asif Zardari clearly said in one of his interviews that PPP has no conflict with Mehsud. This statement encouraged Mehsud to establish a direct contact with Asif Zardari. In his address to the nation last month President Pervez Musharraf accused Mehsud of assassinating Benazir Bhutto.

The PPP is not ready to believe the claims of different government officials and continues to demand a UN probe into Benazir Bhuttoís murder. It is worth mentioning that Mehsud had signed a peace treaty with the Musharraf regime in February 2005 and again swapped kidnapped Army officials for his militants, who were released from Rawalpindi on November 3, 2007.

(Courtesy: The News)

Personal comment: I just hope that new government which emerges from the elections will do whatever it takes to get Pakistan army out of the war in Waziristan. This gesture of solidarity with the democratic process shows that those who are currently locked in a war with Pak Army want the war to end, and have high hopes of the politicians. I hope that the politicians will have the good sense to blame the war on Musharraf, leave it behind and sign a truce, and buy peace for all Pakistanis.

If Pak army wasn't massacring people( non-combattants as well as combattant - whom we often forget are also people), why would people be willing to become suicide-bombers? Why would they give their lives to shock us and harm us, if the war had not driven them desperate. The price of assuring peace in other parts of Pakistan is the granting of peace in Waziristan and other war-torn regions. Not too dear, if you ask me.