The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, is dead, two of his senior commanders have told the BBC.
Confusion over the condition of the Taliban-in-Pakistan leader has persisted since the first reports of his death emerged on August 6.
Baitullah has evidently been replaced by Hakimullah Mehsud – a twenty-something — with a reputation for boldness (or recklessness, depending on your taste).
In last night’s London Evening Standard, the widely-respected Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid wrote, “The fierce internecine struggle for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban – still unresolved nearly a month after his death – has involved shoot-outs, ambushes and assassinations among the various Pashtun tribal contenders… There is a huge dent now in the Pakistani Taliban and only further Pakistani military action in FATA co-ordinated with Nato forces in Afghanistan can finally turn the tide against extremist successes.”
Pakistan’s military began moving into the FATA in July. But has, thus far, restricted offensive measures primarily to artillery and air operations.