Pakistan’s security forces captured Mansoor Dadullah, a top Taliban commander, in the village of Gowal Ismail Zal near the border with Afghanistan. “He was hiding in a house in the village,” said Balochistan province police chief Saud Gohar.
Mansoor Dadulla took over the Taliban command held by his brother, Mullah Dadullah, who was killed by Afghan and NATO troops in May 2007. Dadullah’s capture is another setback for the Taliban, which is increasingly under pressure from Pakistan’s security forces and Pakistani public opinion.
According to a poll conducted by the independent Center for Public Opinion, only twenty-four percent of Pakistanis approve of al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. The poll also found that if the Taliban were to take part in parliamentary elections in Pakistan, it would get only three percent of the votes.
According to news reports, Tehrik-e-Taliban, a Pakistan-based extremist group led by Baitullah Mehsud, has declared a truce in the South Waziristan region and wants to negotiate with Pakistani authorities. U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the U.S. view of such negotiations is “quite clear”:
“There is an agreement that had been put in place with local tribal leaders previously. That agreement was designed to achieve what everyone’s objectives are, which is to unite forces in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] to work against the extremists there, whether they are Taliban, al-Qaida or home-grown. By everyone’s account, including President Musharraf’s, that agreement didn’t work. And certainly, we wouldn’t want to see any other kind of arrangement made unless we had an understanding of how it would be effective in carrying out our common goals here. . . .We’ve been working very well with the government of Pakistan on these issues, but we certainly wouldn’t want to see any kind of agreements made that would provide an opportunity for militants to either rearm or otherwise continue to engage in cross-border activities or do anything else that would undermine our common goals.”
State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the fight against the Taliban is not just a matter for the United States or other nations. “It is Pakistan’s fight as well,” he said.