Malala plotter picked to lead Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban chose the ruthless commander who planned the attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai as the militant group’s new leader yesterday, and it ruled out holding peace talks with the government.

Mullah Fazlullah was unanimously appointed the new chief by the Taliban’s leadership council, or shura, after several days of deliberation, said the head of the shura, Asmatullah Shaheen Bhitani. Militants fired AK-47 assault rifles and anti-aircraft guns into the air to celebrate.

The decision came less than a week after a US drone strike killed leader Hakimullah Mehsud in the North Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.

Even though Mehsud was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Pakistani civilians and security forces, his Nov 1 killing outraged Pakistani officials. They accused the US of sabotaging the government’s attempt to strike a peace deal with the militants — although many analysts doubted a deal was likely.

The government said the drone strike came a day before it planned to send a delegation of clerics to formally invite the Pakistani Taliban to hold peace talks.


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