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US, not Taliban, threat to Pak nukes: Mehsud

January 26, 2008 19:42 IST

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has said that his radical organisation does not pose a threat to Islamabad's nuclear arsenal, pointedly describing the United States as the real danger to the atomic warheads in the Islamic nation.

Mehsud, the commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, told Al Jazeera television that the Taliban are not a threat to the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. Blaming the United States, the militant commander said it is Washington that is the real danger as it has used atomic weapons against humanity.

In a rare interview held in an undisclosed location in the restive North West Frontier Province, Mehsud appeared on the screen with his face covered and spoke in detail about the formation of the Taliban movement in Pakistan.

Mehsud rose through the ranks of the Taliban after becoming acquainted with Mullah Dadullah (killed by US-led forces in May 2007), supplying him with many suicide bombers.

Mehsud was appointed by Taliban chief Mullah Omar as the commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Mehsud, who has been named by the government as the main suspect behind former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination, called on Pakistanis to join the Taliban so as to damage the interests of the US, Britain and their allies who were violating the country's sovereignty.

"We have formed this united movement (of Taliban) with the motive of a defensive jehad," he told Al Jazeera television, which telecast the interview on Friday on its Arabic channel.

Stressing that Islam did not believe in existence of borders or walls among the Ummah, Mehsud said the Taliban will wage 'jihad' in any part of the world where Muslims are in need, be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Bosnia or in this case Pakistan.

With regard to the attacks on the Pakistan Army by his loyalists, the Taliban commander said that "our primary objective is to resist the Americans and the allies in Afghanistan."

"But due to the un-welcomed coming of the Pakistan army into the tribal areas and its unjust dealing, we were compelled to form a united movement of Taliban to force the Pakistan army to vacate," said Mehsud, who has reportedly been removed as the commander of TTP by Mullah Omar for fighting the Pakistani army.

Mehsud demanded that the army's barbarism against the people of the tribal areas must be halted immediately.

A report quoted intelligence sources as saying that the top Taliban cleric appointed Maulvi Faqir Muhammad as TTP chief. However, Faqir has refused to accept the post, after which the local Taliban were trying to find a replacement for Baitullah.

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