Washington: While speculation still surrounds the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud’s death, analysts believe the extremist chieftains’ death would hardly have any effect on the banned extremist organisations set-up, and in fact the Taliban would retaliate with more force widening the bloodshed in the troubled nation.
The Pakistani and US officials might have been relieved over the news of Hakimullah’s death in a drone strike in terror hot bed of North Waziristan last month, but many believe that his elimination would not cripple the Taliban.
Amid reports of his death, which have been vehemently rejected by the TTP, rumours about top commanders elbowing each other for Hakimullah’s post are also doing rounds.
However, a Pakistani intelligence official said Hakimullah’s successor, who is still to be named, would likely continue in the same vein.
“It doesn`t matter. Whoever it would be would try to prove himself more ruthless, more vicious, and will try to exact revenge,” The Washington Post quoted the official, as saying.
The official, who spoke on conditions anonymity, said the security officials were actually bracing for a new round of attacks, much like what happened after Baitullah Mehsud’s death in a similar US drone attack.
Hakimullah had assumed the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban after his predecessor was killed by a US drone strike in August last year. Violence stalled for some time, but the extremists launched a string of spectacular attacks in Pakistan, including that on the country’s Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Former CIA official and one of President Barack Obama’s key advisors Bruce Riedel also believes that Hakimullah’s departure would hardly have any impact on the outlawed terror outfits goals.
Riedel said that even if the reports regarding Hakimullah’s death are true, it will not have a major impact on the Taliban’s plan, as there are dozens of Hakimullah’s waiting in the wings.
“Mehsud’s (Hakimullah) passing is merely a battle victory. Although his death may temporarily offset the momentum of the Pakistani Taliban, make no mistake, there are a hundred more Mehsud’s waiting in the shadows. The war is far from being decided,” Riedel said.
Hakimullah’s death could also see the more ferocious Qari Hussain, who is also believed to have been killed in the similar missile strike, taking charge.
Hussain, who is considered the father of suicide bombers and a top lieutenant of Hakimullah, was also reported to have been killed in a drone strike in Makeen, South Waziristan, last summer, but later re-emerged in the October press conference alongside Rehman and Hakimullah.
A cousin of former leader Baitullah, Hussain’s reputation was built on running training camps for suicide bombers and directing a series of suicide bomb attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) aimed at killing tribal elders and supplanting their rule.
Hakimullah’s death may force the Taliban to postpone its terror programme for the time being at best, but it would definitely not have any significant affect on the banned terror group’s long term agenda.