London: Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who was believed to have been killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan in January, is alive, an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) official has claimed.
“He (Hakimullah) is alive. He had some wounds but he is basically OK,” The Guardian quoted the official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, as saying.
Although neither the US nor the Pakistani agencies had confirmed Hakimullah’s death, who was sworn in as the TTP chieftain following Baitullah Mehsud’s death in a similar missile attack in August last year, he was widely believed to have succumbed to injuries sustained during a missile hit in January.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik had also confirmed Hakimullah’s death. However, he had failed to table any evidence to back his claims.
Hakimullah was hit within 72 hours after the release of a confessional video of Jordanian doctor Human Khalil Abu-Mulal al Balawi, who killed seven CIA agents in Khost on December 30, Malik had claimed.
The video, which showed Hakimullah sitting with the Jordanian double agent Balawi, was released on the evening of January 09 and Hakimullah was hit in a drone attack in Shakoti on the night between January 13 and 14, he said.
The report regarding Hakimullah surviving the drone attack is seen as a big blow for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has intensified the missile hits on militant hideouts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border since the attack on its Khost base camp.
The CIA has already carried out 38 attacks this year so far, as compared to a total of 49 in 2009.
According to the ISI official, the Obama administration is under pressure because of the stiff resistance being offered by the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
“The US government is under pressure because it is unable to achieve much in Afghanistan. This is one way of hitting their al Qaeda enemies, as they define them,” the newspaper quoted him, as saying.