By Prarthana Mitra
Pakistani Taliban chief and notorious militant Mullah Fazlullah was reported dead by NATO officials, after a US-led drone strike in Afghanistan’s Kunar province on Friday.
Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in a drone strike carried out by the U.S. He is responsible for ordering the attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai in 2012: https://t.co/kcPNVLaksP pic.twitter.com/vQbJrRNzTi
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 15, 2018
The extremist also referred to as Mullah Radio, is believed to be the mastermind behind the heinous attack on Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, as well as the Peshawar school massacre in 2014 that killed 132 children.
Here’s what went down
“I confirm that Mullah Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed in a joint air strike operation in the border area of Marawera district of Kunar province,” announced Mohammad Radmanish, spokesman for the Afghan defence ministry, on Friday.
Three other members of the “designated terrorist organisation” were also wiped out in the targeted attack, allegedly during an Iftar party.
Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Abdur Rasheed reported that the group was trying to reach out to their base in Afghanistan, where most of the militants have now fled. “We have been hearing since early Friday that our Emir was martyred along with four other militant commanders in Marawar area of Kunar,” Rasheed said.
“They were staying at a house when a drone fired missiles and martyred them.”
Why you should care
Known for his fiery broadcasts, Fazlullah emerged as a formidable Islamist leader in Pakistan’s Swat Valley more than a decade ago. Reviled across Pakistan for orchestrating the attack on the army-run school in Peshawar in 2014, Fazlullah made it to the international blacklist after ordering a hit on then-15-year-old Yousafzai over her advocacy of girls’ education.
After her recovery, Malala became a global voice for millions of oppressed girls and their right to education. She went on to found the non-profit Malala Fund, became a UN peace ambassador and authored the international best-seller I Am Malala.
"When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." – @Malala
Speak up for the right to education!pic.twitter.com/CuUgwhFMVS
— UN Women (@UN_Women) June 12, 2018
A senior Afghan defence ministry official commented on the US-Afghan-led air raid on Friday, saying that the killing was likely to ease tensions between Islamabad and Washington. Ties between the US and Pakistan have been strained ever since the former blamed Islamabad for harbouring Afghan terrorists. In March, the United States offered a $5m (£3.8m) reward for information on Fazlullah.
However, Afghanistan is observing an unprecedented and unilateral ceasefire with the larger Afghan Taliban, since last Thursday. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently hinted at the possibility of extending it from the initially discussed deadline of 20 June. The ceasefire is largely due to the intervention of Pakistan. Seen as a strategic gamble and trust-building measure to encourage peace talks with the militant group, it comes at a time when the war continues to wreak havoc in the country. With Fazlullah’s death, the future of the ceasefire is obfuscated with potential retaliation from the Taliban forces.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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