'We will liberate Kashmiris from India and Pakistan'
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has held both India and Pakistan responsible for the 'unrest in Kashmir' and has vowed to liberate and establish Islamic Shariah there.
In the latest 42-minute video released by the terrorist outfit, Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Wali-ur Rehman are seen answering queries from media persons about the Taliban's strategies, strengths, the jihad in Kashmir and the outfit's relations with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Here's the translation of the interview
There have been reports in the media that TTP has been divided into two groups...
Hakimullah Mehsud: The media has been spreading propaganda that there are differences between me and Wali-ur Rehman. There is no truth in it. I and Maulvi sahib (pointing to Rehman) are sitting side by side.
In the past too, the media has spread such propaganda. But we are one since the beginning and our friendship will remain so until death.
(To Rehman) Some reports say that you favour jihad inside Afghanistan. How do you see jihad in Pakistan?
Since 2003, we have been practically waging jihad against Pakistan. Be it inside Afghanistan or in Pakistan -- both jihads are same for us. If the US is directly ruling Afghanistan through a puppet (Hamid Karzai), similar is the case in Pakistan. The US is paying the Pakistan Army to fight against us. Our mujahedeen have offered sacrifices both in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the establishment of Islamic Shariah.
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Image: Video grab of the joint press interaction of Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud and his deputy Wali-ur Rehman
'Pakistan cannot make any decision on its own when it comes to talk with us'
(To Rehman) Is it true that either you or Maulana Fazlullah will replace Hakimullah Mehsud as the head of Pakistan Taliban?
There is no truth in the news that we have no confidence in Amir Sahib (Mehsud) or that we are looking for any reshuffle in the leadership.
We have no leadership struggle, as there are no special facilities or luxuries for the leadership of a jihadist organisation. Our leadership system is different from the Pakistan government where the leadership runs for different positions to make wealth. The Taliban commanders posted in key positions are more vulnerab#8804 there is no joy in becoming a leader.
The Afghan Taliban have started negotiations with the government there. If Islamabad offers you to come to the discussion table, what would be your response?
Hakimullah Mehsud: We have always welcomed talks. We will consider every serious offer for talks. But we will never pay heed to non-serious propositions like asking us to lay down arms before sitting for talks.
Tribesmen cannot lay down arms, as they consider them as their ornaments. We are not ready for any conditional talks unless some serious offer is made.
In the past, whenever the Taliban has made a peace agreement it has been broken by the enemies. Pakistan cannot make any decision on its own when it comes to talk with us; all such decisions are influenced by the US.
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'There is no concept of foreigner or local in jihad'
Has the power of Pakistan Taliban reduced considering that the outfit is now using foreigners in its war against Pakistan?
Wali-ur Rehman: Ever since the TTP was formed by Baitullah Mehsud in 2007 we have been gaining in strength everyday.
Statements like 'backbone of Taliban broken' or 'Taliban have been defeated' have always emerged, but they have been proved wrong. The latest attack on Peshawar airport is a good example that the TTP is not weak. We have financial and human resources as well.
As far as the use of foreigners is concerned, there is no concept of foreigner or local in jihad. At the moment, we need foreigners' help in Pakistan.
How do you see the revolutions in the Arab world?
Hakimullah Mehsud: The Gulf and rest of the Arab countries have since long been under US influence. The leaderships in these countries -- with US support -- formed authoritarian governments where innocent masses were treated brutally.
People have now awakened to the need to establish Islamic Shariah. We believe and expect that these countries would come under Islamic rule following these revolutions. We support and we offer people every possible help.
Why was Khyber Pakhtunkhwa senior minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour killed?
Wali-ur Rehman: He supported the war against us from Swat to Waziristan. Being a symbol of non-violence, his party (ANP) supported the violence against us. They supported the killing of our men inside jails; our men were even thrown off helicopters. We don't have any revelry against any particular person like Bilour, but we are against the ideology and polices of these people. We will target other people of this party in future.
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'Our homes have been destroyed for sheltering Al Qaeda members, but we still love them'
What is TTP's strategy vis-a-vis the upcoming general elections? Will you support any particular party?
Hakimullah Mehsud: We don't believe in democracy. We call democracy as a system, which is contrary to Islam. We are ideologically against political parties like the PPP, ANP and MQM who have always supported the war against Taliban.
What is TTP fighting for inside Pakistan?
Wali-ur Rehman: We want to establish complete Islamic Shariah in the country.
What would be the Taliban strategy when the US-led forces leave Afghanistan in 2014?
Hakimullah Mehsud: Mullah Omer is our Amir today, and he will be our commander-in-chief tomorrow. We will follow his directions.
What kind of relations do you have with the Afghan Taliban and with the Al Qaeda?
Hakimullah Mehsud: Mullah Omer is not just leading the Afghan Taliban. He is out our Amir as well.
Likewise Al Qaeda's members are our brothers, they are our guests. We are ready to make any sacrifice for them. Our homes have been destroyed for sheltering them, but we still love them.
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'India and Pakistan are running their businesses in the name of Kashmir'
What about the jihad in Kashmir?
Wali-ur Rehman: We believe in brotherhood with Kashmiri Muslims. The people of Kashmir have been brutally tortured by Indian security forces.
India and Pakistan are running their businesses in the name of Kashmir. Pakistan has played havoc with Kashmiris in the name of freedom. We condemn this policy in the same way as we abhor the brutality of Indian government.
The war that we fight in Kashmir is under the banner of Ghazwa-e-Hind (battle of Hindustan). Our jihad is not just limited to tribal areas, but it covers the whole of Pakistan, Kashmir and India.
We will go to Kashmir and will liberate the Kashmiris.
Like our grandparents made sacrifices for liberation of Azad Kashmir we too will fight for the people of Indian-held Kashmir.
We will also establish an Islamic Shariah in Kashmir. The registered jihad that Pakistan had started in Kashmir can't liberate it -- and even if does, it cannot change its system. Only the Taliban can establish Islamic system in Kashmir.
How do you view the media's role in your movement?
Hakimullah Mehsud: The media is biased. We have been tolerating the one-sided media coverage. They should be independent; they have never presented the Taliban's position.
Ridiculing Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik's claim that
Regarding statement of Interior Minister Rehman Malik that TTP's central spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan is a foreign agent and that he had no links to the group, Mehsud paraded him before the media towards the end of the video.
"This is Ihsanullah Ihsan, if you have any doubts," he concluded.