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We are as strong as we were earlier: Pak Taliban

December 11, 2009 02:02 IST

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in an exclusive interview to rediff.com's Tahir Ali, has said that the increase in American troops in the Afghanistan war will only provide the Taliban with more opportunities to attack. It has also claimed that the Pakistani Army's operations have done no damage to its strength and that it is as strong as it was earlier.

Speaking to rediff.com via a satellite phone from an undisclosed location in South Waziristan TTP spokesperson Azam Tariq said, "Pakistan is an Islamic state, but the rulers have handed it over to the Americans, Taliban struggle would continue until the country is not freed from the influence of Jews."

The TTP has vowed "to continue their struggle until the government changes it pro-American policies".

Tariq turned down the fatwa issued by some Pakistani Ulema, who called the militants' activities against the government of Pakistan as unjust and said that it fell under the category of 'Kufr' (un-Islamic activities).

Earlier, Tahirul Qadri, head of Minhaj-ul-Quran International had issued a fatwa declaring the Taliban's activities are 'Kufr' and said that "any armed struggle against an Islamic state falls in the domain of rebellion".

He was supported by other clerics, especially religious scholars affiliated with the Bralvi school of thought.   

Talking about the anti-Taliban fatwa, Tariq said, "We have our own Ulema-e-Haq (the righteous clerics, a term used for Deobandi School of thoughts religious leaders) for our guidance, who consider fighting against Pakistani government as just and also support suicide attacks against Pakistani army and other government installations.

"Under the prevailing circumstances, while the infidel forces are united against our religion, suicide attacks are the right option for us. Those who have issued fatwas against us are real 'Kafir' that have no integrity and no faith of their own; they just follow the rulers of the time and do what are asked to do."

Responding to a question on the recent attack on a mosque in Rawalpindi that killed at least 35 people, Tariq said, "Yes, our men have carried it out. Mufti Waliur Rehman, the Taliban head in South Waziristan, has already taken the responsibility of the attack. We have no regrets for it; actually it is a big success.

"The Taliban will attack them whether they were found in a mosque or at any other place. From Swat to Waziristan, a number of seminaries and mosques have been targeted, but no one voiced for it, as the victims were poor civilians."

Talking about Obama's decision of sending more troops to Afghanistan, Azam Tariq said, "The Taliban having no worry regarding rise in US troops; increase in the number of forces means providing more opportunities to the Mujahedeen to hunt. We are in collaboration with the Afghan Taliban and, if there is a need, we will send our men across the border."

Azam Tariq said the Pakistan army had not gained anything from their operation Rahi Nijaat (Path to Salvation) against the TTP in South Waziristan, and that the Taliban were as strong as they were earlier.

"Under a strategy, the Taliban have vacated some areas and have taken positions at mountainous areas; now they attacking the armies and are doing well. But the media does not give us proper coverage, that's why no one knows about the real situation in the area."
Tahir Ali in Islamabad