The Pakistan government has received "credible intelligence reports" confirming the death of local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a drone attack and physical evidence is being collected to validate the claim, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Monday.
"According to credible reports, Baitullah Mehsud is dead but we are trying to work out evidence in terms of DNA tests and statements of family members," he told the National Assembly or lower house of parliament. Responding to a point of order raised by Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan about conflicting reports on the death of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief in a US drone attack early on August 5, Malik said the government was "well aware of the situation" from the day when Mehsud's father-in-law's home in South Waziristan was targeted.
He said Mehsud, his wife and five guards were killed in the attack carried at 12.30 am on August 5. Mehsud's vehicle was also destroyed in the attack. "The next day, credible information reached to us that he (Mehsud) is dead. Obviously, it was an intelligence report which needed to be confirmed and there are certain parameters to confirm intelligence reports," he said. Malik said a paramedical staff who treated Mehsud on that night had said he left the Taliban chief on the rooftop of the house after administering a drip. Mehsud was suffering from a stomach problem.
Confusion has surrounded the reported death of Mehsud in the drone attack. US and Pakistani officials have said they are certain he was killed while Taliban commanders have insisted he is still alive. Malik said soon after the drone attack, a select group of militant commanders, including Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman, held a gathering to decide who would replace Mehsud. A fight reportedly took place between Hakimullah and Rehman over succeeding Mehsud and taking possession the Taliban's pool of funds gathered by looting and plunder. Hakimullah was killed while Rehman was injured, Malik claimed. However, both Hakimullah and Rehman have contacted media organisations and said they are alive and that there was no clash between them.
Malik expressed concern over the weapons possessed by the Taliban and said the government is ascertaining how they were procured. "We have recovered rocket launchers, mortars and landmines, besides a large depot of ammunition, which are only sold to states and not to individuals," he said. The security forces are carrying out a "targeted action" against Mehsud's group and this would continue until elements defying the government are completely eliminated, he said. China will soon provide US $ 300 million to Pakistan to improve its security capacity and law enforcement agencies will be equipped with fixed and mobile scanners and the latest security gadgets in the next six months, Malik added.