Mehsud Tribe Ready To Hand Over Hakimullah And 378 Others
In a jolt to militants, elders of the Mehsud tribe today said they would hand over 378 men, including Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, wanted by the authorities and back the government's efforts to restore peace in South Waziristan.
As a January 20 deadline set by the government to respond to its demands ended today, the decision to hand over the wanted men was made at a 'jirga' or council of the Mehsud tribe which is linked to Hakimullah. A large number of Taliban militants belong to this tribe.
The jirga also decided to accept seven conditions set by the government for ensuring peace and maintaining public order in South Waziristan, described by the US and its allies as a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements. The government had earlier set January 20 as the deadline for the Mehsud tribe to respond to its seven conditions. The army claims it has killed over 650 Taliban fighters since operations were launched in South Waziristan in October last year. However, most of the top Taliban leadership continue to be at large and observers said it was unlikely that the tribal elders would be able to deliver on the pledge to hand over Hakimullah Mehsud to the authorities. PTI