New Taliban chief returns to Pak tribal areas

Mullah Fazlullah, the new chief of outlawed Pakistani Taliban, has made his way into Pakistan's unruly tribal areas from neighbouring Afghanistan where he was based since the 2009 military operation in Swat.

Quoting sources, Geo News reported Fazlullah, who is nicknamed "Mullah Radio", had arrived in Tehreek-e-Taliban

Pakistan's (TTP) stronghold in North Waziristan in the country's restive northwest along with 15 of his aides.

Fazlullah will preside over the meeting of Taliban 'Shura' in few days, it said. The reports of his coming back into Pakistan came amid government's renewed efforts to initiate dialogue process with the Pakistani Taliban.

The government is at the "conclusive stage" of revival of proposed talks with the Pakistan Taliban, Pakistan Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed had said on Sunday.

His remarks came a week after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government is still committed to the revival of proposed talks with the TTP.

He said the government would remove any hurdles existing before talks with the Taliban and would press ahead with the initiative without causing any loss to the state.

After much deliberation, Fazlullah, was made the TTP chief following the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack.

The US drone strike that claimed the life of Mehsud on November 1 had thrown the talks process into disarray. Known for his ruthlessness, Fazlullah was nicknamed "Mullah Radio" for his fiery sermons on an illegal FM station while heading a parallel administration in Swat Valley, 160 km from Islamabad, during 2007-09.

Under his command, the Taliban enforced a harsh form of Shariah or Islamic law and public executions, floggings and the bombing of girls' schools were common.

When the Pakistan Army sent troops into Swat to flush out the militants in early 2009, Fazlullah fled with hundreds of his fighters to Afghanistan, from where he ordered the attempt on the life of Malala Yusufzai last year. Fazlullah rose to prominence as a leader of the banned TNSM, which merged with the TTP in 2007 following the military crackdown on extremists holed up in Lal Masjid.

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