Baitullah Mehsud a terrible man: Holbrooke

April 8th, 2009 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is a “terrible man” who is a “great danger” to Pakistan and Afghanistan but doesn’t have the resources to attack the American homeland, a top US diplomat said Wednesday.
“Mehsud is a terrible man. He is a great danger to Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said.

He was addressing a joint press conference here with Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, after talks with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

“His threats against the US are not backed up but he is bad as any bad actor can be,” Holbrooke maintained.

Mehsud had claimed responsibility for the April 3 assault at an immigration centre in upstate New York in which a 42-year-old gunman of Vietnamese origin had opened fire, killing 13 people.

Holbrooke and Mullen were here on the concluding leg of a five-day swing through the region that has already taken them to Afghanistan and Pakistan as they seek to take forward US President Barack Obama’s new Af-Pak strategy on the war against terror.

Apart from Menon, Holbrooke and Mullen also met National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and the prime minister’s special envoy S.K. Lambah for “terrific talks”, as the envoy put it, on regional and security issues.

Mullen separately met Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, to discuss issues relating to maritime security.

Asked whether he feared a “spillover” of the Taliban, who had taken over large parts of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, including the Swat Valley, Holbrooke spoke feelingly of his meeting with former residents of the region.

“We met with people from the region to learn more (about what is happening). It is very difficult for the people. It has stunned the people of Pakistan,” the envoy said.

Pakistan’s Daily Times newspaper, in an editorial Wednesday, said: “An emirate has been set up in South Waziristan by Baitullah Mehsud with sway over some other agencies disposing vast sums of money as his budget which he augments through kidnappings.”

Mehsud is also suspected of staging the Nov 27, 2007 gun and bomb attack in the garrison town of Rawalpindi that claimed the life of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

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