With or without him
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On June 4, Pakistani sources announced the death of one of the most deadly terrorists in the region, Ilyas Kashmiri of the 313 Brigade of the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI). He was accused of numerous terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai attacks and the recent one at PNS Mehran, Karachi, and the assassination of Major General Faisal Alavi. Many in the South Asian region would want to see him dead. But the question is: is he really dead? And, more important, would the situation in the tribal areas change due to his death?
Despite Interior Minister Rehman Malik's vociferous assurance on Kashmiri's death, there are many who find it implausible simply because of the manner in which the 313 Brigade announced it. Informed observers are still doubtful about what is being claimed. In this case, there is a possibility that he may surface at some future date, possibly after doing some damage. After all, there was news of his death in a drone attack almost a year ago, which he was quick to contradict.
But even if he is actually dead, the real question is, would this have an effect on the security conditions in the tribal areas and Pakistan? There is much more happening in Waziristan than the 313 Brigade. Ilyas Kashmiri, allegedly, was one of the unfriendly jihadis to attack the Pakistani state. He had developed some friction with the agencies after he was picked up and tortured for his supposed involvement in one of the assassination attempts on General Pervez Musharraf. However, as the late journalist Saleem Shahzad had claimed, Kashmiri had mended some fences with the Pakistani authorities and was willing to attend to what was considered the Indian threat.
North Waziristan, at the moment, is infested with all kinds of friendly and unfriendly jihadi elements. While the unfriendly ones include Maulana Fazlullah, the friendly ones include Sirajuddin Haqqani and his network. Recently, on June 2, Fazlullah's forces had attacked Dir, killing more than 60 people including those from the security forces. But the army denied the news. Later, a counter-attack against the Taliban was claimed, which many in the area doubt.
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