Top Pakistani Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan

In this undated photo, Sheheryar Mehsud is seen giving an interview. He was killed in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan on Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Social media)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Top Pakistani Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan

  • Two other TTP commanders were killed in Afghanistan last week
  • Mehsud’s death will strengthen the position of his rival, Noor Wali

PESHAWAR: Days after the killing of two Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commanders in Afghanistan, another dreaded leader of the group, Sheheryar Mehsud, died in a blast in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar on Wednesday evening, tribesman and militants confirmed.
“Sheheryar (Mehsud) is also gone,” a Mehsud tribesman, who received confirmation about the death, told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
The militant was killed by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED).
Last week, two top TTP commanders – Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saifullah Peshawari – were killed, reportedly in a clash with security forces in Afghanistan.
According to a statement by Nusratullah Nusrat, self-proclaimed spokesman of the TTP’s Hakimullah Mehsud group, “the leader of Hakimullah Mehsud group, Sheheryar Mehsud has achieved the status of martyr.”
He added the group had appointed Maulana Wali Muhammad alias Umari as its new chief.
Journalist Adnan Bitani who has extensively covered militancy in the region said that the killing of Mehsud will deal a severe blow to his faction within the TTP.
He said Mehsud was relatively close to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al-Qaeda remnants because of his matchless trust and reputation within the TTP.
“After Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, Sheheryar Mehsud had strong position within the group. His killing has left huge vacuum,” Bitani said.
Mehsud, a South Waziristan native in his early 40s, rose to prominence in TTP following the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike in North Waziristan tribal district in November 2013, after which Mullah Fazlullah took over as the group’s top commander.
Aggressive and well-built, he was closely associated with Hakimullah, the tribesman said. The recent killing will ultimately strengthen the position of Mehsud’s rival, Noor Wali Mehsud.
Noor Wali took over TTP leadership in 2018, following the killing of Fazlullah in Afghanistan.
Last year, the United States designated him as a global terrorist.


Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

Updated 03 April 2020

Council of Islamic Ideology endorses suspension of congregational prayer

  • The government has repeatedly urged people to pray at home and temporarily avoid religious congregations such as the Friday prayers
  • According to official statistics, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan are now close to 2,500

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) on Thursday endorsed the government's decision to suspend congregational prayer of more than five people to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the country.
After holding an emergency meeting in Islamabad to review the situation created by the global pandemic, the council chairman, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, addressed a news briefing wherein he highlighted the sanctity of human life in Islam.

The government has repeatedly urged people to pray at home and temporarily avoid religious congregations, such as the Friday prayers, after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. According to official statistics, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan are now close to 2,500 with 136 recoveries and 35 fatalities.
According to an official handout circulated by the council that works as a constitutional body responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic matters to the government, the CII head noted that it was not right to consider that mosques had been shut down.
However, he added that the government's decision to limit the number of worshippers must be honored by people under the existing circumstances.
He also urged the administration not to treat religious clerics harshly and seek their assistance on the matter.
The council chairman noted that COVID-19 was not spread by any sect or group, and it was not right to blame the pilgrims or members of the Muslim missionary movement for the outbreak.
He said that the victims of the virus should be buried in accordance with their religious beliefs, adding that the bodies should be washed with precautionary care and the relatives of the deceased individuals should be allowed to participate in the funeral prayers.
Ayaz also noted that those who lose their lives to the infectious respiratory disease should be called martyrs and buried with respect.
The council chairman emphasized it was important to help minority religious communities in Pakistan, urging devout individuals with financial means to use their money set aside for religious rituals and activities to help people facing economic hardships.
He also noted that mosques should act like community centers to assist the unemployed and needy.