NEWS: Pakistan Taliban directed to focus on NATO; retired officers call for Musharraf to resign

Taliban wield the ax ahead of new battle

With the Taliban’s spring offensive just months away, the Afghan front has been quiet as Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have been heavily engaged in fighting security forces in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

But now Taliban leader Mullah Omar has put his foot down and reset the goals for the Taliban: their primary task is the struggle in Afghanistan, not against the Pakistan state.

Mullah Omar has sacked his own appointed leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, the main architect of the fight against Pakistani security forces, and urged all Taliban commanders to turn their venom against North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, highly placed contacts in the Taliban told Asia Times Online. Mullah Omar then appointed Moulvi Faqir Mohammed (a commander from Bajaur Agency) but he refused the job. In the past few days, the Pakistani Taliban have held several meetings but have not yet appointed a replacement to Mehsud. [complete article]

Prominent Pakistani group urges Musharraf to step down

President Pervez Musharraf should immediately step down as a way to promote democracy, combat religious militancy and restore the reputation of Pakistan’s military, according to an influential group of retired officers.

The Pakistan Ex-Servicemen’s Society made its demands late Tuesday, two days after Musharraf left on an eight-day European swing to assure world leaders that Pakistan — and its nuclear arsenal — were in safe hands.

“This is in the supreme national interest and it makes it incumbent on him to step down,” said a statement released after a meeting in Rawalpindi attended by dozens of former army generals, three air force air marshals and eight naval admirals. [complete article]

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