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Jan 4, 2013 | 17:18 GMT

Top Pakistan-Allied Taliban Leader Killed

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Top Pakistan-Allied Taliban Leader Killed

A suspected U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan's tribal region Jan. 3 killed a key Taliban leader who had been helping Islamabad combat hostile Taliban factions. Maulvi Nazir, who was the top warlord of the Ahmadzai Waziri tribe, and several of his close associates died when missiles struck the house where they were meeting in Angoor Adda, South Waziristan. Islamabad considers Maulvi Nazir's group a benevolent Taliban faction because the tribal militia has not waged war against the Pakistani state, although it has been involved in militant activity in Afghanistan. Nazir and the Pakistani government had an understanding for years, which helped Pakistan limit the anti-government Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan's influence in South Waziristan. Tribal divisions played a critical role in this agreement because Nazir was from the Ahmadzai Waziri tribe, which occupies the portion of South Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, while Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is from the rival Mehsud tribe that inhabits the areas bordering Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Maulvi Nazir's reported death is a setback for Islamabad's efforts against Taliban rebels and could give Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan the opportunity to come back in South Waziristan. A U.S. strike killing Nazir could push his group or other larger Taliban factions, such as that of Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan, to align with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. The result could be a much more potent insurgency against the Pakistani state, weakening it to the point that it could become unable to play a meaningful role in negotiations about Afghanistan's future.

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