Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pakistani Taliban leader killed?

US officials evidently are increasingly confident that Pakistani Taliban leader Beitullah Mehsud may have been killed by a US missile strike. The NYT's report oozes optimism about the implications. The AP's report, on the other hand, notes that although his death would be a major blow to the Taliban, others are likely ready to step up to replace him.

It does call to mind the US strike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006. Much was made of it, but AQI hardly missed a beat. Let's hope that Mehsud's demise - if he indeed is dead - will improve things for Pakistan's people, many of whom remain refugees from the fighting between the Pakistani army and the Taliban in regions like Swat. But I suspect that the Taliban won't be too long, or too severely, set back.

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