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I was sent to seek Mehsud's help against India: Ex-Pak MP

I was sent to seek Mehsud's help against India: Ex-Pak MP

Author: Rezaul H Laskar
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September5, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/i-was-sent-to-seek-mehsuds-help-against-ind/513175/

Introduction: Aziz was sent by the Interior Ministry to meet Mehsud to convince him to show 'unity against India' amid heightened tensions between the countries

A former parliamentarian, known for his links with militant groups, on Friday made the startling claim that the Pakistan government had deputed him to hold secret talks with slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud on forging "unity against India" in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Shah Abdul Aziz, who was arrested in July on charges of being linked to the abduction and killing of Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak by the Taliban, made the revelation in an interview with a TV news channel, two days after he was freed from prison on bail.

Aziz said senior officials of the Interior Ministry sent him to meet Mehsud after the Mumbai attacks in November last year. He said the officials asked him to convince Mehsud to show "unity against India" amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

The former member of the National Assembly said he met Mehsud along with a 15-member delegation of Islamic scholars from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He said he stayed in Makeen area of South Waziristan, a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, for three days to convince Mehsud but the militant commander was not ready to accept the delegation's views. Mehsud finally agreed to back the government in case of any offensive by India when Aziz and the delegation rejected his offer to join him for a meal.

"It is a tradition of Pashtuns that they do not make their guests angry at a meal," Aziz said.

Following this, Mehsud issued statements to international media organisations like CNN and BBC and the Pakistani media that his Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan would fight alongside the Pakistan Army against Indian forces in spite of its differences with the military and the government.

Aziz claimed that when he was detained, three letters written by Mehsud to the Pakistan Army chief were recovered from his briefcase. He did not disclose the contents of these letters.

He said he was "kidnapped" by intelligence agencies from Blue Area in the heart of Islamabad on May 27 and not arrested as was being claimed by law enforcement authorities. He said he was taken to an undisclosed location in handcuffs and shackles. While in custody, he was tortured and forced to make "some confessions", he claimed.

After he refused to do so, intelligence agencies presented a youth named Attaullah who made statements about his alleged involvement in the murder of the Polish engineer, Aziz claimed.

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