How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

In this file photo, a Pakistani journalist watches a video of radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlullah in Peshawar on July 23, 2010. (A. Majeed/AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018
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How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

  • Mullah Fazlullah was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike
  • As soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car

DUBAI: Fazal Hayat, more commonly known as Mullah Fazlullah, the fugitive leader of the outlawed militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike. Arab News can reveal he was returning from an iftar party in the Marawara district of Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province.
According to an intelligence report seen by Arab News, Fazlullah was leaving the former militant center of the TTP at Bachai Markaz, in district Marwara, Kunar Province. He had Iftar and offered “Tiraveh” at the same center on June 13, 2018.
Fazlullah reportedly left the center around 10:45 p.m., but as soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car, killing Fazlullah and his guards.
Another TTP commander, Qari Yasir, was also among the dead, according to the report. The five men who died in the drone attack were buried in Bachai Graveyard early in the morning of June 14.
Fazlullah was reportedly a key topic of conversation during the official visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Naveed Mukhtar, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, to Afghanistan on June 12, when he discussed the political and military situation in the region with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
“This news today of a US drone targeting the TTP chief is an indication of some kind of ‘thaw’ between Pakistan and the USA,” an official who was part of the Pakistani delegation told Arab News, on condition of anonymity.
Bajwa’s visit came days after the Afghan Taliban announcement on June 9 of a three-day cease-fire over Eid Al-Fitr, the first truce of its kind offered by the Taliban since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Fazlullah, who escaped a major counter-terror operation carried out by the Pakistani military in the northwestern Swat Valley in 2009, had since regrouped his fighters in the border region of Afghanistan, according to security officials.
He is believed to have been responsible for a number of atrocities, including the 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that resulted in the deaths of almost 150 students and teachers, and ordering an assassination attempt on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in Swat in 2012.
Fazlullah was appointed TTP chief after a US drone strike killed his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in the North Waziristan region in November 2013.
Fazlullah’s 17-year-old son Abdullah and 20 other militants were reportedly killed in another US drone strike in Kunar in March this year.
Fazlullah’s deputy, Noor Wali Mehsud, will most likely be his successor, according to a TTP source.
Mehsud, 40, was the TTP’s Karachi chief from June 2013 until May 2015 and is the author of the book “Inqilab-e-Mehsud,” in which he claimed to have assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
— Naimat Khan in Karachi and Tahir Khan in Islamabad contributed to this story.


World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

In this Jan. 31, 2014 file photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, lining up to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. (AP)
Updated 11 min 46 sec ago
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World population expected to rise to 9.7 billion in 2050: UN

  • The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050

UNITED NATIONS: The world’s population is getting older and growing at a slower pace but is still expected to increase from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, the United Nations said Monday.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division said in a new report that world population could reach its peak of nearly 11 billion around the end of the century.
But Population Division Director John Wilmoth cautioned that because 2100 is many decades away this outcome “is not certain, and in the end the peak could come earlier or later, at a lower or higher level of total population.”
The new population projections indicate that nine countries will be responsible for more than half the projected population growth between now and 2050. In descending order of the expected increase, they are: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States.
In sub-Saharan Africa, population is projected to nearly double by 2050, the report said.
Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Lu Zhenmin said in a statement: “Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty,” promote gender equality and improve health care and education.
The report confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels.
The global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 births in 2019 and is projected to decline further to 2.2 births by 2050.
A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is need to ensure population replacement and avoid declines, according to the report.
In 2019, the fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa was the highest at 4.6 births per woman, with Pacific islands, northern Africa, and western, central and southern Asia above the replacement level, said the report.
But since 2010, it said 27 countries or areas have lost one percent or more of their population.
“Between 2019 and 2050 populations are projected to decrease by one percent or more in 55 countries or areas, of which 26 may see a reduction of at least 10 percent,” the UN said. “In China, for example, the population is projected to decrease by 31.4 million, or around 2.2 percent, between 2019 and 2050.”
Wilmoth, the head of the Population Division, told a news conference launching the report that the population growth rate is slowing down as the fertility level gradually decreases. That decrease usually follows a reduction in the mortality level that initially instigated growth, he said.
Wilmoth stressed that multiple factors lead to lower fertility including increasing education and employment, especially for women, and more jobs in urban than rural areas, which motivate people away from costly large families to smaller families.
But to achieve this, he said, people also need access to modern methods of contraception.
According to the “World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights” report, migration is also a major component of population growth or loss in some countries.
Between 2010 and 2020, it said 14 countries or areas will see a net inflow of more than one million migrants while 10 countries will experience a similar loss.
For example, some of the largest outflows of people — including from Bangladesh, Mepal and the Philippines — are driven by the demand for migrant workers, the report said. But some migrants are driven from their home countries by violence, insecurity and conflict, including from Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.
The UN said countries experiencing a net inflow of migrants over the decade include Belarus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.