The good news is Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik seems to have dropped the charade that newly appointed Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud is dead. The bad news is we’re going to be bombarded with more of the “Taliban is collapsing” rhetoric.
From The Nation (the Pakistani newspaper):
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said Pakistan and Afghanistan can get rid of the terrorism very soon if they adopt a joint strategy, adding the recent military operation in Swat is a success and as a result the Taliban are in a disarray. “Taliban have been disintegrated in Pakistan and the 2nd tier leadership of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are fleeing Pakistan,” he said during an interview with a British TV channel on Saturday.
Al Qaeda is leaving Pakistan and heading to Yemen and Somalia, Malik continued.
If that sounds familiar, it is because The New York Times reported something like this on June 12. But if you read the NYT report and discount the opportunist political spin from US officials, it is pretty clear that the “dozens of fighters with al Qaeda, and a small handful of the terrorist group’s leaders” are being assigned to Yemen and Somalia to help coordinate and support activities between al Qaeda Central in Pakistan with the the two regional affiliates. Al Qaeda’s assignment of personnel to Yemen and Somalia tells us far more about the deteriorating situation in those countries than it does about the situation in Pakistan.