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Taliban Down, but Not Out

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The recent arrests of the Taliban bigwigs in Pakistan have failed to impact the strategy of Mullah Omar. He has appointed new deputies to carry out the jihad against the Americans -- and Pakistanis. Abdul Qayyum Zakir is the new Taliban commander and is based in Quetta. The 36-year old commander was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2007 though he remained incarcerated in Afghan prisons for another year. He has since joined the ranks of the Taliban and has quickly ascended the Taliban hierarchy.

According to BBC Urdu, another commander has also been appointed to bridge the gap created by the recent arrests. Akhtar Mansoor is in his 40s and is among the older lot of the Taliban that has recently joined forces with Mullah Omar after years of hiding. The report also says that he is receiving support from the Persian Gulf region.

A new post has also been created by the Taliban, aptly named as in-charge of the kidnappings for ransom and non-governmental organizations. An ex-Gitmo prisoner has been appointed to this post, according to BBC Urdu. Taliban have also appointed 'supervisors' in some districts that will oversee the improvements in 'boys' education. Female educational reforms, as expected, are still a big no-no as the Taliban think of it as an un-Islamic activity.

The recent developments in Marjah and the tactical retreat of the Taliban suggests that they maybe down but they are not out. They are still carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan despite the massive offensive in the tribal areas and their activities in Afghanistan have not subsided.

Amid all this mayhem, Pakistan and the US are conducting strategic dialogue in Washington D.C with Taliban insurgency at the core of the meeting agenda. While Pakistanis will demand further aid and supply of gadgets and weaponry, Americans, however, are not eager to accept these demands. The contentious dialogues might not decide the outcome of Afghan peace process but they are surely the first step in this direction.