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In brazen move, Imran Khan foists Taliban ex-commander on PoK legislative assembly

Former head of Taliban Abdullah Mazhar Shah Mazhar(Image source: Twitter)

In a brazen move, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has nominated a former head of Taliban Abdullah Mazhar Shah Mazhar for a reserved seat in the legislative assembly of  Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

Mazhar Shah, was a member of the banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and later joined the terror organisation of Masood Azhar- Jaish-e-Mohammad. Abdullah Shah Mazhar is nominated to the reserved seat for  “Islamic Scholars” called Ulema-e-mashaikh.

But the people of Pakistan are openly criticising the Imran Khan government’s decision to foist a Taliban commander on the assembly.

An activist in POK wrote on his post, “ ⁦@ImranKhanPTI⁩ has issued  a ticket in POK to a Jihadi terrorist Taliban commander, Mazhar Saeed Shah who is also known as Abdullah Shah Mazhar, for Ulema & Mashaikh. He also worked 4 Jaish-e-Mohammed etc.”

Imran Khan has previously been accused of being an open supporter of the Taliban, giving him the title “Taliban Khan”.

Local people and activists who have been protesting against the rigged elections in POK by the Pakistan army and Imran Khan’s government, say that by nominating a Taliban, the military establishment is trying to destroy the Kashmiri culture and identity. 

Also read:  Pulwama masterminds ‘Lamboo’, Sameer Dar killed in Kashmir encounter

HuM and JeM were involved in various terror attacks in the region, including the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The Jaish-e-Muhammad was established in 2000 by Maulana Azhar to train militants to fight against India. Abdullah Shah Mazhar wo belongs to Lawat area of the Neelam Valley in PoK rose through the Taliban ranks to become a commander in the organisation.  After the US attack on Afghanistan and fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, Abdul Mazhar Shah was “settled” in Karachi with the help of the ISI. He served as Khatib in Batha Mosque and a religious school in Karachi which was patronised by Jaish e Mohammad and also became an active member of JeM.

After the arrest of Masood Azhar, the Batha mosque served as the provincial headquarters of the JeM before the outfit was banned in 2002 by the President Musharraf government in its crackdown on militant outfits.

JeM has been responsible for many terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets in India and has also been accused of killing US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

Mazhar became the second in command of Tehreek Al Furqan which was created by Jaish chief Masood Azhar, a day after his organisation Jaish e Muhammmad was included by America in the second list of 39 terrorist organisations of the world.

Mazhar was arrested during anti-American demonstrations in Karachi.

In 2003, JeM chief Masood Azhar renamed his party as Khuddam-ul-Islam against the advice of Mazhar. He then parted ways with Azhar to form his own terror organisation Tehreek-e-Ghalba-e-Islam. In 2011, he joined Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and contested the election in Pakistan occupied Kashmir from Neelam Valley but lost.

Abdullah Shah Mazhar's brother Abu Lababa Shah Mansoor is an “active” member of the Taliban and looks after the propaganda publications of the Taliban.  He has released magazines named “Jihadi” and “Zarb e Momin” for Afghan Taliban from Pakistan. Abu Lababa is a teacher at Jamiat ul Rasheed madrasa in Karachi,. This is the same madrasa near which the dead body of American journalist Daniel Pearl was found.

Interestingly, Abdullah Shah Mazhar was “missing” for several years. Local sources say he was under “detention” till he was released just before the POK elections.