KARACHI: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has offered a $1 million bounty for Ehsanullah Ehsan, the central spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack on 14-year-old activist Malala Yousufzai’s life.
Speaking to CNN in an interview late Monday, Malik said that security agencies were investigating the attack and hunting down those whose involvement had been ascertained.
“All our law enforcers, intelligence agencies are hunting all those who were involved. I have got some other names which I would not like to mention on record because it may damage the investigation. But let me (as)sure my Pakistani nation, and the entire world, that we will get them very soon,” the interior minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Malik said that according to details unearthed in the probe, the assassination attempt on Malala was planned in Afghanistan.
“Four people came from there. … One of the guys, we have identified and (a) few of his associates have been arrested. One of – the fiancee of one of the terrorists has been detained, and all possible leads which we have developed … we are following it,” said Malik, vowing to hold all those responsible to account “very soon.”
Moreover, the interior minister affirmed that the government was providing security to Malala’s family and to two other girls also wounded in the same attack.
Malik says ‘Radio Mullah’ new Pakistani Taliban chief; denied by the TTP spokesman
Later on Tuesday, the interior minister said that intelligence reports suggested that powerful militant commander “Radio Mullah” Fazlullah was being made the central leader of the militant umbrella group the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“We have reports that Mullah Fazlullah was being made the chief of the TTP,” Malik told reporters in Mingora, Swat. He said that the reason Fazlullah was being made leader was that current chief Hakimullah Mehsud had been ‘underground’ and inactive, and had not been commanding most of the operations of the TTP.
However, speaking to our correspondent from an undisclosed location over the telephone, TTP spokesman Ehsan denied the reports. “As long as Hakimullah (Mehsud) continues to lead the TTP according to Shariah…… he will remain the ameer (chief) as appointed by Mullah Omar,” said Ehsan.
“Young Taliban leadership is playing an active role in carrying out activities under the guidance of senior commanders like Fazlullah and Hakimullah,” he added.
Fazlullah is the chief of the Swat Taliban, which previously had control over the Swat region and is believed to have melted away across the border following a Pakistani military offensive in 2009. Fazlullah is now believed to be based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
A spokesman for the Swat Taliban had claimed that two killers from Fazlullah’s special hit squad had been sent to target young schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai. The spokesman had further threatened to kill the girl’s father following the failed assassination attempt on the girl’s life.
Malik visited the house of Kainat, one of the girls injured during the attack on Malala in Swat. The interior minister added that three platoons of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) would be named after the three girls – Malala, Kainat and Shazia.
He also said that the government would confer a Sitara-i-Shujaat (Medal of Courage) award on Malala for her activism for girls’ education and peace despite dangers to her life.
Dawn.com correspondent Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to reporting.