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Good Taliban, Bad Taliban? Pakistani commander's killing exposes blurry lines

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Mr. Nazir, who survived a suicide attack in November reputedly organized by rival Taliban commanders, was considered to be pro-government, a rare stance among Pakistani Taliban. He had agreed in the past to restrain his fighters from targeting Pakistani government forces, instead focusing efforts on the Taliban-led anti-US insurgency in Afghanistan. That had led some to label him a “good" Taliban.

With his killing, however, some analysts say his successor and followers may now turn their guns on civilian and military targets within Pakistan.

“Such [drone] attacks are not the first ones to have occurred and they have definitely created rifts between the Pakistani military and the likes of Maulvi Nazir-led Taliban,” says Mehreen Zahra Malik, an Islamabad-based columnist who recently visited Wana, the town in South Waziristan where Nazir was based.

Adding to the problem is widespread outrage among most Pakistanis toward US drone strikes. The government and military have harnessed that anger to pressure Washington. The “Good Taliban” forces increasingly suspect these attacks are being carried out with the consent of the Pakistani security establishment, Ms. Malik says.

“There is nothing to say the 'Good Taliban' won't also turn their guns on the Pakistani state in the coming days, which is definitely something the Pakistan Army would like to avoid,” Malik adds.

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