PESHAWAR: The hard-line militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on Thursday confirmed the killing of its senior leader Mufti Khalid Balti alias Mohammad Khurasani, deeming it a ‘huge loss’.
The TTP spokesperson said in a statement that the group has lost the religious scholar and expert of political affairs, calling it a ‘huge loss’. Khalid Balti was mysteriously abducted and killed in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar a few days ago.
Mufti Khalid Balti’s real name was Muhammad Ali Balti and he was TTP’s former media in-charge. His body was found in a remote border area of Nangarhar on January 10 after he had been missing for two days.
Khalid Balti had no formal position in the organisation after his release from prison in Afghanistan, but he was very successful in reuniting dissident members of the proscribed group. According to sources, due to his previous long experience, the media and propaganda wing of the TTP was very active.
After the former TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid, ie Sheikh Maqbool Orakzai, joined the so-called Islamic state of Khurasan in 2014, the TTP appointed Balti as new spokesman and was presented to media as Muhammad Khurasani.
He was known as Mohammad Khalid Khurasani and was the ‘most-wanted’ militant leader. Originally from Gilgit-Baltistan, he was running a terror center in North Waziristan until he fled to Afghanistan after the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014. According to BBC Urdu, Islamabad had demanded the extradition of Khalid Balti from the former Afghan government, but in return the Ashraf Ghani administration had demanded the extradition of Afghan Taliban commanders wanted to Kabul. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August last year, thousands of prisoners were released from various prisons, including several members TTP members wanted by Pakistan, including Khalid Balti.