No official will publicly confirm Mehsuds death, in part because of the stigma associated with the covert drone program, and also because some have incorrectly labeled commanders as dead in the past only to see them later give public interviews.
This weekend the speculation about Mehsud's fate peaked when Pakistan's state-owned broadcaster PTV announced his death without citing any sources. The Taliban have issued repeated denials that Mehsud had died of his wounds, including one on Saturday.
He and his senior leadership survived last year's invasion by 30,000 Pakistani soldiers into their former South Waziristan stronghold. Pakistani military officers acknowledged that Mehsud had fled into North Waziristan.
While the army pushed the Pakistani Taliban out of South Waziristan, U.S. officials say they have rebuffed American requests to expand the operation to target the Afghan Taliban, who live in Pakistan but largely target U.S. troops and Afghan institutions in Afghanistan.
Mehsud, like his predecessor, expanded the links between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, as well as with al Qaeda and jihadi militant groups that usually attack India. But Mehsud's predecessor was not as successful at finding a way to directly attack the United States in Afghanistan.