4 years, 10 months ago
As of August 16th, it was said that more than 100,000 noncombatants had fled the most northerly province in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
About 100,000 Pakistani villagers have fled clashes between security forces and militants in a northwestern region raising the danger of a big humanitarian problem, a government official said on Friday.
Security forces and militants have been fighting in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border, a known sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, since the militants attacked a security post last week.
About 170 people have been killed, including some civilians, officials have said. The fighting has included strikes on militants by fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
The violence has triggered an exodus, with people streaming out of the region on packed pick-up trucks and on foot, many heading for the safety of the main northwestern city of Peshawar.
As of August 18, this number had swelled to approximately 300,000. This number is almost certainly exaggerated, but it’s obvious that Peshawar, which is the last bastion of normalcy in the tribal region and increasingly Talibanized every day, is receiving an influx of people for which it has no place or resources.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban have made their position on these operations well known.
PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has threatened to launch attacks on security forces and government installations in Mohmand Agency if the ongoing military operation in Bajaur is not halted immediately.
Talking to The Post on phone from an undisclosed location, TTP Mohmand Agency Amir Umer Khalid said Tehrik Chief Baitullah Mehsood had instructed him to make preparations for attacks on security forces in case the operation in Bajaur Agency was prolonged.
Umer said: “We have completed our preparations and are anxiously waiting for the orders of our chief. We can not sit quiet if our innocent brothers, sisters and kids are bombed in Bajaur Agency. Taliban have also decided to expand their intelligence system to identify people playing spies’ role and giving reports about the activities of Islamic insurgents to the government. We will publicly hang those who are acting as spies for the government.” They needed to take a lesson from two youths who we recently slaughtered in front of people after being proved guilty of spying for the government, he added.
The government seemed to be living in a fool’s paradise. It was underestimating the strength of Taliban, he said, adding that the militants had the courage to fight till last man. “If we are being bombed to appease America, we have the right to fight back to defend our ideology.”
The commander said thousands of people were fleeing Bajaur due to the bombing by government jets. It is unfortunate that the jets, which the government should have used against the enemies of Islam, are being used against the Islamists just because they are not ready to accept the American hegemony. Asked if Baitullah Mehsood could expand battle to other agencies and parts of the country, he said in the struggle for survival, nothing could not be ruled out.
Separately, talking to The Post on phone from an unspecified location, Taliban spokesman in Swat Haji Muslim Khan said their Amir in Swat valley, Maulana Fazalullah, had ordered to line up suicide bombers for escalating attacks on security forces and government installations across the country.
He said Taliban were fighting guerrilla warfare against the security forces in Swat and targeted killing of government functionaries would be started soon. The NWFP chief minister, cabinet ministers, Rehman Malik, MNAs and MPAs belonging to Swat and some police officials are on their hit list.
Haji Muslim said they appreciated the statement of Prime Minister’s Advisor Rehman Malik to prolong the military operation in Swat, adding that it would be better if Rehman Malik himself took the command of security forces there. “I suggest to Rehman Malik to come to Swat and lead the operation,” he said and added Taliban were fighting a sacred war for the enforcement of Shariah and hoped they would be successful.
On the other hand, Taliban Kurram Agency spokesman Fazal Saeed Haqqani said NATO, Irani and Afghan troops were busy operating against the Sunnis to help Shias. He said the Sunni-Shia strife started in Kurram Agency in 1961 and it had claimed hundreds of lives till today. He said Taliban had rocked Shias, but now the NATO, India, Afghanistan and Iran had reached there to rescue the Shia community. The Taliban self-described spokesman said the government never made sincere efforts to restore peace in Kurram Agency.
Time will tell the effectiveness of the current operations against the TTP. However, if the operations cease without total destruction of the TTP – a highly unlikely scenario – the operations will have been mostly a loss and failure, and the Tehrik-i-Taliban will come back empowered from the stand down in hostilities. We’ve seen it before many times. Meanwhile, the province of Ghazni has been ceded to the Afghan Taliban.
As The Captain’s Journal predicted more than half a year ago, the Taliban prepared dual fronts and are engaged in full bore summer operations.