Red agencies/ districts controlled by the Taliban; purple is defacto control; yellow is under threat
The Taliban continue to take territory in the Northwest Frontier Province. After fighting the Pakistani military to a standstill in North Waziristan and forcibly taking over much of Swat, the Taliban have marched eastward into the settled district of Shangla.
Over 500 Taliban fighters under the command of Maulana Muhammad Alam poured into Shangla and took control of the district office and police station in Alpuri “without facing any resistance from the government,” the Daily Times reported. “All government functionaries, including the DPO [District Police Officer] and DCO [District Coordination Officer], left the area the moment they heard of the fall of Shangla Top police station, located at the border between Swat and Shangla.” The district courts are also under Taliban control, Dawn reported.
Maulana Alam, an ally of Swat’s firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlullah, claimed the Taliban only sought to impose sharia law in Shangla. “We only struggle for the enforcement of Shariah,” Alam was reported to have said.
Shangla is home to Amir Muqam, the federal Minister for Political Affairs. Muqam was the target of a suicide bomber at his residence in Peshawar on November 9. Four were killed during the assassination attempt in the provincial capital.
The fall of Shangla comes as the Pakistani army took control of security operations in neighboring Swat, where Fazlullah has essentially taken control of the district. Martial law was imposed after hundreds of police and paramilitary soldiers surrendered weapons and themselves to Fazlullah’s Taliban.
The Pakistani government has cut peace deals with the Taliban in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Mohmand, and Swat over the past year, only to see the Taliban expand their influence. Much of the Northwest Frontier Province is either under open control of the Taliban or is heavily influenced by the terror groups.
President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on November 3 under the guise of dealing with the terrorists, but has yet to make a move against the Taliban’s expansion beyond the tribal areas. The Taliban’s move into Shangla pushes the extremists even closer to Islamabad.