President Pervez Musharraf’s state of emergency five days ago has done little to curb the Taliban’s march in the Northwest Frontier Province. As the security forces continue to arrest opposition leader and work to curb protests in the major cities, The Taliban have taken control of two more major towns in the settled district of Swat, while attacks continue elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province.
On November 6, the Taliban overran police stations in and around the town of Matta in Swat. “About two dozen police officers and several troops offered no resistance to militants who seized three police stations and a military post,” the Associated Press reported.
The police and soldiers abandoned their posts and handed over their weapons to the Taliban. The Taliban fighter in Matta raised the white Taliban standard over the police stations and military outpost.
“We didn’t harm the police and soldiers and allowed them to go to their homes as they didn’t fight our mujahideen,” said Sirajuddin, a spokesman for Maulana Qazi Fazlullah, a radical Taliban cleric leading the fight against government forces. Fazlullah has called for government forces to withdraw, the imposition of sharia law, and charges dismissed against his followers.
The Taliban also overran the town of Maydan on Tuesday. “Announcements about the advance were made on a pirate FM radio station run by cleric Mullah Fazlullah, as militants hoisted their party flag on police stations and government buildings and distributed sweets,” Aaj TV reported. The town of Khawazakhela fell to the Taliban late last week.
The Taliban continue to consolidate their hold over Swat as the government seeks to negotiate a truce.
Elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province, the Taliban continue to attack government forces. In Kurram Agency, four paramilitary troops of the Frontier Levies were captured after 50 Taliban attacked a checkpoint.
In North Waziristan, the one solder was killed and two wounded during two IED attacks near Miramshah. One of those wounded was a major in the Special Services Group, Pakistan’s elite counterterrorism force.
The Pakistani military has done little to combat the Taliban since the imposition of the state of emergency. Security forces arrested Hamid Gul, the former chief of the Inter Service Intelligence agency and the architect of the Taliban movement. Ameer Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the president of the pro-Taliban Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Islamist political party, was put under house arrest.
Security forces are also said to be seeking to recapture the 61 Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists released by order of the Supreme Court earlier this year. “It has been told that all of the 61 are said to be high-profile terrorists,” the Pak Tribune noted.