Pakistan reacts to Taliban attacks in North Waziristan after a week of fighting on the Afghan/Pakistan border; Taliban active in Tank, Khyber and Peshawar Agencies
The security situation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas continues to worsen. Two days after a Taliban assault on a base in Dattakhel, and a day after the Taliban attacked a patrol in Mir Ali, “a group of about 70 pro-Taliban fighters attacked three military bases in North Waziristan near the regional capital Miran Shah.” The Pakistani army claims “Sixteen militants were killed and 19 arrested” during the counterassault, while the Pakistani Army lost four soldiers in battle. Adnkronos International refers to the Army’s action an “offensive,” however the reality is the Pakistani Army reacted to the attacks. The fighting of the last few days is preceded by a week of clashes in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
While the fighting in North Waziristan continues, the Taliban flex their cultural muscles in the nearby district of Tank. “A group of Taliban stormed a wedding ceremony to disrupt a music programme, wounding one man a few days after they ordered Bhittani tribesmen to grow beards,” reports the Daily times, based on interviews with eyewitnesses, “…dozens of Taliban attacked the music programme at the wedding…’They came by vehicles and opened fire at the participants in the music programme, wounding one late on Monday evening.'”
Pakistani media, specifically the Daily times, hammers away on the loss of governmental control of the tribal belt. The paper states ‘South Waziristan is run by Taliban’ and describes the agency [district] as “under the ‘full control’ of militants [Taliban and al Qaeda] loyal to Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud, enforcing ‘Taliban-style’ governance.” The fighting has spread to the Khyber Agency which is described as a “war”; “Two armies have clashed and left behind 24 dead in Bara, while the federal government, which looks after the area, has practically looked on to see which brand of Islam wins in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Supporters of one faction have been attacking the supporters of their rival, putting everything to sack and killing anyone who resists.”
The jihad in Pakistan expands. The Daily Times states last week’s bombing in Peshawar “was big enough to indicate that its source was no amateur bomb-maker. It has actually been identified as being of the same make as those found in North Waziristan after the ‘foreigners’ fled from there.” Also, the em>Daily Times places Tahir Yuldashev in “a meeting in a forest in North Waziristan which was attended by some cabinet members of the MMA government from Peshawar.” Yuldashev is the ruthless leader of the al Qaeda affiliate Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Global Security describes the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the political party which controls Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province, as such: “Its leaders are strongly opposed to the US-led anti-terrorism campaign in neighboring Afghanistan that ousted the Taleban from power. The group believed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had become a tool of US foreign policy. The MMA campaigned on promises to enforce Sharia law and in support of the withdrawal of US forces based in Pakistan in the campaign against international terrorism.” Dan Darling is a little less forgiving and describes the MMA as “an al Qaeda front.” Sadly, we agree.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.