The Taliban threatens to bombs schools as Musharraf looks the push more ‘peace deals’
Western Pakistan’s decent into a Taliban state becomes more and more apparent as each day passes. For well over the past year we warned that not only were the tribal areas and Quetta falling to the Taliban, but the Taliban was seeking to expand its influence into the settled regions of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province.
The Taliban, sufficiently emboldened by the Pakistani government’s unwillingness to meaningfully deal with with the threat, is now publicly flexing its muscle in the settled regions of the Northwest Frontier Province.
The Taliban have issued “threatening letters” and made phone calls to “schools and foreign banks” in Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, ordering them “to shut down or face violent consequences,” reports ABC News’ The Blotter. A school and a business have already complied. “The Beaconhouse School, an English-language co-ed private school, shut the doors of its Peshawar campus in response to the threat,” notes The Blotter. “The Standard Chartered Bank also closed a Peshawar office.”
The Taliban threats are not limited to foreign institutions. As the news of threats against foreign schools and businesses materialized, the Taliban issued threats against local girls schools. Veils are now mandatory, according to the Taliban. “The principal of Mardan Government High School received a letter from an unidentified man, who had written that the school would be bombed within seven days if students and teachers did not start wearing veils,” Pakistan’s Daily Times reported yesterday. “It is believed that the letters are being sent by associates of Al Qaeda leader Abu Farah, who was arrested from the same area.” Two schools shut down due to the threat. This follows the murder of a female Pakistani provincial minister from Punjab for failing to wear a veil.
The Taliban threats to foreign and domestic institutions follows a series of suicide, roadside bombings, as well as attacks on government institutions in Islamabad, Peshawar, Mir Ali, Bajaur, Dera Ishmail Khan, Darra Adamkhel, Bannu, and Tank. The targets include police, the military, non-governmental organizations, doctors, the courts, government welfare centers and markets. This is occurring as the Taliban and al Qaeda launch attacks into Afghanistan from their established bases and command centers in Bajaur and North and South Waziristan.
Despite the obvious signs of the Taliban and al Qaeda expansion from the isolated tribal areas, the Musharraf government continues to seek reconciliation with the Taliban. President Pervez Musharraf will propose that the opposition in parliament approach the Taliban to “negotiate peace with militants.” The opposition is led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, whose Muttahida Mujlis Amal political party rules in the Northwest Frontier Province and is openly supportive of the Taliban.
The Musharraf government has tried negotiating with the Taliban in North and South Waziristan several times in the past, and each time to Taliban violated the terms of the agreement. The ‘peace deals’ have resulted in the establishment of Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuaries now have a very real sanctuary in North and South Waziristan, as well as in Bajaur, where peace talks were scuttled after the U.S. and Pakistani military bombed a al Qaeda camps. President Musharraf apparently believes a deal can be done with the Taliban, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.