NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies are openly controlled by the Taliban; yellow are under threat. Click map to view.
The settled district of Kohat goes yellow, others likely to follow
The Talibanization of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, beyond the tribal agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, is a disturbing trend that continues unchecked by the Pakistani government. As the Pakistani government cuts an agreement with Faqir Mohammed’s Taliban in Bajaur, and Uzbek and Taliban warlords battle in South Waziristan, Syed Saleem Shahzad reports the settled district of Kohat is now under Taliban control.
The [judicial] crisis is being compounded by other developments. According to latest reports, the Pakistani Taliban have seized control of settled areas such as Tank in North West Frontier Province, and the leader of the Awami National Party, Isfandyar Wali, revealed on television that the Taliban now control Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, just 15 kilometers from the provincial capital, Peshawar. “I am constantly saying that Taliban are very rapidly getting powerful in the North West Frontier Province, but nobody is listening to me,” said Wali.
FR Kohat is hardly three hours from the national capital, Islamabad, and such a development will undoubtedly bolster the anti-Musharraf forces. As it is, Islamabad itself is home to many Taliban who have been preparing for Musharraf’s ouster.
The “many Taliban who have been preparing for Musharraf’s ouster” in Islamabad include Ghazi Abdul Rasheed and Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leaders of the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, in Islamabad. Rasheed and Aziz are the “leading ideologues of the Pakistani Taliban” and are “wanted by Pakistan’s interior ministry.”
Rasheed and Aziz issued a religious edict in 2004 that forbade soldiers from fighting in South Waziristan. “The decree stated that Pakistani soldiers fighting South Waziristan did not deserve a Muslim funeral or burial at Muslim cemeteries in the event that they were killed while fighting in the tribal region which lies on the Pakistan-Afghan border.” Musharraf is reported to have order an airstrike on the Lal Masjid, inside his own capital city, but the military declined.
Based on the reporting from western Pakistan, we anticipate that the Mohmand and Orakzai tribal agencies, and the districts of Bannu, Swat and Dir to also be marked as Taliban country in the near future.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.