The continuing Talibanization of the Northwest Frontier Province

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.

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6 Comments

  • Tim says:

    “Musharraf is reported to have order an airstrike on the Lal Masjid, inside his own capital city, but the military declined.”
    I pretty sure there is an anonymous US Naval aviator floating out in the Indian Ocean ready to blow that snake pit into oblivion. I guess our “ally” in the GWOT is unwilling to call on his allies.

  • joe says:

    The military declined. I didnt realize carrying out orders is optional in the Pakistani military. If your a military dictator like musharaff and your own military is refusing orders you better start packing your bags because your on your way out. This means that even if Musharaff desired to stamp out taliban/al qaeda his own military would refuse to do so. Also it seems unlikely that any pro western Musharaff replacement would be able to fight the Islamists because the Military would revolt. What a mess. Anybody have any good ideas how to solve this giant problem?

  • RTLM says:

    Not only the military but apparently the air force declined. The best trained and the most powerful of their armed forces. Not good news. They/we need to dismantle or permanently secure that Khushab nuke base before any potential coup.

  • Howard Veit says:

    Tribes: Just a word here about reports that the “tribes” in Iraq are going against AlQaeda or the ones in Crapistan are joining etc. There have been articles saying the Tribes now back the U.S. Here you say they join AlQaeda or Taliban. Join? Them?
    In Iraq, a country of roughly 2,500 effective tribes one has to deal with 2,500 essentially competing interests. It’s always a “what can you do for me?” situation. EVERYTHING in that kind of society is one of tribal leaders “looking good” to the tribe membership. The way to look good is to bring home some bacon; to do “favors” for another tribal leader, favors that must be repaid at some time in the future. All tribal Arab societies are corrupted by “backshish” at every level because of favors being done and favors being repaid a thousand times each day. If a tribal member’s son needs a job in a hospital the father goes to his tribal chief who always needs to look good; the tribal chief says “I’ll see what I can do for you,” and goes to another tribal chief who is connected to the hospital and either gets repayment for a favor done in the past or agrees to do a favor in the future. The deed is done so the Tribal leader can go back to the father of the boy who wants the job and tell him “I done it for you,” which means “you now owe me” and life goes on.
    That’s why tribal societies are uniformly backward. Unless the current tribal leaders are paid off they won’t stay anti-AlQaeda. …pro Taliban UNLESS …..a genuine and effective actual domestic government—as opposed to an infidel government—turns up, one which can either grant favors or crush the tribes. We have been ineffective in dealing with tribal interests because we didn’t know anything about tribes and the necessity of dealing with them, believing them to be a bunch of primitives. So….3,000 of our guys dead and counting ….. The tribes are pro tribe. Period. They join with other powers for self preservation or profit.

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  • Shiv Kumar says:

    I think you guys are not too knowledgeable about the Pakistani military hierarchy. For one Musharaff is too smooth to order the bombing of a mosque in his own capital. A couple of mullahs can be taken out without wrecking a historic monument.
    Should an order to bomb come from the commander-in-chief, the PAF would not be found wanting. They have blown too many Balochs to bit already.

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