The Pakistani military has launched an operation against extremist groups in the Khyber agency. On June 29, the military said it was directly targeting the local extremist groups of Ansar-ul-Islam, Lashkar-e-Islam, and the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice. The groups have been outlawed by the government after a request from the commander of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, which is leading the operation in Khyber.
The operation in Khyber appears to be limited in scope. The military and the government have said the operation would last no longer than a week. While the extremist groups have been outlawed, few of their fighters and leaders have been killed or captured. The leaders of Lashkar-e-Islam ordered their followers not to oppose the operation and have pushed for a peace agreement.
One metric of the government’s seriousness in taking on the extremists in Khyber is the killing of the group’s leaders. Capturing these commanders will mean little as the government has a poor track record of keeping Taliban leaders in custody. Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the radical Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammed based in northwestern Pakistan, was released during peace negotiations this spring. Scores of mid-level and senior Taliban commanders, including members of the Taliban Shura, or leadership council, in Afghanistan have been set free by the Pakistani government.
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