The Pakistani military has halted the operation against the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province district of Hangu just seven days after it began. The operation was ended just one day after the government initiated peace negotiations with the Taliban, and the Taliban again threatened the provincial government with violence.
The “objectives of the operation have been achieved,” according to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the official news service of the Pakistani government. The military claims the writ of the government has been restored and the “miscreants were flushed out” of the district. Twenty Taliban fighters were killed and 30 detained, the military claimed.
The military launched the Hangu offensive on July 16 after the Taliban conducted numerous attacks, including an ambush that killed 15 soldiers and a siege of a police station by more than 400 fighters.
The peace negotiations and the end of the Hangu offensive came after the Taliban again threatened to attack the provincial government due to operations in Hangu, Swat, and Khyber. “The government has breached the peace agreement with the continuation of the operation in Hangu,” Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Taliban told Adnkronos International. The Taliban are gathering in Swat and other areas and are preparing to attack if ordered.
The government unanimously backs negotiations with the Taliban
The end of the Hangu offensive happened on the same day the Pakistani federal government’s coalition partners and military and intelligence chiefs met to discuss the deteriorating security situation in northwestern Pakistan. The government decided that negotiations would take primacy when dealing with the security situation.
“The main thrust of the coalition partners’ multi-pronged strategy to counter the challenge of extremism will be political engagement of the people,” the government stated in a press release. “Local militants who want to surrender before the authorities would be rehabilitated and brought into mainstream of the society to lead a peaceful life,” the Associated Press of Pakistan reported, paraphrasing Sherry Rehman, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
But the Taliban have not laid down their weapons after conducting peace talks with the government, nor have they stopped attack on the Pakistani military or across the border in Afghanistan.
The security situation in northwestern Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated since the government initiated its latest round of peace accords with the Taliban and allied extremists in the tribal areas and settled districts in the Northwest Frontier Province. Peace agreements have been signed with the Taliban in North Waziristan, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Malakand, Mohmand, Khyber, and Orakzai.
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established more than 100 terror camps in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.
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