The Taliban continue to attack the nascent tribal organizing against it movement in Pakistan’s turbulent northwest. A suicide bomber struck at a meeting of Ali Zai tribal leaders in the Arakzai tribal agency, killing 55 and wounding more than 100.
The attack occurred as the tribal leaders were in the middle of a meeting to discuss the formation of a tribal militia, or lashkar, to secure the region and oppose the Taliban. More than 500 members of the tribe were present at the meeting, according to Geo TV.
The government has been fighting the Taliban in the city of Darra Adam Khel and in neighboring Kohat after the Taliban took control of the Indus Highway and the Kohat Tunnel. The military was able to reopen the tunnel and the highway after the Taliban held it for almost a month.
The Taliban have ruthlessly targeted tribes looking to back the government. Tribes in Kohat attempted to organize against the Taliban in January 2008. A suicide attack on a tribal leader’s meeting in early March killed 40 and wounded more than 40. Several senior tribal leaders were killed, and the organized resistance to the Taliban faltered.
The Pakistani government has been courting the tribes to support the efforts to take on the Taliban in the tribal areas and in the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. Tribal lashkars have been formed in Peshawar, Swat, Dir, Buner, Bajaur, Khyber, and Arakzai.
But the government has failed to obtain support from the major tribes, senior US military intelligence sources told The Long War Journal [see Pakistani Army rejects Waziristan operation]. The tribes that have been brought into the government’s fold are small and scattered. There is no overarching support mechanism to provide political and ideological support for those who dare to take on the Taliban.
The Taliban maintain support from the major tribal confederations, and have increased their capabilities by forming the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. This organization has allowed the Taliban to coordinate military, political, and propaganda efforts.
Oct. 8, 2008
Oct. 7, 2008
Sept. 29, 2008
Note: this entry was updated to reflect latest casualty figures.