Military makes second push to ease pressure on Peshawar

Pakistani forces under the command of the paramilitary Frontier Corps killed 25 Taliban fighters and captured 40 more during operations north and west of the provincial capital of Peshawar, according to security officials.

The two-weeklong operation is the Pakistani security forces’ second attempt to clear the Taliban from the region outside of Peshawar since July.

The operation took place in the triangle region made up of the settled districts of Charsadda and Peshawar and the Mohmand tribal agency, the provincial Inspector General of Police told reporters on Nov. 24. Pakistani forces worked to secure 25 villages in the Manichi region that had been overrun by Taliban forces. Twenty-one of the 25 villages have been secured during the operation, which resulted in the death of a police constable and two Frontier Constabulary personnel.

Most significantly, the military said the Manichi villages would become part of the settled region of the Northwest Frontier Province. “The legal status of the 25 disputed villages in Machini would be changed and these would be considered as settled area where law-enforcement agencies would set up checkpoints to maintain law and order,” Dawn reported. This would remove the villages from the collective punishment system of laws known as the Frontier Crimes Regulations.

Security forces discovered “artillery and mortar shells, anti-tank rockets, 82mm mortars, a variety of watches used in time-bombs, audio cassettes and literature, guide books for preparing explosives, suicide jackets, machines for preparing explosives and 20 cans of acid used in explosives,” Dawn reported.

Second operation to secure Peshawar

Pakistani security forces launched an operation last July in an attempt to clear the eastern regions of extremist forces under the command of Lashkar-i-Islam’s Mangal Bagh. Almost 100 suspected extremists were detained, none of them senior leaders, while the government classified the Lashkar-i-Islam as an illegal organization.

Ten days after the operation started, the government negotiated with Bagh, and signed a “peace agreement” that ended the fighting. The Lashkar-i-Islam was left intact.

The July operation did little to halt the Taliban encroachment in Peshawar. Attacks on police and military personnel continued, while suicide attacks and the kidnapping of foreign diplomats and aid workers increased.

Attacks in Peshawar continue to this day. Five rocket-propelled grenades were fired in Peshawar today. Yesterday, a bombing wounded several people at an Imam Bargah, or religious center, inside Peshawar. Police also upped the security contingents for diplomatic personnel.

The Taliban’s encroachment of the provincial capital demonstrates its reach has extended far beyond the tribal areas.

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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