Taliban on the offensive in Swat

The Taliban have begun to attack security forces in earnest in the lawless district of Swat less than one day after declaring that the peace agreement with the government “practically stands dissolved.”

A Taliban force ambushed a military convoy in Swat and killed one soldier after a firefight. The Taliban took credit for the ambush, claiming it was in retaliation for military operations in the region.

“Why do you think we should remain silent if they come heavy on us?” Muslim Khan, the spokesman for radical Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, told The Associated Press. “We will attack them too.”

A Taliban force has also laid siege to the electrical grid station in Mingora. Two security personnel were wounded and 46 more are said to be surrounded as the Taliban surround the utility, Geo News reported. An explosion was also reported near the main police station in Mingora.

The spate of attacks take place just one day after the Taliban admitted to beheading two government officials. The Taliban said the brutal murders were in response to the death of two low-level Taliban leaders.

Yesterday, Khan said the peace agreement with the government “practically stands dissolved” as the military is attacking Taliban forces throughout the Malakand Division. “Forces are attacking us and our fighters are also retaliating” against Pakistani security forces and government officials, Khan told The News. Khan also threatened to conduct attacks nationwide to avenge the military’s operations in Swat and in the neighboring districts in Dir and Buner.

The government signed the Malakand Accord with Taliban front man Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah’s father-in-law, on February 16 after two years of fighting that put the Taliban in control of the district. The peace agreement called for the end of military operations in Swat, the end of Taliban operations, and the imposition of sharia, or Islamic law, in the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, Chitral, and Kohistan, a region that encompasses nearly one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province.

But the Taliban violated the agreement immediately after signing it, and proceeded to attack security forces and conduct armed patrols. The military remained silent while the government approved the Taliban’s demand for sharia throughout Malakand.

The government ordered a military offensive in Dir and Buner after enormous pressure from the US and other Western governments to stem the Taliban tide pushing toward central Pakistan. The Taliban advanced from Swat into Buner in early April and took the district over in eight days. The move into Buner has put the Taliban within 60 miles of Islamabad and close to several nuclear facilities and the vital Tarbela Dam. The Taliban also moved into Mansehra and established bases and a training camp in the region.

Pakistani government and military officials have dismissed the Taliban threat to Islamabad and the country’s nuclear facilities, but at the end of April, the local Islamabad government ordered troops to deploy in the Margala hills just north of the city to block a Taliban advance, while the Haripur government beefed up security at the Tarbela Dam.

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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11 Comments

  • Spooky says:

    I’m curious whether or not Zardari is gonna get sacked while overseas. The situation is moving so quickly, Pakistan will not be the same country Zardari left, one way or another.

  • sanman says:

    They seem to fear the drone strikes:
    //www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/world/asia/05fighter.html

  • C. Jordan says:

    From the article above…
    “The gossip has finished,”

  • Robert says:

    Sanman, thanks for the link. Very revealing.
    Apparently the Taliban is ready to take over once the west leaves and al Queda has larger targets. Al Queda becomes a serious threat once they get hold of the Pakistani nukes. So far Taliban are moving rapidly in that direction.
    It looks like the Clash of Civilizations has just begun. I just hope that the West becomes oil independent before the Clash takes an ominous form. That way the Clash may actually may help the economy and without oil independence the West may collapse economically.
    I hope China has enough common sense to sit neutral at least.
    It looks like many countries have payed for playing with totalitarianism, Russia(and China) payed for communism, India payed for socialism, US payed on 9/11 for supporting Islam and Pakistan is currently playing.
    The only country that played with fire big time and has not yet paid the price is Saudi Arabia. I wonder when they get their time.

  • Spooky says:

    India benefitted from its socialism. Stopped it from becoming Pakistan, even if it was highly inefficient and debt-heavy. They’ll take inefficient independance over foreign-owned efficiency any day.

  • Robert says:

    Spooky,
    I do not know how old you are but I do remember the days(till 80s) when Indian leaders used to have a begging bowl every time they leave the country.
    They even used to beg Saudi Arabia, which was utterly poor until oil boom. Their foreign policy essentially involved wooing Saudis and Iranians against Pakis as USSR had no leverage against Pak.
    Remember the days when Bukhari open used to hurl anti-Indian statements from Delhi and Indian Muslims in general had a pro-pakistani view.
    As India opened markets it became economically stronger and Muslims in India now strike a more conciliatory tone, including Bukhari. Hear Zakir Naik speak. He makes Mullas cringe by his interpretation of Koran.
    Also think about the turn around in the approach of West towards India. They no longer look down on India. Also notice the sudden change of the West (ern leaders) who used to address Kashmiri fighters as “freedom fighter” or at worst “militants”. Now they openly call them terrorists.
    Money talks in all languages. Socialism is simply not a practical economic policy, which has implications to foreign policy. Even China(Deng Xiaoping) understood it in 1979. Russia took some time.
    The communists in Bengal understood that in 2000s. A recent election poster in Calcutta had pictures of Obama and Buddadeb on the same poster apparently comparing Buddadeb to Obama. Even communists are growing brain cells.

  • Robert says:

    Spooky,
    Its not socialism that helped Indian vs-a-vis Pakistan. Its the religion that helped. With so many gods in Hinduism there is no certainty, which leads to mysticism and obviously people are more tolerant (Bhagalpur, Delhi, Mumbai, Godhra riots not withstanding).
    The more certain a religion becomes the less tolerant its adherents.
    Of course capitalism pushes people more towards religion since it is a difficult economic model to survive in. But it is based on reality and it follows the natural law mostly. Free markets survive the test of time.

  • Alex says:

    You know, if the ANA had the kind of equipment and training that the Pakistani military had, this war probably would be over by now.

  • Midnight says:

    I was reading at dawn.com about the sudden interest in putting money into Pakistan. My concern is does this money go into Pakistan while nuclear weapons go into India. Putting money into Pakistan isn’t a new concept even with a new government I doubt that it will consume much of the pain the people of Pakistan have already suffered. There is no doubt that Sharia Law will become at least part of Pakistan, the money that it will provide the people is a must. Any attempts a nuclear launches are political suicide for anyone who tries. Sharia Law is not Socialism.
    Once again the women come up, well the women suffered for years and no one came, they needed water, medical attention, the right to go home, sewers, food. Poverty brings abuse, they needed help. We went there over Osama bin Laden, we found our old allies, the ones that we dumped by the roadside.
    Talib has been interpreted to you to mean student. There are billions of Pakistani Talib, age ranging from 4-whatever.

  • Bill stated that, “Pakistani government and military officials have dismissed the Taliban threat to Islamabad and the country’s nuclear facilities, but at the end of April, the local Islamabad government ordered troops to deploy in the Margala hills just north of the city to block a Taliban advance, while the Haripur government beefed up security at the Tarbela Dam.”
    I can’t believe the Pakistani government and military are still dismissing the Taliban threat. I’m sure the Shah’s men said the same thing about Khomeini just before his people took over Tehran. Guys, I don’t know about you but I’m getting very worried here. I wouldn’t think that both the Pakistani Government and the Military would be in this much denial at this stage of the game. Call this an “Emergency” or a “Crisis,” but they shouldn’t just sit there and ignore a very real threat to their existance. And with the Taliban move into Buner, which put them within 60 miles of Peshawar and close to several nuclear facilities and the important Terbela Dam, I think this is just a little bit more important than just a minor “threat.” The lack of any meaningful and forceful response from the Pakistani Army at this stage of the game (with armor and air support) only reinforces my belief that the Army is worried about starting a civil war if they decide to act now. Unfortunately, if they wait much longer, they may not have any choice in the matter but to act forcefully if the expects to survive much longer. I sure hope the American contingency plan to secure those Pakistani nukes is a good one!

  • davidp says:

    We should buy the nuclear weapons and enriched uranium from Pakistan, instead of giving them aid – how does $50 million per nuclear weapon or equivalent weapons ready nuclear material sound ? Then we reduce the nuclear security problem, and Pakistan gets the money it wants without the attached strings it objects to. Its win – win!

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