Al Qaeda and the Punjabi Taliban are sheltering in “good Taliban” leader Mullah Nazir’s tribal areas in South Waziristan, tribal leaders told Dawn yesterday. And Pakistani troops are ignoring them:
Malik Sungeen, an elder of the Ahmadzai Wazir, said that outsiders were coming through checkposts being manned by the security forces.
“Foreigners and other elements cannot come to the area by air. They come to the area only by road,” he said.
Sources said that outsiders, mostly militants from Punjab, were coming to South Waziristan in public transport and paramilitary forces and khasadars manning checkposts on the main roads ignored them.
“Soldiers are supposed to monitor movement of outsiders, but they are checking identity of local people. Soldiers even can’t look at the people having long hair,” an elder said.
Long hairs have become a common feature of the Taliban in the area.
The residents of the area said that Taliban belonging to Punjab had set up offices in Wana and other areas.
“They have rented houses of the tribesmen in villages,” they said. These outsiders are offering several incentives including free transport and financial help to the tribesmen to win hearts and minds of the people, particularly youngsters.
The government has a “peace deal” in place with Nazir. One of the conditions is that “foreigners” – a term reserved for al Qaeda and other terrorists – are not allowed to shelter in the area. Nazir has ignored this condition, and the Pakistani government hasn’t noted the violation.
On June 29, an al Qaeda operative from Egypt known as Hawza al Jawfi, two Punjabi fighters, and five local Taliban fighters were killed in a US airstrike near Wana, which demonstrates that al Qaeda operatives still reside in Nazir’s tribal areas.
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.