Arms seized from Taliban
militants on display by Pakistan Army, yet
Militants Take Over Control of Volatile South Waziristan
By Behroz Khan
Special to South Asia Tribune
September 14: Militant groups opposed to the United States and
Pakistan Army have almost taken over control of the volatile and
troubled South Waziristan Agency where the Army last year launched
major operations, and after heavy casualties, claimed to have
cleaned up the place and restored peace.
peace, as is now turning out, is purely on the terms of Taliban
and its armed fighters, who have reorganized and emerged as the
de facto rulers of the area. Some 60 notable Maliks and elders
of the Agency, who collaborated with the US and Pakistan Army,
have been shot dead in the last 18 months.
groups, led by trained Taliban commanders have taken physical
control. New offices have been opened all over the Agency to recruit
youngsters and fighters for 'jihad' inside Afghanistan and against
the Pakistan Army.
is thus no surprise that attacks against government installations
have now become a routine affair. Attacks against candidates,
pro-government clergymen and government officials have increased
in the neighboring Afghanistan as the war-ravaged country prepares
to hold the first ever parliamentary elections on September 18.
groups collect money and ask for generous donations. Foreigners
are escorted by local Taliban to visit mosques, mostly during
the night, crying and wailing before the faithful, asking them
for help against the infidels and their supporters, a number of
local tribesmen confirmed.
of the tribal sources wanted to be named due to fear of persecution.
Armed with heavy weapons, the Taliban patrol the streets of Wana
and other towns to ensure that no music is played and only the
religious and inspirational cassettes and CDs are sold, as was
the case in parts of Afghanistan during the Taliban regime.
pregnant silence prevails over the area in the backdrop of these
operations. Life has become so difficult and dangerous for journalists
that most of them have already left their native homes in South
Waziristan to live in safer towns and cities in Pakistan. Others
are in the process of moving out as soon as possible.
reason behind this migration is the haunting insecurity and scare
spread by the militants that they can target any one at any time.
The militants, both local and foreigners, do not want journalists
to report about the killing of the pro-government tribal elders
and government officials.
office of the Political Agent, the official responsible for the
Administration, is situated in Tank district, which is an awkward
five hours drive away from Wana while the Pakistan Army troops
stationed at Ziary Noor Army Camp, have nothing to do with the
administrative set of the agency.
journalists, Mir Nawab Wazir and Allah Noor Wazir have become
the latest victims of this target-killing spree while Anwar Shakir
and Mujeebur Rehman have been injured beside another tribal journalist,
Dilawar Khan Wazir, who narrowly escaped when his vehicle was
sprayed with bullets.
are virtually prisoners in our homes and offices," remarked
one journalist requesting anonymity. Like the few other remaining
journalists, he too is restricted to his home and is now planning
to move out with the approval of his organization either to Tank
or DI Khan. The family of Allah Noor Wazir has moved out of the
terror of the militants is such that no journalist can dare even
shoot or take a picture of people in Wana bazaar due to fear of
the Taliban, who believe that taking pictures and making films
is un-Islamic and could help the Americans and their stooges,
a reference to the government functionaries.
militants last week snatched the vehicle of Assistant Political
Agent at gunpoint by dragging the driver out in the main Wana
bazaar. They asked the Khasadar (Levies) personnel present there
to keep quiet if they cared for their lives. No one resisted and
the militants took away their vehicle saying it was needed for
'jihad' rather than serving the slaves of America, eyewitness
told this correspondent.
vehicle owned by International Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD), an NGO, was snatched by the Taliban in the same manner
and the NGO has asked its staff to remain indoors amid reports
that number of the field staff has been drastically slashed by
60 Maliks and chieftains who have been killed in target shootings
since February 2004, were pronounced as 'traitors' because they
assisted in military operations or demolishing of houses of militants.
Many others have also been named as collaborators and most of
them have shifted their families outside South Waziristan. Among
them are Malik Mahsud Khan, Malik Inayat Khan, Malik Ibrahim Khan
and the family of late Malik Mirza Alam.
militants are not just operating secretly. They staged a show
of strength last Friday when a huge gathering of the mujahideen
was held at Dela Khula to observe the first anniversary of the
killing of more than 40 alleged militants, when their hideout
was bombed by Pakistan Air Force last year.
was the second biggest assembly of the militants in South Waziristan
after a similar gathering was organized on the death anniversary
of late commander, Nek Muhammad, who was killed in a gun fight
after he put up a heroic battle, locals said. Among those who
paid their respects to Nek Mohammed were local and foreign militants
fighting in Afghanistan and the Pakistani troops in the region.
assembly was presided over by tribal parliamentarian, Maulana
Mirajuddin and specially addressed by Baitullah Mahsud, the leader
of his own group of mujahideen.
Baitullah has signed an agreement with the Pakistan Army to remain
peaceful and not to shelter foreign nationals, he addressed the
crowd and promised not to allow the NGOs to work in Waziristan.
Mirajuddin termed General Pervez Musharraf as the enemy of mujahideen
and a friend of America and hailed the continuation of 'jihad'
against infidels till they were ousted from the region. Another
religious figure, Maulana Gul Naseeb declared that those helping
the US and Pakistani government against the 'mujahideen' are liable
writer is a senior journalist based in Peshawar. He wrote this
report after talking to a number of journalists and officials
of South Waziristan Agency