Taliban Back In Waziristan? Or Maybe, ‘They Never Really Left’
Waziristan, according to the Pashtuns, is beginning to look more like an occupied country with each passing day.
“We remind you that similar statements issued by Taliban several times in the past had fallen on deaf ears, but this time we are going to take to task those who violate the Taliban order. There will be no use of DJs, neither inside the house nor in open fields, and those ignoring the warning will be responsible for consequences. Polio workers have been asked to do finger-marking of children during the vaccination campaign, but told not to administer polio drops to children or be ready to face dire consequences for defying the instruction.”
“Women shouldn't go out of their homes alone as it is harmful for our society. There is one informer of Mujahideen in every three people and it was misconception on the part of the people to think we will not get information about non-compliance of our order. Follow the order or be ready to face worst consequences”.
The order, issued by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to the people of Miranshah in North Waziristan, has been casually reported by the media, and then immediately forgotten for juicier news. But for people in Waziristan, this is just another confirmation of what PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement) activists have been repeating for almost two years: the Taliban are back — or, better — they never really left.
Pakistani Army’s Farce & The Return Of Taliban
According to Shahid Qazi, a social activist from Balochistan: “Taliban have been again given a green light by the Army, to again start their activities in the region in order to blackmail USA, and pressurise the international community for Kashmir.
Very well-known Taliban commanders have been allotted areas of influence yet again. Mullah Abdur Rehman, aka 'Crippled Abdur Rehman' has taken over areas from Shiwa to Spin Waam; Aleem Khan has been allotted Mir Ali, as a member of a Peace Committee; Sadiq Mir has taken over from Miranshah to Datta Khel; the area from Datta Khel to Shawal and Zoi Sayedgi has gone to Hafiz Gul Bahadar group.”
Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, two democratically elected members of Parliament, are still in jail over fake charges,
PTM has been accusing the Army for a long time, of using border regions as training camps and nurseries for jihadis, as battlefields for war-like actions against the 'bad' Taliban, as safe havens for the 'good' Taliban, as factories for fake documents in order to send ISI spies to Afghanistan. “Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman sounds so anti -establishment,” adds Qazi, “but last year he visited FATA and openly asked Taliban to come back to their areas because nobody would dare touch them”.
Four PTM activists have been arrested without reason over the past few days.
And the Pakistani Army, despite their claims to support the United States forces and peace process in Afghanistan, has not captured or eliminated even a single member of the Haqqani Network. On the contrary, they've been shifting members of the group to more safe areas, each time they pretended to launch an operation against terrorists. The only real operation, according to the local people, has been the systematic war waged against civilians.
Indiscriminate Arrests Of PTM Activists & Pak Army’s Terror ‘Patronage’
“Pakistani Army is playing a double role,” says Manzoor Pashteen. “They are, on the hand, telling us that they are against the Taliban, but actually they are giving them an opportunity to displace people from the area, and a chance for the Taliban to make them strong in these areas”. And the already desperate situation has been worsening over the past month or so. The region is virtually under siege. Days ago, Article 144 was imposed once again to allow the Army to register an FIR against peaceful demonstrators.
“Taliban are recruiting people, harbouring terrorists coming from other parts of Pakistan and they all work under the patronage of the Pakistani military,” says a local.
Four PTM activists have been arrested without reason over the past few days. Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, two democratically elected members of Parliament, are still in jail over fake charges, for more than two months. Another FIR has been registered on the grounds of Article 144 against Manzoor Pashteen, who addressed a large, peaceful gathering, protesting against the human and civil rights violations by the Pakistani state against Pashtuns. According to the locals, only Taliban, any kind of Taliban, and the Haqqani Network members, are free to roam around — crossing the border from Afghanistan — and the Army keeps the border open for them.
“Taliban are recruiting people, harbouring terrorists coming from other parts of Pakistan and they all work under the patronage of the Pakistani military,” says a local. The Army has a standard way of dealing with protesters: violence, abuse, harassment, disappearances, extra-judicial killings. And Waziristan, according to the Pashtuns, looks more like an occupied country with each passing day.
(Francesca Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse Pakistan’ with B Natale. She tweets at @francescam63. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.