Bajaur’s role in Mohmand attack

Published: July 11, 2010

The writer is executive director news and current affairs at Aaj TV ([email protected]).

July 9’s devastating attack at the gate of the political administration’s office in Yaka Gund, Mohmand Agency, where members of peace committees were supposed to meet, is so far the bloodiest since the campaign against terrorists began in all earnest two years ago. Over 100 people have lost their lives and over two hundred were injured, some so badly that their lives might not be worth living. However, while the attack has been carried out in Mohmand, it cannot be separated from the worsening situation in Bajaur Agency, and to a lesser degree, Dir district. In fact it would be fair to say that though Mohmand felt the tremors, the force behind the lethal jolt came from Bajaur.

This is further evidence of the changing nature of Bajaur Agency’s centrality to the war against organised militancy. From a keystone of the larger successful military campaign in the south, Malakand on the whole and Swat in particular, Bajaur has  become a staging ground of a revived, and ferocious, terror campaign mocking official claims of having established the state’s writ in this region.

We all know that the victory in Swat against the gangs of Mullah Fazlullah was built on the efforts in Bajaur. In the initial stages of doubt about the military’s ability to crush the Taliban, the operations in Loi Sam and Inayat Killay were used to pump up morale. Also the Swat militants were hemmed in from Bajaur, and hammered in their heartland in the Swat valley. If Faqir Muhammad’s network had not been disabled in Bajaur, nothing would have stopped the Swat insurgents from recuperating in the neighbourhood and relaunching themselves again on the battlefield. Also it was in Bajaur and Mohmand that the Frontier Corps came of age as a force — a fact that was crucial in shaping the environment for a rewarding assault in Swat. Just as crucial is the fact that in the Salarzai area, for the first time a tribal lashkar was organised at a large scale to supplant the military campaign to deny the militants space. For these reasons Bajaur was to become a model of ‘clear, hold and build’ concept as there was much planning done to bring back the internally displaced persons and to put this area on the path to enviable progress.

Ironically, this centre of hope in the tribal belt has begun to slip badly, sending shockwaves of instability that might even rock Swat. Bajaur’s slow slide into growing trouble is because of Kunar governor, 55-year-old Haji Syed Fazlullah Wahidi. For almost a year he has provided sanctuary in his area to retreating militants. New reports suggest that he is actively recruiting the locals offering up to Rs25,000 for bringing in foot-soldiers and spies. I have seen the documentary evidence of agreements that some prominent locals have struck with the governor’s native interlocutors identifying Pakistan’s security forces as the common enemy and vowing to arm and replenish the Tehreek-i-Taliban in the areas where Bajaur and Mohmand meet. It is inconceivable that the Kunar governor is running this organised terror campaign on his own without the knowledge and approval of Nato and Isaf’s commanders.

But that’s half the problem. The other half is internal. Bajaur is a classic case of opportunity lost through neglect and lack of vision. Two years after the militants were blown away, the area is damaged and broken with no signs of any revival much less reconstruction. The local administration is weak and forever short on funds. There has been no effective planning to block and weed out militants who melted back into the local population. There are disturbing reports of members of anti-Taliban lashkars being bought off by militants through front men. Faqir Muhammad is still at large and for some odd reason his brother is seen moving around freely. More dispiriting is that official policy has been almost static in the face of rapidly changing militant tactics. Our forces continue to plough the increasingly problematic counter-insurgency furrow that has the militant in focus rather than the public. But the biggest let-down in Bajaur has been the total abdication of responsibility by the central government leadership. Islamabad slept while Bajaur started to simmer and then began to burn. And now the fire is spreading everywhere.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2010.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Jul 12, 2010 - 6:49AM

    Good piece especially “Islamabad slept while Bajaur started to simmer and then began to burn. And now the fire is spreading everywhere.”Recommend

  • mussarat ahmedzeb swat
    Jul 12, 2010 - 8:21AM

    The fire has started BUT We are in a state of denial and we are failing ourselves. Pakistan is living dangerously is an understatement and nothing new. For years many countries have questioned for how long we will allow our citizens to be killed before we are attacked. And the answer is that our government and military seems to have infinite patience to allow the continuing blood bath across the country. Recommend

  • faraz
    Jul 12, 2010 - 10:51AM

    As Gen Pasha said, national interest is the first priority that is strategic depth in Afghanistan. Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed
    Jul 12, 2010 - 12:54PM

    If my memory serves me correct it is the author and a other few so called journalists who were glorifying these same people.

    Infact, for these TV persons, Baitullah Mehsud’s statement was more reliable than the President of Pakistan’s statement (BB assassination case in point).

    It is because of these same journalists, lawyers & judges that we are in this situation.
    All Hail Democracy!Recommend

  • Nadia
    Jul 12, 2010 - 1:02PM

    Why is he living in a state of denial? Unless Pakistani military stops patronizing militants, they would keep spinning out of control.Recommend

  • Jul 12, 2010 - 2:45PM

    Mohmand ang Bajaur are at the confluence of Nawa pass, the common feature is the mountain range giving way to Nawagai Pass. ,which works as a bridge between the two Agencies.Inyat kili a basin or spring board for for any xrass/cis frontier military or militants operations can not be ignored.The common bondage on many counts specially in militancy can not be separated at the strategic level.

    Peace Committees and Aman Jirgas are all the victims of such violence through out the FATA,and there has been bloodiest attacks with massive casualties, spreading a deterrence.On the morning of the July 9, there were mix signals regarding the impended suicide attack and if it was so while keeping the past as witness why proper security measures were not taken?

    I am at loss to agree with Mr Talat that Bajaur was not enough grilled to eliminate the Faqir group or has direct implications for the military operations in Dir and Sawat.The grilling of Baur is relentlessly going on since the TNSM movement of early 92,Militancy is a hide and seek game in FATA. XRASS BORDER SUPPORT IS NOT A SECRECT TO BE UNEARTHED AND NUETRARLISED BY A BOND ,BUT AN OPEN SECRET TO WICH WE ARE AN UNFOTUNATE ALLY.Recommend

  • Jaffar Khan
    Jul 12, 2010 - 3:40PM

    Yakaghund has no link to Bajaur.The writer is not very clear about the geography of the area.He was once the staunch supporter of Taliban,even now he has a soft corner for them.He should give some proposals to deal with the terrorists in Pakistan instead of solving the issue of Palestine.Recommend

  • Ghulam Abbass
    Jul 12, 2010 - 3:49PM

    great piece…..but needs to be done? Please highlight. Someone. Recommend

  • Ashwin
    Jul 12, 2010 - 5:05PM

    Let us not blame others to provoking us to mistakes rather let us all make choices which will make our life.

    HOpe South Asian become more properous and happier. May it rain gold Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jul 13, 2010 - 2:39PM

    The recent strings of attacks in Mohmmand agency and Bajur agency points towards the perturbing revival of militants in F.A.T.A, the operations have been instrumental in destroying the sanctuaries of militants but as operations in one region initiates the militants move to another location and launch attacks from there. These operations need to broad based and as one area stabilizes development initiatives need to be started.Recommend

  • Khalid Munir
    Jul 13, 2010 - 9:44PM

    Talat sahib
    We so far had been fightingg to regain the territories we conceded to Taliban during the last six seven years. Army has done well on that count so far. Insurgency will continue and author should understand the difference between a fight for gaining control of an area and fighting insurgency. Yakka Ghund like incidents will keep occuring, however this does not indicate that the writ established is showing signs of erosion. Mopping up always take more time than the actual battle. Till then we have Degrees and NRO to discuss. Dont we? Recommend

  • Jabbar Khan
    Jul 14, 2010 - 11:44AM

    Good piece exposing the lies of Security forces that Taliban have been eliminated. Recommend

  • Mujtaba Hameed
    Jul 14, 2010 - 1:14PM

    With no day passing without a terrorist attack in Pakistan, we should have no reason to believe that this will ever come to a stop in near future unless we redress the root cause for these attacks. With a population exceeding 170 Million and over 40% living below the poverty line, a relatively low literacy rate, unequal economic opportunities and near zero provision of Justice, we can expect an unending number of people to volunteer to blow themselves up in markets and public domains (and kill innocent civilians) in the false illusion of having a better life in the hereafter. Its not difficult to assess how vulnerable a common man is to the dogmas of these extremists busy brain washing such people. And such deprived minds shall continued to be used for blood shed in our markets unless WE REALIZE THAT ITS TIME TO REVISIT OUR FOREIGN ALLIANCES and ACCEPT that it WAS NOT our war to begin with (as opposed to what our politicians profess). The key in achieving a marked decrease in the terrorist attacks, if not total elimination, lies in putting a full stop to the drone attacks, providing confidence to a common Pakistani Muslim that the state is not enslaved to the American agenda any longer and bringing the terrorist master minds to the negotiating table.

    However, its easier to wish than to see it happen in reality…Its next to impossible for our present or future governments to redress these social factors even in next 15 years. And it appears TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE to expect an American approved/installed leadership whether Dictatorial or Democratic to take the bold measure of saying No to US…After all their ” bread, butter and Swiss Chocolates” are all dependent on SAM’s Blessings. Recommend

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