Thousands flee Waziristan in fear of military offensive

By AFP
Published: August 26, 2012

Panicked residents have hastily left the area of North Waziristan. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

MIRANSHAH: Thousands of people have fled one of Pakistan’s troubled northwestern tribal districts in recent days, fearing a military offensive against militants, locals and officials said.

Panicked residents have hastily left the area of North Waziristan despite officials repeatedly insisting that Pakistan has no immediate plan to launch an offensive in the volatile region, they added.

North Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal districts and riddled with militancy, is considered a stronghold of the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.

Although Pakistan has fought Taliban militants across much of the region it has so far withstood American pressure to move against the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network in North Waziristan.

“Thousands of people have so far left the area, they are fleeing their homes due to the fear and rumours of a military operation,” Saif-Ur Rehman, a government official in the main town of Miranshah, told AFP.

Tasleem Khan, another government official confirmed the evacuation.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, information minister for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders North Waziristan, told AFP that thousands of people have reached several districts in his area.

Rumours started early this week after a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban told local media that it had received “an exclusive intelligence report” about an offensive in North Waziristan.

In an email sent to media, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the campaign was to be launched on August 26 and would last one month.

Government and military officials have taken to local radio, asking people to remain calm.

“This is a peaceful area with a peaceful atmosphere. The government has no plan to launch any military operation here,” a radio announcement heard by local residents said.

On Saturday, some 2000 tribal elders and religious leaders warned the government to not to launch any offensive and threatened to move to Afghanistan “in case of any military operation”.

“We will migrate to Afghanistan, if Pakistan launches any military operation,” Maulvi Abdur Rehman, a religious leader who presided over the tribal Jirga said.

The Jirga held in Mirali Town of North Waziristan also requested residents to stay at home.

An AFP reporter in the area witnessed people fleeing their homes in vehicles.

Washington has long demanded that Pakistan take action against the Haqqanis, whom the United States accused of attacking the US embassy in Kabul last September and of acting like the “veritable arm” of Pakistani intelligence.

Pakistan has in turn demanded that Afghan and US forces do more to stop Pakistani Taliban crossing the Afghan border to launch attacks on its forces.

Reader Comments (27)

  • Blithe
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Just clean the TTP once and for all.
    These are miscreants that kidnap for ransom,
    kill and terrorist.

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  • Salim
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:15PM

    I hope the people from North Waziristan flee to Afghanistan.It will be safer for them.

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  • imme
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:20PM

    Can we arrange their departure to Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan or Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or may be few would like to migrate to Islamic Republic of Iran ..

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  • mrs ahmed
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:26PM

    now they will all land in karachi , poor karachi and real karachiite

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  • John
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:30PM

    Classic example of mismanagement by Paki military. When thee is no education and corruption (selling their motherland) is the only way to earn a living which is typical if pakis, this is about to happen :)

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  • Cautious
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:34PM

    No doubt the people fleeing would prefer drones over Pakistan std military operation which relies heavily on inaccurate artillery.

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  • zeeshan
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:43PM

    please do migrate to Afghanistan!! we shall be really grateful to u…

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  • Shahbaz Rawalpindi
    Aug 26, 2012 - 9:45PM

    Calm down, Army is on back foot after Kamra AttackRecommend

  • suraj
    Aug 26, 2012 - 10:02PM

    Nobody let the tribals live peacefully in their homeland across the globe.. very sad..

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  • buraq
    Aug 26, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Why didnt they flee when they used to see talibs roaming around? Because there werent there any in the first place

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  • Aug 26, 2012 - 10:53PM

    In an atmosphere where a good number of people ,in the entire Pakistan, sympathizes with Taliban PPP will prefer to wait till the ensuing general election is over . Till then there can not be any military operation in North Waziristan. the govt. will start with a campaign to end or reduce the support of Taliban sympathizers.
    Events in Pakistan indicates that there is hope for a stable Pakistan

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  • khalsa
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:02PM

    and people say that India’s mass exodus( by the way NE indian returned within 4 days) is slap on face of humanity and indian system. what do they will call this?

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:05PM

    Which direction they are fleeing? Karachi or Aghanistan.

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  • Jihad Bil-Qalam
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:05PM

    If a military operation in North Waziristan is needed now, why was it not needed a few years and thousands of innocent Pakistani lives ago? Just make up your mind who your enemies are, and then stick to it.

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  • Ijaz haqani
    Aug 26, 2012 - 11:32PM

    People have every right to be careful and protect their families. Pakistani government is responsible for their welfare, housing, food, education, healthcare and sanitation during and after the war against afghani terrorists.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 27, 2012 - 12:21AM

    Which Military Offensive ? Just more rumours, nothing else !
    Since when has Pakistan Army been capable of dealing with NW ?
    Leave this to the US, as they really are capable of dealing with your mess !

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  • Aslam
    Aug 27, 2012 - 12:35AM

    Shame for Pakistan army. What they will do if something like this happen to their families.

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  • SaneVoice
    Aug 27, 2012 - 12:50AM

    The Forces must make sure the Terrorists do not runaway otherwise they will sneak into the settled areas of Pakistan and will make trouble especially in Karachi.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:00AM

    @Cautious:
    No doubt the people fleeing would prefer drones over Pakistan std military operation which relies heavily on inaccurate artillery.

    Pak Military is simply not capable of dealing with this issue ! They are well over rated as to their ability in any theatre of warfare, one only has to view their track record in action over past six decades !
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  • Mustafa Alvi
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:15AM

    Its high time that the army launched a full fledged offensive towards the ttp :l

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  • Umair Khan
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:16AM

    Go to Afghanistan my brothers and respected elders :( here No one will love you but bomb you as they are sold to americans.

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  • Yo!!
    Aug 27, 2012 - 1:20AM

    i say NO to millitary OperationRecommend

  • KhuRram Kaleem
    Aug 27, 2012 - 2:08AM

    After the attack the haqqanis will consider Pakistanis as their open enemies.they will retreat and capture Lahore and then Delhi. History of moguls and guarhi will repeat . Pathan don’t beleive in nation states ‘ we all will be in a mess

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  • Pakistani Pakhtoon
    Aug 27, 2012 - 3:03AM

    they are no good and bad talibans they are all same whether kashmir or afghans all are trained in killing

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  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Aug 27, 2012 - 4:46AM

    Another way to get rid of minority and control their land and businesses.

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  • mahakaalchakra
    Aug 27, 2012 - 5:03AM

    What do these tribal do other than carrying loaded weapons? I am just curious because FATA is inaccessible to ordinary Pakistanis since 1947 and not much is known about the residents way of life other than their image of eternal warrior.

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  • Jenai dau
    Aug 27, 2012 - 7:19AM

    Go pak army finish The enemy , No regrets.

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