The Taliban in Mohmand Agency

Published: September 21, 2010

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata asad.munir@tribune.com.pk

Mohmand was given the status of a tribal agency in 1951. The main tribes situated in the area are Mohmand (Baizai, Khwaizai, Halimzai, and Tarak Zai), Safi and Uthman khel. The agency is divided into Upper and Lower division, and eight tehsils. It is bounded by Afghanistan in the west, Malakand Agency, Charsadda and Peshawar in the east, Bajaur in the north and Khyber in the south.

Only 30 per cent of the area was administratively accessible till 1973 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government conceived a strategy of opening up inaccessible areas through development.

Through this policy, more than 50 per cent of the area was opened. It may be noted that during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, tribes did not allow the army or the civil administration to enter the border areas of Baizai and Khwaizai.

In 2002/2003, the army, Frontier Corps (FC) and the political administration opened all the inaccessible areas of the agency up to the Afghan border. FC and Khasadar posts were established at suitable places.

In July 2007, more than 200 militants stormed the shrine of Haji Turangzai in Lakaro area. They named the adjacent mosque ‘Lal Masjid’ to show their resentment against the army operation conducted in Islamabad. One Umar Khalid, who reportedly had an affiliation with Harkatul Mujahideen, led this group. Inspired by the Taliban movement in other agencies, especially neighbouring Bajaur, the Taliban tried to force people to pledge to obey Islamic law. They threatened barbers against shaving their beards and banned music as well as the schooling of girls. To this end they destroyed a number of schools.

An Ahle Hadith leader known as Shah Sahib led another group of militants, comprising several hundred fighters, active in the agency, since 2006. On July 19, 2008, the Umar Khalid group attacked the training centre of the Shah group, killing many, including Shah Sahib. More than 100 were kidnapped. The group was evicted from the area. Members of the group are presently part of tribal lashkars fighting the Taliban.

Security forces launched an operation in the area in 2009. Local tribesmen raised lashkars in support of the FC. In September 2009, the FC claimed it had secured 80 per cent of the area of the agency. Since the entire area was not secured, terrorists regrouped in the Baizai area bordering Kunar. Some Taliban from Bajaur and other areas also joined them. The Mohmand Taliban are also involved in terrorist activities in Charsadda and Peshawar. There is a need to launch another operation in Mohmand to eliminate the strongholds of terrorists in Khwazai and Baizai areas. Targeted operations, based on reliable intelligence, may also be conducted in the Maidan area of Dir and Mamoond in Bajaur, to apprehend the remnants of terrorists still operating in these areas.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2010.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (13)

  • Sep 21, 2010 - 11:57PM

    Was this an analysis or a chronology of events disguised as paragraphs?Recommend

  • faraz
    Sep 22, 2010 - 5:18AM

    Militants from Bajaur also regrouped at Kunar, why cant the army do something about it.Recommend

  • s khattak
    Sep 22, 2010 - 8:14AM

    very informative as usual.Recommend

  • Nawaz Khan
    Sep 22, 2010 - 8:28AM

    Why was the operation not completed in 2009?Taliban have to be denied areas where they can operate openly.Once Taliban dominated areas are secured, then targeted operations should be continued as suggested.Informative article.Recommend

  • shabir Awan
    Sep 22, 2010 - 9:48AM

    • Useful article by writer. Very informative Piece. Recommend

  • Mansoor Khalid
    Sep 22, 2010 - 2:47PM

    An informative piece explaining how the terrorists slowly ate the pace of this agency. The operation was army was not only required but it was the demand of the people. Attention must be paid to curb the ideology that creates extremists after the army operation.Recommend

  • s. nazir mohmand
    Sep 22, 2010 - 8:26PM

    I agree with Syed Nadir , Even the events are void of vital links, A number of operations have been launched in the past. The gun ships and the artillery is still being used. Army is there and deployed. Targeted operations are a continuous process. The front is active and the hide and seek game continues. It is just keep the record straight.

    I am at loss to understand advocating for further mil operations. It is high time to negotiate and go for winning the hearts and minds, rather than to escalate violence. Had violence begot love? Have the series of mil operations in the entire tribal belt brought complete peace and the roads and govt buildings and administration safe. WHY STRETCH THE ARMY TO THE LIMITS.
    It is time to seriously work on the dialogue and development, especially once the extra regional forces are contemplating an exit strategy.

    The country side is full with IDPs and why one should add to more. Are not the drones enough to kill the good, the bad and the ugly tribal’s alike? Let us not surrender our sovereignty for the sake of security, other wise we deserve none.Recommend

  • Janisar Khan
    Sep 22, 2010 - 11:04PM

    *Al Edroos,you do not realize,but your hatred for the Pakistan Army is affecting your thought process,you are biased and not rational,while commenting on various articles.Your knowledge about Army involvement in politics also seems to be based on hearsay.Why are u looking for analysis in every piece?Do you read history,and do you find analysis in the substance?It is always narration of events.Why are you against Pakistan Army,and officers of the Army?Recommend

  • Bakhtiar Mohmand
    Sep 22, 2010 - 11:46PM

    *Nazir Mohmand,i have no doubt that you are not residing in Mohmand Agency.I agree with Asad Munir that operations should be conducted in Baizai area.We should not negotiate with these animals who have destroyed our traditional culture,pakhtunwali and the peace of Mohmand.The foreign militants,operating from our areas, are a greater threat to our sovereignty,than the the drone strikes,who are targeting terrorist,who have killed about 30,000,innocent Pakistani Muslims.Every year,since 2004,agreements have been inked with these beasts, it has not brought peace,but have increased violence.True picture of Mohmand Agency has been described by the writer.Very informative.Recommend

  • s. nazir mohmand
    Sep 23, 2010 - 2:43PM

    my NIC ,ADDRESS, MY NATIVE HOME, MY PROPERTY .MY ;lUngi “and above all my kith & kin and my frequent visits to the area including stay during holidays, and my iteraction with the people, are not enough to prove that i am a mohmand. i belong to Zarif koroona and it being the oldest village now comprises of seven villages with sub names.

    if still my credential are doutfull ,invitation is open.From the very onset i was prepared for the reply thart the auther has many times jokingly said the same.if you are for drones then why only tribal area, why not the rest of the so called hideout in the settled area.will you take it then?Recommend

  • Bakhtiar Mohmand
    Sep 23, 2010 - 10:07PM

    Zareef Kuruna is part of Charsada District.Mohmand Agency starts from Yakka Ghund.You have made a fake NIC.I think some1 should take notice.Recommend

  • Yasir Qadeer
    Sep 24, 2010 - 11:28AM

    Taliban are a group of people who have tried to take away the basic right of free speech and choice away from people and make them agree to their own doctrines. Pakistan government’s decision to instruct the armed forces to clear out the area of insurgents was indeed a right one.Recommend

  • s. nazir mohmand
    Sep 24, 2010 - 4:30PM

    I think it is getting personal and i do not waste the readers time in these rebuttls.i need not to prove my credentials to the none entities. i am a “Ghairat mand” pukhtoon and a loyal pakistani who is tooth and nail against the drones,and those who consider these attacks justified have no wright to call themselves as ‘Azad ‘but subjects.

    The Yaunkies, are deriving strength from such lot and have delivered a shamfull blow through the hammer of so called justice by sentencing Dr Afia a frail pakistani daughter,(alegedly attacking a Us Marin ) who was sold by some Mirs AND Jaffers for huge bounties. these elements are worst than the pagons of old Arabia who used to burry their daughters but in this case it is selling and live burning and burrial. Recommend

More in Opinion