How Fata was won by the Taliban

Published: June 21, 2010
The writer has served as head of the ISI and MI for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata (

The writer has served as head of the ISI and MI for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata (

According to Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s head, “nearly four million people are living under the Taliban in Fata without the rule of law, abandoned by the Pakistani government.” But how did the Taliban come in control of such a large area?

The Afghan Taliban took over Kabul in 1996, inspiring the Dawar tribe of North Waziristan to raise a Taliban force in Mirali in 1998/99 followed by the Taliban’s emergence in Orakzai Agency. The Afghan Taliban started infiltrating Fata and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and although Musharraf’s government was aware of these developments no steps were taken to stop them.

Post 9/11, Waziristan was used as a base for launching raids against coalition forces in Afghanistan and by 2002 operations against foreigners began and prominent tribal opponents and suspected informers were killed. In 2003, Abdullah Mehsud organised a small Taliban force. At the same time, the army established a number of border posts in Waziristan, coming into direct conflict with the militants. In 2005, an agreement was signed with Baitullah Mehsud and an operation was conducted against the Wazirs. During this period, Baitullah acquired strength and power, violated the peace agreement and established his rule in the Mehsud area.

A focused strategy to deal with terrorists was never followed. In September 2006 the government concluded another peace deal with the Taliban of North Waziristan. Because of this deal, foreign militants started operating openly. The only option for the locals was to accept Taliban rule. By December 2007, Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Taliban was formed with Baitullah as its leader. In Orakzai, the locals raised lashkars to fight the Taliban but since support from the government was scant, suicide bombings and other attacks forced the lashkars to give up. Fata and Swat were ruled by militants with their own courts and administration. Musharraf’s government and the MMA in KPK watched these developments but maintained that peace agreements were the only solution. The media and most political parties were also pro-Taliban and against the war on terror. Splinter groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi joined hands to rule these areas. Suicide bombings, attacks on army convoys, and kidnapping of law enforcement personnel became the order of the day. In 2008, the first serious operation against Baitullah was launched but abandoned midway.

In 2009 some events prompted a change in the media’s attitude and in public perception. It was acknowledged that the Taliban had killed and wounded more than 3,000 Muslims. With the people’s support, the army cleared Swat and secured areas like South Waziristan, Dir and Bajaur but other areas like Upper Orakzai, Tirah and North Waziristan still have to be cleared. As an organisation the TTP has been damaged. It will be an uphill task for the Taliban to become a potent force again. They have lost control of several areas and their command hierarchy and supply system remains disrupted.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2010.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Jun 21, 2010 - 4:15AM

    Mr. Asad Munir knows what he is talking about. He is absolutely right – deals with militants in FATA were highly counterproductive. Recommend

  • faraz
    Jun 21, 2010 - 6:06AM

    There was a sudden change in the media’s attitude for Taliban; the moment the army decided to take some serious action against taliban, the intellectually dishonest media switched sides. The media kept silent while maliks were being slaughtered and talian were gaining control over those areas.Recommend

  • Asfandyar Munir
    Jun 21, 2010 - 11:27AM

    “although Musharraf’s government was aware of these developments no steps were taken to stop them”…Sir, i ask, was this because we wanted more funding from the nations fighting the hunting with the hound and running with the fox???

    All in all a very nice and informative article….

    Just makes one want to spit on MMA, PML (N), and Our very own talib-in-disguise PTI for their constant support of these taliban

    This is our war….and we are fighting it

    LONG LIVE PAKISTAN!!!!!Recommend

  • jaffar khan
    Jun 21, 2010 - 12:26PM

    very informative,brief,to the point piece.we hear a lot of stories,but i think those are based on hearsay and perceptions.The authour has first hand knowlege of the unfolding of events.Waiting for more stories from Mr. Asad Munir,like links between Taliban and ISI,who was the man behind peace deals,AL Qaeda in Pakistan etc etc.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Jun 21, 2010 - 2:33PM

    The gentleman tells us all that we know already. Having worked in the ISI, he can inform us the role of that agency in all this. He surely knows that all believe whatever happened and happening is the work of Pakistani military and its ISI.Recommend

  • Marjan Afridi
    Jun 21, 2010 - 5:27PM

    @Shahid,did u know that Talibanization started in 1998/99?Do you know where Mirali is?You believe those things about which you have knowlge and ample proof.So once you say that we believe that what happened and is happening is the work of the army and ISI,so you want to know how they did it.The article say exactly how it happened.Use yr common sence,why would Army create a monster and then get 8000 soldiers killed,spend billion to eliminate them.Recommend

  • farah ahmed
    Jun 22, 2010 - 8:09AM

    A well written article. The author has tremendous knowledge and experience in the field of study .Recommend

  • Shahid Mashedy
    Jun 22, 2010 - 8:22AM

    I like Asad Munir’s direct and to the point writing quoted with fact and dates.
    You do a nice job keep it up!
    @ Shahid no I do not believe whatever happened or is happening is the work of Pakistani military and its ISI.Recommend

  • Khalid Khan
    Jun 22, 2010 - 10:36AM

    Brief, precise, to the point and very informative. Keep writting.Recommend

  • Asfandyar Munir
    Jun 22, 2010 - 11:33AM


    Are people living in a dream world????

    @Shahid…ofcourse you are right

    This parasite was installed and supported by our military and the ISI and no this does not go back to 98/99…this goes back to the so called “Islami Jihad” where we succumbed to US pressure and fought in a country where we had no right. Then we used the agenda of the mujahiddeen ( Bearded radicals) to fight in Kashmir, with the blessing of our military and ISI.

    Once the soviets were out of Afghanistan and the warlords took over patches. Things became hard for us. One warlord would not allow others to enter his province. Then our military/ISI devised of a master strategy and placed these Mullah’s in Afghanistan. Once the US bombed them out of Afghanistan. They came and settled here. And even today……There are components in Pak military supporting these Talibs.

    Please dont glorify our Army/ISI for no reason. They are to blame for 60 years of our destruction!Recommend

  • Asfandyar Munir
    Jun 22, 2010 - 11:34AM

    And as far is usin common sense is concerned…since when did the army have it??? w.r.t Kargil debacle in 99 :P lolRecommend

  • Ammar Zafarullah
    Jun 22, 2010 - 1:53PM

    The reason why Taliban were successful in establishing a stronghold in FATA lies in the underdevelopment of the region. Poverty, lack of education and fewer job opportunities make this region an ideal breeding ground for extremist elements. This is why the Taliban returned after being pushed out some two years back, so unless concrete reforms are undertaken the return of extremists cannot be ruled out.Recommend

  • Jun 22, 2010 - 6:10PM

    Dude, just open a Mc’Donalds, give them free big macs and set them up with Satellite TV and trust me, we can win back FATA. Nobody want’s to become a terrorist and potentially miss the next episode of GLEE.Recommend

  • Rehman
    Jun 23, 2010 - 1:39AM

    The writer has held very important positions in the area and is well informed of the very players that unleashed the monster of Talibanization in Frontier region. Admit it Sir, it was done to extend the rule of an autocratic ruler in conveyance with the Islamists to extract as much money/hardware from the US. The controlled experiment went out of control after economic downturn in US and more accountability/enforcement by the Obama administration. All your clan and cohorts benefited from largess e of the Bush administration as you all got the slush funds at the expense of US tax-payers. Bush trusted you folks and now Obama will put the army in its shoes. But you folks are good at this game of extracting money or shake down for money and at the end ordinary people being the end users will be the casualties. Recommend

  • Rashid Saleem
    Jul 12, 2010 - 1:02PM

    Indeed the major portion of TTP has been broken and now its people who will never let them become a force again by refuting their ideology. We have seen enough bloodshed in the name of religion.Recommend

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