Security officials and Mehsud tribesmen wanting to return to South Waziristan fear Taliban-trained suicide bombers may wreak havoc.
There are reports that several of them sneaked into the tribal area in the guise of refugees returning to their native towns and villages.
Officials said that the terrorists, sent by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fugitive chief Hakimullah Mehsud, even managed to somehow deceive the authorities registering the returning tribesmen.
“We failed to identify them because they were from the Mehsud tribe and the same area,” said an official dealing with the repatriation process which has now been halted because of fears of suicide bombings against the returning tribesmen. “We cannot afford any risk. We don’t want to continue the process unless all of them (terrorists) who got in are captured or killed,” the official added.
“Their purpose is to create fear among those returning to their hometowns,” said a local administration official who worked for South Waziristan’s political agent.
Since the army moved into the area, there already have been at least four attacks – two suicide bombings and as many ambushes – against military and related targets in and around the main towns of the tribal region, forcing several of the returning tribesmen to flee the area again.
The militants’ strikes in Kotkai village, the hometown of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, indicate the level of military control in the area.
Pakistani army says it has pushed the Taliban back from main centers – Ludha, Makeen and Kotkai – but the fact that all the key insurgency leaders, including Hakimullah and his deputy Waliur Rehman Mehsud, are still alive troubles the ordinary tribesmen wanting to return and stay there.
At least three tribesmen told The Express Tribune that their families had returned to South Waziristan earlier this year, but they were now getting out because they feared for their lives.
“We are not sure about the level of safety over there,” said Saleem Khan Mehsud, whose family returned from Spinkay Raghzai village to Dera Ismail Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.