It appears that even after the military operation in Swat ended in 2009, those who fled the Valley are still not safe from the Taliban. According to ANP leaders in Karachi, some 65 persons from Swat have been killed by militant elements in Karachi, who had fled the area after fighting was over and the Taliban had been defeated. The ANP leaders, and others opposed to the militants, say that many of those targeted have been punished for reporting the presence of Taliban leaders in various areas or otherwise acting against them. Many of those killed come from the Kabal tehsil, which had long been a Taliban stronghold in Swat. Thirty-six of the victims are said to belong to this area alone.
Those opposed to the Taliban say that for about a year after the military operation, they had assumed a low profile in Karachi. However, after this the Taliban appeared to have come into action with revenge a key motive for their attacks. Both ANP supporters and others have been murdered. Party leaders ask why it is not possible to conduct an operation against them in Karachi as happened in Swat. The ANP’s general secretary, Bashir Jan, however, has pointed out that it is not the Taliban alone who are targeting Pashtuns. Other elements are also involved in this. The fact, however, is that in other places, too, including in camps for displaced people, the Taliban have struck repeatedly generally going after those who they believe oppose militant action.
What is clear is that even in Karachi they have not been tamed. Clearly, something needs to be done to bring groups of the Taliban who have based themselves in various parts of the country under control. Otherwise, there is a real fear that violence will continue to spread as the hunt for anti-Taliban elements continues. The battle then is quite obviously far from over. A strategy needs to be worked out to ensure that people who have fled the conflict zone are safe regardless of their political beliefs or affiliations and are able to rebuild life in their new homes.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.