Fall of Tirah Valley

Published: March 27, 2013
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A renewed operation in Tirah is inevitable but there is a threat that elections may not be held in peaceful manner. PHOTO: FILE

A renewed operation in Tirah is inevitable but there is a threat that elections may not be held in peaceful manner. PHOTO: FILE

The fall of the Tirah Valley to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) is not sudden; the valley, which remains excommunicated from the rest of the country, has been a war zone for three militant outfits — the TTP, the LI and the Ansarul Islam (AI). The LI and the AI have been battling each other for over seven years in the Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency, with turf wars being waged based on sectarian grounds. The area became a stronghold of the TTP after operations were launched in the nearby Orakzai and Kurram tribal agencies. The LI then sought an alliance with the TTP and the AI, previously a banned outfit, which was later considered a tribal militia that was protecting boundaries of the valley from “foreign influence”. In June last year, the TTP took over the majority area held by the Kukikhel tribe, while reports of the presence of the Taliban from as far as the Mohmand Agency also surfaced. Hundreds of people were reportedly killed; however, because of the area being isolated, little information made it to the mainstream media, till almost 90 per cent of the valley went into the TTP’s hands.

On March 16, two press conferences were held at Peshawar Press Club. While the AI spokesperson demanded that the surrounding areas of Peshawar be handed over to the AI because they could protect them “better”, the head of the ANP’s jirga for the tribal areas claimed that there were Uzbeks, Chechens and Arabs who had their bases in the area. Ironically, two days later, the TTP took over the Tirah Valley.

As general elections approach, security officials are now concerned that the routes that lead to Peshawar are also under the control of militants. While opening up a new front for a renewed operation in Tirah is inevitable, there is a serious threat that elections may not be held in a peaceful manner. Even though the Peshawar High Court has ordered the election commission to hold election at the IDP camps, the recent bombing at the Jalozai camp is a grim reminder of the volatile security situation.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Nadir
    Mar 27, 2013 - 10:23PM

    Whats the point of showing jumping soldiers in an editorial on Tirah when they are absent there?

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  • cautious
    Mar 27, 2013 - 11:29PM

    Seems to me the issue goes way beyond the Tirah Valley – a significant portion of Pakistan isn’t under the actual control of Islamabad and if you don’t have control you don’t have much say in elections or much of anything else.

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  • Rafidi
    Mar 28, 2013 - 12:33AM

    I have an idea. Lets negotiate with them. And to ensure that things go smoothly, lets give in to all their demands. That is what everyone wants right, including the mullahs and the “peace-loving liberals”. That must ensure that they will stop butchering minorities and killing those whom they consider kafir and murtid.

    After all, that doesn’t mean that we, a nuclear-armed nation with a 500,000 man army, have lost all self-respect and surrendered our status as a nation-state by giving in to a bunch of xenophobic fanatics….. or have we ?

    If our nation can’t psychologically sustain losses in a fight against insurgents and terrorists then how can we possibly hope to sustain the horrors of a full scale war against a nation-state like India ?

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  • nasir afridi
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:14AM

    it was a pre planed game and this will continue till 2015

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  • Babur Sohail
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:20AM

    Aaaah my childhood days…………….this title photo reminds me nothing else. on the other hand if our soldier have been taliban could do nothing.

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  • umer
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:53AM

    @Nadir: Lolz.. Correct! In my opinion, this is the time for which pakistan army was waiting for. Perhaps they wants to launch some military operation in FATA while care taker setup.

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  • Mustafa alvi
    Mar 28, 2013 - 3:47PM

    @umer:
    I hope youre right! Because this country can not take much more of this!

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