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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Militants shake off Pakistan's grip-SSS

A senior Pakistani defense analyst admitted that despite the difficulties, the Bajaur operation was the only ray of hope for the security forces. If this battle is lost, Pakistan will not be able to stop the march of the Taliban towards the cosmopolitan centers of the country. Already, the Taliban's success in Bajaur has emboldened them. They have made incursions into Peshawar and, loaded with sophisticated weaponry, they have forced the police to restrict themselves to their stations.

On Monday, the Taliban tried unsuccessfully to hit the main oil depot of Peshawar. According to a militant who spoke to ATol, the aim was to wipe out Peshawar's power for at least 15 days, during which time the Taliban could launch attacks. Four rockets were also fired at Peshawar's airport on Monday and again on Tuesday. If nothing else, these attacks have created something of a reign of terror in the provincial capital. This is likely to spill over to the outskirt districts of Shabqadar, Charsada, Matni, Dara Adam Khel and Kohat. For the past two weeks, a main trade artery - the Kohat tunnel - has been closed to traffic due to military operations in Dara Adam Khel. One of the most significant developments has been in the strategic Khyber Agency, the main North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply route into Afghanistan. The majority population here has traditionally been of the anti-Taliban Sufi school of thought. A recent tribal council (jirga) decided to close down the activities and offices of all religious organizations in the agency. The only exception, the jirga agreed, would be the Taliban. It was mutually agreed that the Taliban would not disturb the peace in the area or intervene in local affairs, and the tribes would not get involved in the Taliban's activities.


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