Militants slipping out of NWA for fear of operation


With the United States pushing Pakistan to launch a full-scale military operation in North Waziristan, it seems that most local and foreign militants are either quietly slipping into other regions or are going underground.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud, along with close aides from South Waziristan, has long since disappeared from public view.
His spokesman Tariq Azam has not issued any statements to the media in several weeks either, particularly since the assassination of al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden. Another militant from the TTP has been issuing statements on behalf of one of the most vocal TTP spokesmen Ehsanullah Ehsan, who has not been heard from in the last few weeks either.
Local sources told Pakistan Today that the people of North Waziristan were somewhat unperturbed by reports of impending military action in the area, but militants and their supporters were now looking for ways to survive, and some were ready to move on to greener militant pastures.
Kamran Wazir, a National Assembly member from North Waziristan, said reports of an operation were “media propaganda”. “Neither has the government announced any plan for military action nor do the tribesmen want one. Only certain media circles, inside and outside the country, are engaged in propaganda,” he told Pakistan Today.
Wazir denied reports that foreign militants were present in North Waziristan. “Such reports and allegations are baseless. There are no foreigners here,” he said, adding that foreign militants and Taliban were camped out in Afghanistan and the US must take action first in Afghanistan and later think about Pakistan.
Tribesmen in North Waziristan believe that like in South Waziristan in 2009, certain “sympathisers” were giving a chance to militants to slip out of North Waziristan to safer areas before the military operation began. Fifteen to 20 percent of the approximately 400,000 people in North Waziristan have already moved to areas considered safe. They include pro-government tribal elders, workers of democratic political forces, relatives of government officials and moderate tribal families.