Bajaur tribals taking on the Taleban: BBC

September 29th, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by ANI  

Peshawar, Sept.29 (ANI): A visit to the Bajaur tribal agency in Pakistans North West Frontier Province can serve as an eye-opener to how the locals really feel about the militants and insurgents now dominating their landscape, reports the BBC.
According to the BBC, local civilians essentially feel trapped in the crossfire between the militants and the Pakistan armed forces.
Hundreds of thousands of them have been displaced, and there are reports of civilian casualties.
So deep is their distress that they have formed armed groups such as the Salarzai militia to fight off intruders, whether they be the Taleban or foreign troops
Frequent tribal meetings are held to review the ongoing military offensive against militants.
Most of the tribals have accused the Pakistani Taleban of setting up a parallel state in Bajaur, undermining the traditional tribal leadership.
They say they”ve exhausted all attempts at negotiating a peaceful solution to the problem.
“These so-called Taleban do not know even 10 verses of the Koran, and they call themselves religious scholars!” the BBC quotes Haji Karim Salarzai, a leading elder of the Salarzai tribe, as saying from a towering podium inside the jirga hall.
“They have killed elders of the tribes and innocent people, they are miscreants and they are receiving aid from the foreign countries. They are creating an atmosphere of disturbance which has affected the life of the general public in the area,” he adds.
The members of the Salarzai militia move about the agency, armed with rifles, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. They have vowed to defend their land not only against the Taleban, but any other intruder.
The Pakistan army admits that a purely military victory is impossible. There are also not too happy about these self-styled anti-militant militias, saying they could convert anti-Taleban sentiment into an anti-American one
The army says it will need six weeks to win the battle for Bajaur, but much longer to win the hearts and minds of the agencys people. (ANI)

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