ISLAMABAD - The recent surgical strikes by military have forced some foreign militants to flee North Waziristan Agency while remaining are on their way out in search of safe havens on other side of the border, sources said on Tuesday.
Background discussions and interviews with influential tribesmen and defence analysts suggest that foreign militants are leaving the North Waziristan Agency for safe havens in Afghanistan.
“Dozens of hardcore militants from various countries have fled into Afghanistan after heavy casualties during the recent precise surgical strikes that targeted their hideouts in North Waziristan,” a knowledgeable tribal elder from South Waziristan Agency told The Nation on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
Other tribal sources also claimed that those who survived the surgical strikes were also leaving the region following the media reports of full-scale military operation. According to military sources, more than 150 foreign militants, mostly Uzbeks and Tajiks, were recently killed as a result of surgical airstrikes that forced them to leave Pakistan, and they have reportedly fled into Afghanistan.
Hundreds of foreign militants, mostly from Central Asian Republics and some Arab countries, had joined the ranks of al-Qaeda and its associates including the disbanded Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and used North Waziristan Agency as springboard to carry out major terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.
Some tribal sources were of the view that the foreign militants fled to Afghanistan in the garb of local tribesmen during the course of the surgical strikes.
The tribal sources further informed that hardcore foreign militants were now shifting themselves near a restive region along Afghan-Pakistan-Iran border and they had plans to use that region as their new sanctuaries. Although this scribe tried utmost to obtain exact details about their ultimate destination, informed sources said they would probably settle down in Nimruz desert region of Afghanistan.
Sources in Waziristan also acknowledged that the recent surgical airstrikes had forced the TPP insurgents to announce one-month ceasefire, arguing that this could give an opportunity for the foreign militants to leave Pakistan. On the other hand, one of Pakistan’s leading defence analysts and commentators, Lt Gen (Retd) Tallat Masood agreed that foreign militants must have been leaving Waziristan because of the fact that they were being squeezed now. He was not surprised about their destination and new sanctuaries.
“There could be two possibilities of their shifting to region near Iran border”, he said, adding that it might be safest area for them and it could be part of some game plan of some powers to use them as proxies.