ISLAMABAD - Security forces of Pakistan are going to launch an operation to eliminate hideouts of foreign militants in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), sources said on Sunday.
Although there is no credible information available about the total number of foreign militants, a conservative estimate suggests there are thousands of them and they belong to various countries of Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The biggest troublemakers among them are those from the Central Asia, mostly Turkmen, Tajiks and Uzbeks who are believed to have been targeting Pakistani security forces as well as stoking sectarian strife in the country.
A small number of the foreign militants are associated with TTP but majority of them is still associated with Afghanistan based al-Qaeda. They infiltrate through the porous Pak-Afghan border and return to Afghanistan after accomplishing their missions.
Interestingly, the TTP which has established its headquarter in eastern Kunur and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan have a sizeable number of Afghan militants in its ranks and file and they have been often targeting Pakistani security forces on Pak-Afghan border.
According to government sources security forces have been directed to search for hideouts of foreign militants and target them. However, knowledgeable sources in the security forces believe it would be an uphill task unless there is full cooperation from the Afghan security forces as they flee to Afghanistan whenever under pressure from the Pakistani troops.
The lacklustre approach of Afghan security forces in manning border on their side is a major problem in tracking down the foreign militants, sources said, adding that despite repeated requests Pakistan is not getting due support from the neighbouring country.
“The situation on the other side of the border is very dismal,” a senior government functionary remarked, pointing to role of Indian intelligence agencies which are hell bent on destabilising Pakistan by using the Afghan soil.
The official speaking on condition of anonymity said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his recent visit to Kabul emphasised the need for enhanced cooperation for the management of Pak-Afghan border but Afghan authorities have done nothing so far.
“Unless Afghan authorities positively respond to Pakistan’s pleas, no effective border management could be done “, sources said, stressing the need for effective bilateral cooperation to counter terrorism.
They were of the view that for an effective action against TTP militants or Afghanistan based al-Qaeda members, bilateral cooperation on long term basis is imperative. “One sided efforts would not bear much fruit to establish peace and stability in the region”, a senior government official said.
THOUSANDS FLEE FEARING
AFP adds: Thousands of people have fled their homes in North Waziristan Agency for fear of a military offensive against Taliban insurgents is imminent, residents and officials said on Sunday.
Residents said some 1,500 families or about 13,000 people left their villages around the towns of Mir Ali and Miranshah in North Waziristan, to migrate to relatively safer areas outside the tribal areas in Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar.
The exodus began last week when Pakistan Air Force fighter jets bombarded the area following a series of militant attacks on security forces and civilians which killed more than 100 people in a week.
“Around 1,500 families and up to 13,000 people have left several villages in North Waziristan,” Rafiullah, 25, a resident of Musaki village in Mir Ali, told AFP by phone.
“We can estimate up to 700 families and around 8,000 people have arrived in Bannu,” Arshad Khan, head of the FATA Disaster Management Authority, told AFP.
“No military operation has been announced in the tribal area. So there are no instructions to make arrangements for the internally displaced people,” he added.