5,000 Uzbek militants hiding in Waziristan
ISLAMABAD: The government informed a Senate committee on Saturday it had credible evidence that there were more than 5,000 Uzbek militants hiding in North and South Waziristan.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), FATA Additional Chief Secretary Habibullah Khan said these militants were known to travel through Balochistan as well. He also said there was evidence that US, Israel and India were involved in nurturing the insurgency in FATA.
To questions, he said Taliban warlord Mangal Bagh was still threatening people through his FM radio station in the Khyber Agency. He said Bagh had threatened khasadars to cease their duties or have their families killed, adding this had resulted in around 800 khasadars refusing to perform their duties. Referring to the senior Taliban leadership, he said both Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain were dead, denying media reports that the two Taliban leaders were still alive.
Next meeting: In response, the committee expressed surprise over why the government had not taken up the issue of alleged interference in FATA with the governments of the countries concerned. It also decided to invite Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to its next meeting for a briefing on the security situation in FATA and on the government’s plan to control militancy in the troubled areas. It also suggested a thorough reform and development package for FATA, with “time-bound” reforms, to remove the sense of deprivation among the people.
Addressing the meeting, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz senior leader Raja Zafarul Haq said FATA had been neglected and exploited by past administrations, leading to this situation. He predicted the region could become another Darfur if the government did not take timely steps to remedy the situation. The committee also suggested the government announce a compensation package for the people of FATA, saying they had rendered great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. It said extending facilities and privileges to FATA would help restore durable peace in the troubled areas and bring an end to the exploitations of the past. SAFRON Minister Najumuddin Khan said there should be an investigation into the budget utilisation for the Tribal Areas.