How did TTP rise in Swat again?

Wed Oct 12 2022
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Thousands of peoples took to the streets for third consecutive day on Wednesday, demanding the arrest of culprits behind the attack on a school van in Khyber-Pakhtunkwa’s Swat district.

A sit-in protest was staged on the main Kalam-Swat Road blocking the artery for traffic. Locals in Mingora Swat claimed that terrorists from banned organizations are behind the attack, while no terrorist group has not yet taken responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, the Private School Management Association (PSMA) earlier announced the closure of schools in the district and participated in a civil society protest at Nishat Chowk.

According to PSMA’s executive secretary, nearly 1200 schools continue to remain closed in Swat. Earlier, a driver of a school van was killed and two students were injured when their vehicle came under attack by unidentified gunmen in Guli Bagh village in Swat district. 

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had expressed concerns over the deteriorated law and order situation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Speaking on the floor of the house, Khawaja Asif said that the provincial government was responsible for maintaining the law and order situation. “Armed forces rendered countless sacrifices to establish peace in the country,” he said recommending holding a debate in the house on the law-and-order situation in the KP province. 

It can be said that now at least in Swat, the terrorists’ pulse is not visible. From an innocent 4-year-old child to an 80-to 85-year-old man standing with a white flag of peace in his hand, it does not take long for peace to ring in the atmosphere. Perhaps that is why, since the protests have gained momentum, silence has been seen from the side of the terrorists as well. In the context of the law-and-order situation in Swat, a special representative has tried to find out the reasons behind the increasing footprint of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in Swat.

The first reason for this is that when their seniors in Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban, emerged victorious after defeating the NATO forces, the morale of the Pakistani Taliban has also ascended. They thought that if they can defeat the US and NATO, then what is the big deal in fighting the Pakistani forces? Now there is no ceasefire and no open talks, so once again in Waziristan and Swat, the banned TTP has started its operations against the security forces.

On the other hand, since people saw selfies and pictures of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf provincial government jirga participants with TTP leaders in hotels in Kabul, the common man of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and especially Swat is smacking the conspiracy theory that the establishment has deliberately called back these people.

On the other hand, not a day goes by when the security forces are not taking action against the banned TTP. The PTI is spreading 100 times more conspiracy theories against the army and agencies than the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement.

According to an estimate, four to five thousand TTP men were incarcerating in Afghanistan jails. More or less the same number of TTP people including important people like Maulvi Faqir Muhammad were released when the Taliban ransacked jails after their victory.

Some TTP men, who were sitting silently in the form of individuals or groups also went to Afghanistan and joined the proscribe TTP in Afghanistan. Thousands of other Pakistani youths with religious tendencies also went to Afghanistan and joined the TTP.

Earlier, the banned TTP was divided into several factions but under the leadership of Mufti Noor Wali, it has united again. The TTP people were also hiding in mountains of Afghanistan fearing drone attacks because Maulvi Nik Muhammad, Baitullah Mehsud, Hakimullah Mehsud, Qari Hussain, Maulana Fazlullah and other important commanders were killed during American drone attacks and not during any military operation.

Wherever there were the TTP people, the Afghan Taliban gave them the booty. They also gained accessed to the latest weapons left behind by NATO forces after the withdrawal while their financial resources also augmented a lot with each passing day. No one is informing the public about the ground reality and the subsequent confusion. In the context of the law-and-order situation in Swat and the increasing number of saboteur incidents since August, rumors began to circulate that the Taliban have returned to Swat. The news of an attack on a police station in the Chapriyal area of Tehsil Matta on the night of August 7 and 8 further augmented these rumours.

On September 13, the head of the “peace committee was killed in a remote-control bomb blast in Bara Bandai, Swat. According to reports, Idris Khan, the head of the peace committee, along with his two colleagues and two policemen was killed in the targeted attack. On the second day (September 14), three more bodies were recovered from the crime scene, taking the death toll 8 in total.

For a long time, there had been a lull in bombings in Swat and the people breathed a sigh of relief, before the re-emergence of Taliban and subsequent attacks on police stations and sporadic bombings has left the whole valley on tenterhooks.

The kidnapping of people was another shocking news for the residents of Swat. On August 9, three people including a police DSP and two army officers were abducted. Subsequently, a man was kidnapped for ransom.

On September 9, armed men kidnapped a person for ransom in the upper hilly area of Matta Tehsil of Swat. Muhammad Hayat told the CTD police that his brother Muhammad Farush went to a nearby hill but did not return till evening. He told the police that later, they received a call on brother Muhammad Ishaq’s mobile phone. The caller identified himself as a commander of the outlawed TTP said that Muhammad Farush was in their custody. The caller reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs10 million for his release and threatened to kill him in case of a delay. The CTD police Malakand region after registering an FIR against unknown terrorists started to probe the matter. On September 12, the news emerged that the hostage was released.

On September 14, it was reported that seven people of a private mobile company were kidnapped in Chapreal in Matta tehsil. On September 15, it was reported that of the seven abducted employees of the private mobile company, five were released by the kidnappers. The people who were released were labourers while the militants had demanded a ransom of Rs100 million.

Meanwhile, a news also emerged that Al-Khidmat Foundation Swat chapter former president Aftab Ahmed was kidnapped by armed men from Mingora. Later, Aftab Ahmed, in a report lodged at the Banar police station in Mengura, told the police that he was on his way home in Damane, Novikle when armed men waylaid him near Telenor Tower and kidnapped him. One of the kidnappers identified himself as Saifur Rahman and the commander of the banned TTP Swat chapter. He said that the TTP man demanded to arrange a ransom of Rs10 million within a week he was release. This news spread like a wildfire in the entire valley and subsequently, well-to-do citizens started receiving calls for extortion. People started registering cases at the police station of Mingora city.

According to a news report, Swat police also arrested a person who had alllegedly demanded extortion of Rs3 million from a citizen, Saeedullah Sakin Banar. The accused was threatening to kill him if he did not pay the extortion. An investigation team consisting of DSP Badshah Hazrat and SHO Anwar Khan arrested the accused Muhammad Zeb, a resident of Balo Khan Dir Lower and registered a case against him. These incidents of killings, bombing and kidnapping have taken a toll on tourism in Swat. Currently, almost all hotels and restaurants present a deserted look and businesses have seen a nosedive.

At the Mingora bypass (food street), where a huge number of tourists and locals used to throng until late at night, now witnesses a very thin number of people mostly locals. One encouraging thing is that this time around, the people of Swat are standing firm against the terrorists. So far, there have been two protests against terrorists in Tehsil Babuzai (Mingora) and Tehsil Kabal of Swat, and one in Tehsil Matta. A large number of people especially youths were seen taking part in these demonstrations. Parents were also seen with their children participating in these protests.

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