Foreign spy agencies backing 15,000 militants: Pakistani official
The governor of Pakistan’s troubled North West Frontier Province, who also looks after affairs of the militancy-plagued Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), disclosed Friday that there are around 15,000 militants in the tribal areas who are persistently being espoused by external spy agencies.
During the visit, she met NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani, NWFP Peace Envoy Afrasiyab Khattak, veteran politician Begum Naseem Wali Khan, civil society members and media-persons.
In this connection, a five-member delegation of HRCP, led by Asma Jehangir, discussed with the governor deteriorating law and order situation in the Fata and settled districts of NWFP with a special focus on Swat region. Other members of the visiting team included HRCP Secretary General IA Rehman, Vice-Chairperson for NWFP Musarrat Hilali, Council Member Kamran Arif and programme coordinator.
When asked by Asma that being a concerned citizen what should be expected from the government, the governor said that unfortunately most of the people did not understand real nature of the problem. "It's not a law and order problem, rather it's a well-planned ideological insurgency, therefore, it should be treated as such," he said.
The governor said that the forces were faced with highly organised and well-funded militants "who are persistently being espoused by external spy agencies. There are round about 15,000 militants in the tribal belt, who have no dearth of ration, ammunition, equipment, even anti-tank mines," he said, adding that they were being paid properly for that.
The governor said that a militant was normally given Rs6,000 to Rs8,000 per month while their leaders got Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 per month, which, he asserted, was next to impossible without funding from external intelligence agencies.
However, he sounded optimistic about containing these militants, saying that now they were back in the areas where the government had lost its writ, but he was quick to add that they had no resources for Fata to bring it on a par with other parts of the country.
The HRCP delegation also had a long meeting with Afrasiyab Khattak, who informed them about the policy of the Awami National Party-led coalition government to put a permanent damper on militancy in the NWFP.
The HRCP chairperson also held a meeting with a group of media-persons and discussed in detail the issue of the law and order in the region. One of them raised a very appropriate question about the supply line of the militants in Swat, saying that the valley was not abutted with any tribal region but the shortage of petroleum products across the NWFP had no effect on the local militants, which clearly showed that their logistic activities go on uninterrupted.
A senior journalist said the establishment must bear in the mind the glaring fact that the ongoing insurgency in the NWFP and Fata would not end here, rather engulf the whole country. "You know first it was confined to Waziristan, then spread to the whole tribal belt and has now crept into the settled districts of NWFP, and eventually it will go to other parts of the country, especially to the Punjab, which is next door neighbour," he said.
Other newspersons apprised the HRCP chief about the threats to them owing to the growing influence of local Taliban even in the settled areas of the province.
The HRCP chairperson, on the occasion, said that she had come to Peshawar to get herself informed about mayhem in the NWFP. She said the commission would soon launch a campaign outside the NWFP to make the people of other provinces aware of the situation prevailing in northwest of the country.