Nato build-up gives tribesmen the jitters in Pakistan
There is widespread panic undergoing in the borders areas of Pakistan after heavy deployment of NATO forces. Now local tribesmen are terrified for military actions against them.
After deployment along the Pak-Afghan border across the Kurram Agency, hundreds of Nato troops also took positions across the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) on Tuesday, creating panic among the already terrified tribesmen.
Official and tribal sources told this correspondent from NWA that the Nato troops started arriving near the border areas on Monday night. “Some of them had been brought in choppers and others by armoured personnel carriers. The troops had also shifted heavy arms and ammunition including tanks, heavy machineguns and artillery to the border,” said Haji Yaqub, a resident of border town Ghulam Khan.
The troops had been deployed near the border towns of Ghulam Khan, Saidgai, Shawal and Mir Safar. “They started setting up bunkers very close to the border while gunship helicopters are continuously hovering over the border,” said one Roohullah, a resident of the border town of Saidgai.
He said they had never before seen movement of foreign troops in such large numbers near the border. “For us, it’s just unusual as they are on the zero point,” said Roohullah, adding that so far the troops had not crossed the border.
The sources said the Nato troops dug trenches at Mughalgai near Zhawar camp, a famous training camp of Afghan Mujahideen commander, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, in Khost near Pakistan’s Saidgai town.
Another bunker was set up at Gurbaz near Tarkhobi area of Khost, close to Pakistan’s Ghulam Khan town. Similarly, the sources said, another trench was set up close to Mir Safar and Shawal towns of NWA.
According to sources, the Nato forces had planned setting up four new military camps along the border in the Taliban-dominated provinces of Afghanistan - Khost and Paktika. “They planned establishing four new military camps along the border and this latest deployment of the foreign troops was first step of their future planning,” said the sources.
Senior government officials said the Nato forces were also misinformed about al-Qaeda training camps at Deegan, Mirali and Miramshah in North Waziristan. The sources said the Nato troops were also informed about the presence of senior Afghan Taliban commanders at the residence of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani at Danday Darpakhel, to condole with him the death of his son, Mohammad Omar Haqqani.
The 18-year-old son of veteran Taliban leader Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani was killed in a firefight with the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan’s Paktia province on Thursday. It merits a mention here that Nato had already deployed a large number of troops close to the border between Afghanistan’s Khost province and Pakistan’s Kurram tribal region.
On the other hand, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s statement provided an opportunity to the US to deploy its troops near the tribal areas. “When a responsible person like the prime minister has himself said that foreign militants were hiding in Pakistani tribal areas and could cause another 9/11 like disaster then who will stop American forces from invading the country,” Omar asked.
He said the Taliban would welcome the Nato forces if they entered into the tribal areas. (According to Reuters, the Taliban spokesman in Bajaur welcomed the build-up on the border as a chance to kill more Americans. “It’s a gift that they’re coming here on our land and making it easy for us to kill our enemies, the enemies of Muslims,” Maulvi Omar said.
Meanwhile, the US-led Nato forces Tuesday night fired 30 mortar rounds from Afghanistan’s Paktika province on Pakistan’s Angoor Adda. A senior government official based in Wana, regional headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, confirmed the latest shelling on Pakistani territory, but said he had no further details about any loss. He said fearing airstrikers and shelling by the Nato forces on their villages, the residents started leaving their homes for safe and distant towns.
Agencies add: The Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said it was probably a routine movement and the media had created “unnecessary hype”. Abbas told a private TV channel that there was no build up of Nato forces close to the Pak-Afghan border.
It was within their side and this was a routine movement for exercise or some operation there, he added. “We closely monitor all such moves so there is none of such thing very close to the border. Certainly we have coordination and communication with each other,” he added.
Abbas said such things were well coordinated and informed before so that no misunderstanding could take place. A spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said there was no question of troops entering Pakistan. “Our mandate stops at the border,” spokesman Captain Mike Finney said. There was some “extra activity” on the border with troops searching for surviving insurgents after Sunday’s attack that killed nine US troops, he said.