Pakistani Military to Tribesmen: Fight Against Taliban or Flee

Last week, the Pakistani government warned tribesmen in the restive Bajaur Agency to take action against the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), threatening military action against them if they refused. This week, the new policy seems to have spread to the Mohmand Agency, Bajaur’s neighbor to the south, where it is reported that Pakistani planes are dropping leaflets telling tribesmen to fight to expel TTP members from the area, or if they were unwilling, to leave the area themselves.

Struggling to combat militancy in tribal areas in which they have long had only the loosest of control, the Pakistani government seems increasingly focused on bringing tribesmen into the fight on their side. Originally relying on encouragement and offers of weapons for tribal lashkars, the government is increasingly showing a willingness, despite concerns of its long-term consequences, to bring the tribesmen into the conflict by force if necessary.

The offensive in Bajaur Agency has continued unabated since early August, and the Pakistani military has recently expanded the operation into Mohmand. Though more sparsely populated and not a site of significant violence until the Pakistani offensive began, the agency has had a Taliban presence for a long time.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.