Sahibzada Haroonur Rashid, a high ranking official in the Jamaat-e Islami (JI) party from Bajaur Agency, claimed today that 1,500 civilians have been killed since Pakistan’s military offensive in Bajaur began in August. He also condemned the operation for displacing hundreds of thousands of Bajauris, and accused the government of killing people in the tribal areas to ‘appease the United States.’
The military has claimed 1,000 militants killed and another 2,000 wounded in the heavy fighting of the past months, they have not provided any figures on the number of civilians killed. Relief agencies have reported that more than 400,000 people have been displaced in the tiny agency, whose entire population as of the most recent census was less than 600,000.
The Pakistani government has rejected calls by the militants for a ceasefire in the past, and has remained officially silent since last week’s offer by a TTP spokesman to lay down arms in return for an end to the offensives. Confusingly, the government announced a ceasefire of its own at the beginning of Ramadan, but continued to launch attacks throughout the Muslim holy month.
The Jamaat-e Islami is a religious political party in Pakistan. They have no MPs in the current Pakistani legislature, having boycotted the most recent elections over then-President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency. They have long been outspoken critics of military offensives and supporters of peace talks with the various militant groups in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas. They have also been accused of links with al-Qaeda in the past.