Following reports yesterday that the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had established virtual control over the Buner District, fear over the forces nearing the Pakistani capital has sparked a popular backlash against the various Taliban-styled militants and a military offensive that is putting the Swat Valley peace deal in peril.
Pakistan quickly dispatched some eight platoons to the district today, and while military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the whole situation was nowhere near as dire as it has been portrayed, though the provincial government has reportedly already made the decision to use force to attempt to oust the militants from Buner, a so-called “Plan-B” military operation.
Reportedly some of the paramilitary troops were attacked shortly after arriving in the district, and one of their police escorts was killed. The violence may be a sign that the peace deal, if not formally dead, means very little within the contested district.
Maulana Khalilur Rahman, the TTP commander for Buner, insists that the group has no intentions of moving beyond the district, and insisted that their forces were in Buner not to capture it but “to preach Islam.” He claimed that the bulk of the forces had return to Swat, leaving behind only about 100 militants.