A military offensive long planned by the Pakistani military in the wake of months of stalled talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) Group, which frequently hides the mountains of Northern Waziristan, took place yesterday. The operation, entitled “Zarb-e-Azb,” has driven TTP militant forces across the border into Afghanistan, additionally creating large numbers of refugees who have fled across the border. Militant threats through media outlets after the offensive have been incendiary and virulent, but government forces according to most sources are facing little resistance.
The continued advance into Waziristan has given the militants little time for organization, strategy, and counterattacks. Over 340 militants so far have been killed, and TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid denounced the offensive, stating, “Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the loss of life and property of tribal Muslims in this military operation.” Pakistani officials have taken to urging Afghan authorities to arrest TTP Taliban Chief Mullah Fazlulllah, who according to their sources is hiding in Afghanistan.
Apparently, what set off the operation was the attack on Karachi airport by the TTP and its affiliates, who claim to have been influenced by extensive airstrikes in Waziristan. The peace talks that had been taking place between a special counsel created by Nawaz Sharif and the leadership of the TTP failed after months of communications made no headway. Waziristan has been ground zero for fighting Taliban groups associated with Al Qaeda, as it was in this region that American intelligence agencies waged their operations.
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