The Taliban return to Bajaur

SHIRAZ MAHER

I recently visited Bajaur, one of Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, for this magazine to explore how Pakistan is fighting the war on terror. The army was proud to show off Bajaur having claimed victory just weeks before my arrival although, as I noted at the time, a febrile atmosphere persisted.

Now the Tablian are back. Leaflets in Pushto have warned local residents:

We would ask people, who fell prey to government propaganda, to repent for their sin, otherwise we will take action against them.

Heavy fighting last week left 38 militants dead and also claimed the lives of 10 soldiers from the Frontier Corp, the paramilitary forces who administer the tribal areas. The ferocity underscores the resilience of the Taliban and the difficulty of uprooting them from areas where they are established.

Yet, both David Cameron and Barak Obama continue to talk of withdrawing from Afghanistan. Abandoning the region now would be disastrous, betraying local allies and leaving them hostage to the millenarian zeal of the Taliban.

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