Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pakistan conflict map

Research by the BBC Urdu's service into the growing strength of Taliban militants in north western Pakistan shows that only 38% of the area remains under full government control.This map of the area is a snapshot of the current situation. However, with ongoing fighting between the Pakistan armed forces and the Taliban the situation on the ground could change in the future.

BAJAUR (Taliban stronghold)
Bajaur is one of those tribal areas where the Taliban established themselves early on.
Analysts have long suspected the region to be the hiding place of Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda leaders. It is an area where suspected US drones launched their earliest missile strikes.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad is the chief commander of the Taliban in Bajaur and is said to lead a force of nearly 10,000 armed militants. A year-long military operation ended in Bajaur early this year but a peace agreement has broken down and the Taliban are back in control in most areas outside the regional capital, Khar.
Maulvi Omar, spokesman for the militant alliance Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP), comes from Bajaur. Taliban camps are reported at various places in Bajaur, such as Salarzai and Dasht.

BANNU (Taliban presence)
Bannu is a so-called "settled" (rather than "tribal") area in North West Frontier Province, which borders troubled Waziristan. The district has witnessed a number of attacks on security forces. Civilians have also been killed.
But locals do not have strong tribal affiliations with the Taliban, and the local Taliban have not been successful in building support for their activies in Bannu.

BUNER (Taliban stronghold)
Buner is only 100km (65 miles) from the capital, Islamabad. The military launched an operation against the militants in April after the so-called Swat Taliban seized control of Buner.
The district is popular with Pashtuns visiting the tomb of a Sufi saint, but traditional religious freedoms have been eroded. Militants from Swat tried to enter Buner in 2008 but were thwarted by locals. An armed clash between the two sides at Shilabandi left six Taliban dead, and the Taliban retreated to their bases in Swat. Local resistance did not go unpunished, however, as nearly 50 people were later killed by the militants.
After Sharia law was introduced in Swat, the Taliban again decided to target Buner as part of efforts to expand their area of influence. After negotiations with locals, the Taliban were permitted to operate in the district. Since then all barber shops and music stores have closed down.

D.I. KHAN (Taliban presence)
Traditionally famous for its flowers and sweets, Dera Ismail Khan (or D.I. Khan) has not escaped the increase in Taliban activity seen elsewhere in North West Frontier Province.
Two groups of militants are active in D.I. Khan, one of them involved in sectarian attacks, the other in attacks on security forces. Taliban active in neighbouring Waziristan have claimed responsibility for almost all the attacks on security personnel.
After troops stepped up an anti-Taliban drive in Waziristan in 2008, large numbers of tribal families settled in D.I. Khan. Some government officials fear that militants might also have left Waziristan and settled in D.I. Khan.
Local police say 84 people, many of them security personnel, were killed and more than 100 injured in various violent incidents during 2008.
Most analysts agree there will be no end to violence in D.I. Khan until peace is restored in neighbouring tribal areas and concerted action is taken to stop the sectarian attacks.
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