On the run, Pakistan militants find new haven

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Islamabad, Apr. 22 (ANI): Having been chased out of South Waziristan, foreign militants, including Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks, are reportedly establishing a new base farther north under the protection of an insurgent leader.

Gul Bahadur, the insurgent leaderin question, is said to have the complete backing of the Pakistan Army, according to residents and militants.

In North Waziristan, these so-called gun-toting "VIP" fighters when not engaged with security forces or undertaking an attack on a pre-determined target, spend their time roaming markets, frequenting restaurants and watching jihadi movies or surfing the web at Internet cafes.

Their presence in North Waziristan has reportedly put the Pakistan Army under pressure to launch an offensive there. Its agreement with Bahadur not to attack territory under his control appears to be backfiring, enabling militants whom Islamabad sees as a security threat to regroup on Bahadur's lands.

Critics say the army is reluctant to sever alliances with militant factions fighting just across the border in Afghanistan, believing they will one day serve Pakistan's interests.

That makes North Waziristan an enticing destination for extremists.

It is reported that North Waziristan's major towns, Mir Ali and Miran Shah, are in the grip of the Pakistan Taliban. The latter has even set up a command and control center in Mir Ali's bazaar to communicate with other groups in the tribal belt through radio.

Tribal customs and traditions believe in extending support to fellow brothers, and are not really bothered by threats of a security offensive even if the persons they support are linked to the Pakistan Taliban.

The Pakistan Army is not clearly stating whether it is backing warlord Bahadur, but security analysts and residents say there is a truce of some sort in the region.

The United States has praised Pakistan for its actions against the Taliban in the northwest over the last 18 months, but believes it has to do more. (ANI)

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