Islamabad, Sep 23 (ANI): While the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops have been staging air strikes against the Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan and the Af-Pak border region, similar war tactics by Pakistani troops have resulted in few gains and a rising civilian death toll.
On the one side, civilians are fed up with the nearly daily bombings, targeted killings, harassment and kidnappings perpetrated by the militants, while on the other side, as more civilians die in failed attempts to kill militants, and there is no visible progress in curtailing militant activities, support for the government among the population is decreasing, reports the Foreign Policy magazine.
According to the report, in an air strike in Waziristan region in April, over 70 civilians were killed in the remote Tirah Valley of Khyber tribal agency, a mountainous area between Khyber and Orakzai agencies and on the border with Afghanistan. Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had to apologise for the 'mistaken' bombing, which had sparked widespread anger among the local population.
However, to the dismay of tribesmen and elders from Tirah, another 'mistaken' bombing on August 31 killed dozens of civilians, though the exact number could not be confirmed due to the remoteness of the area, it added.
Both strikes targeted the head of a Lashkar-e-Islam, Mangal Bagh, who escaped each time; however, while the people of Tirah accepted the apology of the Pakistani army chief the first time, they seemed to be in no mood to be as generous after the second failed strike.
Bagh, a militant leader who ran an army of volunteers in Bara area of Khyber Agency, located just 15 kilometers south-east of Peshawar, is not the first militant commander to have evaded arrest or bombing, the report said.
Waziristan-based Hakimullah Mehsud and his key commanders, Bajaur-based Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, Mohmand-based Abul Wali (alias Omar Khalid) and Maulana Fazlullah of Swat, have already escaped such strikes before, it added.
According to the report, seeing the government's inability to eliminate militant groups and their leaders, the people in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) continue to feel threatened and intimidated.
But, instead of curtailing their operations in face of a more aggressive Pakistani military effort, these emboldened militants have managed to stage fresh terror attacks in the country's heartland and major cities like Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, it added.
Looking at the marked increase in the terror attacks in Pakistani cities, the recent statement of the country's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that the increase in violence was reaction to the 'successful operations' against the Taliban seems to be a lame excuse for failure of intelligence agengies and security forces. (ANI)