The Fallout

Focus is now shifting to Swat where the security forces have taken positions against trained and committed supporters of Maulana Fazlullah.
By: Behroz Khan

Swat, Jul 15, 2007

Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi had claimed that the whole of Frontier and the tribal belt would rush to his rescue if the military operation was launched against Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

In two recent incidents on Thursday July 12, two suicide bomb attacks killed at least seven people, including three policemen, in town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan tribal region and Mingora, Swat.

In the north and the north-eastern districts of NWFP the militant outfits and students from seminaries did make their presence felt by attacking the personnel of the security forces and resorting to looting, burning offices of foreign NGOs working for the welfare of the survivors of the October-8 earthquake and blocking the roads after the military operation in the country's capital was over.

The only open support for the besieged clerics came from militants like Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, son-in-law of the jailed cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad, head of the banned Tehrik Nifaz Sharia Muhammadi (TNSM) and Maulana Faqir Muhammad another loyalist of Sufi from Bajaur Agency. An army convoy heading for Swat came under attack through an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at Chakdara, killing four personnel of the force including a major and a lieutenant. The police personnel were the target of the IEDs and armed attacks in Swat which left one policeman dead and several others including the District Police Officer (DPO) injured. As many as 10 policemen including a DSP were injured in two separate IED attacks in Dir Lower while Maulana Fazlullah announced the annulment of the peace agreement signed with the government that he would not use his illegal FM radio for propaganda against the government or challenge its writ

The government took serious notice of the announcement when the Maulana called upon his would-be suicide bombers to accomplish the mission assigned to them if the government did not stop the Islamabad operation.

"I call upon my jacketed brothers to accomplish the task and reach the targets," Maulana Fazlullah had announced through his radio.

Maulana Faqir Muhammad, the cleric from Bajaur, who is wanted by the government for instigating public and indulging in the target killing of security personnel, addressed his masked armed force and the tribesmen near Khaar, headquarters of the agency to storm the government installations and wage Jihad if the operation was not stopped.

However, violent demonstrations were held in the Battagram district of Hazara Division soon after the news of Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi's death spread around. Students from a religious seminary run under the patronage of MNA Qari Yousaf came out and stormed the offices of the foreign NGOs working in the earthquake-hit zone. The offices of Care International and French Red Cross were looted, burnt and damaged. The reaction, the locals said, was due to the result of the killing of two students from the same area in the crossfire between militants and forces at Lal Masjid. Armed militants took positions on the mountain tops coming down from the lawless Kala Dhaka area and targeting the offices of the foreign NGOs unless the army and the militia force known as Frontier Constabulary was rushed to control the situation.

Focus is now shifting from Lal Masjid to Swat where the security forces have taken positions against trained and committed supporters of Maulana Fazlullah, who too like Ghazi has announced his last will through his mouthpiece. He was able to assemble hundreds of supporters at Kanju ground at a short notice and asked them to be ready for any eventuality in case the military operation is initiated in Swat. Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his brother had been addressing the supporters of Maulana Fazlullah through telephone, motivating them for Jihad against the infidel rulers and states.

In the South and North Waziristan agencies where it was widely believed that the government would face a tough time at the hands of the tribal militants if Maulana Ghazi was harmed, suicide attacks have now begun. Even the Maulana had mentioned in his statements that tribal militant leader, Commander Baitullah, would come to his rescue.

Though, in a belated move, the MMA leadership is trying to use the post-operation scenario against the government by organising public rallies in Peshawar and other parts of the province, the people seem skeptical about the intentions of the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazlur Rehman. Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, heads of JI and JUI-F respectively, preferred to attend the multi-party conference called by the exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London when the Lal Masjid operation was in full swing.

Situation in the scenic Swat valley is tense where the Maulana is busy preparing to set up resistance as the government plans to bring him to terms. The Maulana has even made his intentions known by assigning the task to his loyalists through the FM channel to occupy Saidu Sharif Airport, target police stations and other government installations, and also to take control of the courts and government buildings when they are asked to do so.

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