Fearing operation, Taliban fighters relocating to Afghan border areas


ISLAMABAD: Fearing that a military offensive will finally be launched, many of Taliban fighters have vacated the areas surrounding Mirali and Miranshah towns of North Waziristan and shifted towards the border with Afghanistan and into the Afghan provinces where anti-Pakistan elements are strong.
Sources in Taliban ranks told Daily Times that expectations of the militant leaders of talks succeeding are too low. Although the commanders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have not formally refused to call off the dialogue, but they are convinced that it would lead nowhere, and finally a military operation will be imposed on them, sources said.
“Around 6,000 militants, including locals, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechen and Turkmens, shifted towards the border with Afghanistan and into the Afghan provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Nuristan and Kunar provinces,” sources said, adding that nearly 400 fighters have left for jihad in Syria. “While focusing on shifting to safe havens on the border and beyond, the Taliban fighters have also restricted their movement in main towns of North Waziristan. About 4,000 militants, most of them locals, still reside in Mir Ali and Miranshah towns and its suburbs,” sources said.
Meanwhile, the government-sponsored talks received a major blow on Monday when one of the key state-nominated negotiators quit the dialogue process. While Professor Ibrahim, a member of the Taliban committee, says that formal talks with the Taliban have yet to start, Major Muhammad Amir, a nominee of the government, sidelined himself from the talks, saying that some members of the Taliban committee were exploiting the process for their own political interests. 
“I distance myself from the dialogue process as some negotiators use it only for their political objectives,” he said. “I would take the prime minister into confidence over my decision,” the ex-ISI official said. He said that it was not easy for him to work in an environment where Taliban negotiators use the issue for grabbing media attention. “I was against the role of media in the dialogue process form the start,” he said.

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