Renewed military attacks in Pakistan's restive tribal region of North and South Waziristan have exposed the Pakistani government's insincerity about peace talks with the Taliban as well as lack of respect for human life. In the latest attacks early this morning, 70 people, among them women and children were killed in Mir Ali Tehsil in North Waziristan.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 08:53 DST
American and Pakistani forces have again stepped up violence in Pakistan’s Northern Areas. Two days ago, a US drone strike in the Khyber area killed 10 and injured 14 others. The US had temporarily halted drone strikes on Pakistani soil, the last drone strike having occurred in December 2013.
In the lull, the Pakistani government embarked on publicized attempts to broker a “peace deal” with the Taliban. Now it looks that the moratorium is over as the peace talks have stalled.
Initially, the Pakistani military reported killing 32 “militants” in jet strikes in North Waziristan in the early hours of Wednesday (May 21). Later, this figure went up to 70. Local residents in the Mir Ali area described hearing huge explosions after helicopters and jets flew overhead in the early hours.
The Army is attempting to portray the attacks as “precision strikes” on Taliban militants, declaring that it has killed two commanders (though not specifying their names) but local residents said women and children were among the dead.
Military sources claimed militant bases in Mosaki, Zarha Mela and Esorti villages in Mir Ali tehsil were targeted, leaving scores dead and injured while the operation was also carried on parts of agency headquarters Miramshah.
However, residents in the area report that several houses have been flattened in indiscriminate bombardment. “It was around 3 am in the morning when I heard huge explosions,” tribesman Naseeb Gul told Reuters news agency by telephone. “I saw four helicopters flying over the area and hitting some villages.”
While such attacks claim to target “terrorists,” in reality they spread a reign of terror in Pakistan’s underdeveloped northern areas, indiscriminately killing and maiming civilians. “In Mosaki village in Mirali, a house came under attack during aerial shelling, killing 10 civilians inside,” Haji Ghulam Khan, a local tribal elder, said by phone, as reported by the New York Times.
“Initially, they carried out bombardment through gunship helicopters and jets, followed by intensive artillery shelling,” Mr. Khan said. “Local people are running for their lives towards the nearby hills.”
Meanwhile, the Taliban are blaming the Pakistani government for breakdown in peace talks. ”The Taliban are ready for peace talks and very much serious, but the government side is lacking seriousness. At the moment, the government is the main hurdle,” said Maulana Yousaf Shah, a Taliban nominated representative to the peace talks.
“It seems our government does not want to resolve peacefully.” In this back and forth between US-Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban, Pakistan’s civilians are the ones that continue to suffer.