`Afghan Taliban turns Quetta into a safe haven`

The Pakistan government has been constantly denying reports of presence of Afghan Taliban in Quetta

Islamabad: Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani sympathisers have turned the Kharotabad area in the southwestern outskirts of Balochistan`s capital, Quetta, into a safe heaven and a veritable `vacation spot`, raising fears among the people of possible strikes by US drones.

Taliban fighters in every four months return from the warfront in Afghanistan to rejuvenate and convalesce in dozens of rented residential accommodations in Kharotabad neighbourhood, The Express Tribune reported today.

The Pakistan government has been constantly denying reports of presence of Afghan Taliban in Quetta, even in the face of suspicions by Western intelligence agencies that the Taliban leadership, including the Quetta shura was based in the region.

The Pakistani newspaper said the presence of Taliban was becoming a major concern for people living in the adjoining areas who fear that US may carry out missile strikes anytime, the paper said.

Madrassas in Kharotabad are providing free accommodation to these militants, who move freely oblivious of any watch on them, knowing that Kharotabad is a safe haven, the paper said.

The area and madrassas are proving to be a big recruitment centres for the Taliban with six to eight new fighters being inducted for jihad in Afghanistan every month.

The new recruits are given brand new 75CC motorbikes to head for Jihad training centres and given secret route maps of how to evade security checkpoints by taking circuitous and least trodden mountain roads to Qamar Din Karez town on the Pak-Afghan border via Kuchlak.

They are told to avoid travelling in groups - just two persons per motorbike -- and also given Rs 5,000 each, in addition to sufficient money for fuel. The paper said a majority of these boys join Taliban with their parent`s consent, while many others embark on this "holy mission" without the knowledge of their guardians.

The splinter `Nazreyati group` ideology faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), led by Maulana Esmatullah, member of the National Assembly, and his party members, is a motivating force for these young students of Balochistan.

Esmatullah had offered prayers for Osama bin Laden in the National Assembly days after he was killed by the US military in Abbottabad.

The new recruits are read out messages from Taliban chief Mullah Omar.

The paper said that the Afghan and local Taliban wounded during missions in Afghanistan, are reportedly receiving free medical treatment at five prominent private hospitals, a majority of which are situated on the Airport Road.

The administration at these hospitals told The Express Tribune that an international NGO of world repute was funding their medical care.

"We are being paid by this NGO for the medical care being provided to the wounded or sick Taliban militants," the administrator at Dr Abdul Khaliq Memorial Hospital alleged.

The NGO does not allow the police or intelligence agencies access to these "under-treatment" Taliban.

The NGO puts up a `don’t know` front.

"We have not set up any field hospitals in Balochistan to provide medical assistance to the Afghan Taliban or other militants," the NGO`s head of sub-delegation told The Express Tribune.

However, he said, the NGO is supporting three private hospitals in Quetta for providing medical assistance to wounded people.


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