Taliban warns Mehsud tribe members not to return to Waziristan



Islamabad: Thousands of members of the Mehsud tribe, who fled Pakistan's South Waziristan region after the Army launched an operation against the Taliban, have been warned by militants not to return home.

A pamphlet circulated by the Mehsud chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan says the tribesmen should not return to the region for their own safety because of the fighting going on there.

The pamphlet also directed members of the Khasadar force, a tribal militia, and contractors from the Mehsud tribe to avoid serving at security pickets and bringing in machinery and labour into the region.

"These decisions have been taken for the protection of life, honour and property of the Mehsud tribe," said the pamphlet, which was issued even as Mehsud elders agreed to hand over 378 wanted tribesmen, including Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, to the authorities.

Observers believe the Taliban leadership decided to circulate the pamphlets to ensure that members of the Mehsud tribe did not succumb to pressure from the government and continued to support the militants.

On the other hand, the government has also imposed certain conditions that displaced Mehsuds will have to fulfil before they are allowed to return to their homes.

According to a UN estimate, a total of 293,000 people of the Mehsud tribe have been displaced by the fighting in Waziristan. Among these conditions are the unconditional surrender of Mehsud militants, including Hakimullah, a guarantee that the tribe will not allow a parallel administrative and judicial system in its territory, denial of sanctuary to foreigners and any person from the settled districts wanted by authorities and a ban on heavy weapons.

Media reports said the repatriation of the Mehsuds would be put on hold to pressurise the tribesmen to agree to the government's conditions and to come up with a workable plan to implement them.

PTI