Over 1,500 Uzbek militants holed up in Pak's S Waziristan area
Islamabad: Foreign fighters, or “global terrorists”, have a formidable presence in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
First-hand accounts from locals suggest that there is no shortage of Islamic foreigners willing to join the fray.
Among them are about 1,500 Uzbeks affiliated to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), who are regarded as tough, rough and poor.
One Pakistani brigadier told The Times that his men had encountered over 1,500 Uzbek militants during operations last autumn in South Waziristan.
Another brigade commander said that 10 percent of the 300 militants that his men had recently killed in Waziristan were foreign, including Arabs.
A Pakistani general spoke of a “huge concentration” of militants from Central Asia along the tribal belt.
The fighters from the IMU and its splinter group, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), moved to Pakistan’s tribal belt after being driven out of Afghanistan with the Taleban in 2001. They brought with them thousands of family dependants.
However, the Uzbeks have had a dysfunctional relationship with the local tribes. There have been upsurges of fighting between the two groups three times in the past six years.
However, not everyone is happy with their presence.
“It’s because of them that the army has come to our land and destroyed our homes,” one local tribesman said.