The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police on Saturday issued a statement confirming the presence of “some individuals from Swat” who were previously living in Afghanistan, but stressed that the region remained “totally under the control” of the civil administration and all law enforcement agencies are ready to respond to any untoward incident.
There has been mounting concern across Pakistan of the resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, particularly Swat and North Waziristan, with Defense Minister Khawaja Asif earlier this week warning in the National Assembly that the “danger is gradually rising.” Media reports have also alleged that TTP militants have established a checkpost on the Balasoor Top, with further reports alleging that militants have also been seen roaming in areas of Matta, Swat.
In its statement, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police Central Office said they were aware of the apprehensions of the general public that Swat might soon return to the unrest of 2008-09, when militants ruled the valley and had imposed their own brand of Shariah. Stressing that the peaceful people of Swat had no space for terrorism in any form and manifestation, they added: “[Law enforcement agencies] are appropriately placed and will resort to all possible measures to ensure peace in Swat as per aspirations of the local populace.”
According to locals, police have responded to the threat of increased militancy by establishing more checkposts in Swat, adding people and vehicles were being thoroughly checked before being allowed into the city.
For several weeks, local residents have been demonstrating against the rise of militancy in the region. This continued on Friday, with protesters in Swat demanding better security and government action to ensure peace.
Earlier this week, the federal government formed a 16-member Jirga comprising political leaders to negotiate an end to a sit-in and general strike in North Waziristan that sought an end to targeted killings, primarily blamed on militants. Talks between the Jirga and the protesters were partially successful on Friday, with locals agreeing to reopen business centers and roads for the next 15 days.
During this time, per the agreement, work would commence on achieving the demands of the protesters and progress would be conveyed within 10 days. While this process is ongoing, a protest camp set up by local tribesmen would remain in place.