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Taliban efforts in Karachi falter
Militants claim to take break to emphasize recruitment
By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – The Taliban claim to have intentionally slowed their terrorist activities in Karachi in order to step up recruiting. But police say they have broken the Taliban’s Karachi network and the militants are simply incapable of carrying out effective attacks.
The Taliban slowdown includes Karachi and other areas of Sindh Province, Abu Akasha, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Karachi, told Central Asia Online July 19.
“The Taliban are focusing on strengthening their network in educational institutions, like universities and colleges in Sindh Province, especially Karachi,” Akasha said. “We will distribute militancy materials among the students of universities and colleges (in Sindh) and motivate them to join the TTP.”
Students who join the militancy will be trained in Waziristan and other Taliban safe havens to become suicide bombers and fighters, he said.
Police, though, say the slowdown in terrorist activity in Sindh was hardly voluntary on the TTP’s part.
“The police have broken the network of the TTP in Karachi and other areas of the province, as a result of which the Taliban are unable to carry out their nefarious agenda of spreading terrorism in the province,” Chaudhry Aslam, chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of Sindh Police, told Central Asia Online.
The TTP will step up its so-called jihad in Sindh once it has built up its network in the province, Akasha said. Akasha said the TTP recruiting effort is normal. He said the militants have strengthened their network in three provinces – southern Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – and are focusing on expansion in Sindh.
Taliban forced to scale back, police say
The Taliban's slowdown in terrorist attacks in Sindh has less to do with recruiting and more to do with effective policing, Aslam said. In the past six months, police have arrested 90 suspected Taliban members in Karachi and seized a substantial number of weapons and explosive materials, he said.
Tight monitoring of the Taliban and frequent arrests have forced the TTP to abandon terrorism and focus instead on re-organising its structure and network, Aslam said.
The aggressive police work and penetration of Taliban ranks also forced the TTP to name new operational heads in Sindh Province a few months ago, Aslam said.
The police said they will keep the Taliban out of institutions of higher education.
“We have received reports of the Taliban’s involvement in some universities and colleges in Karachi, and we will monitor it and foil the designs of the TTP,” he said.
The terrorists will not get a free hand to spoil students’ future now that police have smashed their Karachi network, he said.
“We have tightened security at Karachi University (KU) to discourage militancy and those illegal activities that could affect the students,” Khalid Iraqi, chief security officer at KU, told Central Asia Online.
After an explosion hit a gathering of the Imamia Students' Organisation (SIO) at the KU campus in December and injured four students, the administration stepped up security.
Security officials at KU will monitor student activities to block any Taliban efforts to infiltrate the country’s largest university, he added.