Wana Militants May Be Entering Karachi

By Hasan Mansoor

As the military takes action in the tribal areas, Karachi becomes the safe haven for locals who have no option but to migrate to safer areas

As jet fighters and helicopters continue to bomb and raid the tribal areas in an all-out effort to capture outlaws in Wana, thousands of locals from this area in the tribal belt have fled to Karachi in search of shelter. In recent reports, intelligence agencies have warned authorities in Islamabad that terrorists hiding in Wana and other parts of South Waziristan may cross into Karachi disguised as refugees.

After the military expedited its operation in the tribal areas last month, a large number of people, belonging mainly to the Mehsud tribe, fled Wana for Karachi. Most of these people have reached the metropolis with their families but a significant number of them are individuals who intelligence officials suspect have direct or indirect links with terrorist organizations. However, intelligence and provincial government officials have not released any figures for the exact number of people who have left the tribal areas for Karachi. Officials have also not issued any statements about the kind of economic burden the metropolis might face if these migrations continue.

According to unofficial figures compiled by transporters and locals who are helping the migrants settle, at least 1,000 displaced families have reached Karachi so far and have settled mainly in the city’s suburbs.

“These migrations are reason for worry,” a senior investigator told TFT. “They will multiply our problems by making it easier for terrorists disguised as common people to enter major cities and resume their terrorist operations.” A senior Sindh government official also said the migrations would damage the “social fabric” of the city. “It will be dangerous if these people continue to pour into Karachi,” he said. “This issue will have to be referred to Islamabad so that measures may be taken to settle these shelter-seeking people outside Karachi.”

In light of these migration and consequent apprehensions, authorities in Islamabad have been asked to chalk out a method that will ascertain the identities of the locals entering the business capital of the country.

Tribesmen from different parts of Wana and South Waziristan have reached Karachi in search of shelter. Most of the migrants have brought along their womenfolk and children and have settled down in refugee camps in areas surrounding Sohrab Goth Afghan.

A significant number of people from the Mehsud tribes have connections in the transport business of Karachi and are using the bus service to rescues people from areas where the government has launched military operations to flush out foreign militants. The refuges reach Karachi in inter-city buses whose final stop is the Sohrab Goth bus stop where hoards of their [refugee’s] relatives can be seen waiting to welcome the tribesmen to the city.

“Hundreds of people from Waziristan have already reached our refugee camps,” Anwer Mehsud, the manager of an inter-city transport company told TFT. “The influx continues but has lost momentum. However, as long as these people keep coming to us, we will help them because it is our obligation to stand by them in these testing times,” he said.

Unlike in the past, these tribesmen are not job-seeking individuals who have come to explore Karachi while leaving behind their families. This time, the elderly, women, children and heavy belongings have come along with the men in search of stable lives. The narratives of the immigrants reveal


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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