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Taliban tell police to leave S. Waziristan ahead of Pakistan PM’s visit

Taliban tell police to leave S. Waziristan ahead of Pakistan PM’s visit
The Taliban in South Waziristan have reportedly warned police to leave the area within three days, and ordered locals to cut communication with authorities and stay away from an upcoming visit by Pakistan’s prime minister.

The message was delivered via Urdu-language pamphlets distributed in Wana, the district headquarters of South Waziristan, on Sunday night ahead of a planned visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. He is scheduled to make a public address at a local football ground on Wednesday.

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The Taliban reportedly ordered an immediate police withdrawal under threat of force. Police vehicles were identified in the pamphlets, indicating that the group had staked out the local area and were monitoring authorities on an ongoing basis.

Threats were also issued against local journalists in addition to aid workers tackling a polio crisis in the region. The group also condemned a series of recent cultural events which it claimed were promoting indecency and vulgarity.

Adviser to Chief Minister Ajmal Khan Wazir told Dawn that the PM’s visit would go ahead as planned.

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The threats come as concerns have been raised by lawmakers over increased incidents of extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and child abuse in a quickly deteriorating security situation.

“A week ago, I went to South Waziristan and saw gun-toting good Taliban roam around,” ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak said, as cited by Dawn.

Babak also decried what he claimed was government silence on the high-profile kidnapping, torture and murder of police officer Tahir Dawar in Islamabad in 2018. The recent pamphlets also referenced Dawar’s kidnapping. His body was found near the border with Afghanistan in October of last year.

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