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Rebels have upper hand in Pakistan

Rebels have upper hand in Pakistan
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First Published: Sun, Feb 03 2008. 11 59 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Feb 03 2008. 11 59 PM IST
Peshawar: Disparate militant bands in Pakistan are increasingly coordinating operations, even as the authorities are demoralized and fearful, analysts say.
Militants have battled security forces in the north-west in recent weeks and briefly seized a main road tunnel 50km from Peshawar city in late January. While there’s no chance of the insurgents defeating the army or holding territory outside remote enclaves on the Afghan border, the violence looks set to intensify.
Suicide bombers have killed hundreds of people over the past year, striking in all of the country’s main cities and killing opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on 27 December.
A Pakistani militant chief, Baitullah Mehsud, who the government and the CIA says was behind Bhutto’s murder, was in December declared leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or Movement of Pakistani Taliban, a faction umbrella group.
The organization is for now little more than a name, but more coordination would spell trouble, analysts said.
While decisive government action was called for, authorities were fearful, especially after Bhutto’s killing which had damaged the body politic, said retired Brigadier Mahmood Shah, a former chief of security in the ethnic Pashtun border lands. Former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao expects violence to rise before the February elections.
Zeeshan Haider contributed to this story.
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First Published: Sun, Feb 03 2008. 11 59 PM IST