Islamabad officials have moved paramilitary forces to block a potential Taliban advance into the nation’s capital as US officials question Pakistan’s ability to stop the creeping insurgency.
Islamabad’s deputy commissioner and its senior police official said they are taking steps to counter the Taliban encroachment from the Northwest Frontier Province, Geo News reported. The Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary force under the command of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, have been deployed to the Margala hills on the northern outskirts of Islamabad. The deputy commissioner said the Taliban will not be able to cross through the Margala hills and into Islamabad.
The move to reinforce Islamabad comes just one day after Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, an Islamist political party, said the Taliban are beginning to move into the districts of Haripur and Mansehra. Haripur directly borders Punjab province and Islamabad, and is close to two sensitive nuclear storage facilities.
In Buner, the Pakistani government suffered another defeat as paramilitary police forces were beaten back by the Taliban’s advanced guard. The government sent an estimated 250 Frontier Constabulary officers into Buner in an attempt to secure government offices. The Taliban ambushed a convoy and killed one officer. The paramilitary police were ordered to withdraw from Buner as the Taliban celebrated their latest victory against the security forces.
The Taliban occupied Buner by force on April 10 and took full control of the district eight days later. Government offices, courts, medical clinics, and offices run by non-governmental agencies have been shut down. The Taliban have been patrolling and recruiting new fighters while they loot government offices.