The Pakistani Taliban on Monday warned foreign firms to leave the country after thousands of troops launched a long-awaited offensive in a troubled tribal district along the Afghan border.
‘We warn all foreign investors, airlines and multinational corporations that they should immediately suspend their ongoing matters with Pakistan and prepare to leave Pakistan, otherwise they will be responsible for their own loss,’ said spokesman Shahidullah Shahid in a statement.
The Taliban’s main stronghold is in the North Waziristan tribal district, where the Pakistan military began its offensive on Sunday night.
It came one week after brazen insurgent attack on Pakistan’s main airport in Karachi which left dozens dead and marked the end of a troubled peace process. The Islamist group also vowed to take revenge on the government.
‘We hold Nawaz Sharif’s government and the Punjabi establishment responsible for the loss of tribal Muslims’ life and property as a result of this operation,’ the statement said.
‘The retaliatory actions of the Mujahedeen will make you a cautionary tale in history.’
Shahid added that the Taliban would ‘burn your palaces in Islamabad and Lahore’ referring to the capital city and Sharif’s hometown, from where he derives his support base.
‘Remember that you will once again crave for negotiations and peace, but then it would be too late,’ he added.
North Waziristan is the only tribal region where the military has not launched a large military operation against militants, despite insistence from the US. The region until recently was harbouring several militant groups of local and foreign militants, including Chechens, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Tajiks and Uighurs. According to sources, many insurgents had recently vacated the main towns of the region and fled towards the rugged mountains on the border with Afghanistan.