By Mujahid Hussain
After a lull, the al-Qaeda and the Taliban terrorists have re-launched attacks in Pakistan. These attacks falsify the myth that al-Qaeda and the Taliban sympathizers had been combed out in the wake of the security forces’ successful operation in the Tribal Areas.
As a matter of fact, the Taliban terrorists have pushed the security forces and the local Peace Lashkars out of the area. Now the Taliban are attacking the urban areas and the adjoining settlements at will. The recent example of the Taliban penetration is the release of hundreds of dangerous criminals from the prison of Bannu, situated on the periphery of the Tribal Belt.
Involved in the murder-attempt on the military dictator Gen Musharraf, Adnan Rasheed was also among of the dangerous terrorists who escaped in the wake of an organized attack on Bannu prison. The attackers presented a salute to Adnan Rasheed and garlanded him in the courtyard of the prison before galloping.
This incident sufficiently reflects upon how powerful, daring and well-planned and organized are the terrorists. After attacking and getting released their cronies, the Taliban terrorists celebrated their victory for almost two hours but the security forces and the local police remained ‘unaware’ of the entire scene.
It is unbelievable with how much ease the Tehreek-e-Taliban warriors conquered Bannu prison. The Federal and provincial governments did nothing else to suspend the terrified jail officials.
The Minister for Interior is tight lipped on the issue. He knows that the religious terrorists have gained extreme powers and they have thousands of volunteers to achieve their target.
Afterwards, a private school was attacked with hand grenade in Peshawar, resulting in the deaths of the children. The State machinery has become toothless in the face of Lashkar-e-Islami Group operating in the periphery of Peshawar.
On the other hand it is almost impossible to stem the increasing influence of the Taliban in Waziristan and they have benefited a lot from the on-going tense relations between Pakistan and the US and the former’s step to cut the NATO supply line.
However, the Pakistani media are all praise for the Taliban while the intellectuals are busy paying homage to them in sermons as the architect of the Muslims Renaissance.
Meantime, another sinister development is an escalation of anti-Shia violence. Pakistan’s coastal city of Karachi has already witnessed targeted killings of Shia Muslims. Of late, Shia Muslims have increasingly come under attack in Gilgit-Baltistan region and Balochistan province. The al-Qaeda is availing of the services of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhngvi and Sipah-e-Sihaba outfits, who have declared the killing of Shia as Halal (rightful) in their respective decrees.
After the incident of the Laal Mosque in Islamabad, local Taliban and the terrorists belonging to the Punjab province increased the frequency of attacks on security forces. The army headquarters and ISI offices in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Faisalabad came under the attack. The army officials were targeted while the police training centres and FIA were also attacked.
Under the aegis of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Samiul Haq, Munawar Hasan, Hameed Gul, etc. the Defence of Pakistan Council and Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman’s Defence of Pakistan Campaign have in fact provided lifeline to the forces fighting the State machinery.
As a result, it appears Hakimullah Mehsood of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is more powerful than the Governor of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and the Corps Commander of Peshawar. The Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and other officials have taken refuge to save themselves from wrath of Hakeemullah and his companions.
Rumours are rife that several provincial government officials pay hefty protection money to Hakeemullah. He has exihibited his power in Peshawar several times.
Rift among various TTP factions is also vanishing fast and it is a bad omen for the State machinery. The local Peace Lashkars have failed to face the rising power of the Taliban. The henchmen of Mangal Baagh are slaughtering the deserters day in and day out and headless bodies being found in the periphery of Peshawar as a routine matter. Mangal Bagh used to be the recipient of the biggest financial assistance of the State but now he has become a pain in the neck.
Another hardened group associated with the al-Qaeda and Taliban and hard to ignore is the one carrying out its activities in Balochistan, Karachi, Kurram Agency and Northern Areas for the ethnic cleansing of Shia. This group comprises warriors from the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhmmad, who enjoy support from high officials of the Punjab government. Jundullah facilitates this group in Balochistan while it enjoys the support of Punjabi Taliban in Northern Areas. This group is targeting the Shia community with utmost ease. This group attacks the convoys of buses with Shia pilgrims leaving from Quetta for Iraq, Iran and Syria via Zahdan-Taftan Road.
The Federal and provincial governments assign security with these convoys. But the group attacks these convoys when the security cordon ends from Mansehra to Gilgit and Skardu.
There have been attacks on Shia community in Northern Area. Tehreek-e-Taliban has issued at least ten decrees for the killing of Shias and declaring it Islamic to enslave their women and children.
The central leadership of these groups is based in various cities of Punjab. The Punjab based leadership of these groups issues directives for such terrorist activities and the attackers are provided shelter in the Madarassas in south Punjab.
Last year when the Federal government ordered the provincial government to arrest the activists of Tehreek-e-Taliban hiding in specific religious Madarassas of Dera Ghazi Khn, Multan, Bahawalpur, Layyiah, Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh then the provincial Law Minister refused.
Meantime, the South Asia Free Media Association’s offices in Lahore and Islamabad have received threats and the pamphlets and posters declaring the journalists working for the organization as infidel are also being published and disseminated.
The writer is an investigative journalist, his recent book Punjabi Taliban has been published by Pentagon publishers India. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org