Category Archives: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Times Square bomb plot: Pakistani Army major arrested

A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.

By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad

Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.

A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.

He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.

Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.

Read more » The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/7772507/Times-Square-bomb-plot-Pakistani-Army-major-arrested.html

At the mercy of men of straw

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Except; … What a contrast with our mighty men of straw moving about in their gleaming motorcades, bullet-proof vehicles, hundreds of men for their protection, yet consumed by fear, fear sitting in their hearts, and therefore seeking endless excuses for their irresolution.

The Taliban are in no doubt. They have virtually declared war against Pakistan, its army and its people. What does it take to see that their aim is not the emirate of Waziristan, or even drawing a line at the Indus but something higher, the whole of Pakistan? Yet far from being goaded into action, the men of straw in command of the republic’s destiny seek endless excuses for not doing anything. Hamlet’s “to be or not to be…” would seem a model of decision compared to their indecision.

The enemy is not at the gates; he is within. And while the Taliban make an art of the hidden roadside bomb, their deadliest weapon as it was of the insurgency in Iraq, the governing class hailing from Punjab – along with that other gift to clarity, Imran Khan – continues to weave bandishes (variations) on the raga of talks.

The Taliban kill a general of the Pakistan Army – Maj Gen Sanaullah – and our men of straw are for talks. A Peshawar church is bombed and they are for talks. Imran’s party men are killed in KP and he is for talks. Pakistan’s toughest cop, Chaudhry Aslam, is killed and the talks mantra does not change. In Hangu young Aitizaz sets an example for the entire country to follow but his sacrifice is in vain because those who should take heed remain men of straw.

So what should we do? God knows this is not a country of Athenian or Spartan warriors. But whatever bit of pluck and daring there may be, it is being held in check – nay, dissipated – by the ruling lot a blind Providence has been pleased to place upon the people of this country. Of what avail another Chaudhry Aslam, another Aitizaz, when the nation’s caravan is led by such heroes?

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-226460-At-the-mercy-of-men-of-straw

Saving lives: A teenager’s sacrifice for hundreds of mothers

HANGU: Perhaps the only way a parent can deal with the loss of a child is to believe that it was for a cause. This is how Aitizaz Hasan’s parents console themselves: reminding each other, their family and friends that their child is a martyr and he died saving hundreds of lives.

Aitizaz reached school late on Monday morning and was not allowed to attend the morning assembly as punishment. He was standing outside the gate with two other schoolmates when a man aged 20-25 years approached the Government High School Ibrahimzai in Hangu and said he was there to take admission, said Aitizaz’s elder brother, Mujtaba.

It was during this conversation that one of the students spotted a detonator and Aitizaz’s schoolmates ran inside. But Aitizaz stood his ground and got hold of the bomber who then detonated his vest.

“I had never thought that my brother would die such a great death. He sacrificed his life to save humanity,” Mujtaba said in an interview with The Express Tribune on Wednesday.

The school is the only one in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated area in Hangu. There were nearly 2,000 students in the school at the time the attack occurred. Later in the day, the bombing, which was the first suicide attack at a school, was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Aitizaz was the second of his siblings and had two sisters. He was a friend to many, respected and loved in his village, where the news of his death spread rapidly.

His father Mujahid Ali works in the UAE. He says he has not come back home to mourn his son’s death, but to celebrate his life. “My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/656766/saving-lives-a-teenagers-sacrifice-for-hundreds-of-mothers/#.Us5vJH2uHjA.facebook

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Latent radicals

Nadeem F ParachaBy Nadeem F. Paracha

In his detailed history of 20th century terrorism Blood and Rage, author Michael Burleigh, while writing about left-wing terrorist groups in Germany that sprang up in the late 1960s/early 1970s, suggests that the young, urban middle-class men and women who were part of these groups were suffering from a guilty conscience.

They were the children of parents who had lived in Hitler’s Germany, during his racist, violent regime, as supporters or silent observers. However, when their children entered their late teens and early 20s in the 1960s, they felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and awkwardness after realising how their parents had remained silent as Hitler went about constructing his fascist dystopia based on megalomaniacal delusions about racial superiority and mythical glory.

As a response to this guilt, many children of otherwise docile and orderly middle-class Germans plunged into radical political action, like restless teens consciously indulging in ideas and acts that they knew would offend and disturb their parents.

By the 1960s however, (West) Germany had begun to retreat and rebound from its Nazi past and had become a strong democracy, a robust economy and an ally of its former enemies, the United States and Britain.

So when left-wing German radicals began targeting German politicians, businesses and some US military and business interests, Burleigh is of the view that they were trying to overcome their guilt of being the offspring of parents whom they had suspected of supporting fascism and Nazism.

This is an intriguing theory and an interesting way to look at and understand left-wing terrorism and radicalism that emerged in Germany and Italy in the 1960s/’70s. Both the countries had witnessed fascist dictatorships in the 1930s and 1940s.

This theory can also be applied to the present-day dynamics of activists associated with parties like Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) and its closet ally, the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

The activistic ranks of both the parties are studded with urban middle and some lower-middle class young men and women who have recently been at the forefront of whipping up anti-West/anti-US sentiments in the country and are quick to explain everything — from Islamist terrorism to political corruption — as consequences of ‘American imperialism’ and hegemony in the region.

One can safely assume that these activists are the children of parents who sided with those regimes and parties in Pakistan that (during the Cold War) were vehemently anti-left and had taken pro-US stances in America’s Cold War tussle with the former Soviet Union.

Jamaat-i-Islami, (JI’s) links with the US during the Cold War have never been a secret. But till the 1980s when young JI activists were known to actually attack anti-US rallies held by leftist groups, today the children of these activists are perhaps the most enthusiastic anti-US radicals and the most likely to set fire to a US flag.

Continue reading Latent radicals

Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

By Mubashir Zaidi

The latest statement from the military blasting chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami Munawar Hasan for undermining the sacrifices made by the soldiers fighting terrorists has shocked many in the capital. The JI traditionally, has been the mouthpiece for the military during the 1980s Afghan jihad and fighting in Kashmir. It’s also established that the army had used the Jamaat’s street power to put democratic governments under pressure through controlled or sometimes out of control protests. It is also believed that there is a huge following of JI in the armed forces. Even the arrests of Al Qaeda leaders, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the residences of JI activists has not affected the military-JI relations in the past.

So, is it a signalling of sorts that the military is trying to portray itself as a national army now as compared to its earlier image of an ideological force whose notion of jihad is similar to Jamaat-i-Islami?

But what prompted this strong reaction by the military needs to be examined. Even pragmatic military rulers like Pervez Musharraf had to seek help from the JI to prolong his tenure. Then why is it that the Jamaat and the military are finding themselves at the crossroads today?

The issue of missing persons that began in 2006 started the rift between the traditional partners when JI followers that included lawyers approached the courts for the release of what they claimed were innocent civilians who were arrested by military intelligence agencies on the allegations of supporting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The courts took up the cases and started questioning the role of the military behind these forced disappearances. JI-backed lawyers were pressurised by the military to drop these cases and to stop pursuing the matter. But the cases continued, despite the fact that they did not reach their logical conclusions.

Continue reading Pakistan – Is the mullah-military nexus crumbling?

Jamaat-i-Islami terms Hakeemullah a ‘martyr’

MANSEHRA: Jamaat-i-Islami, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has declared Hakeemullah Mehsud and his associates killed in the recent drone strike as martyrs and demanded of the federal government to end its strategic alliance with America.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1053985

The $120,000 farmhouse where the TTP chief was killed

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: With marble floors, lush green lawns and a towering minaret, the $120,000 farm where feared Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike was no grubby mountain cave.

Mehsud spent his days skipping around Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas to avoid the attentions of US drones.

But his family, including two wives, had the use of an eight-roomed farmhouse set amid lawns and orchards growing apples, oranges, grapes and pomegranates.

As well as the single-storey house, the compound in Dandey Darpakhel village, five kilometres north of Miramshah, was adorned with a tall minaret, purely for decorative purposes.

Militant sources said the property in the North Waziristan tribal area was bought for Mehsud nearly a year ago for $120,000, a huge sum by Pakistani standards, by close aide Latif Mehsud, who was captured by the US in Afghanistan last month.

An AFP journalist visited the property several times when the previous owner, a wealthy landlord, lived there.

With the Pakistan army headquarters for restive North Waziristan just a kilometre away, locals thought of Mehsud’s compound as the “safest” place in a dangerous area.

Its proximity to a major military base recalls the hideout of Osama bin Laden in the town of Abbottabad, on the doorstep of Pakistan’s elite military academy.

“I saw a convoy of vehicles two or three times in this street but I never thought Hakimullah would have been living here. It was the safest place for us before this strike,” local shopkeeper Akhter Khan told AFP.

This illusion of safety was shattered on Friday when a US drone fired at least two missiles at Mehsud’s vehicle as it stood at the compound gate waiting to enter, killing the Pakistani Taliban chief and four cadres.

The area around Dandey Darpakhel is known as a hub for the Haqqani network, a militant faction blamed for some of the most high-profile attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1054033

Wrongful Mourning

By Saroop Ijaz, The Express Tribune
…  friendship with America is only one of the two reasons we have to conduct jihad against Pakistan. The other reason is that Pakistan’s system is un-Islamic, and we want that it should be replaced with the Islamic system. This demand and this desire will continue even after the American withdrawal.”
These were the words of now deceased Hakimullah Mehsud in an interview given to BBC last month. It is solemn to recall his words. The late Mr Mehsud, as one feels one must address him, after listening to the respectful mourning tones, of almost teary-eyed analysts, politicians, anchorpersons in the aftermath of his demise, was in it for the long haul. He was not so fickle as to be convinced of laying down weapons and becoming a peace-loving, anti-drone activist after some chat. He was not a lost soul with a misplaced sense of fighting imperialism. Nothing as quaint as that, he had ideological motivations and objectives (which incidentally are also imperialist if taken to their logical extremes) and was prepared to kill in large numbers for them.The system of Islamic Republic of Pakistan is quite Islamic; however, it was not good enough for Mr Mehsud. Neither was democracy. He never really explained his system. However, he was clearly upset with the present one. Upset enough to kill thousands of civilians and military and police officers. That fact needs to be repeated; he was responsible and proud of the fact that he had been instrumental in killing thousands of our men, women and children. The fact bears repetition since watching the analysis on display immediately after his death, one could almost miss it. Drone attacks are illegal and a breach of sovereignty, etc. The case against them can and should be made independently. The day the leader of the organisation responsible for the most killings that this country has seen is killed is not the day to do it. This is when you, at the very least, say that your thoughts are with the martyrs and their families. Yet, the only martyr visible was apparently Mr Mehsud, and that is noxious. He was a criminal, who had admitted to mass murder.

Continue reading Wrongful Mourning

Drone kills TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud: intelligence officials

PESHAWAR: Hakimullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan tribal agency on Friday, intelligence officials said.

Pakistani intelligence officials have reported to their higher-ups that the Pakistani Taliban supremo was leaving from a meeting at a mosque Dande Darpakhel area of North Waziristan when the drone targeted their vehicle.

Five militants, including Abdullah Bahar Mehsud and Tariq Mehsud, both key militant commanders and close aides of the TTP chief, were also killed in the drone strike, multiple sources confirmed.

There was no confirmation from the Pakistani government or the Taliban yet of the deaths.

Dande Darpakhel area is located five kilometres (three miles) north of Miramshah, the main town of the North Waziristan tribal region, said to be a stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban.

The strike came a day after three insurgents were killed in another drone attack that also targeted a rebel compound near Miramshah. The US unmanned plane was still flying in the area after the attack.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said they were getting reports of the drone strike in North Waziristan agency. Condemning the strikes, he said these were aimed to sabotage efforts for establishing peace in the country.

“A delegation was about to be sent to talk to Taliban tomorrow (Saturday),” said the minister hinting that a “senior militant commander” may have been killed in today’s strike.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid earlier today said they have had “no contact” with the government, a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said a process to initiate peace talks had been started.

The incident comes a week after Sharif urged US President Barack Obama to stop drone strikes during a meeting in Washington.

The Pakistani defence ministry Wednesday said 317 US drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas had killed 67 civilians and 2,160 militants in Pakistan since 2008.

US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty. But privately officials have been reported as saying the attacks can be useful in removing militants from the country.

This is a developing story and will be updated as reports come in

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1053410

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Taliban leader ‘killed in strike’

Hakimullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban, has been killed in a drone strike, security sources told Reuters.

The head of the Pakistani Tailban, Hakimullah Meshud, was among four people killed in a US drone strike in the North Waziristan region today, security sources have said.

Read more » ITv

Source – http://www.itv.com/news/story/2013-11-01/head-of-pakistan-taliban-killed-in-drone-strike/

Time to change course

By Najam Sethi

Excerpt: … General Kayani’s reputation as a premier “thinking” general cannot be denied. By the same token, however, he must bear the burden of his misguided strategic theories that have brought Pakistan to an “existential” crisis (his own words) in the last five years. The “good Afghan Taliban, bad Pakistani Taliban” theory that has underpinned the army’s Af-Pak strategy has come a cropper because all forms and shades of Taliban and Al-Qaeda are one criminal network and the quest for a “stable and Pakistan-friendly” Afghanistan has foundered on the rock of big power dynamics.

It has been argued that General Kayani supported the cause of democracy by not imposing martial law when the chips were down for the PPP government. But the truth is that a fiercely independent media, aggressive judiciary and popular PMLN would have revolted against any martial law. The international community would not have supported it. And General Kayani’s own rank and file would have frowned upon it.

Under the circumstances, we hope the next COAS will change course and help the elected civilian leaders make national security policy to salvage our country.

– See more at: http://www.najamsethi.com/time-to-change-course/#sthash.5kCkjdPc.8J2Km32a.dpuf

Another bloodbath in Pakistan in the name of religion – 100 casualties after jihadi terrorist strike

Market bombing kill 33 in Pakistan’s Peshawar: police

By Hamid Ullah Khan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: (Reuters) – Twin blasts in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar killed 33 people and wounded 70 on Sunday, a week after bombings at a church there killed scores, police and hospital authorities said.

Read more » Reuter
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/29/us-pakistan-bomb-blast-idUSBRE98S02420130929

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Upper Dir: TTP claim responsibility for killing 3 army officers

PESHAWAR: Roadside bomb attacks and a Taliban ambush on Sunday killed seven soldiers or policemen including two senior army officers in Pakistan’s troubled northwest, the military said.

The banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility for the Upper Dir blast.

A major general and a lieutenant colonel were visiting troop positions in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, along the Afghan border, when their vehicle hit a bomb which killed them and a private soldier.

“Maj Gen Sanaullah and Lt Col Touseef embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) this morning. They were returning after visiting troop posts on Pak-Afghan Border,” the military said in a statement.

It said the roadside bomb near the border had also killed Lance Naik Irfan, and injured two other soldiers.

Separately, two roadside bomb attacks in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan, killed two soldiers on Sunday and wounded four others, security officials said.

In the neighbouring district of Bannu Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of tribal police early Sunday, killing two of them and wounding four others, the officials said.

Pakistan says more than 40,000 people have died in bomb and suicide attacks by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-led militants who oppose Islamabad’s US alliance.

The Pakistani Taliban, responding to a government offer of talks to end their revolt, on Sunday announced preconditions – a troop withdrawal from tribal areas and the release of jailed insurgents.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/604596/3-army-officers-killed-2-injured-in-upper-dir-ied-blast/#.UjXMisaKa8Y.facebook

The invisible partition of Sindh

By Tahir Mehdi

Are all Pathans stupid? It can’t be. Then why are they normally the butt of every other joke? Is there something sinister behind this stereotyping? Since most of these jokes are community creations, I would rather not look for a ‘well-hatched’ conspiracy theory.

But then why are Pathans portrayed the way they are? I recalled all the Pathans that I have ever interacted with, one by one, from my college days, from my professional life, from my neighborhood, my social circles, Facebook friends. The identification parade told me that some of them did live up to the stereotype, but there is no indication of an abnormally high tendency for joke-worthiness among Pathans.

All communities carry all colors and characteristics, and it is the competing and conflicting interests of various communities that make them exaggerate and twist some of those. I have used this formulation to explain away all the community stereotypes that we frequently encounter. While I still may not mind laughing at a Pathan joke, this explanation helps me guard against letting this fun convert into a discriminatory attitude. But let me admit, that I have struggled with the stereotype of a Sindhi far longer. Are Sindhis docile, smug and the least entrepreneurial people? Most of my friends think so. One joked that if a Sindhi has to go to even the railway station in his hometown, he falls homesick and immediately starts calling himself a pardesi! This proved to be a tough test for my formula to fight off such stereotypes.

I decided to hold an identification parade for all the Sindhis that I had ever interacted with – my college fellows, colleagues, neighbours, friends and all. That’s when I realised all the Sindhis I knew could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Had I not attended a college that had a quota for students from all provinces and areas of Pakistan, I am sure I would have befriended none. I then decided to look into the statistics.

Continue reading The invisible partition of Sindh

When the mountains were red

By Nadeem F. Paracha

Many Pakistani Pushtuns find themselves in a spot of bother when some political commentators and analysts define extremist organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as an extension and expression of Pushtun nationalism.

Though religion has always played a central role in the make-up of Pushtun identity, Pushtun nationalism (especially in the 20th century) was always a more secular and left-leaning phenomenon. It still is.

This nationalism’s modern manifestation was founded on the thoughts and actions of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Bacha Khan) and expressed through such left-wing parties as National Awami Party (NAP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

However, for nearly three decades now, or ever since the beginning of the US/Pakistan/Saudi-backed ‘jihad’ against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pushtun identity (at least in popular imagination) has been gradually mutating into becoming to mean something that is akin to being aggressive, fanatical and entirely religious.

Yet, till 2008 the county’s Pushtuns were enthusiastically voting for secular Pushtun nationalist parties like the ANP, and till even this day, there are a number of Pushtuns who are openly canvasing to eradicate not only religious violence and extremism from the Pushtun-dominated province of Khyber-Puskhtunkhwa (KPK), but also busy working towards debunking the belief that Pushtuns are by nature fanatical, driven by revenge and radically ‘Islamist’ in orientation.

Such Pushtuns point out the unique Pushtun-centric secularism of men like Bacha Khan and how left-wing parties like NAP were once KPK’s most popular exponents of electoral politics.

They blame the Pakistani ‘establishment’ for corrupting the notion of Pushtun nationalism by radicalising large portions of the Pushtuns through radical religious indoctrination and the Saudi ‘Petro Dollar.’

The idea was to neutralise Pushtun nationalism that had been the leading player in NAP, a party that also included Baloch and Sindhi nationalists, and was suspiciously eyed (by the establishment) to have had separatist and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

In the last decade or so – especially ever since extremist violence gripped the country, and with the KPK and the tribal areas that surround the province becoming the epicentre of this violence – various Pushtun parties, groups and individuals have been aggressively using political, social and cultural platforms to challenge the perception that religious extremism found in certain Pushtun-dominated militant outfits have anything to do with Pushtun culture or nationalism.

But so far it has been an uphill task and unfortunately the word Pushtun continues to trigger images of bushy, violent fanatics exploding themselves up in markets and mosques or beheading ‘infidels’ in the hills and mountains of KPK and the tribal areas.

Continue reading When the mountains were red

A man with nerves of steel

By Sadia Qasim Shah

PESHAWAR: Five years full of nerve-testing situations, tight security barriers, chilling death threats, social isolation (as others considered him a security threat to themselves) and apparently even the cold-blooded killing of his only young son seem not to have broken the spirits of the 55-year-old Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson of the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which had opposed the terrorists and successfully rescued the Swat Valley from falling into their hands.

“One should never lose hope,” says Mr Hussain in an exclusive interview with Dawn, with his typical serene smile and composed demeanour, showing no sign of bitterness even after losing his seat in May 11 general elections.

Mr Hussain doesn’t show he is a broken man, though he is going to observe third anniversary of his sole son who was targeted by the Taliban.

The man who as a spokesperson of ANP government emerged as a bold voice against the terrorist conglomerate called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spent sleepless nights finding a way to express his innermost thoughts and agony after his only son Mian Rashid Hussain, only 26, was killed by Taliban to teach Mian Sahib a lesson.

Continue reading A man with nerves of steel

Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html

Taliban asked to join hands with fellow countrymen

By: Daily Dawn report

KARACHI: In what appears to be a major policy shift, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has invited the Taliban to join hands with their fellow countrymen, instead of disassociating themselves from Pakistan.

“I ask the Taliban leaders that this country came into being as a result of great sacrifices. Come and join Pakistanis…do not disassociate yourselves from Pakistan,” he said in a telephonic address at the 27th foundation day of the MQM on Friday.

The day was celebrated across Pakistan and Mr Hussain’s address was simultaneously relayed to 34 places in the country. Carrying MQM’s tri-coloured flags and portraits of Mr Hussain, a large number of people attended the main rally at Karachi’s Jinnah Ground.

Condemning the United States for drone attacks in tribal areas, Mr Hussain said that the US was violating Pakistan’s sovereignty and killing innocent people, adding that drone attacks were being carried out in clear violation of the UN charter.

He assured the government and the armed forces that every Pakistani would support them if they took ‘meaningful steps’ with courage and bravery to stop drone strikes and part ways with the carrot-and-stick game of superpowers.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://beta.dawn.com/news/614195/taliban-asked-to-join-hands-with-fellow-countrymen

After owning the deadly bomb blast in Quetta, Taliban (TTP) welcomes Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks

TTP welcomes Nawaz’s call for peace talks

By Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: Nawaz Sharif’s call for peace talks made to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was welcomed by the proscribed militant organisation on Thursday.

Talking to Dawn.com from an undisclosed area, TTP spokespersons Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the offer for peace talks made by Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif was a positive sign and that the militant organisation was devising a strategy over the course of action to be taken in response to the peace talk offers.

Moreover Ehsan also claimed that the banned oganisation was responsible for the bomb attack in Quetta today and said that the attack was carried out in retaliation to the killing in Balochistan of their activists from Malakand region.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://beta.dawn.com/news/1013236/ttp-welcomes-nawazs-call-for-peace-talks

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Three Reasons Not to Talk to the Pakistani Taliban

By Michael Kugelman

In recent days, the PML-N and PTI have announced their readiness to talk to the TTP.

What a shame.

In effect, these two parties — one soon to govern Pakistan, the other to govern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa — are saying they’re willing to hunker down with monsters who shoot schoolgirls at point-blank range, gun down health workers in Pakistan’s sickest regions, and brandish severed heads, by the hair and with gusto, as the cameras roll.

It’s actually not the idea of talking to savages that I find objectionable. After all, history is rife with examples of governments negotiating with sadistic forces. In some cases—think the Irish Republican Army and Colombia’s FARC rebels—these efforts have actually been quite successful, and resulted in peaceful outcomes.

What bothers me (as an outsider, admittedly) is the fact that talking to the Pakistani Taliban simply doesn’t make sense, and for three simple reasons.

First, the TTP has repeatedly reneged on previous peace deals. In 2009, following several years’ worth of alleged agreements with the state, the TTP did not lay down itsarms. Instead it lay claim to Swat—and instituted a reign of terror. If another olive branch is officially extended to KP-based Taliban forces, expect an emboldened TTP to regroup before establishingnew areas of violently enforced authority that ban girls from going to school and stifle free expression — including the social media that helped fuel the PTI’s rise. This scenario would not only be gloomy, but alsoironic—given that the PTI’s message of change has targeted, in part, educated, tech-savvy urbanites, including many women.

Second, the TTP wants to demolish Pakistan’s political system; it often articulates its fervent desire to destroy “anti-Islamic” democracy.While much has been made of the TTP’s campaign of election-related violence against Pakistan’s secular political parties, spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan has also insinuated that all participants in the democratic system are fair game — including, presumably, the PTI and PML-N. “We are not expecting any good from the other parties either, who are supporters of the same system, but why they are not targeted is our own prerogative to decide,” he explained ominously to Dawn.com several weeks back.

The third reason why it makes little sense to talk to the TTP is that the government doesn’t operate from a position of strength. Experts often say it’s best to negotiate when your interlocutor is on the defensive. The TTP, however, is very much on the offensive. Its highly organised, and wholly uncontested, assault on political parties this election season came on the heels of a relentless rash of attacks in KP that had analysts speaking of the “potential loss” of Peshawar to the TTP. By agreeing to talk now, you’re effectively surrendering — or at the very least, acknowledging your fundamental vulnerability.

Stop being hypocritical, you might say. The US government supports dialogue with the Afghan Taliban, so why lambast Pakistan’s willingness to talk to the TTP?

This may sound like a reasonable rebuttal — but it’s not. Some members of the Afghan Taliban, unlike those of the TTP, have expressed a willingness to participate in a future democratic Afghan government (already, in fact,some Afghan government officials are former Taliban fighters). The Afghan Taliban appears open to operating within the existing political system, and not necessarily intent on obliterating it. It also has no legacy of reneging on peace agreements (though to be fair, it’s never concluded one).

Continue reading Three Reasons Not to Talk to the Pakistani Taliban

Afghanistan and our future

By Shafqat Mahmood

The Taliban are crumbling faster than cardboard shanties in the path of a storm. Promises of fierce ground battles, that churned the blood of many a chest thumper in Pakistan, are now drifting helplessly in the dust laden Afghan wind. It is not over yet, not by a long shot, but what remains is a mopping up operation. Scattered over rural Afghanistan, the Taliban residue and their foreign volunteers will be picked off slowly but surely.

It is sad in a way although I have no love for the Taliban or what they stood for. Much of this could have been avoided if they were less cocky or more rational or more ready to be a part of the world. If they were all these things, though, they would not be Taliban. People who are ready to blow up ancient Buddhist statutes because they are idols or whip women because their ankles are showing or force every man to keep a six-inch long beard, do not live in the same world as you and I.

A particularly poignant moment for me as Kabul fell, was the playing of music from a truck mounted loudspeaker. If the ordinary and trivial becomes special and significant, there is something terribly wrong with the world. And there was a lot wrong with the Taliban’s world. The image of young Afghans queuing up to get their beards trimmed makes this point more eloquently than a thousand or a million words.

The liberators of Kabul are not the Dad’s Army either. Within their ranks are some of the most blood thirsty tyrants ever encountered in the tragic Afghan history. Yet it is a sign of the times that many ordinary Afghans let out a collective sigh of relief when the Taliban departed. So let no one mourn the Taliban. They are not synonymous with the Afghans. They were freaks of history and will hopefully be consigned to that special place where other such oddities are kept.

Continue reading Afghanistan and our future

Ominous signs

By I.A Rehman

THE day after tomorrow the people of Pakistan are likely to learn once again, among other things, the futility of efforts to establish a democratic order without efficient, democratic party apparatuses.

The party that is to suffer the most for lacking an effective party machine is the PPP. Its capacity to avoid learning from past debacles, that were caused or at least accentuated by the non-availability of dedicated party workers, is truly phenomenal. It used to discount the role of an organised party structure by describing itself as a movement. It can no longer claim that title because no charismatic leader is visible to whom the masses can swear allegiance.

In fact, fully evident are the disastrous consequences of destroying party activists by allotting them sinecures in government or allowing them the privilege of chaperoning ministers or being photographed with them. That is why bets are being offered on the size of its losses instead of the chances of its success.

Even the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), that is currently riding high on a wave of popularity, may rue its lack of seasoned party workers in sufficient numbers. The young men and women who have just joined the party are no doubt full of enthusiasm but they need time to establish their credentials within their communities.

The party looks set to make a handsome haul of seats on polling day but its tally could be bigger if the space between the leader and the voters had a larger and more distinguished and active population.

Among the parties that are expected to do better than before the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) attracts attention. Its workers are constantly in touch with the electorate thanks to its strong following among prayer leaders at mosques and madressah teachers and controllers. However, the party may face some difficulty as a result of its cadres’ change of roles from khuddam-ud-din to armed extremists, and the streak of arrogance the party leader’s fatwa business betrays.

The party that can do with a narrow cadre base is, of course, the PML-N, because it represents the interests of the class that has been wallowing in riches since the days when Ziaul Haq boosted Punjab’s economy with huge financial transfers.

Moreover, the party can attract travellers from one platform to another because it offers security from militants as well as the privilege of closeness to the custodians of Nazariya-i-Pakistan and certified patriots. Still, it has reason to be wary of the challenge from the PTI.

Far more important than the fate of political parties in the election is the question as to what lies ahead for the country and its luckless people. Chances are that whoever the winners on Saturday may be democracy is unlikely to be amongst them After making allowances for the challenges electoral arithmetic presents, one may say that the provinces look set to go their different ways. It might be difficult to deny the PML-N a majority in the Punjab Assembly but elsewhere we may see strange experiments in coalition-making.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa we may have a coalition between the PPP, the JUI-F and the Awami National Party or a JUI-F–PML-N coalition, assuming that the PTI remains true to its decision against joining any alliance. Balochistan may have a choice between an alliance of the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal or one between the JUI-F, the PML-N and the Pakhthunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP).

The latter arrangement, or any other combination that leaves the Baloch nationalists or the PkMAP or both out, will be born with a hole in its heart. Sindh’s future will depend on the extent of the damage the PML-N and the 10-party alliance in Sindh can cause to the PPP and the harm the PML-N and religious parties can do to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in urban Sindh. If the losses to the two parties are bearable, a PPP-MQM coalition may come on top. If the PML-N and the 10-party alliance finally get a majority, stability may elude Sindh for quite some time.

As regards the centre, democratic opinion will be satisfied if any party gets a majority of the seats or comes close to that mark. One does not know whether the establishment will let the front-running PML-N have that honour and to what extent Imran Khan will be able to realise his dream of making a clean sweep, but in any case the state is likely to tilt further towards a theocratic dispensation.

This will be due partly to the outgoing government’s failure to sustain the people’s trust in a left-of-centre platform and partly to a campaign by some judicial authorities and the babus of the Election Commission of Pakistan to foster religiosity.

The implications of this shift are going to cause serious problems, at least in the short run. The pressure for making up with the militant extremists, on their terms, will increase and they will increase their pressure for helping the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, for delaying the process of normalisation with India, and for moving further away from the US. The zealots in the legislature, the judiciary and the media will be emboldened to pursue Zia’s agenda to establish a religious oligarchy.

Continue reading Ominous signs

Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

By

PESHAWAR: A decisive operation has been launched against militants in the Tirah valley of Bara by Special Services Groups (SSG) forces along with regular troops, during which at least 23 troops have been killed along with local lashkar men.

Scores of militants have also been killed in the offensive during the last three days.

Official sources confirmed to Dawn.com that several soldiers, including SSG commandos, have been killed in the battle for Tirah valley on Saturday, around 30 militants have also been confirmed dead along with scores of others injured.

On late Sunday evening, a clash took place between security forces and militants in Akka Khel area of Bara tehsil. Ten militants were killed in the fighting, official sources said.

Sources said that SSG commandos along with regular army troops and Frontier Corps are battling to root out the last pockets of resistance in the Tirah valley especially on the border of Orakzai Agency.

The landlocked area is reported to be a bastion of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign militants.

The offensive has entered a crucial phase, after softening of targets by gunships and jet fighters.

Ground troops along with local volunteers have been mobilised to clear the area.

Security experts had already hinted at a decisive strike in the Tirah valley as the TTP and Lashkar-i-Islam had started consolidating their positions in the valley.

The two groups pose a serious threat to the settled areas especially Peshawar.

The FC media cell had confirmed on Friday that four soldiers were killed and over 14 militants had died in the clashes which have been continuing since then.

Sources have confirmed to Dawn.com that one dead body of an SSG commando and six injured SSG soldiers along with eight other solders were shifted to the CMH Peshawar on Saturday.

Continue reading Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

537 killed in 54 bomb blasts across Pakistan during Jan-March

ISLAMABAD, March 31 (Xinhua) — At least 537 people were killed and 1,103 others got injured in 54 bomb blasts including 11 attacks of suicide nature that ripped through different areas of Pakistan during the first quarter of the current year 2013, according to official figures.

Terrorist have conducted 11 suicide attacks during the first three months of the current year, one in January, four in February and six in March, that killed 319 people besides injuring 466 others.

The Friday’s suicide attack at the security forces was the latest one that killed at least 12 people and left 10 others injured in the country’s northwestern metropolitan city of Peshawar.

According to police officials, the incident took place when a suicide bomber exploded his explosives laden jacket near the convoy of Frontier Constabulary (FC) led by a commander, killing 12 people including two security personnel.

During the month of March, totally 27 attacks including six of suicide nature were conducted by the militants at different targets that killed 185 persons besides leaving 404 others wounded.

The month of February embraced 11 explosions that killed 153 and injured 319 others while in month of January, 16 blasts took place that caused 199 causalities and left 380 others hurt.

Continue reading 537 killed in 54 bomb blasts across Pakistan during Jan-March

Pakistani Soldier stoned to death in Kurram for alleged love affair: report

By: AFP

PESHAWAR: A soldier has been stoned to death in Pakistan’s restive tribal northwest over allegations of an affair with a teenage girl, officials told AFP on Wednesday.

A tribal council in the town of Parachinar, close to the Afghan border in Kurram district, ordered the sentence on Anwar-ud Din, who was about 25 years old, for having “illicit relations” with a local girl.

“There were some 40 to 50 people who hit the man with stones till he bled to death,” a local tribesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Relations between men and women without family approval are considered immoral by many in Pakistan, particularly in the deeply conservative northwestern tribal areas, where Taliban and Al Qaeda linked militants have strongholds.

Hundreds are killed around the country each year in the name of defending family “honour”, but stonings are extremely rare.

Din was accused of having an affair with an 18-year-old girl and meeting her secretly, but both were caught on Sunday in a graveyard, the tribesman told AFP.

The soldier admitted he had met the girl three or more times before and the punishment was carried out on Tuesday in the graveyard where the pair were discovered, the tribesman said, adding that the body was later taken to hospital.

Local government and security officials confirmed the incident, but declined to comment.

The fate of the girl remains unclear, but there were rumours in the area that she may also have been executed, although she denied the affair, the tribesman said.

A hospital official confirmed that they had received a mutilated body on Tuesday, which was later taken away by paramilitary forces.

“It was really a horrific sight. The body had been badly damaged after being hit by stones. Wounds all over and the face could no longer be recognised,” the official said.

Continue reading Pakistani Soldier stoned to death in Kurram for alleged love affair: report

TTP talks: Legitimising terror

By: Saher Baloch

The annual report of Human Rights Watch (2013) on Pakistan reads exactly the same as the ones published before it. Only the brutality of those involved in the killings and the apathy of those observing has increased tenfold. Apart from that, the report has nothing ‘positive’ to report from Pakistan.

The reason why there is nothing ‘positive’ in the report reflects the fact that our state continues to move backwards, learning nothing from past mistakes.

If learning was the case, the recent offer of talks by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have single-handedly ruined thousands of lives in Pakistan, would have been refused by the state immediately.

As it is, we are already in a state of war with the Taliban, who continue to attack children, students, teachers, journalists, minorities, and any one who does not accept or follow their brand of Islam.

To be precise, it is progression and a progressive mindset that the Taliban and likeminded groups are against. I felt it necessary to spell it out because it is important to understand, that militants are against each one of us, including every ideology or sect that they feel threatened from.

In 2012, militants killed around 325 people from the Shia sect, shot a student Malala Yousafzai, apart from torching over a hundred schools in different areas of Pakistan. This is not all, as there are countless other incidents where shrines have been attacked, apart from the ruthless targeting of the Pakistani police. Verve and confidence are not lacking in these people at all, as after every attack that destroys a home, a family or a school, the militants have openly taken responsibility for their actions.

Continue reading TTP talks: Legitimising terror

‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Our Little Worlds

By Saroop Ijaz

In a recent appallingly bad Hollywood movie, Pakistanis are shown conversing in Arabic, you know, because that is what ‘brown Muslim’ people speak. Rudyard Kipling, whose death anniversary passed a few days ago, has certainly not been forgotten. The movie is thoroughly unwatchable for multiple reasons. Yet, it does show the liberties that people will take with societies that they do not know or do not care enough to know. The film-makers did not need in depth research on the ground to know that Arabic is not the language of everyday chit-chat in Pakistan or Abbottabad is not exactly a 45-minute drive from Islamabad. (Although, on the language question, watching people dressed in Arab clothing and riding on camels on January 25, the particularly gullible can perhaps be cut some slack.) Basic Google search would have unravelled the mystery. Also, it shows that there are not many Pakistanis working in Hollywood. It is patronising and insulting when people make grossly inaccurate, generalised observations about us. Yet, it does not stop us from doing the same.

Continue reading ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

Militant clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32

By: Zahir Shah Sherazi

PESHAWAR: An intense gun-battle erupted between two banned militant groups in Khyber Agency’s Tirah Valley on Friday, with at least 32 militants so far killed in the clash.

Intelligence officials said the gun-battle started late Thursday between the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and rival group Ansarul Islam (AI) in Tirah Valley’s Maidan village. The dead included 23 Ansar fighters and nine TTP militants, while several others were also injured.

Officials said the death toll was likely to increase as the fighting had not yet ended.

Speaking to a Dawn.com reporter, Sadat Afridi, a spokesman for the banned Ansarul Islam group, claimed that they had captured over three TTP bases in the valley’s Maidan village, and that the fight was still on for a fourth base.

Afridi said that his group has vowed to flush out TTP militants from Tirah Valley as they “carry out attacks on mosques and public places, which is against Islam.”

Afridi said that they would not allow the TTP to continue “killing innocent Muslims in the name of religion.”

Khyber is among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts near the Afghan border, rife with homegrown insurgents and home to religious extremist organisations including the al Qaeda.

The remote Tirah valley holds strategic significance for militant groups. On one side, it shares a border with Afghanistan. On the other it leads to the plains of Bara, which connect the agency to the outskirts of Peshawar.

Khyber also links several agencies to each other, serving as a north-south route within Fata. The region has been long fought over by a mix of militant organisations, including the TTP, the Ansarul Islam and Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam.

Continue reading Jihadi Vs. Jihadi – 32 dead as Taliban clash with rival Islamists in Pakistan

The state withers away in Pakistan

by Omar Ali

3 days ago the Pakistani Taliban raided an outpost of the levies, a paramilitary force recruited primarily from the Afridi tribesmen of the Khyber agency. Poorly equipped, poorly paid and left to stand on the frontlines of the war against the Taliban with little or no backup from the army, the levies lost 3 men and another 23 were captured. The next day the “local administration” spent a busy day contacting “tribal elders” to negotiate with the Taliban for the release of those poor men. But the talks failed and the captives were executed and their bodies dumped a couple of miles outside the city. This is not the first time the local Taliban have captured levies or other paramilitary forces and it is not the first time they have executed them. ….

Read more » 3quarksdaily

To watch the video of brutal Taliban execution of Pakistani soldiers, please click this link »  http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/12/the-state-withers-away-in-pakistan-.html#more

Terrorism in Pakistan: A View from Moscow

By: Andrei Volodin, specially for RIR

Russia should make every effort to help recover the pattern of civil society in Pakistan by supporting the role of political parties, civil groups and any organisations that aim to fight terrorism.

Terrorism has grown into probably the most destructive phenomenon in today’s Pakistan. The sorrow list of victims of terrorist attacks is expanding rapidly, going up from 164 casualties in 2003 to 40,000 in 2011. According to official data, damage suffered by the country from 2000 to 2011 exceeded $70 billion.

The official government acknowledgement of terrorism as the main threat to the unity and integrity of Pakistan has proved unable to reverse the situation as terrorist efforts retain their momentum.

The sources of terrorism in Pakistan are usually linked to the policy of Islamisation of the country by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (years in office: 1977 to 1988). An important element of the then emerging terrorist activity was Pakistan’s direct involvement in military actions in Afghanistan and the actual creation of the mujahideen units, who after the end of the military actions rose to prominence as a military and political force first in Afghanistan and then in Pakistan.

The government and society at large have no clear understanding of the strategy and tactics of fighting terrorism. The point of view of George Friedman, a U.S. analyst, is that Pakistan is losing its “trajectory into the future.” This opinion is underpinned by the increasingly chaotic social and political life in Pakistan, the army’s involvement in domestic processes, the poorly regulated government economy and the inability of political parties to set up adequate political life for more than five years. This “institutional vacuum” is inevitably filled up by other organisations, in case of Pakistan, terrorist structures.

Experts often describe Pakistan as a “pendulum state,” meaning the country’s typical alternation of military and civil government. However, following the resignation of Pervez Musharraf and with certain influence from the US, which disrupted the usual cyclicality, this constraint of political struggle was withdrawn from the political process. As a consequence, Pakistani parties were made even more fragile and unpredictable in their actions. There are basically personal problems that are substituting the existing controversies in the diverse social and political programmes of the Pakistan People’s Party, on the one hand, and the Pakistan Muslim League, on the other hand.

Continue reading Terrorism in Pakistan: A View from Moscow