Tag Archives: Afpak

The Hit on the Taliban Leader Sent a Signal to Pakistan

Mullah Mansour was Pakistan’s man picked to lead the Afghan Taliban, and he was killed on Pakistani soil. Is this the beginning of a new U.S. strategy?

By Bruce Riedel

The death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in an American drone strike is a significant but not fatal blow to both the Taliban and their Pakistani Army patrons.  

The critical question Afghans and Pakistanis are asking is whether this is a one-off or the beginning of a more aggressive American approach to fighting the war in Afghanistan.

Mullah Mansour became the Taliban’s leader last year after it was revealed his predecessor, Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, had been dead for two years from unknown causes.

Mullah Omar’s death in a Pakistani hospital in Karachi had been covered up for two years by the Pakistani Army’s intelligence service, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI, and the cover-up allowed the ISI to manipulate the Taliban very effectively behind the scene.  Mullah Mansour was the ISI’s handpicked successor. 

 

 

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US asks Pakistan to take concrete action against Haqqanis

WASHINGTON: The US State Depart­ment has publicly acknowledged that after last week’s massive car bombing in Kabul it asked Pakistan to take concrete action against the Haqqani network.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack outside a building of the National Directorate for Security in Kabul on Tuesday that killed 64 people and injured more than 300 others.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1254051/us-asks-pakistan-to-take-concrete-action-against-haqqanis

With Attacks in Afghanistan and India, Pakistan Must Get Serious About Terrorism

By Former Columnist for The Daily Times of Pakistan

For the people of Pakistan’s restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, the year 2015 ended just like the past one had: on a bloody note. On Dec. 29, a bomb explosion targeting a government office killed at least 26 in Mardan, some 30 miles northwest of the provincial capital Peshawar. The breakaway Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the jihadist terror group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack. Separately, the TTP bragged about the attacks it carried out in 2015 in a year-end report, along with charts and infographics posted to its website. Regardless of which faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed what attacks, it is clear that for Pakistan’s Pashtun heartland the war against jihadist terror is not over by any means. Pakistan’s army Zarb-e-Azb operation, now into its 19th month, does, however, seem to have disrupted the TTP’s command and control structure and its ability to launch cohesive attacks inside Pakistan at large.

Read more » The Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mohammad-taqi/afghanistan-india-pakistan-terrorism_b_8919548.html

 

The Onus is on Pakistan to Prove it is Serious About Fighting Terrorism

This in turn depends on whether Pakistan will change course or continue to back those who attack the Afghan parliament and Indian military and civilian installations.

BY

For the people of Pakistan’s restive Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa province, the year 2015 ended just like the past one had: on a bloody note. On December 29, a bomb explosion targeting a government office killed 26 in Mardan some 40 miles northwest of the provincial capital Peshawar. The breakaway Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction of the jihadist terror group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. Separately, the TTP bragged about the attacks it carried out in 2015 in a year-end report, along with charts and info-graphics, posted to its website. Regardless of which faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed what attacks, it is clear that for Pakistan’s Pashtun heartland the war against jihadist terror is not over by any means. Pakistan army’s Zarb-e-Azb operations, now into its 19th month, does seem to have disrupted the TTP’s command and control structure and its ability to launch cohesive attacks inside Pakistan at large though.

Read more » The Wire
See more » http://thewire.in/2016/01/03/the-onus-is-on-pakistan-to-prove-it-is-serious-about-fighting-terrorism-18478/

 

The news from Afghanistan is bad for West

BY ROBERT FISK

THE news from Afghanistan is very bad. No one says that, of course. President Ashraf Ghani has a “national unity government” that “supports a strong partnership with the United States”, according to President Barack Obama.

Sure, Kunduz was captured by the Taliban – but then the Afghans got it back (though minus one American-bombed hospital, along with most of its patients and doctors). Sure, Sangin was captured by the Taliban – but now the Afghan army is fighting to get it back.

But didn’t more than a hundred British soldiers die to hold Sangin? Sure, but American troops in Iraq died to hold and keep Mosul – and Mosul is now the home of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who heads the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

And US troops in Iraq died to capture Fallujah, then lost it, and died all over again to recapture it – and Fallujah is now in the hands of IS.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1229328

The U.S. cannot afford to forget Afghanistan and Pakistan

Opinion writer

Last weekend’s deadly attack on an international hospital in Afghanistan was a reminder of the terrible war that grinds on there, with Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire.

Doctors Without Borders, a globally respected group, has charged that the deaths of 22 patients and staff members at its hospital in Kunduz was a “war crime.” The United States has promised to investigate what Gen. John Campbell, the NATO commander in Kabul, says was a mistake.

The hospital bombing comes as the United States is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan — and perhaps even curb the danger of a nuclear Pakistan next door. As with most diplomacy in South Asia, these prospects are “iffy,” at best. But they open a window on what’s happening in a part of the world that, except for disasters such as the Kunduz incident, gets little attention these days.

The United States recognized more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and its sometime sponsors in Pakistan. State Department officials have been conducting secret peace talks, on and off, since 2011. That effort hasn’t borne fruit yet, as the Taliban’s recent offensive in Kunduz shows.

Read more » THE WASHINGTON POST
See more » https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-dangers-that-still-lurk-in-south-asia/2015/10/06/e3adf016-6c73-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html

Taliban claims to recapture large parts of Kunduz city

Armed group says it controls most parts of city after it was briefly taken by government forces backed by US strikes.

The Taliban has reportedly regained control of large parts of the northern city of Kunduz, after days of intense fighting against Afghan troops backed by US air strikes, Al Jazeera has learnt.

Earlier on Sunday, government forces, which have been trying to take control of the city, said they had made gains, but those appear to have been shortlived.

Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from Puli Khumri just south of Kunduz, said that at around 1200 GMT, Taliban fighters launched counter-attacks, driving back government forces from the areas, where they had earlier made gains.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/taliban-claims-recapture-afghan-city-kunduz-151004132211450.html

Pakistan, Afghanistan are not brothers: Ashraf Ghani

Pak-Afghan ties are not like a relationship between two young brothers, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said. According to Waqt News’ report Ghani said that the bilateral ties are those strictly between two states.

In a statement he said: “Terrorism is equally destructive for Pakistan and Afghanistan.” He further said that Pakistan should adopt the same policy for all kinds of terrorism.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have been re-experiencing hostility over the last few months. Terrorism in both states and the ensuing blame game is the major factor behind this enmity.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/national/28-Sep-2015/pakistan-afghanistan-are-not-brothers-ashraf-ghani

Pakistan embassy staff in Kabul limits movement

By Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani diplomats and staffers of the country’s embassy in Kabul have been forced to restrict their movement following an alleged kidnapping bid and growing incidents of harassment, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Sources said some unidentified men tried to abduct an official of the Pakistani embassy in the Shehr-e-Nau area of Kabul on Tuesday, forcing him to postpone a meeting scheduled for the day and return to embassy premises.

“Embassy officials have spotted some people taking videos of the normal movement of Pakistani diplomats entering or exiting the embassy as well,” a source said. A senior Pakistani embassy official was also recently stopped at a police check post for two hours allegedly by agents of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency.

“The Pakistani embassy will not be able to continue to function in such a situation,” the source said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/945500/growing-harassment-pakistan-embassy-staff-in-kabul-limits-movement/

Four Pakistani soldiers killed in Afghan rocket attack: ISPR

KARACHI: At least four soldiers of the Pakistan Army were killed and four others were injured on Sunday as militant groups fired rockets from across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Khyber Agency.

“Four Pakistan Army soldiers were killed and four others were injured due to rocket fire,” an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/943312/four-pakistani-soldiers-killed-in-cross-border-shelling-ispr/

An Unworthy Ally – Time for Washington to Cut Pakistan Loose

By and

er since 9/11, the United States has provided Pakistan with a steady supply of security and nonsecurity assistance. U.S. officials have justified these generous transfers—worth more than $30 billion since 2002—on the grounds that they secure Pakistan’s ongoing cooperation in Afghanistan, bolster Pakistan’s ability to fight terrorism, and give the U.S. government influence over the country’s ever-expanding nuclear weapons program. Failing to deliver this support, the argument runs, could dramatically weaken the will and capacity of Pakistan’s security forces and possibly even lead to the collapse of the Pakistani state. In that event, Pakistan’s nuclear know-how, material, or weapons could well fall into the hands of nefarious actors.

Yet that logic is fundamentally flawed. Many of the weapons Washington gives Islamabad are ill suited to fighting terrorism, and continued transfers will do nothing to convince the Pakistani government to end its long-standing support for terrorist groups. In fact, U.S. assistance gives Pakistan an incentive to foster a sense of insecurity concerning its nuclear arsenal and expanding ranks of jihadists.

Since the current approach has little chance of aligning Pakistan’s interests with those of the United States, the time has come for Washington to change course. If Washington cannot end Pakistan’s noxious behaviors, it should at least stop sponsoring them.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

Pakistan’s reliance on militant proxies is as old as its very existence as an independent state. As early as 1947, when Pakistan was emerging from the collapse of the British Raj, the new government was backing anti-Indian tribal militias in the disputed territory of Kashmir. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, by 1950, Islamabad was promoting a Pakistan-based Islamist party known as Jamaat-e-Islami. Members of that party would later become prominent mujahideen who, with the backing of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), would go on to fight both Afghanistan’s pro-Soviet leaders and Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s. After 1989, Pakistan redeployed these battle-hardened fighters to Indian Kashmir, where they displaced indigenous secular nationalist insurgents in their battle against Indian rule in the province.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
Learn more » https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/pakistan/2015-08-18/unworthy-ally?cid=soc-fb-rdr

Clash reported between Afghan and Pakistan forces along Durand Line

By KHAAMA PRESS

A member of the Afghan Border Police was martyred following heavy clashes have been reported between the Afghan and Pakistani security forces along the Durand Line on Sunday afternoon.

The incident took place around 2:00 pm local time after the Pakistani security forces launched an attack on the Afghan Border Police and Afghan National Police outposts in Nari district of eastern Kunar province.

Provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Habib Syed Khel confirmed that a member of the Afghan Border Police lost his life during the gun battle.

A local official earlier said the Pakistani forces used heavy and lights weapons to target the Afghan security forces.

This comes as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul last month to protest against border violation and cross-border shelling.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the Pakistani soldiers were trying to establish military installations inside the Afghan territory in Angor Ada area in Barmal District of Paktika province when the skirmish took place.

News courtesy: Khaama Press
Read more » http://www.khaama.com/clash-reported-between-afghan-and-pakistan-forces-along-durand-line-1399

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani slams Pakistan over recent Kabul attacks

By AFP

KABUL: Afghan president Ashraf Ghani lambasted neighbouring Pakistan today over a recent wave of insurgent attacks in the capital Kabul that killed at least 56 people.

“The last few days have shown that suicide bomber training camps and bomb-producing factories which are killing our people are as active as before in Pakistan,” Ghani told a news conference.

“We hoped for peace but we are receiving messages of war from Pakistan.”

Pakistan has historically supported the Taliban insurgents and many Afghans accuse it of nurturing militant sanctuaries on its soil in the hope of maintaining influence in Afghanistan.

Read more » The Times of India
See more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Afghan-president-Ashraf-Ghani-slams-Pakistan-over-recent-Kabul-attacks/articleshow/48424463.cms
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More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.com/urdu/regional/2015/08/150810_kabul_blast_fz

Mullah Omar’s son Yaqub Reportedly Killed: Official

By Written by TOLOnews.com

Afghanistan’s first deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) Zahir Qadir on Monday said that Mullah Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqub, was killed last week in Quetta, Pakistan.

According to him, Mullah Yaqub, who had hoped to succeed his father as leader of the Taliban, was killed while at a meeting in the city four days ago (Thursday).

“We were told about Mullah Omar’s death two years back and now his son Mullah Yaqub who was 21 or 22 years old was trying to be appointed as his father’s successor. But Mullah Mansour also tried to become leader of the Taliban, therefore it is said that he was killed some days back,” Qadir told TOLOnews.

“The opposing Taliban and Pakistan had a hand in killing Mullah Yaqub. The reality will be made clear soon,” he said.

In addition to this, Afghan security sources told TOLOnews late Monday that in the past 24 hours three clashes between Taliban factions have been reported in Quetta city in Pakistan.

One attack was on a convoy transporting newly appointed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s deputy, the source said.

A source said that Maulvi Haibatullah Noorzai, Mullah Mansour’s deputy, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt on his convoy by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province.

The source wishing anonymity said that former Nangarhar governor and Taliban head of the central committee, Maulvi Abdul Kabir, was also in the convoy.

Unidentified persons mounted the attack on the convoy on the outskirts of Chaman area in Pakistan, the source said, adding Haibatullah and Maulvi Abdul Kabir escaped unhurt but three other Taliban leaders were wounded in the attack.

The top Taliban leaders were in the locality to garner support for Mullah Mansour from local clerics when they came under attack.

Chaman is the hometown of Mullah Abdul Razzaq who has opposed Mullah Mansour’s nomination as Taliban leader. Mullah Mansour has been appointed as Mullah Omar’s successor.

Two other attacks also occurred between Taliban factions in the past two days. Both were carried out on houses in Quetta city but it is unclear who the residents are or whether any casualties were reported.

The news of Mullah Yaqub’s death however comes just days after he and his uncle Abdul Manan, Mullah Omar’s younger brother, were reportedly among more than a dozen Taliban figures who walked out of Wednesday’s leadership meeting held in Quetta.

It was at this meeting that the Taliban named Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as the group’s new leader.

Reuters reported that the display of dissent within the group’s secretive core is the clearest sign yet of the challenge Mansour faces in uniting a group already split over whether to pursue peace talks with the Afghan government and facing a new, external threat, Islamic State.

Rifts in the Taliban leadership could widen after confirmation of the death of Mullah Omar.

Mansour, Mullah Omar’s longtime deputy who has been effectively in charge for years, favors talks to bring an end to more than 13 years of war. He recently sent a delegation to inaugural meetings with Afghan officials hosted by Pakistan, hailed as a breakthrough.

But Mansour, 50, has powerful rivals within the Taliban who oppose negotiations and have been pushing for Mullah Omar’s son Yaqub to take over the movement.

“Actually, it wasn’t a Taliban Leadership Council meeting. Mansour had invited only members of his group to pave the way for his election,” said one of the sources, a senior member of Taliban in Quetta. “And when Yaqub and Manan noticed this, they left the meeting.”

Among those opposing Mansour’s leadership are Mullah Mohammad Rasool and Mullah Hasan Rahmani, two influential Taliban figures with their own power bases who back Yaqub.

News courtesy: Tolo News
Read more » http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/20731-mullah-omars-son-yaqub-reportedly-killed-official

Time for Pakistan to give up the ‘jihadi’ option forever: Hussain Haqqani

NEW DELHI: Former Pakistani envoy to United States, Hussain Haqqani, said Pakistan was not doing enough to show the world the seriousness of its efforts to curb and eradicate terrorist setups breeding on its soil.

“It is time for Pakistan to give up the jihadi option forever, only when we do that, we will have credibility in the international community,” Haqqani said.

Haqqani told ANI that terror attacks in India perpetrated by agents from across the border were a deliberate hindrance to peace talks.

“Terrorists have always wished to interrupt talks between India and Pakistan through terror attacks. But India and Pakistan must understand that there is no other way than a peaceful bilateral dialogue. No terrorist is a friend of Kashmir, India or Pakistan,” he said.

Calling upon the Pakistani government to up the ante against terror if it wanted to show the world that it was serious against militancy he said that ”Pakistan’s government continues to say that it is trying to eliminate terror and efforts have been started, but they are not enough. Pakistan needs to make it clear to the world and to India that no jihadi group will have safe haven in Pakistan anymore.”

Haqqani observed that Pakistan itself had suffered in the hands of terror breeding on its soil and said that it was high time that authorities accepted this.

“The acceptance and tolerance towards jihadi groups over the past has harmed Pakistan more than any other country in region,” he felt.

The former Pakistan envoy to the US condemned Friday’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and said efforts were required from Pakistan to build confidence and move towards healthier, meaningful dialogue between the two countries. “Kathua attack should not only be condemned, but Pakistan must extend cooperation in finding out which groups based. Only then can the confidence be built which will enable India and Pakistan to move forward in a comprehensive dialogue,” added Haqqani.

He termed Pakistan’s steps towards Tehreek-e-Taliban as a positive step but an inadequate one.

Unless Pakistan acts against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JeM and all militant groups, wherever they might be operating Pakistan, will continue to be suspected by international community of harbouring terrorists,” he said.

Pakistan High Commissioner in India, Abdul Basit’s decision to engage with Hurriyat Conference leaders from Kashmir was criticised by Haqqani, terming it as an ‘ill-advised’ move which would not be looked on positively by India.

Continue reading Time for Pakistan to give up the ‘jihadi’ option forever: Hussain Haqqani

Reuters’ Pak-Afghan bureau chief found dead in Islamabad

By Dawn.com

ISLAMABAD: Maria Golovnina, the Pakistan and Afghanistan bureau chief of Reuters who was based in Islamabad, was found dead at her office in the capital’s F-8 sector, sources in the police told Dawn.

Golovnina had reportedly gone to the toilet, and had not stepped out for a long time when people who were present barged in.

She was reportedly lying on the floor covered in vomit.

he bureau chief was rushed to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) where she was pronounced dead.

Doctors at Pims told Dawn Maria had passed away before she could be brought to the hospital.

The hospital will carry out a post-mortem before handing over the body to Russian authorities.

The cause of Golovnina’s death could not be determined immediately and authorities have launched an investigation to ascertain the facts of the case.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1165411

`Modi may use military option if terror attack traced to Pakistan’

By PTI

“Every Indian Prime Minister since the attack on the Parliament in Delhi now heading on 15 years ago has looked seriously at a military response when these incidents occur and has stepped back. But I believe that sentiment inside India has changed substantially and I think this Prime Minister is unlikely to step back,” former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill said.

“If there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistan military and ISI, I think that this Prime Minister is likely to use military force against Pakistan territory. It’s not a certainty,” Blackwill told reporters during a conference call organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.

Read more » The Hindu
Learn more » http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/modi-may-use-military-option-if-terror-attack-traced-to-pakistan/article6864786.ece

‘China, Russia back India on UN terror resolution targeting Pakistan’

NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.

At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.

The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.

Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”

Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.

News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/

Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?

BY

Many have called it a game-changer. On December 16, gunmen loyal to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar, killing 148 people. Most of the victims were children, and many were killed as they hid under the desks. The violence was so gruesome it seemed to rattle the country like never before. Quickly, the Pakistani government rushed to assure people it had the situation under control. In the aftermath of the attack, the government set up special military tribunals in which to try suspected terrorists, and the penalties are expected to be harsh. Meanwhile, the army reportedly broadened its crackdown in the federally administered tribal areas, in hopes of thwarting terrorism. “There will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. As Matthew Green wrote in Newsweek, Sharif’s words were “a rare public acknowledgement of Pakistan’s murky record on state sponsorship of extremist proxies.” But more than a month after the massacre in Peshawar, has anything really changed? To explore that question, I chatted with Christine Fair, a professor of South Asian political and military affairs at Georgetown and the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Was the school shooting a turning point for Pakistan?

It absolutely was not. The army has said very clearly that they’re hoping these [tribunals] are going to give Pakistanis confidence that the military has the situation under control, but they don’t have anything under control

Who are the “bad militants” in Pakistan?

For the most part, almost all of the so-called bad militants have their origins in groups that the state has long sponsored, aided, abetted, trained and in some cases even developed from the grassroots, either to fight in India or in Afghanistan. So there would be no Pakistan Taliban if there had not been this flotilla of militant groups that the state developed.

The groups targeting the state follow the Deobandi interpretative tradition of Islam. This is important because this means that they share a significant common organizational infrastructure. For example, they rely on mosques and madrassas that adhere to the Deobandi tradition of Islam. When 9/11 happened and Pakistan was forced to work with the Americans, these Deobandi groups were furious. Many of these groups came to know Al-Qaeda through their association with the Taliban in Afghanistan. [The Afghan Taliban emerged from Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan.] And these Deobandi groups were furious that the Pakistani state was aiding the overthrow, not only of the Taliban government, but the only government in the world that was exercising a Deobandi version of Sharia [Islamic law]. After 9/11…[some] of these Deobandi groups began fracturing and disobeying the [Pakistani] state. That’s when the insurgency began. Over time these Deobandi organizations began calling themselves the Pakistani Taliban.

Who are the “good militants”?

The “good militants” are, of course, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network, which continue to be loyal to the Pakistani state. And elements of the Pakistani Taliban that refuse to kill Pakistanis. All of those groups kill in Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan’s interests. The other “good militant group” is Deobandi is Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was raised to kill Indians in Kashmir and beyond. Over the past year or so, Pakistan has been trying to resurrect Jaish with the aim of luring away some members of the Pakistani Taliban into Jaish for operations against India. There’s one other group that we haven’t talked about, because they’re not Deobandi, and that’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. That organization belongs to the Ahl-Hadith tradition of Islam. This organization has never conducted an operation in Pakistan. They have exclusively focused on India for the vast majority of its history. In recent years, they have been operating against Americans and our Afghan and other allies in Afghanistan.

Is Pakistan unable to crack down on the “bad militants”? Or do they simply choose otherwise?

The problem is they want to preserve the networks that produce terrorists because those networks are the same networks that also produce the “good militants.” When the “bad militants” come after the state, the Pakistanis do try and kill them. And they try and kill them rather than arrest them because Pakistan’s [civilian] legal system is so decrepit, judges are afraid to convict. But they can’t shut down the system comprehensively because Pakistan still hopes to use “good militants” as tools of foreign and defense policy in the region.

What purpose do these “good militants” serve?

Pakistan is an ideological state, not a security-seeking state. Pakistan was founded as the homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. The Pakistan movement mobilized around the Two Nation Theory, which held that Muslims and Hindus are equal nations even if Muslims are fewer in number than Hindus. The proponents of the Two Nation Theory argued that Muslims cannot live under Hindu domination. Pakistan needs to wrest Kashmir away from India to fulfill the dream of the Two Nation Theory because Kashmir is the only Muslim majority area in India.

Pakistan also hopes to retard India’s ability to impose its will on Pakistan and other countries in the region.The only assets Pakistan has to accomplish these goals are its jihadis, who operate with impunity thanks to Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons. Also, these groups undertake operations with plausible deniability.

The so-called good militants also have an important role to play in Afghanistan. Pakistan prefers a manageable chaos in Afghanistan rather than an Afghanistan that is friendly to India. Pakistan is trying to bring some of the “bad militants” back into the fold of the “good militants.” Pakistan’s efforts to reorient part of the Pakistani Taliban in this way also explains why the Pakistan military gave a five-months warning before undertaking operations in North Waziristan. They wanted to make sure they could return as many of their assets as possible to the category of good militants. And they were pretty successful. What remained in North Waziristan are committed foes who can be dealt with through violence and death.

Continue reading Is Pakistan Really Cracking Down on Terrorism?

Sindh’s rude awakening

By Qasim A. Moini

Friday’s massacre in a Shikarpur Imambargah has proved fears long held by many observers that behind the traditional image of Sindh as a placid land of Sufis, a much darker reality is developing.

While Karachi, the provincial capital, has witnessed incredibly bloody violence carried out by militants of various stripes, it is the first time an attack of such devastating proportions has occurred outside the metropolis, in the hinterland of Sindh.

Also read: At least 60 killed in blast at Shikarpur imambargah

Shikarpur and its surrounding districts are far from islands of peace and tranquillity. They have witnessed a high level of lawlessness as well as religiously-inspired violence, but nothing of this level. For example in February 2013 the custodian of a dargah was attacked in neighbouring Jacobabad district. Yet while the area is said to have a soft corner for religious groups, there is no major history of sectarian discord.

Senior journalist Sohail Sangi says there have been a number of sporadic incidents of religiously-inspired violence in Shikarpur and its environs. “Nato supply trucks were attacked in this region. It is quite a lawless area. Religious groups and parties have considerable presence here. Before the Sept 11 attacks some locals even went to fight for the Afghan Taliban. But there are not that many sectarian issues. Sectarian problems mostly exist in Khairpur and Sukkur.

Indeed Khairpur, which borders Shikarpur, has developed a reputation for communal tension and is seen as one of the centres in Sindh of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan/Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. In fact the late head of the SSP,

Ali Sher Hyderi, who was killed in 2009 in the city, hailed from Khairpur. Elsewhere in the province, extremist outfits are said to be active in the Thar region, while along most of the provincial highways sectarian and religious graffiti is hard to miss.

Security analyst Amir Rana feels Sindh is going through the same motions as Punjab did in the 1990s where the development and proliferation of extremist tendencies are concerned.

“Different [extremist] groups have been making inroads in Sindh. After Ali Sher Hyderi’s assassination there were fears there would be a reaction. However, it didn’t happen then.

Deobandi madressahs are spreading, similar to what happened in the Punjab in the 1980s. With the expansion of madressahs, sectarian tendencies also tend to grow. The sectarian divide is definitely growing in Sindh,” he observes.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf feels the atrocity in Shikarpur puts a question mark over the state’s methods of countering militancy in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack.

The bombing “goes against the government’s rationale that military courts and the death penalty would be deterrents. There needs to be zero tolerance for sectarian outfits. The government is not clear. The list of banned outfits has not been clearly released.

You need a clear definition of [who] the terrorist and sectarian groups are and what the government is doing against them. The government is in two minds, whether to take action against them or not.”

Asked how the state was dealing with the threat of extremism in Sindh, Mr Rana feels that efforts are piecemeal and that the state is not looking at the bigger militant picture.

“The administration takes a firefighting approach. It doesn’t take any actions [which it thinks] may lead to a law and order situation. Things are handled on a case-by-case basis at the district level. There is no broader perspective.”

Sindh clearly has a problem with extremism, and if it is not examined in a forthright manner, the cancer of sectarian and religious hatred will only grow.

Considering the province’s historically pluralist ethos, there may still be time to turn the tide and root out the merchants of death and divisiveness. If this is not done, Shikarpur may well be the harbinger of worse tragedies to come.

Courtesy: Published in Dawn January 31st, 2015
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1160614/

Pakistan’s paradigm shift: too good to be true?

TaqiBy Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Pakistan-Haqqani ties date back to the mid-1970s, long before any Soviets, the US, mujahideen, Taliban or al Qaeda popped onto the scene, and are unlikely to be severed so abruptly

“Een keh mi-beenam ba baidaareest ya Rabb, ya ba khwab?/ Khaishtan raa dar chuneen nai’mat pas az chundeen azaab!”//

Pakistan’s national security paradigm has changed, or so they say. Perhaps my Afghan readers, who would be the major beneficiaries of such a tectonic shift, may be able to appreciate the above quoted Persian verse, in which the classic poet Anvari says: “O my Lord, am I seeing this all while I am awake or is it a dream? Such bounties for this poor soul after such prolonged misery!” After the decades of the death and destruction it unleashed, the Jalaluddin Haqqani terrorist network, run currently by his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, has reportedly been banned by Pakistan. Additionally, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which effectively is the political front for the proscribed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), has ostensibly been banned too. Amen to that! There, however, is a slight problem before one goes to town on the news: it is not official and might actually not become official for several weeks or, perhaps, ever.

Continue reading Pakistan’s paradigm shift: too good to be true?

Prime Minister 2.0: Harder, faster, stronger

By Syed Rashid Munir

In just a couple of weeks, thousands of Pakistani youth will sit through one of the most rigorous tests of human memory, in the form of the annual Central Superior Services (CSS) examination. In the exam, they will be asked questions ranging from the absurd to the most absurd, and you can almost be sure that the name of the brother-in-law of the sister of one of the cousins of the premier of a small African republic will be on the paper.

But, sometimes, through sheer luck, you can be tested on a relatively easier topic, for instance say, the name of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Under normal circumstances, this would be an absolute freebie of a point; the ‘aspirants’ would only have to recall the results of the last election, promptly mark Mr Nawaz Sharif’s name on the question paper, and then start daydreaming about sticking it to others while sitting in big offices.

This time though, such a query is bound to be a loaded question. Let me explain why.

In a parliamentary system like ours, the prime minister is usually appointed by the political party in majority in the representative assembly. Tradition dictates that the leader of the majority party be bestowed with this honour (though there have been significant diversions from this norm even in recent years).

The prime minister is supposed to lead his cabinet and the country through thick and thin, and ooze a shimmering aura of national unity, so much so that the hearts of the masses are supposed to fill with a warm glow each time they look at their leader.

The premier is supposed to be approachable, so that his/her constituents can share their problems and concerns.

The premier should also have an unblemished reputation of being not only uncorrupt, but also incorruptible. He/she must understand the nuances of the issues and cultures within the territory of the country, and present a clarity of vision in taking initiative towards national reform.

All this is fine and dandy. But now, let us take a small dose of reality.

Continue reading Prime Minister 2.0: Harder, faster, stronger

Pakistan: Govt to act against ‘violent banned outfits’ only

By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD: Of the nearly 72 organisations and outfits that have been declared ‘proscribed’, only a handful are likely to face action in the coming days as part of the government’s impending crackdown on terrorists and militant groups, sources in the interior ministry told Dawn.

The sources say that the government’s focus, at least in the initial stages, would be on organisations which had taken up arms against the state. Such organisations will not be allowed to operate on Pakistani soil anymore and members of such groups who are known to be involved in violent activities will be arrested, an official in the interior ministry told Dawn.

“Following their arrest and interrogation, such individuals will be produced before military courts for trial under a defined procedure,” he said.

The official confirmed that groups which had claimed responsibility for recent terrorist attacks would be proceeded against, but refused to give any details.

He said the provinces had been asked to develop a “multi-faceted process of scrutiny” whereby cases would be sent to military courts, adding that the methodology would be fine-tuned by his ministry.

Benign groups?

It is believed that most banned organisations do not have militant wings and the ministry has no plans to act against such groups. In addition, the ministry’s official said, it was ‘not advisable’ to simultaneously act against all banned outfits.

The provinces had been asked to identify outlawed outfits and keep an eye on key operatives. They will also be looking into groups that have re-emerged under different names after their original incarnation was banned by the government.

The official told Dawn that individuals who faced criminal charges under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act would be monitored closely. Under the law, he added, such persons were supposed to report to a police station before travelling to any other city, as well as intimating their date of return. He said such people were also required to report to the police station concerned in the city they are travelling to, but admitted that this provision had scarcely been enforced in the past.

Although he did not offer specifics on which organisations were regarded as being an immediate threat, the official said a comprehensive assessment was being carried out to ascertain how many of the 72 were active and how many were operating under changed names.

The National Counter-Terrorism Authority’s National Coordinator Hamid Ali Khan could not be contacted to get his point of view.

The government’s list features organisations such as Al Qaeda, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and some of its factions, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban Bajaur, Tehreek-i-Taliban Mohmand and Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat. Then there are organisations whose names reflect their inherently militant nature, such as the Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army, Balochistan United Army, United Baloch Army, Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, the 313 Brigade and the Abdullah Azzam brigade, among others.

When asked about banned outfits that had taken part in the last general elections, he said a new procedure was being devised for registration of political parties.

At least 40 candidates from the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, including its chief, Ahmad Ludhianvi, had taken part in the 2013 general elections.

Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah met Ludhianvi more than once prior to the 2013 elections and justified his meetings by saying that members of the Jamaatud Dawa and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan were not terrorists.

However, the official avoided commenting on political parties which were said to have links with banned outfits.

In June 2010, Ludhianvi even claimed that at least 25 PPP MNAs had won the 2008 general elections with his party’s support.

Courtesy: Dawn, January 11th, 2015
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1156321/govt-to-act-against-violent-banned-outfits-only

Pakistan must believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn

In post-Peshawar Pakistan, we have to believe that the darkest hour is just before the dawn

By REEMA ABBASI

Remembering murders and massacres past to demand justice was a sad challenge this week.

On January 4 – a date that should be declared ‘Salmaan Taseer Day’ – a peaceful vigil in central Lahore was held to honour the fourth anniversary of the province’s assassinated governor.

However, the memorial was attacked by Mumtaz Qadri’s supporters, who reportedly belonged to a banned terror outfit.

The scene was as tragic as it was violent. Placards such as “ST hum sharminda hain, tumhara qaatil zinda hai” were set ablaze as baton-wielding villains pounded participants, including campaigners of renown.

Though crazed with hate, their rampage was not without the blessings of the Punjab government and the police.

However, post-Peshawar Pakistan is another country. Hence, where such an incident would previously have sent mourners home, this time the miscreants defeated their own purpose.

Their assault sent the crowd to procure an FIR against the mob. So far, over 40 suspects have been arrested.

The atrocity, along with the ongoing saga of the Lal Masjid cleric, Abdul Aziz, is yet another testament to Punjab being the hotbed of fanaticism. It shows that the malaise has infiltrated the law enforcement apparatus and thrives in state espousal.

Punjab has witnessed the mushrooming of groups such as the Tehreek-e-Tahafuz-e-Khatme-Nabuwat, and the nation is keen to see the outcome of current civil-society-led movements geared to bring militants to book.

At this stage, we can only believe in the adage that the darkest hour is before dawn.

But if Sharif does not seize the moment to channelise public rage towards a new horizon, Pakistan may be doomed to see history repeat itself. 

— The writer is a Karachi-based author and journalist

Courtesy: Daily Maily

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2902723/In-post-Peshawar-Pakistan-believe-darkest-hour-just-dawn.html#ixzz3OSQzF4JU

Democracy vs authoritarianism vs terrorism

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

It was supposed to be all about terrorism, but somehow it seems more and more about democracy, constitutionalism and their nemesis – authoritarianism. And in a country with a disturbing history of failed spells of democratic rule and equally disastrous autocratic governments, this is precisely what was supposed to be avoided. But now that the Pandora’s Box of debate on civil-military trust deficit has been opened, thanks to the creation of military courts, it is time to build some perspective.

As I write these lines, two images keep haunting me:

The first, of a disheveled, heartbroken Senator Raza Rabbani losing control and bursting into tears on the floor of the house during passage of the 21st amendment. For years, Mr Rabbani has acted as my moral compass. While I have not nearly always agreed with his views, like the North Star, they have most certainly often guided me in the right direction. Now to see him so badly broken is something I will never forget.

The second image is of a young army officer that I met in a conflict zone.

“Sir, I wish was born in another country, had joined their army and died fighting for them. At least at the time of my death, I would have known that my country would own me as a national hero. In Pakistan, no one cares about a soldier’s sacrifices.”

This young man, I was told a few days later, died bravely fighting against militants for his country, Pakistan. His grievances were legitimate. We have lost count of how many brave souls have perished fighting terrorists in recent years.

What is more, quick as we are to accuse the army of being solely responsible for religious militancy in this country, of breeding terrorists in isolation; what we fail to consider is how this accusation does not apply to the young officers and soldiers who are confronting terrorists today.

Wars do strange things to people. For over a decade, we have fought an enemy that is not across the border but within us. We have bled profusely, old doubts and apprehensions have grown complicated beyond recognition.

But behind this fog of war, our old bitterness and old wounds still persist. It all happened so fast that we did not get the time to update our definition of the existential threat.

Now, there is a huge trust deficit which owes itself to the misperception of the enemy.

Over the years I have seen men and women in Khaki and civvies halfheartedly calling terrorism an existential threat. But in reality they are on the lookout for the old enemy.

Always on the lookout.

The khakis, the civvies and the troublemakers

It is about two narratives. One civilian, one military. Both incomplete. Both a product of a weak state’s inability to overcome its constant challenger – India, or to win the ultimate prize – Kashmir. But more of that later.

Continue reading Democracy vs authoritarianism vs terrorism

No hope on the horizon for Pakistan’s myriad problems

Author: Sajjad Ashraf

Pakistan is in a state of discord. Its civilian governance structure is becoming corrupt and oligarchic. Its façade of democratic order belies a more tawdry reality characterised by money, patronage and cronyism, in which parliament exists to enhance the privileges of the few.
Pakistan’s problems are long-standing, rooted in governance failures, with the resultant erosion of state authority. 2014 was no different in this respect.
Read more » Pukhtunkhwa Times
See more » http://pukhtunkhwatimes.blogspot.ca/

Raza Rabbani in tears: ‘Ashamed to vote against conscience’

By Dawn.com

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani was in tears on Tuesday after voting in the upper house on the 21st Constitutional Amendment for setting up military courts in the country.

Rabbani said that he voted on the amendment against his own conscience. He further added that he had never felt more ashamed in his life.

“I have been in the Senate for more than 12 years, but have never been as ashamed as I am today and I cast my vote against my conscious,” said the PPP leader.

The senator said the vote that he had cast in support of the amendment was on the PPP’s behalf.

Rabbani had recently said that parliament has had the honour of not validating illegal acts of military dictators in the past, but was now “taking its last breath”.

He has been of the view that after the passage of the 21st Amendment bill, the constitution would no more remain “pure”.

Rabbani has been among the more prominent PPP leaders who have criticised the party’s decision to support the establishment of military courts.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1155293

Military courts: a wrong move

By Editorial

PAKISTAN should not have military courts, not in the expanded form envisioned by the military and political leadership of the country, not to try civilians on terrorism charges and not even for a limited period of time.

Military courts are simply not compatible with a constitutional democracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre, politicians and the military leadership rightly came together to respond urgently to the terror threat that stalks this country.

What they did wrong was to decide on military courts as the lynchpin of a new strategy to fight terrorism.

Perhaps with a country convulsed with grief and the PML-N government on weak ground — given that until recently the party was insisting on dialogue with the elements behind the Peshawar calamity — there was little resistance to the military’s demand that terrorist suspects be tried in military courts, and presumably summarily executed thereafter.

Perhaps also the full range of opposition political parties present were overawed by the presence of the army chief and DG ISI in Peshawar, and those opposed to military courts decided that it was futile to oppose them in the circumstances.

Continue reading Military courts: a wrong move

Taliban leader Mullah Omar hiding in Pak, says top Afghan intelligence official

New York: Taliban’s reclusive leader Mullah Muhammad Omar is alive and hiding in the Pakistani city of Karachi, a top Afghan intelligence official has said, echoing a similar assessment by Western intelligence officials.

“There is a lot of doubt whether he is alive or not. But we are more confident that he is in Karachi,” acting Afghan intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil was quoted as saying in the New York Times regarding Omar’s whereabouts.

An European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in the NYT report that there is a “consensus among all three branches of the Afghan security forces that Mullah Omar is alive”.

“Not only do they think he’s alive, they say they have a good understanding of where exactly he is in Karachi,” the Pakistani metropolis where some say Mullah Omar is hiding. The report said that Mullah Omar has always functioned more as the spiritual and ideological leader of the movement than as an operational commander.

His inner circle, made up of village mullahs who have known one another for decades, has provided the active leadership of the Taliban’s many local factions. “But now one man, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, has risen to the No 2 role and become the main link to Mullah Omar, allowing him to place his loyalists up and down the ranks,”

Read more » First Post
Learn more » http://www.firstpost.com/world/taliban-leader-mullah-omar-hiding-pak-says-top-afghan-intelligence-official-2020859.html