Tag Archives: FATA

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

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?

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

Department of ‘Homeland’ Controversy: Pakistan and Terrorism

By MUSTAFA HAMEED and

NEW YORK — Pakistani officials recently lashed out at the Showtime series “Homeland” for its portrayal of the Southwest Asian nation as a friend to terrorist groups, among other complaints, but according to former U.S. officials and Pakistan experts, it could be a case of a fictional show hitting just a little too close to home.

Last week the press attache for Pakistan‘s embassy in Washington released a statement saying it was “very unfortunate that the underlying theme of ‘Homeland’ Season 4 is designed to create a negative perception of both the U.S. and Pakistan.”

“The show projects and reinforces stereotypes about the U.S. and Pakistan that do not serve the best interests of our two peoples and countries,” press attache Nadeem Hotiana said in a statement to The New York Post and provided to ABC News. “This is also an affront to the people and institutions in both countries who have invested a lot over the decades in blood and treasure in building this important and mutually beneficial relationship.”

This season the espionage thriller, which wrapped up last Sunday, included a story line in which an agent of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, appeared to repeatedly assist a local terrorist group, including in a deadly attack on the American Embassy in Islamabad.

“Insinuations that an intelligence agency of Pakistan is complicit in protecting the terrorists at the expense of innocent Pakistani civilians is not only absurd but also an insult to the ultimate sacrifices of the thousands of Pakistani security personnel in the war against terrorism,” Hotiana said.

But in recent years, the “insult” of tying the Pakistani government, intelligence agencies or armed forces to terror groups was hardly “absurd” to top U.S. military and intelligence officials.

In September 2011, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen told a Congressional committee that the real-life ISI was “exporting violence” by aiding the militant group theHaqqani network — which is the same name used by the leader of the terror group in “Homeland” — after an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. More than a dozen people were killed in that day’s assault.

“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership, but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” Mullen said.

He went further, calling the Haqqanis a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

Read more » ABC News
Learn More » http://abcnews.go.com/International/department-homeland-controversy-pakistan-terrorism/story?id=27963663

Win the war not just the battle

By Ayesha Siddiqa

It seems that Pakistan is set on the path of becoming a country where all critical decisions will be either taken or influenced by the military, and the civilian leadership will merely fill in the blank or be the guinea pig to go after when someone is needed to blame. The security apparatus might as well be in charge since the combined leadership, irrespective of party affiliation and relative respectability, politely hummed and hawed and accepted military courts as fait accompli. It is almost humorous to think of parties who claim to have agreed to the solution after being promised that these courts will not be used against them, or that their use will be controlled. An even sadder fact is that barring the enlightened civil society, which understands the long-term impact of such developments, the bulk of civil society, or even the general public in certain parts of Pakistan, has a ‘can’t-be-bothered’ attitude towards democracy, which they now consider to be of secondary importance. In the words of an acquaintance, “First, let’s have security and we will take care of democracy later.” The obvious problem with this system is that responsibility will be divided and one wouldn’t know who to blame.

Continue reading Win the war not just the battle

Military courts

By Gul Bukhari

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

“Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

CPJ’s full report on the roots of impunity in Pakistan is a horrifying, heart-stopping indictment of primarily the military and its intelligence agencies. Political parties and governments, in particular the MQM, are not spared either, but the clear illustration of how intelligence agencies perpetrate atrocities and prevent justice through civilian law enforcement and courts is petrifying. The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

Yet, in response to the massacre of 140 children in the APC Peshawar attack, the most significant anti-terror measures announced by the Prime Minister, and acquiesced to by the rest of the parliamentary parties, is to cede ‘justice’ to the military and to lift the moratorium on death penalty for terrorists. Both were dictated by the military.

‘All day on Wednesday, according to a participant of the meeting held at the PM House, the military leadership stressed the need to set up military courts as the “(civilian) justice system had failed to deliver.” – front page of Dawn, December 25th. In light of the CPJ report, which merely acts to confirm what many of us have known, are military courts then the solution? Is the military the solution or part of the problem? The narrative being built for the justification of military courts is wrong: that the civilian judges and law enforcement agencies are too weak, inept, and cowardly to convict terrorists. All, I repeat all, terror groups, be they of the Taliban ilk (whom the military has for sometime turned against) or sectarian in nature like the SSP and LeJ, were formed by the military for its various domestic and foreign security policies. And the police’s and courts’ intimidation by the military intelligence agencies is in no small part responsible for the broken civilian justice system. One cannot exonerate the political elite for not trying to strengthen the policing and courts systems, but in the face of the powerful army, and with having to watch over their shoulders’ every moment for the next coup, one cannot blame them entirely either.

Continue reading Military courts

A Pessimist Guide to the World in 2015

Excerpt: Skirmishes in the South China Sea lead to full-scale naval confrontation. Israel bombs Iran, setting off an escalation of violence across the Middle East. Nigeria crumbles as oil prices fall and radicals gain strength. Bloomberg News asked foreign policy analysts, military experts, economists and investors to identify the possible worst-case scenarios, based on current global conflicts, that concern them most heading into 2015.

Afghanistan/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

Taliban militants in the mountainous Pashtun-dominated regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan link up with Islamic State. They make progress in their quest to take power in Kabul and Islamabad as the U.S. reduces its troop presence.

India/ Pakistan – Potential Flashpoint:

A terrorist attack occurs on the scale of Mumbai in 2008, when luxury hotels and a train station were attacked by a Pakistan-based militant group. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is pressured into a harsh response, triggering a crisis between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Read more » Bloomberg
Learn more » http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-flash-points/?hootPostID=8ac47b59f9f297f5aa7664a1fc7b7a8a

 

Pakistan: State of Delusion

By Husain Haqqani

The murder by the Taliban of more than 130 schoolchildren in Peshawar on December 16 has stunned Pakistan, and indeed the world. But the incident marks only an escalation in the brutality of jihadis, not its beginning. Over the years, Pakistan’s homegrown terrorists have bombed Shia and Ahmadi mosques, Sunni shrines, Christian churches and Hindu temples. Over a thousand attacks on schools by the Taliban have been reported since 2009, mainly in the northwestern Pakhtunkhwa province. Jihadi targets over the years have included localISI offices in several cities, naval and air force bases in Karachi and Kamra, the Karachi International Airport and even the army’s General Headquarters. If the breadth of attrition has not cured Pakistan’s jihadi addiction, would the death of innocent children and the burning alive of their teachers in a Peshawar school result in a fundamental change of heart?

If the Pakistani establishment decides to turn the corner, it would have to stop treating Pakistan’s anti-jihadists as its enemies and gradually embrace a new national narrative for the country. Confronting the jihadists comprehensively would make Pakistan more secure, paving the way for greater prosperity and a place under the sun. Refusing to confront and marginalise them will only lead to recurrent tragedies like the one in Peshawar, followed by grief and outrage.

Soon after the Peshawar carnage, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the infamous Islamabad Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, refused to condemn the Taliban’s action, indicating the stubbornness of the jihadi worldview. Taliban apologist Imran Khan parsed his words to condemn the act but not its perpetrators by name. Another Pakistani establishment favourite, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa, went on television to blame India for the Taliban’s school attack and vowed revenge inside India.

The roots of Pakistan’s jihadism lie in its establishment’s obsession with India, which goes back to partition, the twonation theory and the fear that powerful forces want the dismemberment of Pakistan. The break-up of Pakistan in 1971, and the emergence of an independent Bangladesh in erstwhile East Pakistan, has reinforced national paranoia instead of convincing the country’s Punjabi elite of the need to come to terms with Pakistan’s size and power and finding security within the parameters of reality.

Read more » Hudson Institute
Learn more » http://www.hudson.org/research/10885-state-of-delusion

No Taliban Without A Pakistan!

by Ujjal Dosanjh

In the dying days of the British Empire the colonialists perpetrated upon India a tragedy of massive proportions. Absolutely artificially and unnecessarily they partitioned the country. Mahatma Gandhi had wisely stood against the division of the country. He had told the British to leave. The Quit India Movement of 1942 was the clearest articulation of that message. Suddenly the British worried about the ‘safety’ of their Muslim subjects. It wasn’t that Indian Muslims and Hindus had rioted and killed each other every day before the British arrived to rule the country. The fact is the kings and queens in India fought each other just as they did in Europe. The real Hindu Muslim riots started well after the first war of Indian Independence of 1857 when the British had come close to losing the jewel of the empire. In its aftermath the British intensified their efforts to sow divisions amongst Indians. They escalated only when in response to the demand of the Indian National Congress for independence the British started seeking fragmented representation of Indians based on religion in different fora including elected assemblies. The round table conference participants to discuss home rule/independence were deliberately chosen based on religion and caste to fracture the Indian national interest. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League fell for the deliberate and divisive machinations of the colonial rulers and foolishly accepted the completely unnecessary division of India. The British could have left just as they had come leaving the Indians to their own devices. The Congress could have just shown British Imperialists the proverbial finger and insisted on one undivided and independent India. There may have been bloodshed. But it would have been the bloodshed of Indians caused by Indians. Doesn’t make it any better but it would have been the Indians’ blunder. India would have survived.

The rulers of Pakistan must know religious ‘purity’ and ‘orthodoxy’ by definition have no limits. The state must never compete with the fanatics in the domain of fanaticism. No matter what their flavour or variety the fanatics are the enemies of reason; beyond reason.

The Indian sub -continent and the world is still paying for the British imperialist’s 1947 partition of India that bordered on the criminal. It set off the not so unanticipated largest peace time migration of population in the history of the world. Hundreds of thousands perished in the carnage that ensued. The bloody echoes of that insane and unnecessary partition have continued to haunt the Indian sub-continent. They now bedevil the world too; particularly the western world.

The bloody trails of the partition of August 1947 lead directly to the most recent massacre of the children of the Pakistani military run school in December 2014. The Pakistani Madarsas created the Afghani Taliban, initially sponsored by the United States of America for Jihad against the Soviets. The Madarsas also trained Jihadis for Kashmir. First Afghani Taliban and later Pakistan sheltered Al Qaida. The fanatics figured if the Pakistani trained fanatic terror was ‘good’ for Kashmir and Afghanistan it would be just as good for Pakistan. It thus begot Pakistani Taliban. In my mind’s eye when I imagine an undivided India bordering Afghanistan I see no Taliban. In that moment I see the India of Gandhi’s dreams personified.

 Division of people and countries by religion perpetuates hate. Unfortunately for the people of the subcontinent Pakistan has not been able to shed its birth mark of hate. It could have embraced its natural culture and heritage of India. Pakistan would always be Indian by heritage just as India and Bangladesh are. It is not a crime to embrace one’s roots. Pakistan did not have to fashion it’s rootlessness out of it’s deep Indian roots. It did not have to become an Islamic state. But then it was only natural for a state created in the name of religion to be consumed by it.

The rulers of Pakistan must know religious ‘purity’ and ‘orthodoxy’ by definition have no limits. The state must never compete with the fanatics in the domain of fanaticism. No matter what their flavour or variety the fanatics are the enemies of reason; beyond reason.

Note: Writer is Former premier/ chief minister of  Canada’s British Columbia province.

Courtesy: Ujjal dosanjh
See more » http://ujjaldosanjh.org/index.php/entry/no-taliban-without-a-pakistan#.VJce5O7MN-I.gmail

It wasn’t the final atrocity

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE gut-wrenching massacre in Peshawar’s Army Public School has left Pakistan aghast and sickened. All political leaders have called for unity against terrorism. But this is no watershed event that can bridge the deep divides within. In another few days this episode of 134 dead children will become one like any other.

All tragedies provoke emotional exhortations. But nothing changed after Lakki Marwat when 105 spectators of a volleyball match were killed by a suicide bomber in a pickup truck. Or, when 96 Hazaras in a snooker club died in a double suicide attack. The 127 dead in the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar, or the 90 Ahmadis killed while in prayer, are now dry statistics. In 2012, men in military uniforms stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons alight and show their national identification cards. Those with typical Shia names, like Abbas and Jafri, were separated. Minutes later corpses lay on the ground.

If Pakistan had a collective conscience, just one single fact could have woken it up: the murder of nearly 60 polio workers — women and men who work to save children from a crippling disease — at the hands of the fanatics.

Hence the horrible inevitability: from time to time, Pakistan shall continue to witness more such catastrophes. No security measures can ever prevent attacks on soft targets. The only possible solution is to change mindsets. For this we must grapple with three hard facts.

First, let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels. Instead, they are fighting a war for the reason Boko Haram fights in Nigeria, IS in Iraq and Syria, Al Shabab in Kenya, etc. The men who slaughtered our children are fighting for a dream — to destroy Pakistan as a Muslim state and recreate it as an Islamic state. This is why they also attack airports and shoot at PIA planes. They see these as necessary steps towards their utopia.

No one should speculate about the identity of the killers. Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani released pictures of the eight ‘martyrs’, justifying the killing of minors with reference to Hadith (a horrific perversion, of course). Dizzied by religious passions, the men roamed the school searching for children hiding under desks and shouted “Allah-o-Akbar” before opening fire. Shot in both legs, Shahrukh Khan, 16, says he survived by playing dead. Another surviving student, Aamir Ali, says that two clean-shaven gunmen told students to recite the kalima before shooting them multiple times.

Second, Pakistan must scorn and punish those who either support terrorism publicly or lie to us about the identity of terrorists. Television anchors and political personalities have made their fortunes and careers by fabricating wild theories. For example, retired Gen Hamid Gul and his son Abdullah Gul have adamantly insisted multiple times on TV that suicide attackers were not circumcised and hence not Muslim. Though body parts are plentifully available for inspection these days, they have not retracted earlier claims.

Those on the state’s payroll that encourage violence against the state must be dismissed. Maulana Abdul Aziz of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid — a government mosque — led an insurrection in 2007 against the Pakistani state. He flatly refuses to condemn the Peshawar massacre. Other state employees have called upon all to not pray for army soldiers killed in action. At another level is Jamaatud Dawa’s supremo, Hafiz Saeed. He blames India for the Peshawar massacre and, ignoring ironclad evidence, misguides Pakistanis about the identity of the enemy.

Continue reading It wasn’t the final atrocity

Pakistani spy agency’s relations with militants blamed for school massacre

Some see ISI’s ambiguous approach towards different groups in effort to counter Indian influence as fuelling attacks

By , south Asia correspondent, The Guardian

Within days of a militant attack earlier this year on the Indian consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat, intelligence officials in Kabul and Delhi were told by their US counterparts that communication intercepts indicated that the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba group (LeT) was responsible.

A lucky shot from a guard had hit the leader of the assault team, giving defenders time to prepare and the four attackers had all been killed. US officials said they had aimed to take hostages and cause a drawn-out crisis intended to destabilise India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, just days after his landslide election win.

The new details of the operation will be seen as further evidence of the close relationship between LeT and Pakistan’s security establishment.

LeT was responsible for a 2008 attack on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai in which around 170 people were killed by militants who had arrived by boat from the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. A key figure in the attack told US and court officials that middle-ranking officials from the Pakistani military’s Directorate of InterServices Intelligence (ISI) had at very least facilitated the assault.

Western intelligence officials also believe the ISI has close relations with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, an insurgent faction which has repeatedly struck international targets in Afghanistan.

“There have been intelligence reports that link the ISI particularly to the Haqqani network,” Joseph Dunford, the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said in April.

The ISI also maintains links with a range of sectarian groups within Pakistan and outfits primarily focussed on fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Some blame these continuing relationships for the carnage at the army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday.

The link is indirect. Few say that there is any connection between the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), the rough coalition of groups that has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the country’s security establishment.

“The military formally and institutionally considers the TTP as an enemy of the state as it has killed many soldiers over the years,” said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington.

Pakistan’s use of certain militant groups as strategic assets, however, makes concerted action against others impossible, according to Ajai Sahni, an Indian security analyst.

“If you allow space for armed Islamist groups you can’t really distinguish one from another,” Sahni said.

The policy of using militants as auxiliaries goes back to the earliest days of the new Pakistani nation and its partition from India following independence from Britain. Such forces were seen by the new country’s military commanders as an effective way of countering their eastern neighbour’s huge demographic, economic and military advantage. They have played a key role in Pakistan’s four wars with India. Auxiliaries were also deployed in Kashmir in the 1990s. When hundreds of Pakistani militants infiltrated across the de facto frontier in the disputed Himalayan territory in 1999, they sparked the most recent overt conflict.

Read more » The Guardian
Learn more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/17/pakistan-spy-agency-isi-relations-militants-blamed-school-massacre

Pakistan Army, ISAF to target Mullah Fazlullah in drone attack: Report

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army and US-led forces in Afghanistan have decided to target Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah using drones rather than a ground operation in the areas where he is believed to be taking sanctuary.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed about the decision to take out Fazlullah nicknamed the “Radio Mullah”, who is said to be in contact with the Peshawar school attackers during the assault which left 148 people dead, mostly school children, The Express Tribune reported today.

Citing sources, the paper said that although Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Rizwan Akhter have provided Afghan authorities the audio proof of attackers talking to Fazlullah during the assault, Army is currently refraining from chasing targets across the border.

“The audio recording, handed to Afghan authorities, was in Pashto,” he paper said, citing sources.

Read more at: The Economic Times

 

Peshawar attack: Anupam Kher writes open letter to terrorists

By Dawn.com

Devastated by the news of the recent attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, Bollywood icon Anupam Kher has written an open letter to terrorists involved in the attack, reported Hindustan Times as it copied a copy of the letter.

Following are the words the renowned icon wrote:

Every time you commit a mindless act of terrorism, I die a little. Truth be told, I have been dying quite often of late; little by little.

I have died when bombs go off in civilian areas, when bystanders are held hostage, when airlines are hijacked, when defenceless people are killed and when the unarmed are sold as slaves.

But today, when you butchered over 130 children in cold blood in a school in Peshawar, I fear there is nothing left in me. I don’t know what your objective was, but you have certainly reduced me to a dead man walking.

What tenet of religiosity can you quote to justify such slaughtering of children? What twisted perception of which faith can you claim to adhere to? Does it require bravery to shoot barefaced children, innocents who do not understand the concept of conflict, much less the evil face of terrorism?

Killing children cannot be an act of faith in any religion. According to early reports, you are the same monsters who tried to kill Malala Yousufzai on October 9, 2012.

You did not kill her; her bravery won her the Noble Prize earlier this month.

Words cannot adequately despise the monstrosity which you have committed. True, there have been greater pogroms in history such as Lidice, Dachau, the purges of Stalin, the Cultural Revolution of Mao, the killing fields of Cambodia. But these were political movements or results of conflict.

What you have done today is something not reflected in history; the slaughter of innocents.

I cannot ascribe a category to which you could possibly belong. Even animals kill for a reason; out of fear or hunger. But you let loose bullets out of senselessness. Truly, you are beyond evil.

Pictures of war and conflict often move me. Today it was different. I saw a picture of a father who had tied the shoelace of his son before he sent him to the ill-fated school.

‘I have the shoe, but I have no son…’ he lamented.

I was not moved. I broke down.

Your dastardly act today will have united parents everywhere and earned you their curses. Time will prove that their curses will not have been in vain.

Courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151602/

No more excuses for Taliban violence, Bhutto heir tells Pakistan’s leaders

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 25, says prime minister and Imran Khan letting down nation by not backing firm military action

By  in Mohenjodaro

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the youthful heir apparent to one of south Asia’s most famous dynasties, has launched a scathing attack on his political opponents who he said must stop “making excuses” for Taliban violence.

The 25-year-old son of the assassinated prime minister Benazir Bhutto said Nawaz Sharif, the country’s current leader, and the opposition politician Imran Khan, were “letting down the people” by not backing firm military action against the Taliban.

“Perhaps they are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Bhutto Zardari said, referring to cases of hostages who sympathise with or even assist their captors. “There is no reason why the national leaders, the so-called leaders, should not speak out against people who are murdering our citizens, murdering our armed forces and claiming responsibility.”

The remarks are likely to further burnish his reputation as both a brash new arrival on Pakistan‘s political scene but also the most outspoken politician in the country on the issue of militancy and extremism.

He does not sit in parliament, but wields significant influence over the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), of which he is “patron in chief”. The party has been led in the past by his grandfather, his mother – who was killed while campaigning in 2007 – and his father, Asif Ali Zardari. Khan and other right-wing politicians have been criticised for handling the Pakistani Taliban with kid gloves, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to lure them into peace talks.

On Saturday the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP ), as the country’s deadly coalition of militants is known, signalled its appreciation of Khan’s approach by announcing the movement wanted him to sit on a committee with four extremist clerics known to sympathise with militant aims. The TTP said Khan and the others could represent its interests in peace talks with the government.

Khan brushed off the embarrassing endorsement, saying “the TTP should select their own Taliban representatives for the peace talks”.

Even mass-casualty suicide attacks on civilians have at times elicited only meek condemnations. Many politicians are reluctant even to identify the culprits as the TTP.

Bhutto Zardari said the tactic had been disastrous, emboldening extremists to target civilians, including Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl education activist who nearly died in 2012 after being shot in the head by a Taliban assassin. “This is why people like Malala become targets because the politicians, or the so-called leaders of this country, can’t find the courage to speak out when a 16-year-old girl could. If we all speak in one voice, they can’t kill us all,” he said.

The TTP has used a highly effective intimidation campaign against liberal and left-leaning political parties and journalists to silence many of its natural critics. Bhutto Zardari said he could speak out only because of the vast security operation that surrounds him at all times and heavily restricts his travel in Pakistan, where he spends much of his time at his fortress-like family compound in Karachi.

“I have a lot of security – I lost my mother to the Taliban because of a lack of security – and that explains partly why I can be so vocal,” he said. “But so does Imran Khan. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of Punjab. They all have more security than I do. They have no excuse.”

In the past Khan has said strident rhetoric might endanger the lives of his supporters and party activists. Bhutto Zardari has shown no such caution, even though he hopes thousands of members of the public will be attracted to numerous cultural events he has organised across Sindhin the coming weeks. They are part of a festival he has promoted as a deliberate challenge to extremists and militants he derisively calls “cavemen”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/02/taliban-violence-excuses-bilawal-bhutto-zardini-pakistan-military-action

Pakistan mourns after Taliban Peshawar school massacre

The Pakistani city of Peshawar is burying its dead after a Taliban attack at a school killed at least 132 children and nine staff.

New images from the school show the brutality of the attack, with pools of blood on the ground and walls covered in pockmarks from hundreds of bullets.

Mass funerals and prayer vigils for the victims are currently under way.

Gunmen had walked from class to class shooting students in the Pakistani Taliban’s deadliest attack to date.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30507836?OCID=twitterasia

Our denial killed children in Peshawar

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

There is no sight uglier than a child’s corpse. I can say this because I have seen one dying before my eyes.

When a child dies, no words can console the grieving hearts of parents. And a cowardly terror attack on a school just snatched over a hundred children from the warm embrace of their parents in Peshawar.

Just try understanding the magnitude, the size of this all. More than a hundred families will now have their child-shaped holes in their lives forever. Parents all over the country will think twice before sending their children to schools again.

The children that survived the ghastly attack will never be the same again; their innocence, their childhood gone. It takes years for trauma victims to recover. Some don’t recover even after that.

The question on every mind is, when the grieving is over, will the nation unite against the spectre of terrorism?

If the past is any guide, the sad answer would be no.

Also read: Militant siege of Peshawar school ends, 141 killed

Pakistan is given a lot of credit for being a resilient nation. I think most of that is down to the state of denial we choose to live in.

There are always a myriad conspiracy theories circulating within our society. For reasons unknown, we choose to believe them.

We find the distant, often most improbable explanations for simple acts of violence plaguing our nation. Our workplaces, public places, government offices, security installations, hospitals, places of worship and now schools all have come under attack.

After every gruesome incident, TTP or one of its uncountable affiliates takes responsibility; often releases video clips with the assailant’s taped speeches before attack, and yet we refuse to believe it. That state of denial, in essence, is the terrorist’s biggest weapon and his ultimate victory.

Sorry rehabilitation facilities

The logical question after a tragedy of this magnitude is about the rehabilitation of those who survive. Of the amputees, the irreparably wounded, and in this case, the innocent minds scarred for a lifetime.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151409

Massacre of the Innocents: Death Comes Again to Peshawar

I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.
My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.
I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream. The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire.
She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
(a surviving student’s account)

Read more » Brown Pundits
See more » http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2014/12/massacre-of-innocents-death-comes-again.html

Peshawar attack condemned by UK leaders

Peshawar attack condemned by UK leaders and Asian groups

Politicians and Asian groups in Britain have condemned the attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a school in Peshawar in which 141 people died. Prime Minister David Cameron called the killings “shocking” and “horrifying”.

Kully Singh said: “The people that did this are neither Muslims or human. They are pure evil.”

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-30494134

Canada condemns ‘sinister’ terrorist attack on Pakistani school

By Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

The burned-out buildings dotted the landscape of Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled Swat Valley as veteran Canadian aid worker David Morley drove the bumpy roads with a local aid worker more than three years ago.

“This used to be a boys’ school, that used to be a girls’ school, that used to be a clinic,” Morley recalled his Pakistani colleague telling him.

“What’s he going to be thinking today?”

‘I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children’ -Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Morley, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Canada, did not mince words Tuesday as news emerged of the suicide attack that killed at least 141 people — the vast majority of them children — at a school in Peshawar, the Pakistani city abutting the Khyber Pass leading to Afghanistan.

“This is a crime against humanity and it’s against civilized norms because we want to nurture and care for our children,” Morley said in an interview.

“We want them to learn and educate, and this is heinous act against all of those norms.”

The attack sparked similar condemnation in Canada and abroad. Many viewed it as a new low in the behaviour of Taliban terrorists, who took responsibility for the attack.

Students ranging from Grade 1 through Grade 10 accounted for most of the dead. They were killed along with their seven attackers, all of whom were wearing explosive suicide vests. Another 121 students and three staff members were injured.

Harper offers condolences

Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to the families of the victims. It’s hard enough to understand the motives that underlie a terrorist attack, he said, but even more so when the targets are innocent children.

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird has condemned the attack on the school, which he called cowardly and sinister. (Hasan Jamali/Associated Press)

“It’s hard for any of us, as rational and compassionate people, to understand terrorism — to understand why people would want, in the name of some political cause, to simply terrorize, hurt kill innocent people, whole sections of society,” Harper told a news conference in Quebec City.

“But I think it is beyond our comprehension why somebody would target children. As a father, your heart just breaks when you see that kind of thing.”

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-condemns-sinister-terrorist-attack-on-pakistani-school-1.2874900

Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school

By

TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.

“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.

Read more » Global News
Learn more » http://globalnews.ca/news/1729686/peel-schools-lower-flags-in-support-of-people-killed-at-pakistan-school/

Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard

Militant siege of Peshawar school over, at least 131 killed

By Agencies | Zahir Shah Sherazi | Mateen Haider | Hassan Jahangiri | Abdul Hakim

PESHAWAR: Pakistani officials say the siege at an army-run school on Warsak road school is over, and authorities are now sweeping the area. Three officials, on condition of anonymity, told AP the operation to clear the school has ended. At least 131 people, most of them children, died when Taliban gunmen attacked the school in the morning. …..

….  6:42pm – Army chief in Peshawar, vows to hit terrorists hard

Army chief General Raheel Sharif has reached Peshawar and vowed to continue the fight against the militants until they are completely eliminated from the country.

DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa posted on twitter that the tragic incident has saddened that COAS, but at the same time he has said that, “our resolve has taken new height. Will continue go after inhuman beasts, their facilitators till their final elimination”.

Gen Sharif said that, “this ghastly act cowardice of killing innocents clearly indicates they (militants) are not only enemies of Pakistan but enemies of humanity”.

“They have hit at the heart of the nation, but let me reiterate they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the DG ISPR.

Read more » DAWN
Learn more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1151203

 

9/11 for Pakistan – Taliban massacre 126 children in Pakistan.

Pakistan Taliban kill scores in Peshawar school massacre

At least 126 people, mostly children, have been killed in a Taliban assault on an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, officials say.

All six of the militants who entered the building are said to have been killed, at least one of them in a suicide blast.

However, the army has not declared the operation over. Most of the 500 students have been evacuated.

The attack is being seen as one of the worst so far in Pakistan.

Read more » BBC
L
earn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30491435

Pakistan using militants as proxies to counter superior Indian Army: Pentagon

WASHINGTON: In a blunt assessment of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan, the Pentagon has told the US Congress that the country is using militant groups as proxies to counter the superior Indian military.

“Afghan – and India – focused militants continue to operate from Pakistan territory to the detriment of Afghan and regional stability. Pakistan uses these proxy forces to hedge against the loss of influence in Afghanistan and to counter India’s superior military,” the Pentagon told the Congress in its latest six-monthly report on the current situation in Afghanistan.

“These relationships run counter to Pakistan’s public commitment to support Afghan-led reconciliation. Such groups continue to act as the primary irritant in Afghan-Pakistan bilateral relations,” the Pentagon said in the report running into more than 100 pages.

Referring to the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, the Pentagon said this was done just ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.

“In May of this reporting period, the Indian consulate in Herat Province was attacked by a group of four heavily armed militants. The attack came three days prior to the swearing-in of the new Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi is perceived as being close to Hindu nationalist groups, a fact that may have played into the timing of the attack,” it said.

“In June, the US department of state announced that the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was responsible for the attack. Following the attack, former Afghan President Karzai denounced the attack and made strong statements supporting relations with India,” the report said.

Courtesy: http://m.timesofindia.com/india/Pakistan-using-militants-as-proxies-to-counter-superior-Indian-Army-Pentagon/articleshow/45031312.cms

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More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/11/141104_pentagon_accuse_pakistan?ocid=socialflow_facebook

10 questions for Imran Khan

By Farrukh Saleem

Q 1: Sir, you have always maintained that militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because the militants are being attacked by American drones. But the militants insist that they would “kill everyone and anyone who stands against the imposition” of their version of Islam. In essence, the militants are convinced that they are fighting for ‘Islam’ while you continue to maintain that militant actions are actually reactions to American drones.

Q 2: Sir, if anyone wishes to negotiate with the PML-N, he would naturally have Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Pervez Rasheed in mind. You have always favoured negotiating peace with the militants. Please name just four names representing the militants that are in your mind with whom you will negotiate peace.

Q 3: Sir, you have promised that Prime Minister Imran Khan shall wipe off militancy from the face of the country. Can you please name just two militant organisations that you plan to wipe off?

Q 4: Sir, you have been rightly pointing out that more than 40,000 innocent Pakistani lives have been lost in what you say is ‘America’s war’. Can you please identify by name the forces and groups responsible for the loss?

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-137850-10-questions-for-Imran-Khan

Spillover effect: ISIS making inroads into Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Shamim Shahid

PESHAWAR: In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.

The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/757186/spillover-effect-isis-making-inroads-into-pakistan-afghanistan/

What ISIS and the ‘caliphate’ mean for Pakistan

Taliban TerroristsBy Muhammad Amir Rana

Among many factors, the Pakistani state’s protracted apathy and inaction on the issue of security has provided non-state actors the spaces to grow and expand their influence. They used these spaces not only to propagate their ideologies and narratives but also to establish a ‘state within the state’ in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Even as counteraction is now underway, the sudden rise of ISIS has threatened to make matters worse for us.

The militants are jubilant over the success of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has established a ‘caliphate’, or ‘Islamic state’ in parts of Syria and Iraq. This is not the first time militants have captured some territory and established their so-called Islamic writ.

Afghanistan, Pakistani tribal areas, Northern Mali and Somalia have experienced similar ventures by militants in the past, though on varying levels.

Rise of ISIS ≠ Fall of al Qaeda

Many experts see the decline of al Qaeda in the rise of ISIS, while analysing the recent developments happening in Iraq and Syria. That is a mistake.

A realistic review of militants’ strategies suggests that they first challenge the very foundation of the state by providing alternative socio-cultural and political narratives and then march onto its physical territory.

They may have differences over strategies, as ISIS and al Qaeda had, but ultimately they overcome their differences. Al Qaeda might feel stunned over the ‘victories’ of ISIS but now, instead of arguing with ISIS over strategies, will prefer to develop a consensus over a model of caliphate.

In some cases, militants develop alliances with nationalist groups.

That’s what happened in Northern Mali, where the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had developed coordination with Islamist groups. But when they captured a territory, Islamist groups started imposing Shariah. The alliance was weakened due to ensuing infightings and eventually broke up after a military offensive was launched by the French forces.

A dangerous inspiration

Apart from group dynamics, inspiration plays an important role in militants’ efforts to replicate one success in other parts of the world.

The rise and success of ISIS could play a very dangerous, inspirational role in Pakistan, where more than 200 religious organisations are operating on the national and regional level.

These organisations pursue multiple agendas such as transformation of society according to their ideologies, the enforcement of Shariah law, establishment of Khilafah (caliphate) system, fulfilment of their sectarian objectives and achievement of Pakistan’s strategic and ideological objectives through militancy.

Such organisations could be influenced by the success of ISIS in various ways. A few would limit themselves to providing just moral support, but others might actively provide donations and financial assistance on ISIS’ call.

Common purpose: Establish the state of Khurasan

Still others — mainly religious extremist and militant organisations — could find inspiration in ISIS’ strategies and tactics.

This is possible since even groups operating in two different regions can find common ground in the Takfiri ideologies they believe in, and in the organisational links they share with each other.

The map released by ISIS shows countries for expansion marked in black across North Africa, into mainland Spain, across the Middle East and into Muslim countries of Central and South Asian region. It depicts exactly the states, which are or once remained under Muslim control.

According to this notion, the territory which has come under Muslim rule even once becomes a permanent part of Islamic caliphate. These territories, if later invaded by non-Muslims, will be considered as unjustly occupied territories and it will be obligatory for a Muslim to struggle to regain them.

Interestingly, the ISIS map shows both Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the Islamic caliphate state’s Khurasan province. Al Qaeda and its affiliates believe that the movement for the establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan will emerge from the region comprising of the Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan and Malakand region of Pakistan.

They consider Khurasan as the base camp of international jihad, from where they will expand the Islamic state boundaries into other non-Muslim lands. Mullah Fazlullah of Swat was inspired by the notion and considered himself the founder of the Khurasan movement.

Many other groups and commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan subscribe to the same idea, but only a few groups have dedicated themselves to the cause of establishment of the Islamic state of Khurasan.

The current TTP leadership — mainly Fazlullah and his deputy Qayum Haqqani, and Khalid Khurasani group in Mohmand and Bajaur agencies of Fata — are leading this movement, not only on the militant, but on the ideological front as well.

The concentration of al Qaeda and TTP hardliner groups in Kunar and Nuristan are of the same mind; they intend to use the territory as a base camp for the establishment of the state of Khurasan. Though they are not strong enough to trigger a massive militant campaign like the one going on in Iraq, they will remain a critical security irritant and keep inspiring radical minds in the region.

Continue reading What ISIS and the ‘caliphate’ mean for Pakistan

ANP leaders said military protected Haqqanis, other militants

KARACHI: In a meeting with an American diplomat in July 2009, ANP leader Senator Afrasiab Khattak claimed that the Haqqani network, a militant group the US holds responsible for multiple attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, was being protected by the Pakistan military.

The report is one of a number of American diplomatic cables obtained by Dawn that reveal a deep mistrust among the leadership of the ANP, the party responsible for governance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about the military’s intentions regarding various militant groups in KP and FATA.

“Khattak described the Pakistani military as treating the Haqqanis ‘separately’ … from other militants,” reported Lynne Tracy, the Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Peshawar. “The Haqqani family, [Khattak] observed, has already moved out of North Waziristan.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/630875/anp-leaders-said-military-protected-haqqanis-other-militants

The military will not decisively act against its own strategic assets unless an ideological shift occurs at mass level

OUR VIEWPOINT ON ZARB-E-AZB

Written by  Redaktion

Yet another military operation has been launched in Waziristan Agency. Post-9/11, this will be fifth operation in the Agency.

While Viewpoint is staunchly opposed to the Taliban and considers them the biggest immediate threat to working classes in Pakistan, we refuse to lend support to the ongoing military operation for the following reasons:

1.       Amputating cancerous hand, preserving cancer: A military operation in Waziristan Agency implies that terrorism in Pakistan is geographically located. This is a fake beginning. Hence, it will only prolong the fight against puritan terror. Fact of the matter is, taproot of terrorism is located elsewhere. To be precise, terrorism in Pakistan emanates from Islamabad/Rawalpindi. It is grounded in the official policy-making, anchored in military doctrines, and situated in foreign office. Viewpoint has repeatedly pointed out: unless a paradigm shift displacing the Doctrine of Strategic Depth takes place, the Taliban terror cannot be decisively defeated. Furthermore, without abandoning the Jihadi infrastructure [ consisting of Punjab-based, Kashmir-specific, and anti-Shia outfits as well as mosque-and-madrassa networks], terrorism cannot be successfully fought back. Likewise, only by deradicalising the entire state and society (military, judiciary, constitution, media, education system and so on) we can expect a beginning of terrorism’s end. There is no piecemeal solution. In the absence of such radical paradigmatic shifts, the Waziristan operation will be tantamount to amputating cancerous hand while preserving the cancerous arm. Therefore, it is an absurd position to take if one supports or opposes amputation of a cancerous hand by khaki messiahs without operating upon the source of cancer.

Read more » View Point Online
http://www.viewpointonline.net/2014/06/our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb/3828-our-viewpoint-on-zarb-e-azb#.U6niUJmUsGk.facebook

Can Pakistan be saved? Or will it go the Iraq way?

By C Uday Bhaskar

The Pakistan military launched Zarb-e-Azb, a major offensive operation against terror groups operating from North Waziristan Sunday, a week after the Karachi airport was audaciously attacked by the Taliban. In the last 48 hours, it is reported that more than 170 terrorists were killed while six soldiers died during the operation which is still continuing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared: “We will no longer allow Pakistan to be a sanctuary for terrorism at any cost.” The military in turn has highlighted in a press release that it is acting on the “directions” of the civilian government and has “been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and colour, along with their sanctuaries”.

On the face of it, this is a welcome development, in that the Pakistan military has publicly reiterated two critical determinants; first that it is operating as per the directives of the elected government and second, that it will eliminate “terrorists regardless of hue and colour”. The inference that follows is that this time around there will be no distinction between the good and the bad terrorist.

However, there have been two other military operations that GHQ Rawalpindi had initiated in 2009 in Swat and South Waziristan and in both cases, after imposing a heavy cost on the terror groups, the military withdrew without seeking effective closure and the various terror outfits regrouped to challenge the state again. The Karachi airport attack is illustrative of the determination and virulence of the ideology that is  driving the Taliban and its affiliates.

Both the Pakistani political establishment and the military are culpable of having nurtured and sought the support of different factions of the right-wing constituency for their own institutional advantage. If the Pakistan army and the intelligence agencies created and supported certain groups to obtain “strategic depth” in both India and Afghanistan through proxy, political parties led by Nawaz Sharif and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan portrayed the Taliban as brethren who had been misguided and held out the olive branch of reconciliation. Even when the Pakistan Army wanted to pursue a more robust anti-Taliban policy after the beheading of troops, the political ambivalence prevailed.

Karachi is being seen as the tipping point and the name of the operation – Zarb-e-Azb – which means sharp and cutting has a religious salience that merits notice. The theological reference is to the sword of Prophet Muhammad reportedly used in the battle of Badr (624 AD) and by invoking this symbol, the Pak military, it may be conjectured, is assuming a mantle of higher religious legitimacy against the Taliban. The latter in turn perceive themselves as the true guardians of the faith and their objective is to impose an intolerant, inflexible version of the practice of Islam, in which the Shia and other sects are legitimate targets for slaughter.

None of these developments are new to Pakistan and have been gathering momentum for decades with the connivance of the state and civil society. A malignant ideology and a destructive eco-system that intimidated the non-Sunni denominations through political connivance and the introduction of draconian blasphemy laws reached its most tragic manifestation in the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard. His crime – supporting due legal process in a blasphemy case against a Pakistani Christian woman.

It may be recalled that the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) episode of Islamabad in July 2007 that marked the end of the Musharraf era was in essence an example of how the Islamist right-wing and its pervasive support triumphed and forced the state to withdraw. At the time it was reported that even the Pakistan Army’s top leadership was uneasy with the Musharraf diktat and opined that many in the rank and file of the military would oppose  any muscular action against the right-wing radicals.

Thus, the moot question is the degree to which the Pakistani political establishment in Islamabad and the GHQ in Rawalpindi will be “sharp and cutting” in eliminating the terror groups and their sanctuaries. Prime Minister Sharif has been in touch with Afghan President Ahmed Karzai to coordinate operations and deny the groups sanctuary in Afghanistan and it is expected that the US will provide tacit support in this endeavour by way of intelligence and drone attacks.

Zarb-e-Azb marks the tactical and military dimension of dealing with the (Islamist) chickens that have come home to roost. The Pakistan military has demonstrated that it has the ability to apply the pressure on the adversary – should it decide to do so. Yes, there have been threats of reprisal and the Pak Taliban has threatened to target Punjab – the Sharif base – which till now was off the terror radar.

The true test of Zarb-e-Azb will be its strategic and political underpinning. Will Islamabad and Rawalpindi arrive at that final and irrevocable determination to sever links with Muridke – the headquarter of groups like the Lashkar and other such centres? This is where the sharp and cutting quality is most required.

Absent this candid admission that support to terror cannot be selectively sustained, the current effort will have limited value and the lives of the Pakistani troops lost will be in vain. Sharif and Pakistan Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, have a rare opportunity to save Pakistan from the kind of specter that now threatens Iraq.

(C Uday Bhaskar is Distinguished Fellow, Society for Policy Studies. He can be contacted at cudyabhaskar@spsindia.in)

Courtesy: The South Asia Monitor
http://southasiamonitor.org/detail.php?type=sl&nid=8332