Tag Archives: Khost

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

Taliban bodies are ‘returned to Pakistan for burial’ – BBC

The bodies of nine Taliban fighters, who slipped over the border and attacked a Nato convoy in Afghanistan, have been returned to Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area for burial. They were part of a 50-member group of fighters loyal to militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur.

Many vehicles were torched in the attack on the convoy in Afghanistan’s Khost province two weeeks ago. But the fighters were killed in a Nato air raid that followed the attack. Residents in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan, told the BBC that the dead fighters were between 15 and 25 years old and were from the area.

Continue reading Taliban bodies are ‘returned to Pakistan for burial’ – BBC

Nato helicopters intrude into Pakistan

Nato helicopters intrude into North Waziristan

MIRANSHAH: Amid mortar shelling from across the Pak-Afghan border, Nato helicopters on Tuesday violated Pakistan’s airspace and intruded into the border area of Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan, Pakistani officials said.

The government officials said two Nato helicopters intruded into the border area of North Waziristan and flew back to Afghanistan after flying over the border villages for some time.

Also, officials based in the Pak-Afghan border area said nine mortar shells were fired from across the border from Afghanistan’s Khost province that landed in the border villages of Bangidar and Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan. They said the mortars landed in the villages and exploded, but did not cause human losses.

Courtesy: The News

Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

– Analysis » By Khaled Ahmed

The planned committee that will ensure that the APC statement is acted upon will have a tough time bringing the Haqqanis under control because in this instance the tail is wagging the dog

During the APC against America on 29 September 2011 in Islamabad, Maulana Samiul Haq said that the Haqqani network was ‘indigenous to Pakistan’. How could he say that except on the basis of the fact that both the founder of the Network, Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son the current commander Siraj, are graduates of his Madrassa Haqqania in Akora Khattak, Nowshehra, near Peshawar?

Continue reading Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

Pakistan and the US: beyond the tailspin – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink

So, he surrendered to parliament. Or did he? The Pakistani government’s minister for information would have one believe that he did. But General Ahmed Shuja Pasha may actually be recalling Julius Caesar’s words: veni, vidi, vici! The only difference is that when Caesar claimed ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’, he was reporting to the Roman Senate about his swift military victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus. However, for all practical purposes, General Pasha and the security establishment’s triumph is on the domestic front. For now, they seem to have vanquished parliament quite successfully. Like Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, the PPP, PML-Q and the MQM threw themselves into the military’s arms with a fervent “…and yes I said yes I will Yes”. The PML-N’s chiding notwithstanding, Generals Pasha and Ashfaq Kayani had their cake and got to eat it too.

The well-choreographed Pasha tamasha in parliament and the events preceding and after it has left the Pakistani parliament weaker than ever before. Many of us never had any illusions about the security establishment’s tall tale that the civilians should take charge of foreign and security affairs. But anyone who still had a doubt about the ones calling the shots need not look any further than the US Senator John Kerry’s very first stop on his visit to Pakistan this week. Despite his recent tame requests for the prime minister to convene parliament to discuss the Osama bin Laden fiasco, General Kayani did not find anything wrong with Senator Kerry seeing him before meeting the civilian leadership. A simple change in the visiting senator’s itinerary could have been requested — and very likely accepted by the guest — but it was not. Well, so much for the military’s newfound love for parliament’s supremacy. But one must give credit where it is due. A bakery-running enterprise may not be a fighting force but it could be pretty deft at politics.  ….

…. No matter how Pakistan spins it, the tailspin in its relationship with the US and the world at large cannot be reversed by returning the stealth H-60 Blackhawk’s tail. The Pakistani brass is way too familiar with the words “peanuts” when describing a disproportionately minuscule response to tectonic shifts in geopolitics. Osama bin Laden’s lair, less than a mile away from the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, is not a pinprick that the world, let alone the US, would forget so easily. The Pakistani parliament may have been duped with it, but there is every indication that the US Congress and the White House consider the ‘intelligence failure’ excuse an insult to their intelligence.

Senator Kerry’s soft but measured tone indicates that the Pakistani brass still has some time, perhaps through July, to make serious amends but all options, including moving the UN, remain on the table. The senator also seems to have spelt out some of the bare-minimum metrics for any rapprochement. Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Mullah Omar and his Quetta Shura on the one hand and the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and its various incarnations on the other, will certainly determine the future relationship between Pakistan and the world at large. But if the senator’s visit to Khost — across from North Waziristan — is any indication, the dismantling of the Haqqani network is at the top of the confidence-building agenda. The military events surrounding Senator Kerry’s Pak-Afghan visits suggest that the US is not about to blink first. The question remains whether the Pakistani establishment will pull back from the brink. Unlike the Pakistani parliament, the UN Security Council may actually be difficult to conquer.

To read complete article: Daily Tiems

Kurram: the forsaken FATA —Dr Mohammad Taqi

The flat out refusal of the Kurramis, who have lost over 1,200 souls since April 2007, to cede their territory and pride to the jihadists and their masters has thrown a wrench in the latter’s immediate plans. Having failed to dupe the citizenry, the establishment has elected to bring them to their knees by force
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited a tribal agency last week but he did not tender an apology to some local families, whose dear ones — including children — were killed by the Pakistan Army gunship helicopters this past September. Not that one was holding one’s breath for the general’s regrets but it would have presented some semblance of fairness given the Pakistan Army’s demands for apology and furore over the NATO choppers killing its troops in the same region during the same month. Well, life is not fair as it is, especially for the people of Kurram — the third largest Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA).

The crime of these civilians, killed by their own army, was that they had been resisting the influx of foreign terrorists into their territory. Despite the claims put forth by the military about the NATO incursion, it is clear now that the latter had attacked the members of the Haqqani terrorist network who were using the village of Mata Sangar in Kurram to attack the ISAF posts in neighbouring Khost, Afghanistan. Reportedly, the de facto leader of the Haqqani network, Sirajuddin Haqqani, was in the region at the time of the NATO attack.

What has also become increasingly clear is that the Pakistani establishment is trying its level best to relocate its Haqqani network assets to the Kurram Agency in anticipation of an operation that it would have to start — under pressure from the US — in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA) sooner rather than later. This is precisely what the establishment had intended to do when it said that the NWA operation would be conducted in its own timeframe. The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners.
This is not the first time that the security establishment has attempted to use the Kurram Agency to provide transit or sanctuary to its Afghan Taliban allies. It did so during the so-called jihad of the 1980s and 1990s when the geo-strategic tip of the region called the Parrot’s Beak served as a bridgehead for operations against the neighbouring Afghan garrisons, especially Khost. In the fall of 2001, the Pakistan Army moved into Kurram and the Tirah Valley straddling the Khyber and Kurram agencies, ostensibly to block al Qaeda’s escape from the Tora Bora region. The Tirah deployment actually served as a diversion, as al Qaeda and key Afghan Taliban were moved through Kurram and in some instances helped to settle there. …
Read more : Daily Times