Tag Archives: Lashkar

Taliban fighters and the remaining Taliban militants ran away like cowards

ANALYSIS: Ali Khels: the state apathy continues

by Farhat Taj

The punishment was the destruction of the Ali Khel tribal leadership and the displacement of the entire tribe in the sham army operation that was later started in the area and to this date has not been ‘able’ to ‘clear’ the area of the Taliban

October 10, 2011 was the third anniversary of the devastating suicide attack on a grand tribal jirga in Orakzai that killed the entire Sunni-Shia tribal leadership of the Ali Khel tribe, the biggest tribe in Orakzai. The jirga was leading an anti-Taliban lashkar (militia) against the Taliban in the Ali Khel area — Tirah in Orakzai. Faced with growing Taliban atrocities and lack of state protection despite the repeated requests to the government of Pakistan, the Ali Khels were forced to take up weapons against the Taliban.

The Taliban militants who came to the Ali Khel area around early 2008 initially committed atrocities against the Shia Ali Khels and those Sunnis who defied the Taliban’s social boycott of the Shias. In response, the minority Shia section of the tribe requested the majority Sunni section of the tribe to support them against the Taliban. The Sunni Ali Khel section, already alarmed by the growing highhandedness of the Taliban, decided to protect the Shias by removing the Taliban from their area through force following the government of Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against the Taliban.

An anti-Taliban lashkar consisting of over 2,000 Shia and Sunni Ali Khel tribesmen was created. Within weeks the lashkar burnt down Taliban centres in the Ali Khel area, killed several Taliban fighters and the remaining Taliban militants ran away like cowards. A grand Shia-Sunni Ali Khel jirga consisting of over 5,000 confident tribesmen was convened to decide the fate of the Ali Khel boys who had joined the Taliban, but now had surrendered themselves to the mercy of the jirga. In the meanwhile, a Taliban vehicle loaded with 150 kilos of explosive material rammed into the jirga gathering and instantly killed over 100 Ali Khel tribal leaders of various socio-political stature, along with tens of other tribesmen, and injured hundreds. …

Read more » Daily Times

BRUCE RIEDEL – As long as the Army calls the shots in Pak, absolutely no hope for terrorism to end and no hope for Pak people

A New Pakistan Policy: Containment

By BRUCE O. RIEDEL

Washington: AMERICA needs a new policy for dealing with Pakistan. First, we must recognize that the two countries’ strategic interests are in conflict, not harmony, and will remain that way as long as Pakistan’s army controls Pakistan’s strategic policies. We must contain the Pakistani Army’s ambitions until real civilian rule returns and Pakistanis set a new direction for their foreign policy.

As Adm. Mike Mullen, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee last month, Pakistan provides critical sanctuary and support to the Afghan insurgency that we are trying to suppress. Taliban leaders meet under Pakistani protection even as we try to capture or kill them.

In 2009, I led a policy review for President Obama on Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the time, Al Qaeda was operating with virtual impunity in Pakistan, and its ally Lashkar-e-Taiba had just attacked the Indian city of Mumbai and killed at least 163 people, including 6 Americans, with help from Pakistani intelligence. Under no illusions, Mr. Obama tried to improve relations with Pakistan by increasing aid and dialogue; he also expanded drone operations to fight terrorist groups that Pakistan would not fight on its own.

It was right to try engagement, but now the approach needs reshaping. We will have to persevere in Afghanistan in the face of opposition by Pakistan.

The generals who run Pakistan have not abandoned their obsession with challenging India. They tolerate terrorists at home, seek a Taliban victory in Afghanistan and are building the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. They have sidelined and intimidated civilian leaders elected in 2008. They seem to think Pakistan is invulnerable, because they control NATO’s supply line from Karachi to Kabul and have nuclear weapons.

The generals also think time is on their side — that NATO is doomed to give up in Afghanistan, leaving them free to act as they wish there. So they have concluded that the sooner America leaves, the better it will be for Pakistan. They want Americans and Europeans to believe the war is hopeless, so they encourage the Taliban and other militant groups to speed the withdrawal with spectacular attacks, like the Sept. 13 raid on the United States Embassy in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghan police officers and civilians.

It is time to move to a policy of containment, which would mean a more hostile relationship. But it should be a focused hostility, aimed not at hurting Pakistan’s people but at holding its army and intelligence branches accountable. When we learn that an officer from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is aiding terrorism, whether in Afghanistan or India, we should put him on wanted lists, sanction him at the United Nations and, if he is dangerous enough, track him down. Putting sanctions on organizations in Pakistan has not worked in the past, but sanctioning individuals has — as the nuclear proliferator Abdul Qadeer Khan could attest.

Offering Pakistan more trade while reducing aid makes sense. When we extend traditional aid, media outlets with ties to the ISI cite the aid to weave conspiracy theories that alienate Pakistanis from us. Mr. Obama should instead announce that he is cutting tariffs on Pakistani textiles to or below the level that India and China enjoy; that would strengthen entrepreneurs and women, two groups who are outside the army’s control and who are interested in peace.

Military assistance to Pakistan should be cut deeply. Regular contacts between our officers and theirs can continue, but under no delusion that we are allies.

Osama bin Laden’s death confirmed that we can’t rely on Pakistan to take out prominent terrorists on its soil. We will still need bases in Afghanistan from which to act when we see a threat in Pakistan. But drones should be used judiciously, for very important targets.

In Afghanistan, we should not have false hopes for a political solution. We can hope that top figures among the Quetta Shura — Afghan Taliban leaders who are sheltered in Quetta, Pakistan — will be delivered to the bargaining table, but that is unlikely, since the Quetta leadership assassinated Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and a former Afghan president, last month. The ISI will veto any Taliban peace efforts it opposes, which means any it doesn’t control. Rather than hoping for ISI help, we need to continue to build an Afghan Army that can control the insurgency with long-term NATO assistance and minimal combat troops.

Strategic dialogue with India about Pakistan is essential because it would focus the Pakistani Army’s mind. India and Pakistan are trying to improve trade and transportation links severed after they became independent in 1947, and we should encourage that. We should also increase intelligence cooperation against terrorist targets in Pakistan. And we should encourage India to be more conciliatory on Kashmir, by easing border controls and releasing prisoners.

America and Pakistan have had a tempestuous relationship for decades. For far too long we have banked on the Pakistani Army to protect our interests. Now we need to contain that army’s aggressive instincts, while helping those who want a progressive Pakistan and keeping up the fight against terrorism.

Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America and the Future of the Global Jihad.”

Courtesy: The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/opinion/a-new-pakistan-policy-containment.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

When was Pakistan’s fate sealed?

Pak paying heavily for its mistakes in the 1970s: Tony Blair

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “paying heavily” for its mistakes in the 1970s when it started mixing religion with politics and promoted extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

“I think Pakistan is paying a heavy price for the mistakes of 1970s by linking religion with politics and developing religious schools which are, in some cases, dangerous sources of extremism,” Blair told Karan Thapar in an interview to a news channel.

The former British prime minister was responding to queries relating to the role of ISI in spreading terrorism and its links with the Haqqani group in Afghanistan.

When asked if the US, after eliminating Osama bin laden, should also go after the Haqqani faction, Blair said it was something which the Americans have to decide.

“The trouble with these groups is that there is no way to use them wisely. On these issues like Pakistan might have to say about its influence in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India’s influence there, there will be nothing good out of supporting these groups,” he said.

“If ISI is engaged in such activities, in the end it will not merely affect US, UK, Afghanistan or India, it poisons the atmosphere in Pakistan also,” Blair said.

The former British prime minister said that if there was any linkage between the ISI and terror groups such as the Haqqani group and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, “it is a mistake.”

Blair said there was a need to engage “modern and open-minded” Pakistanis who are involved in a struggle against the extremists.

“We have to see how we can engage elements in Pakistan who believe that this was a mistake. The best way is to allow Pakistan to change and evolve and there are a lot of decent people in Pakistan,” he said.

Blair said that Pakistan itself has suffered a lot due to terrorism as thousands of people have been killed. There was a “struggle going on in the country between those with modern and open-minded attitude towards future against those who are in the power struggle and will play dangerously,” he said. ….

Read more → TOI

Arshad Sharif of DAWN TV under threat

Censoring Dawn TV‏ – by A. H. Nayyar

A very interesting thing happened this evening (28th July).

DawnTV was airing Arshad Sharif’s talk show Reporter. The topic today was growth of Islamic militancy, especially Jundullah within Pakistan’s military and its connection with Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

He started by showing a documentary on how Jundullah started in Quetta cantonment, how it spread across different formations of the military, showing some footage that looked original.

The discussants with Arshad were Air Marshall Shahzad Choudhry, Zahid Hussain and ret Gen Hamid Nawaz. As the documentary started, we saw, Hamid nawaz getting up and leaving.

Arshad then showed another short documentary which gave public sentiments on such trends in the military. Then came a commercial break.

After the break, the viewers saw that the program has been taken off the air. Instead Dawn started airing a completely different and old episode of Reporter. Clearly, the live program was censored. And clearly, from the top military brass.

What does the military have to hide that needed this censoring? Any comments from anyone knowledgeable?

I truly fear for the life of the brave journalist who had prepared the documentary.

Courtesy: → LUBP

via → LIC blog

The sham operation in Kurram – Dr Mohammad Taqi

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people, making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks

On July 4, 2011, the Pakistan Army announced that it has launched an operation in the Central Kurram Agency with the primary objective of clearing the ‘miscreants’ and opening of the Peshawar-Thall-Parachinar Road (why Tal has become Thall in the English press beats me). The geographical scope of the operation is rather circumscribed, if the army communiqués are to be believed, and its focus, ostensibly, would be on the Zaimusht, Masozai and Alizai areas. But speaking to the Kurramis from Lower, Central and Upper Kurram, one gets a different sense.

At least one General has reportedly been heard saying during the recent operational meetings leading up to the military action that he intends to teach the Turis (in Upper Kurram) a lesson that they would never forget. The Corps Commander’s communication delivered to the tribal elders of the Upper Kurram literally ordered them to acquiesce in and sign on to the operation. But quite significantly, many other leaders among the Turis, Bangash and Syeds of Upper Kurram have vehemently opposed the military action as well as their own elders who seem to have caved in under duress.

The Turis and Bangash tribesmen are of the opinion that on the Thall-Parachinar Road, the only extortionists bigger than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the officers of the army — and they specifically name two colonels — who have made life miserable for the people of Parachinar. These security officials levy protection money even on the supply of daily provisions and medicine to Upper Kurram, resulting in jacked-up prices and in many instances unavailability of life-saving drugs, resulting in deaths that otherwise could be preventable.

The more ominous and geo-strategically important aspects of the current army operation are twofold and are interconnected. We have noted in these pages several times that the Pakistan Army has no problem securing Central and parts of Lower Kurram for its jihadist asset, i.e. the Haqqani terrorist network, who have essentially had a free reign in this region for almost a decade using the Sateen, Shasho and Pir Qayyum camps. The army has also helped the Haqqani and Hekmatyar groups set up humungous compounds on the Durand Line such as the Spina Shaga complex.

The problem the security establishment has faced is to secure a thoroughfare between Central Kurram and the assorted jihadist bridgeheads along the Kurram-Afghanistan border, including but not limited to the Parrot’s Beak region. The key hindrance to such movement is the resistance by the Turi and Bangash tribesmen, which neither the security establishment nor its jihadist proxies have been able to neutralise, coerce or buy off. Projecting the Haqqani network and Hekmatyar’s operatives into Afghanistan from Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga and other bases on the border is a pivotal component of the Pakistani strategy to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan and for the post-US withdrawal phase. But with the recent wave of drone attacks on the hideouts of these groups, their vulnerability to the US/ISAF — buoyed by the OBL raid — has also become evident and hence the need for secure routes to retract the jihadists back when needed.

Several attacks on the Turi and Bangash, including by Pakistan Army helicopter gunships last year killing several Pakistanis, have not dented the resolve of the locals to fight back against the jihadists. I had noted in these pages then: “The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement [to relocate the Haqqanis to Kurram]. 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” (‘Kurram: the forsaken FATA’, Daily Times, November 4, 2010).

The option that the army wants to exercise now is to disarm the Upper Kurram’s tribesmen, especially the Turis. The security establishment has told them that they will have to surrender their “qawmi wasla” (an arms cache that belongs to a tribe as a whole). To disarm and thus defang the tribesmen, who have held their own against the disproportionately stronger and state-sponsored enemy for almost half a decade, is essentially pronouncing their death sentence.

Without their weapons, the Turis and Bangash will be at the whim of an army that had literally abandoned Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala and Pir Samiullah in Swat and the Adeyzai lashkar (outside Peshawar). Afzal Khan Lala lost several loyalists and family members and Pir Samiullah was murdered, his body buried but later exhumed and mutilated by the Taliban, while the army stood by and did nothing. My co-columnist and researcher, Ms Farhat Taj has highlighted the plight of the Adeyzai lashkar several times in these pages, including the fact that it was left high and dry by the security establishment against an overwhelming Taliban force. And lest we forget, it was this same army that made Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiate with Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban, with suicide bombers standing guard on each men and blocking the door along with muzzles of automatic rifles pointed into their faces.

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people (IDPs), making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks. Also, the establishment’s focus has been to ‘reorient’ the TTP completely towards Afghanistan. The breaking away from the TTP of the crook from Uchat village, Fazl-e-Saeed Zaimusht (who now interestingly writes Haqqani after his name) is the first step in the establishment’s attempt to regain full control over all its jihadist proxies.

The offensive in Central Kurram is not intended for securing the road; it will be broadened to include the Upper Kurram in due course, in an attempt to bring the Turis and Bangash to their knees. After their arms have been confiscated, it could be a turkey shoot for the jihadists and Darfur for the Kurramis. It is doubtful though that the common Turi or Bangash tribesman is about to listen to some elder who is beholden to the establishment, and surrender the only protection that they have had. The Pakistan Army’s track record of protecting jihadists and shoving the anti-Taliban forces off the deep end speaks for itself.

Pakistan’s security establishment can perpetuate on the US and the world a fraud like the hashtag de-radicalisation on Twitter and buzzwords like de-programming suicide bombers by trotting out the so-called intelligentsia whose understanding of the Pashtun issues is woefully flawed. But it is unlikely that Kurramis are about to fall for this sham of an operation that paves the way for their genocide.

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Terrorists Should be Fought outside Afghan Borders. Karzai said “After Osama death, the world should now realise that his country was ‘not the place of terrorism’. he urged NATO-led troops to chase terrorists out of Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai warns NATO about Air Strikes: Terrorists Should be Fought outside Afghan Borders. Karzai said “After Osama death, the world should now realise that his country was ‘not the place of terrorism’. He urged NATO-led troops to chase terrorists out of Afghanistan.

YouTube

Drigh Road or Shara-e-Faisal? – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment but WikiLeaks suggest that privately they keep venting their spleen to the US diplomats about it

“I keep six honest serving-men,

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When,

And How and Where and Who” — Rudyard Kipling.

Another week, another tragedy: the series of unfortunate events has no end. But each catastrophe, no matter how enormous, is matched with a conspiracy theory of even bigger proportions. The predilection for gossip and intrigue to explain away the existential threats has morphed from a national pastime to the national creed. The fear of mirrors appears to have robbed this nation of the last vestiges of objectivity.

But first things first: no matter how spectacular the attack on the Pakistan Naval Station (PNS) Mehran, far greater remains the sacrifice of the men of Pakistan’s armed forces who laid down their lives in the line of duty. Lieutenant Yasir Abbas and his comrades, martyred while wrestling back the control of PNS Mehran, deserve a collective bow from this nation. May their souls rest in peace.

It would have been highly desirable if the top civil and military leaders had deemed it their responsibility to attend the funeral of these heroes, for boosting the rapidly plummeting morale, if not to send a message to the terrorists. In a country where vicious killers like Mumtaz Qadri are garlanded for the most heinous acts, such omissions are literally a dereliction of duty on the part of the civil and military leadership. For our part, we can only offer our deepest condolences to the bereaved families to whom we shall remain ever indebted.

The leadership’s ambivalence points towards our real dilemma. While the killers and their supporters are absolutely clear about their objectives and how to achieve them, the state seems to be clueless and rudderless. From an absolute denial to dodging accountability, those at the helm come up with the lamest possible excuses: foreign hand a la American-Indo-Zionist agents unleashing a reign of terror on one of the oldest military establishments of the subcontinent. Is it possible? Well, theoretically it is. But if such is the case then perhaps someone needs to turn in a cap, pips, baton and a belt.

However, even if the blame for a security lapse or breach is affixed justly and all questions are answered appropriately, it may only satisfy the what, when, where, who and how of the event. A military investigation would likely focus on the methods and weaponry used by the attackers and the response of the security agencies. From a tactical perspective this could certainly be very helpful in hardening and thus safeguarding any potential targets. But from a strategic standpoint, unless one seeks an answer to the why, all inquiries, no matter how impartial, will remain meaningless and lead to dead ends. The domestic, regional and international implications of any such attack are myriad and it is imperative that lessons are drawn, and swiftly at that. But it would be impossible to formulate a response without clearly identifying the enemy and determining its motive. And that is where it becomes tricky.

India or the US may be looking at the PNS Mehran attack with glee but there is absolutely nothing strategic that they gain from two P-3C Orion aircraft being destroyed. The psychological impact of audacious attacks on iconic targets is a tactic in asymmetrical — not conventional — warfare. The al Qaeda-Taliban have announced not only their viability through this attack but it perhaps marks the arrival of Saif-al-Adel, who had masterminded a similar attack in Riyadh, as al Qaeda’s new leader. And nothing induces recruitment of cadres than a high profile retribution for bin Laden’s killing.

Pakistani right-wing politicians like Imran Khan and Munawar Hassan would have one believe that everything was hunky-dory in Pakistan till the big bad US rolled into Afghanistan in 2001. They would go blue in the face talking about the dollars that bankrolled the anti-Soviet mujahideen. But they conveniently gloss over the fact that Saudi Arabia matched the US dollar-for-dollar to help Pakistan create the jihadist monster. That great patron of jihadist pan-Islamism, General Ziaul Haq, consummated the tying of the knot with the Saudis by rechristening many cities and places in Pakistan. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base Drigh Road thus became the PAF base Shara-e-Faisal in 1977. (Arabic word ‘Shara’ and not the Persian ‘Shahrah’, was used for the road). The PNS Mehran is an extension of that same PAF base Drigh Road.

However, this is not just where the selective amnesia ends. These ultranationalists and their cohorts in the media, who are projecting them 24/7 into our living rooms, take great pains to avoid pointing a finger towards the jihadists, especially the ones who are predominantly India-oriented. Parallels are being drawn between the PNS Mehran attack and the one on the GHQ in 2009, which is a partial truth. The first such attack that had showed a high level of strategic vision through an erudite choice of high profile target and deployment of sophisticated tactics was on the Red Fort, Delhi, on December 22, 2000, carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). Subsequent attacks, including on the Indian parliament, Mumbai, Sri Lankan cricket team, Manawan Police Academy, the Pakistani GHQ and several in Afghanistan have the fingerprints of the assorted jihadist franchises affiliated with al Qaeda.

But people like Imran Khan who leads sit-ins attended by members of banned terrorist outfits, whose lieutenants are seen literally holding hands with Hafiz Saeed of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and who makes it a point to visit every major madrassa from where the jihadist leadership has graduated, can hardly be blamed for protecting their ilk. These obscurantists will continue to weave webs of lies and deceit that perpetuate not just the confusion in the general public’s mind but make an already perfidious enemy even more nebulous.

While the pro-Taliban leaders led by Imran Khan have been steadily building a neo-jihadist narrative, the secular leadership has been missing in action. The secular leaders have abdicated all foreign and security policy-related matters pertaining to the establishment ….

Read more : Daily Times

The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

CARTE BLANCHE: Horror, of which I am dying – Mehmal Sarfraz

Excerpt:

It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture. ….

…. There are many reasons why most people in Pakistan continue to live in denial but the main one is our security paradigm. For decades we have been fed lies by our military. The military has overtly and covertly supported terrorist networks. A large chunk of our budget goes to defence without anyone questioning our armed forces on where it is spent. Between loan repayments and the defence budget, hardly any money is left to be spent on education, healthcare, development, etc. India is made out to be enemy number one. To counter the ‘Indian threat’, we need the vile Taliban on our side in Afghanistan since they are our “strategic assets”; we nurture terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) to carry out militant jihad in Indian Kashmir and cross-border attacks inside India; we are soon going to be “the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power” as per some reports. Lest we forget, we have lost all official and unofficial wars against India (most of which, by the way, were started by Pakistan). An atomic bomb and stockpiles of nuclear weapons is no guarantee that we can win in the unlikely event of another war. The only reason why our military has kept this threat perception alive is because it is hard for them to part with the moolah that keeps coming their way and the power they wield over this country. It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture.

The Pakistan military’s double game in the war on terror was never a secret yet the US kept pouring in billions of dollars in military aid to secure our help in the war on terror. Young soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives in combat and terrorist attacks because of the flawed policies of the military establishment.

The day Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the US, the world’s suspicions were confirmed. Our intelligence agencies claimed incompetence, but not many buy this excuse, given how bin Laden was living in such close proximity to the Pakistan Military Academy. The world turned on our military and intelligence agencies but our government chose to give them a clean chit. Mian Nawaz Sharif, for whatever reasons, was the only one who took a principled stance as far as civil-military relations were concerned but he found no takers in the current democratic set-up who stood by him. After decades our civilian leadership had a golden opportunity to take the military to task but in order to pursue their political interests, the government and its allies let them off scot-free.

The problem is that, however much we try to hide our flaws, the world is not blind. Our security establishment cannot keep on harbouring terrorists. It is time to wake up to the reality that we cannot go on like this forever because it is a sure-shot recipe for self-destruction.

Pakistan’s name has been tarnished by those who claim to be our ‘guardians’ and ‘protectors’. As Pakistanis, we must vow not to let anyone wreak havoc in the name of ‘strategic depth’. Victor Jara, a Chilean political activist and revolutionary poet, was arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in September 1973 following a military coup. He wrote a poem — ‘Estadio Chile’ — which spoke of the horror in front of him. His words, though written in a different context, haunt me every time a terrorist attack takes place:

“How hard it is to sing,

When I must sing of horror.

Horror which I am living,

Horror which I am dying.”

Pakistanis are living and dying a horror of which we must all sing. Let’s stop this horror now. It may take years but we must break our silence and speak the truth for once.

To read complete article: Daily Times

via Wichaar

Deep state – the history of the double game

The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas ki Baat with Najam Sethi and Muneeb Farooq, 24th may 2011)

via ZemTV, YouTube

Focus should be Pakistan not Afghanistan, Sen. Lugar

US senators see Afghan hope, Pakistan fears

by Shaun Tandon

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Leading US senators on Tuesday saw momentum for political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and urged a greater shift in focus to fighting extremism in Pakistan. …

…. Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the same committee, questioned why the United States was spending some $120 billion a year in Afghanistan, where some 100,000 US troops are deployed.

The question before us is whether Afghanistan is strategically important enough to justify the lives and massive resources that we are spending there, especially given that few terrorists in Afghanistan have global designs or reach,” the Indiana lawmaker said.

“To the extent that our purpose is to confront the global terrorist threat, we should be refocusing resources on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, parts of North Africa and other locations,” Lugar said.

Senators voiced concern about what they saw as support from Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, ….

Read more : Yahoo News

via Wichaar

Serving Major among 4 Pak nationals behind 2008 Mumbai attacks: US chargesheet

by Wichaar Desk

NEW DELHI: A suspected serving Pakistani Major, believed to be working with the ISI, is among four nationals of that country charged by the US with being alleged conspirators behind the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes.

The accused identified as ‘Major Iqbal’, was named along with Sajid Mir, Mazhar Iqbal and Abu Qahafa in a second superseding indictment filed by the federal prosecutors before a court in Chicago on April 25 last. Besides, the indictment mentioned an unnamed individual as “Lashkar Member D.”

Indian investigators had named Major Iqbal along with another Pakistani Army officer Major Sameer Ali as the brain behind the Mumbai terror strikes and on the request of New Delhi, Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against them.

The dossier was handed over during the Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level talks on February 25, 2010 in New Delhi.

The role of ‘Major Iqbal’ emerged in the interrogation by the FBI of US terror suspect David Headley, arrested in Chicago in October, 2009 in connection with the Mumbai attack.

The four men identified were previously mentioned but not named in the indictments that charged Pakistani-American David Headley and Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana in connection with the Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people, including six Americans.

An individual known as ‘Major Iqbal’ participated in planning and funding attacks carried out by LeT in Mumbai, federal prosecutors said.

According to the Indian dossier, Maj Iqbal was posted in Lahore from 2007 to 2008 and was handling Headley. He also handled all the surveillance videos sent by Headley.

The US federal prosecutor said that in July 2006, Major Iqbal provided to Headley approximately USD 25,000 to, among other purposes, establish and operate the Mumbai office of First World and pay for living expenses while Headley carried out his assignments for Lashkar.

In September 2006, February 2007, September 2007, April 2008 and July 2008, Headley travelled to Mumbai for extended periods for the purpose of conducting surveillance of possible targets of attacks by LeT.

Prior to Headley’s departure for each of these trips, Mir and Major Iqbal along with others instructed Headley regarding locations where he was to conduct video surveillance in and around Mumbai, as well as other locations in India.

After each trip, Headley travelled to Pakistan, where he met Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal associated with Lashkar to report on the results of his surveillance, and provided them with photographs and videos from the surveillance, the US federal prosecutors said. …

Read more : Wichaar

Mystery Still Surrounds the Death of Terrorism Mastermind: Hard Days Ahead for Pakistan

– Mystery Still Surrounds the Death of Terrorism Mastermind: Hard Days Ahead for Pakistan; Security Establishment Under Strong Attack; Civil Government Comes to Its Rescue; Osamas’ Wife Shifted to Rawalpindi for Treatment; Daughters Are Under Protective Custody, But Where?

By Aijaz Ahmed

Islamabad: The news of the ‘Operation Get Osama’ and the death of the terrorist mastermind and chief of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden has sent tremors throughout the country. Islamabad, the calm and quite capital of Pakistan, seems under a complete shock with mystifying meetings, phone calls and tight lips of the top brass, making the situation more difficult & incomprehensible for the observers and diplomatic commentators.

Read more : Indus Herald

LeT holds prayers for bin Laden in Pakistan

By Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The founder one of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) told his followers to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his “martyrdom” would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday.

LeT has been holding special prayers for bin Laden in several cities and towns since he was killed in an operation by U.S. forces in Abbottabad on Monday.

A spokesman for LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed said he had told followers in Lahore that the “great person” of Osama bin Laden would continue to be a source of strength and encouragement for Muslims around the world.

“Osama bin Laden was a great person who awakened the Muslim world,” Saeed’s spokesman Yahya Mujahid quoted him as saying during prayers at the headquarters of the LeT’s charity in Lahore on Monday.

“Martyrdoms are not losses, but are a matter of pride for Muslims”, Saeed said. “Osama bin Laden has rendered great sacrifices for Islam and Muslims, and these will always be remembered.”

Amidst shouts of “Down with America” and “Down with Obama”, around 1,000 of Saeed’s followers held prayers in Karachi.

“May Allah accept the sacrifice of Osama bin Laden,” local leader of Let’s charity, Naveed Qamar, said at the prayers.

LeT, one of the largest and best-funded militant organisations in South Asia, is blamed for the November 2008 assault on Mumbai, which killed 166 people in India’s commercial hub. Its founder, Saeed, now heads a charity, a group the United Nations says is a front for the militant group.

Western security analysts believe that LeT is linked to al Qaeda, though LeT officials deny this.

Mujahid said thousands of Saeed’s followers, many of them often in tears, took part in the prayers. ….

Read more : The Express Tribune

BIN LADEN – PAKISTAN LOSES A STRATEGIC ASSET

The curious case of Osama bin Laden

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpt:

….. But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.

Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?

Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.

So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:

“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.

So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.

Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.

Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.

Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.

To read complete article : The Express Tribune

Most countries have an army, the Pakistani army has a country!

Army and country – George Fulton

At first glance, the WikiLeaks revelations about the Pakistani army aren’t exactly, er, revelatory. So General Kayani and the intelligence agencies call the shots in Pakistan. Nothing new there, you may be thinking. Everyone knows that. Any foreigner arriving in Pakistan is soon pulled aside and told a couple of pithy lines about the army. One being that the three As run Pakistan — Allah, America and the Army. The other is that whilst most countries have an army, the Pakistani army has a country.

But reading the cables starkly in black and white, one is reminded how truly prevailing the army is to Pakistan’s society and long-term survival. The very institution that is supposedly designed to protect us is bringing Pakistan to its knees.

Let’s take parliamentary democracy. In theory we have one of those, with elected leaders to do our bidding, but WikiLeaks reminds us otherwise. Zardari wants to implement stiff sanctions on terrorist financing and close down terrorist training camps, but he can’t. Why? The unelected and unaccountable military and intelligence agencies won’t allow it. We are also told that Kayani planned to pressure President Zardari to resign and replace him with Asfandyar Wali Khan. Er, on whose authority? Sorry, old chum, but I thought that decision fell to the Pakistani people at the ballot box, not a man who wears spaghetti on his shoulders.

The cables also reveal the army’s support of the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the faujis’ raison d’etre, it’s primary reason to exist, the first line in their handbook if you will, to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic? Or perhaps it’s to make cornflakes that taste of cardboard?

But the reason for the army’s support for the militants is of course our hatred of India. Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Afghan Taliban, despite their continuous killing of our own citizens, are apparently a vital part of our national security. Read that sentence again and it sounds like something from “Monty Python”. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Yes let’s threaten India by funding and supporting people who attack India and, er, ourselves. Good job.

In addition, the army’s paranoia and cold war thinking has stopped successive civilian governments from making any constructive attempts at long-term peace with India. An economic powerhouse that could bring thousands of jobs to Pakistan remains a foe, thanks to the faujis.

For too long the military/intelligence nexus has been immune to any sort of accountability or criticism. We can judge the judiciary, pillory the politicians and mock the media. But the army receives a free reign. The generals/admirals/air marshals — who can be as corrupt and venal as the political class — rarely receive similar press coverage, despite the fact that the army is the biggest private landowner in Pakistan. They run businesses, residential areas, schools and hospitals but somehow they largely avoid scrutiny. Funny that. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

WikiLeaks cables: ‘US aid will not stop Pakistan supporting militants’

Embassy cables reveal US frustration as Islamabad fosters selected insurgents as a buffer against India

• WikiLeaks cables expose Pakistan nuclear fears

– Declan Walsh in Islamabad

Pakistan‘s army is covertly sponsoring four major militant groups, including the Afghan Taliban and Mumbai attackers Lashkar-e-Taiba, and “no amount of money” will change the policy, the US ambassador warned in a frank critique revealed by the state department cables.

Although Pakistan had received more than $16bn (£10bn) in American aid since 2001, “there is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced assistance … as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups”, Anne Patterson wrote in a secret review of Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy in September 2009.

The assessment highlights a stark contradiction – that one of Washington’s key allies is quietly propping up its enemies – and is an admission of the limits of US power in a country that still views India, not the Taliban, as its principal threat. …

Read more : Guardian.co.uk

US Court Issues Summons To ISI Chief

US court summons ISI chief Pasha, LeT’s Hafiz Saeed

Washington: A US court has issued summons to senior ISI officials including its powerful chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha, along with Mumbai attack masterminds and LeT leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi in response to a lawsuit filed by relatives of two American victims accusing them of providing material support for the 26/11 attacks.

The 26-page lawsuit was filed before a New York Court on November 19 against the Inter-Services Intelligence and Lashkar-e-Toiba by the relatives Rabbi Gavriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were both gunned down by militants at the Chhabad House in Mumbai. …

Read more : Express

Pakistan – Minorities Under Siege

by Mohammad Taqi

…. Most leaders of the Pakistani jihadist-terrorist outfits, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are the alumni of the Wahabist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and its offshoots like Lashkar-e-Jhangavi. They work hand-in-glove with the al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, especially the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura. While the Pakistan Army continues to boast victories in the war against terrorism, its inaction in face of the jihadist violence against the non-Wahhabi population raises serious concerns about such claims.

Peter Gourevitch notes that “the dead are innocent, the killers monstrous, and the surrounding politics insane or nonexistent” (in We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda). When the Taliban were ravaging Swat, the politics of resisting them appeared nonexistent. The media then, especially the English newspapers, did an admirable job of building the political and military will to fight the jihadists. Banishing the minorities has never stopped the fascists. One hopes that the Pakistani leaders and media call for banishing the barbarians, not their victims.

To read full article >> OUTLOOK