Tag Archives: Militants

Turkey Says Pakistan-trained Militants Fighting In Syria

As many as 500 Turks, some of them trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have crossed over into Syria to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime alongside Al Qaeda and its affiliates, a report from Turkey’s interior ministry claims.

Read more » News Week
http://newsweekpakistan.com/turkey-says-pakistan-trained-militants-fighting-in-syria/

Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

By BASSEM MROUE and MAAMOUN YOUSSEF | Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq said it has merged with Syria’s extremist Jabhat al-Nusra, a move that shows the rising confidence of radicals within the Syrian rebel movement and is likely to trigger renewed fears among its international backers.

A website linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra confirmed on Tuesday the merger with the Islamic State of Iraq, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first made the announcement in a 21-minute audio posted on militant websites late Monday.

Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken an ever-bigger role in Syria’s conflict over the last year, fighting in key battles and staging several large suicide bombings. The U.S. has designated it a terrorist organization.

The Syrian group has made little secret of its ideological ties to the global jihadist movement and its links across the Iraqi border but until now has not officially declared itself to be part of al-Qaida.

Al-Baghdadi said that his group — the Islamic State of Iraq — and Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra will now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham. Sham is a name for Syria and the surrounding region.

“It is time to announce to the Levantine (Syrian) people and the whole world that Jabhat al-Nusra is merely an extension and part of the Islamic State of Iraq,” he said.

He said that the Iraqi group was providing half of its budget to the conflict in Syria. Al-Baghdadi said that the Syrian group would have no separate leader but instead be led by the “people of Syria themselves” — implying that he would be in charge in both countries.

For such a high-profile Syrian rebel group to formally join al-Qaida is likely to spark concerns among backers of the opposition that are in the global terror network’s crosshairs, including both Western countries and Gulf Arab states.

Continue reading Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

Pakistan – Tirah valley operation intensifies, 23 soldiers killed

By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy

Pakistani man accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy

By Asim Tanveer, MULTAN, Pakistan

(Reuters) – Pakistani police registered an accusation from a businessman on Thursday that the country’s ambassador to the United States had committed blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty, in connection with a 2010 TV talk show.

The accusation against Ambassador Sherry Rehman is the latest in a string of controversial blasphemy cases in Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation whose name translates as Land of the Pure.

According to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found to have uttered words derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad can be put to death. Those who are accused are sometimes lynched by mobs even before they reach court.

Rehman has already faced death threats from militants after calling for reforms to the country’s anti-blasphemy law, according to court documents. Two politicians who suggested reforming the law were assassinated.

Continue reading Pakistan accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy

“Praise be to God mujahideen (Taliban) in Bajaur agency have managed to kill the infidel soldiers of Pakistan,” says Taliban Commander

Taliban release video of severed heads

KHAR: Pakistani Taliban released a video showing what appeared to be the severed heads of a dozen soldiers on Friday as security officials said 15 troops were missing following fighting with militants.

The clashes on Tuesday came as part of a Pakistan army operation to repel Taliban militants who had crossed over from Kunar province in Afghanistan last Friday and occupied the village of Batwar in the Bajaur tribal district.

“At least 15 of our soldiers are still missing,” a senior security official told AFP.

Another security official said “more or less” that many soldiers were missing but declined to give the exact total.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Sirajud Din sent AFP a video showing a militant commander posing with 12 heads arranged on the ground which he claimed were from soldiers they had killed.

Praise be to God that the mujahideen in Bajaur agency have managed to kill the infidel soldiers of Pakistan,” he says.

Many of them were killed by bullets, 12 of them as you see have been beheaded, you see 12 heads here, and more heads are on the way.” The commander, his face unmasked and wearing traditional tribal dress, is flanked in the footage by around a dozen armed men including one wielding a huge axe.

The video showed belongings from the dead men laid out on a sheet, including Pakistani identity cards, camouflage pattern helmets, Pakistani currency, mobile phones and bank cards.

Military sources have so far not said whether they are the missing soldiers or confirmed that those shown in the video are Pakistani troops. …..

Read more » The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-65746-Taliban-release-video-of-severed-heads

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

NWA militants abandoning bases to escape imminent offensive

Excerpt;

….. Almost all top figures of the Haqqani Network have shifted to safe places during and before Ramadan.

Some of them crossed over to Afghanistan, while some have moved to less populated areas in the Potohar region of Punjab, where the Haqqani family owns well-protected houses and accommodations.

Tribal sources said al Qaeda fugitives had already moved towards Syria, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and US-led allies are forcing Syria’s Bashar Al Assad to resign. These fugitives would now play a key role in mass movements against Assad and would even get involved in terrorist and other violent acts.

However, local tribesmen are carefully monitoring the situation. A majority of influential and affluent families have already abandoned homes and shifted to Peshawar, Islamabad and other main cities and towns, while others are forced to play silent spectators to whatever might unfold in the area.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/08/24/news/national/nwa-militants-abandoning-bases-to-escape-imminent-offensive/

The enemy lies within

The enemy lies within

The attack on Pakistan’s Kamra air force base, for which the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility, is one more sign — as if more were still required — that the country’s enemy lurks within its boundaries. Militants wearing air force uniforms infiltrated the base that is rumoured to house a part of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, in a manner reminiscent of the May 2011 raid at PNS Mehran, and at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi two years earlier. Armed with RPGs and automatic rifles, and wearing suicide vests, they damaged one aircraft at the base and killed at least one air man. Though the militants were eventually eliminated, the question Pakistan should be asking is why no lessons were learnt from the earlier attacks. Only two days ago, in an address at the Kakul Military Academy on Pakistan’s Independence Day, Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the country needs to fight terrorism and militancy for its own sake. But it is unclear how far the military has addressed the spread of radicalism within its ranks, or if it even sees this as a problem. After the PNS Mehran incident, a journalist who wrote that militants had developed extensive links within the Navy paid with his life; the Pakistani media openly blamed the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence for the killing. In the latest instance too, the attackers seemed to have insider knowledge of the sprawling air base located at Attock in the Punjab province. A Pakistani newspaper had only a few days ago warned that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan was planning a raid on a PAF base, giving August 16 as a possible date, but even with such specific information, the military was caught unawares.

Continue reading The enemy lies within

Who killed Gen. Alvi?

LAHORE: The authorities investigating the murder of Maj-Gen (retd) Amir Faisal Alvi, former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG), by two unidentified gunmen in Rawalpindi do not rule out the possibility of involvement of some pro-Taliban militants in the assassination.

Once considered close to former president Pervez Musharraf, Maj-Gen Faisal Alvi was the first General Officer Commanding of the elite Special Services Group, and had also commanded the elite group as a brigadier. The first Pakistani major-general to have captained the Armed Forces Skydiving Team (AFST), Alvi was forcibly retired from the Army on disciplinary grounds ‘for conduct unbecoming’ by Gen Musharraf in August 2005.

The authorities suspect the involvement of a sectarian organisation linked to Taliban and the al-Qaeda in the murder, as Maj-Gen Alvi had been involved in several major military operations conducted by the SSG commandos in the restive Waziristan region.

The authorities believe the murder has symbolic significance as Alvi used to be a high-profile officer of the Special Services Group — an independent commando division of the Pakistan Army, which had carried out the high-profile Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad against the fanatic Ghazi brothers and their followers …..

Read more » The News

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=18472&Cat=13&dt=11/20/2008

Via – Twitter

Militants coming from Afghanistan take scores of villagers hostage in Pakistan – Is PaK military learning any lessons?

By: Wichaar Desk

KHAR, Pakistan — Dozens of militants coming from Afghanistan took scores of villagers hostage in Pakistan’s northwest on Thursday, sparking fighting with the army that killed at least 14 people, Pakistani officials said.

The incident is the latest chapter in a broader infiltration trend that has seen Islamabad railing against Afghan and NATO forces for not doing enough to stop the cross-border attacks, which it says have killed dozens of members of its security forces.

There has been little sympathy from the U.S. and Afghan governments however, which have long complained Pakistan allows sanctuary to militants fighting in Afghanistan, warning Islamabad that instability in the war-torn country poses a threat to it as well.

On Thursday, Taliban gunmen opened fire on a compound in eastern Pakistan housing police trainees, killing nine of them, officials said.

The militants who staged the cross-border attack appeared to be targeting members of an anti-Taliban militia in Kitkot village near Pakistan’s Bajur tribal area, said Tariq Khan, a local government official. They came from Afghanistan’s Kunar province and took hundreds of villagers hostage, including anti-Taliban militiamen, he said.

Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers surrounded the village and killed 12 militants, Khan added. Two militiamen were also killed in the fighting.

Soldiers have retrieved scores of villagers, but dozens more are still held by the militants or trapped in their homes by the fighting, said Khan and two security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The army called in gunship helicopters for support but have not used them yet for fear of civilian casualties, said Khan.

The information could not be independently verified because the area is largely off-limits to reporters.

The police targeted in the eastern city of Lahore were training to become prison guards, said Habibur Rehman, the chief of police in Punjab province, where Lahore is the capital.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for police torture of their fighters in prison. He spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

In addition to the police who were killed, eight were also wounded, said Salman Saddiq, a government official.

One of the wounded, Shafqat Imran, said that eight to 10 attackers, who had their faces hidden behind hoods, stormed into the compound and started shooting randomly. They shouted “God is great,” then shot the policemen one by one, said Imran, speaking from a hospital bed.

Continue reading Militants coming from Afghanistan take scores of villagers hostage in Pakistan – Is PaK military learning any lessons?

The Quaid and the Quetta massacre

By Haider Nizamani

If Muhammad Ali Jinnah happened to be on the Quetta-bound bus of Shia pilgrims on June 28, the self-proclaimed custodians of Islam would have killed him, along with 13 others. They would do so because Jinnah was a Shia and that would have been reason enough.

Jinnah, for most Pakistanis today, is the Quaid-e-Azam — the man above any sect in the Islamic Republic. As the Republic he founded increasingly becomes a place where minorities feel vulnerable, it would be remiss to forget that the founder of the country was a Shia. Born into an Ismaili family, he later converted to the Twelver (isna ashri) branch of Shia Islam. He died in 1948 and his sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, filed an affidavit in the Sindh High Court stating that her brother was a “Shia Khoja Mohamedan”. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, jointly signed the affidavit. Khaled Ahmed, in his book Sectarian War, documents in detail how the last rites of the Quaid were performed according to Shia stipulations. Jinnah’s Shia colleagues such as Yusuf Haroon and Hashim Raza attended the namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer) at the Governor General’s House, while prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan waited outside in the adjacent room. After the Shia funeral prayer, the nascent state took the body for Sunni last rites at the grounds where now stands the Quaid’s mausoleum in Karachi. Miss Fatima Jinnah passed away in 1967 and in her case, too, private last rites were performed according to Shia guidelines and the state-sponsored namaz-e-janaza followed it.

Sunni militant outfits portray Shias as lesser Muslims and thus, lesser Pakistanis. This commandeering of state discourse on Islam from the 1980s onward has emboldened the militants to take up arms against their coreligionists in select parts of Pakistan.

Continue reading The Quaid and the Quetta massacre

America mulls new covert raids in Pakistan

WASHINGTON: US military and intelligence officials are so frustrated with Pakistan’s failure to stop local militant groups from attacking Americans in neighboring Afghanistan that they have considered launching secret joint US-Afghan commando raids into Pakistan to hunt them down, officials told The Associated Press. ….

Read more » TOI »» WICHAAR.COM

CNN – Somali Islamists offer 10 camels as bounty for Obama

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — The United States offers millions for information leading to the capture of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

A Somali militant group has purportedly countered with an offer of camels for U.S. officials.

Al-Shabaab has placed a bounty of 10 camels for President Barack Obama and two camels for information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

An audio statement posted on jihadist websites purportedly from Al-Shabaab jeered news that the United States is offering millions of dollars for information on seven key members of al-Shabaab through its Rewards for Justice program.

Continue reading CNN – Somali Islamists offer 10 camels as bounty for Obama

Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

Islamic militants fighting Indian forces in Kashmir will declare war on Pakistan if it weakens its traditional support for their jihad, their senior leader has warned.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

Syed Salahuddin, leader of the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of Kashmiri militant groups which includes the Lashkar e Taiba, said they had been fighting “Pakistan’s war in Kashmir” but Islamabad now cares more about trade than jihad.

“We (militants) are fighting Pakistan’s war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan,” he said in an interview with the Arab News.

His threat emerged as India and Pakistan’s leaders prepare for talks in Islamabad on Monday on proposals to withdraw their troops from the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield close to the Line of Control which divides Kashmir.

Salahuddin and other Kashmiri militant leaders fear Pakistan’s leaders will withdraw its long-standing support for the military strikes against Indian forces in Kashmir as part of its diplomatic campaign to reduce trade barriers and ease movement between the old enemies.

Pakistan’s readiness to grant ‘Most-Favoured Nation’ trading status to India and the opening of new ‘cross-border’ trade routes in Kashmir had sent a message to insurgent leaders like his Hizbul Mujahideen that “Pakistan wants business with India.” Pakistan has long used group’s like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar e Toiba as part of its proxy war with India over control of Kashmir, with military protection for their training camps in ‘Azad’ or ‘Free’ Kashmir.

Continue reading Islamic militants threaten war on Pakistan over Kashmir

Heavily armed jihadi groups clash in Pakistan: 5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival Islamic militants

5 killed, 5 injured in clash between rival militants groups

Firefight between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Islam began when latter’s fighters attacked stronghold of LI militants.

PESHAWAR: At least five militants were killed and five others were injured when clashes erupted between Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) and Ansarul Islam (AI) in the Sanda Pal area of Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency.

According to locals, the firefight between the two groups began in the early hours of Monday when fighters of AI attacked Sanda Pal, a stronghold of LI militants.

They claimed that four militants of the Mangal Bagh-led LI had been killed and two were injured, while one fighter of AI was killed and three were injured.

Clashes between the two groups occur frequently as AI fights the LI to gain control of the area.

According to sources, heavy weapons were used in the fight and AI fighters took control of a number of small outposts to reach Sanda Pal – the main outpost.

Residents living in the secluded valley have little communication with the world.

The area has been under the influence of militants, including the LI, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Ansarul Islam, who have consistently targeted each other over territorial disputes and sectarian differences.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Via – Twitter » TF’s Tweet

Pakistan – Waziristan clashes ‘killed 19, injured 71’ in two days

North Waziristan clashes ‘killed 19, injured 71’ in two days

By: AFP

MIRANSHAH: Clashes between troops and militants in North Waziristan killed 19 soldiers and civilians, and wounded nearly 100 others, officials said Tuesday.

Violence flared Sunday when gunmen armed with rockets attacked a military convoy near Miranshah, the main town in the tribal district on the Afghan border.

Among the dead were 12 Pakistani soldiers, three of whom were captured and beheaded, a local intelligence official told AFP.

“Seven civilians, including two children and three women, were killed and 71 others were injured during two days of violence,” the official added.

At least 20 soldiers were also wounded, he said.

On Monday, helicopter gun-ships attacked a three-storey building housing weapons shops in Miranshah’s main bazaar, causing a huge fire, witnesses said.

Two other intelligence officials in the area confirmed the death toll of 19.  Officials on Monday had put the overall death toll at 15. …

Read more » DAWN.COM

No laughing matter: Entertainer who poked fun at militants kidnapped

By Riaz Ahmad

PESHAWAR: “Shave my head, paint my face black; Mount me on a donkey and make fun of me.”

Either militants didn’t take kindly to Nisar Khan’s comedic song referring to an incident where Taliban insurgents seized thieves, shaved their heads and mounted them on donkeys; or they took it a bit too seriously.

Nisar, a comedian, was kidnapped by militants mid-show in Peshawar’s suburban town of Matani on Monday, telling the shocked audience that they ‘needed an entertainer urgently’.

He was entertaining guests at a wedding party when around 20 militants entered the hujra where he was performing and abducted him, residents said. The event was taking place near a police check-point.

“The militants took Nisar away, saying they too needed an entertainer on an urgent basis,” a resident told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. “They told people not to panic and that Nisar is being taken away only for a few days. They said he will not be harmed.”

Continue reading No laughing matter: Entertainer who poked fun at militants kidnapped

Pakistan: the continuing saga of a fat, lazy and incompetent ‘security state.’ Militants attack Bannu jail, nearly 400 inmates escape

Militants attack Bannu jail, nearly 400 inmates escape

By: AFP

PESHAWAR: Nearly 400 prisoners including militants escaped early Sunday from a jail in northwestern Pakistan after an attack by insurgents armed with guns, grenades and rockets, officials said.

More than 150 heavily-armed militants stormed the central prison outside the restive northwestern town of Bannu bordering the lawless tribal regions where Taliban and al Qaeda linked militants are known to operate.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

“We attacked the Bannu prison and got our special members freed,” Ehsan told AFP.

“In a couple of days when all of them have reached their designated places we will issue details about them. At the moment I cannot give you exact numbers.”

The attack started at around 1:00 am (2000 GMT Saturday) and continued for two hours, with militants in cars and pick-up trucks shooting and lobbing grenades to force their way into the prison, a security official told AFP.

“Some 384 prisoners, including some hardcore militants, have escaped during the attack,” the official said, asking not to be named. ….

Read more : DAWN.COM

via – Twitter

Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings – BBC

Taliban’s brisk trade of kidnapping in Karachi

In Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, police say the Taliban are generating funds through bank robberies, protection rackets and kidnappings.

Abductions are particularly lucrative, with ransom demands sometimes running to millions of dollars. The BBC’s Orla Guerin reports on how the militants are making inroads in Pakistan’s financial capital.

When the doctor had a gun put to his head by a man on motorbike in the evening traffic last month, he thought it was a robbery. He readily handed over his mobile phone and his wallet.

But when he was forced from his car, he realised that he was the prize. A routine journey to his clinic ended with imprisonment in a Taliban hideout.

“They blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back. I was kept in a small space, with a low roof, but they gave me food and a pillow to rest on,” said the softly spoken father of four. For security reasons, we are not revealing his identity. ….

Read more » BBC

Pakistan – More than 50 dead in gunfights, air strikes in Orakzai, Kurram

By AFP

PESHAWAR: At least 51 militants and four soldiers have been killed in air strikes and clashes with security forces in the restive northwest over the past week, officials said Sunday.

On Sunday, planes bombed a tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, killing 26 militants, a senior paramilitary official told AFP.

“Jet strikes today killed 26 militants and wounded 15 others and destroyed their seven hideouts in different areas of Upper Orakzai and Kurram,” the official said.

Separately, at least 25 militants and four soldiers were killed in Bara, Khyber Agency in gunfights between March 12 and 18, the official said.

Four security forces personnel embraced martyrdom and 12 others were wounded in gunfights which left 25 militants dead,” he said.

The official said that no militant had been killed in custody and added that the military operation was directed at the militants belonging to the Taliban-linked Laskhar-e-Islam group that is led by warlord Mangal Bagh.

The group has been involved in recent suicide attacks and kidnapping in Peshawar, which borders Khyber, he said.

Two local intelligence officials confirmed the clashes and death toll.

Independent verification of the incident is not possible as access to the area is restricted by the military.

Read more » The Express Tribune

The ‘anti-state’ Sarmachars of Balochistan – Marvi Sirmed

Excerpt;

After US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s sudden attention to Balochistan, the Pakistani media went bonkers to protect the proverbial ‘sovereignty’ of our country — a cause championed by the security establishment and most of its mouthpieces in the media as well as political circles and civil society. Emerging from the fathoms of near oblivion to almost a dozen Op-Eds in the mainstream press daily, Balochistan is now the darling of the prime time TV cupola as well.

If the anchors and columnists want to sound more profound, and if they run out of words to express the imperiousness of the US Congress for interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters, they would endlessly repeat almost clichéd references to 1971 with emphasis on giving ‘due importance to the Baloch problem’. The umpteen ‘political analysts’ and ‘Balochistan experts’ religiously recount the current government’s failure to address the issue despite the latter’s trumpeted mantra of ‘democracy, the greatest revenge’. Such talk would be garnished with admonishing the ‘irresponsibility’ of the Baloch nationalists in attacking innocent citizens of ethnicities other than the Baloch.

What goes completely missing from this narrative is the origins of the conflict, the response of the state to the centrifugal nature of Baloch nationalism and the ever deteriorating civil-military relations in Balochistan, which now seem to have reached the point of no return. The way Balochistan was made to accede to Pakistan goes missing from the textbooks alongside any reference to the military operations carried out in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-68, 1973-77 and the current surge starting from 2002 to date. The result is a general apathy towards Balochistan in the rest of the country with almost no understanding of the surges in historically seeded ethno-nationalism in Balochistan, described as ‘Baloch insurgencies’ in the mainstream media. The same media gives prime space to opinion makers who describe Taliban insurgents as ‘freedom fighters’. No wonder one finds so many people in upper Punjab and Islamabad who take Baloch nationalists as ‘traitors’, while the Taliban militants as flag bearers of Muslim nationalism. ….

Read more » Daily Times

15 militants killed, 4 hideouts destroyed in Orakzai Agency

By: AFP

At least 15 militants were killed and several injured when airforce jets bombed suspected hideouts of miscreants in upper Orakzai agency on Thursday.

Official sources said that the aircraft bombed the hideouts of militants in various areas of Upper Orakzai Agency including Bermela, Khadizai, Mamozai, Samabazar and adjoining areas destroying four hideouts of the militants.

They said that jets were sent to bomb hideouts of the militants ….

Read more » The Nation

Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

THE Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced its aim of defending us against the dangers we face today.

But given the fact that the biggest threat to Pakistan comes from the extremist ideology of many of those who constitute the DPC, the question arises whether these holy warriors will confront the militants.

Don’t hold your breath: during a recent DPC rally in Karachi, speaker after speaker made it clear that their real enemies are India and America. This assembled galaxy clearly failed to notice the uncomfortable fact that over the last decade, well over 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks launched by jihadi militants. Such mundane truths often escape our religious brigade. While focusing on American drone attacks, which while controversial, have been the most effective weapon against the militants in the tribal areas, they have conveniently overlooked the real cause of militancy. The moment these realities are pointed out to them, they go on about how these casualties are the result of the American war in Afghanistan.

The composition of the DPC is interesting as it brings together a number of reactionary elements under one umbrella. Some of these, like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijaz ul Haq, have a semblance of respectability. However, this is based on the dubious proposition that cabinet positions, past or present, in Pakistan confer some degree of social acceptability.

On the other side of the DPC spectrum, we have characters like Malik Ishaq, released by the Lahore High Court and accused of committing several murders for the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba, an extreme Sunni outfit.

Hafiz Saeed is one of the stars of the DPC and head of Jamaatud Dawa, a supposedly charitable organisation banned for fronting for the Lashkar-i-Taiba. This terrorist group has been accused of being behind the deadly Mumbai attack of 2008, as well as other atrocities in India.

Qari Yaqub, the darling of admirers of his sermons on YouTube, also spoke at the DPC rally in Karachi where he warned journalists that he would turn the ground where he spoke into “a graveyard for the media” if they did not give the DPC ample coverage. So here I am, writing about the DPC to avoid an early grave.

Sheikh Rasheed, leader of his Awami Muslim League spoke at the rally, as did army dictator Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq. Hamid Gul, the retired general who was sacked as head of the ISI by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, also enlivened proceedings with his rant about the bright future ahead without a western presence.

So Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, felt right at home in this august company as the PTI’s senior vice president Ejaz Chaudhry’s presence showed.

Clearly then, the 40-odd (some would say very odd) members of the DPC at least appear to be on the same page where extremist thought is concerned. The question is what and who brought them together. Pakistan’s history is littered with the bleached bones of right-wing alliances formed and then ditched by their creators. The IJI, the PNA, the IDA, and the MMA spring instantly to mind.

Add to them the various incarnations and iterations of the Muslim League, and you have a veritable alphabet soup of political aspirations: Q, N, Z and Awami are only the current manifestations.

The common thread running through all these parties and coalitions is the past or current connection with our intelligence agencies. Retired general Asad Durrani, another erstwhile ISI chief, has admitted before the Supreme Court that he funneled millions to anti-PPP candidates during the 1988 elections. This confession emerged years ago as a result of a writ filed by Asghar Khan, but the case has been on the back burner until the Supreme Court resumes hearing it later this month. Watch this space for further developments.

Given the stellar credentials of these stalwart defenders of our country, we can all sleep easy. They have vowed to save us from those nasty Americans and Indians, but before I cancel my life insurance policy, I’m still waiting to hear that they will protect us from the Pakistani Taliban as well.

Seriously, though, what is this circus all about? Why have so many extremist-minded elements and their fellow-travellers suddenly emerged from the woodwork to muddy the political waters? Who’s paying for all these expensive rallies? Actually, scratch that last question: we’re paying for them via whatever shadowy agency that has cobbled this latest alliance together.

And why is Imran Khan’s PTI part of this reactionary group? I know he’s in lockstep with people like Hamid Gul and Maulana Samiul Haq, but why does he need to identify himself with the most violent and unsavoury characters in this coalition? Does he not see that after his recent reinvention as a popular, mainstream politician, he no longer needs to cosy up to the likes of Qari Yaqub and Hafiz Saeed?

Continue reading Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

Continue reading Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

Retaliation for the assassination of Bugti’s grand daughter and great grand daughter?

Pakistan: 11 Soldiers Killed In Battle With Baluch Militants

By RFE/RL

QUETTA, Pakistan — Pakistani officials say militants in the southwestern Baluchistan Province have killed 11 soldiers in an attack.

A senior official in Pakistan’s military said two Frontier Corps posts near coal mines came under attack in the Margut area about 60 kilometers east of Quetta.

RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal’s correspondent in Quetta reports that an ethnic Baluch separatist group called the Baluch Liberation Army claimed responsibility.

That group is comprised of members of the Bugti and Marri clans in the area to the east of Quetta.

They have been fighting since 2004 for political autonomy and a greater share of profits from Baluchistan’s oil, gas, and mineral resources.

More than 30 members of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps have been killed in Baluchistan Province during the past three weeks in clashes with Baluch rebels.

Courtesy: Rferl

http://www.rferl.org/content/soldiers_killed_by_baluch_rebels_in_pakistan/24470002.html

US drone attack kills four militants in Pakistan: officials

By AFP

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan — A US drone attack targetting a militant compound in Pakistan’s tribal area near the Afghan border killed four militants late Tuesday, security officials said.

Two missiles hit a compound on the outer skirts of Miranshah, in the North Waziristan region, killing four, one official said.

The attack triggered a fire in the building and flames could be seen from the roof of houses in Miranshah, five kilometres away, residents reported. The drone attack and the casualties were confirmed by two other security officials. …

Read more » Google News

Pakistani militants claim responsibility for pilgrim slaughter

A Pakistan-based insurgent group has claimed responsibility for twin attacks which caused carnage at two shrines belonging to Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims yesterday.

The suicide attacks in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif killed at least 59 people and forced president Hamid Karzai to cut short his visit to Europe and the UK. …

Read more » ABC News

Memogate – WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

A sceptic’s guide to memogate

By Cyril Almeida

Excerpt;

WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

Memogate — the alleged plea by Husain Haqqani/Asif Zardari to save the civilian government from an army coup after May 2 in return for sacking military principals and disbanding a shadowy cell of the ISI that manages links to militant groups — was less startling than preposterous.

While this is Pakistan and anything is possible, some things are still more possible than others. …

… Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of memogate is Mike Mullen`s denial and then clarification of his denial and an outright admission.

We`re talking here about an administration that doesn`t officially acknowledge drone strikes or the 14-page memo Kayani handed Obama. That a recently retired top-ranking officer will through a spokesperson speak on the record to a reporter about such stuff is, quite frankly, astonishing.

Sure, Mullen denied he acted on the memo or that he took it seriously, but this two-term chairman of the joints chiefs of staff knows the media worldwide, even the Pakistani media, enough to be aware of his statement`s implications for Haqqani and the media pressure it would pile on Zardari in an already lopsided civil-military relationship that the Americans presumably have some interest in rectifying.

So yes, memogate is finally genuinely intriguing. Not because it implies games are afoot inside Pakistan, which they always are, but because Mullen has seen it fit to throw Haqqani, and possibly Zardari, under the bus.

It`s a tantalising question, based admittedly on flimsy evidence, but have the Americans soured on Zardari?

Read more » DAWN.COM

‘Why are Taliban good for Afghanistan, but Bad for Pakistan ‘, asks an Afghan student from Musharraf

Action against Haqqani network may not be in Pakistan’s interest: Musharraf

LONDON: Former president Pervez Musharraf said that Pakistan has “definite reasons” for not acting against the Haqqani Network, as such action may not be in Pakistan’s current interest.

The former President did not rule out future action against the Haqqanis, but said that he was not privy to any information in this regard.

Musharraf was speaking at a question and answer session organised at the University of London by the School of Oriental and African Studies and hosted by Express News host of Frontline, Kamran Shahid.

Musharraf faced an intense question and answer session in London, being grilled by an audience comprising both south asian and international students.

Answering a question on drone strikes and the attached collateral damage, the former President of Pakistan said it was a “catch 22″ situation, saying on the one hand, Pakistan wants to defeat al-Qaeda and Taliban since that they are terrorists trying to destabilize the region but at the same time they had to avoid talibanisation of Pakistan. He added that militants are being killed in drone strikes, but at the cost of collateral damage, which is why he never drone strikes during his term. He admitted that handling this situation was a problem area.

Answering a question from an Afghan student on Pakistan’s dual policy of initially backing the Taliban when they took over in Afghanistan and now talking about avoiding talibanisation of Pakistan ….

Read more » The Express Tribune