Wednesday, April 29, 2009

After a Tactical Retreat Pakistan Army Starts Operation against the Taliban !

Pakistan came around in accepting the policies of the former Government headed by President Musharraf regarding the Taliban in FATA and NWFP. The carrot and stick policy had worked for 2 years.
Peace deals after peace deals and concessions after concessions led to more violence.

Things have changed rapidly though. Pakistani forces are on a higher ground and have full support of the local population. Nafas-e-Adal was implemented in Swat and Dir after a peace deal was signed by the present government. Even with assurances from the Sufi the Taliban refused to disarm. Now they are pitted against each other.

Another twist to the whole scenario. ANP and the religious parties like the JI are all supporting the operation

The point of no return could be crossed if the Taliban are not subjected to decisive and telling action by the army. Taliban have moved into Swat to Buner and then into Shangla. They have now agreed to withdraw from Buner, but not without conducting a huge recruitment drive that ensured that the district would remain under the control of ‘local’ Taliban.

Pakistan is ceding territory by the day and anyone who thinks that the Taliban advance can somehow be confined to ‘that’ part of the country is sadly mistaken. These barbarians cannot be confined. We have tried buying time from a position of weakness and been witness to the results. Every single ‘deal’, and there have been many of them, has only allowed the Taliban to regroup and prepare for fresh assaults against the federation. It has to be acknowledged once and for all that the Taliban are the single biggest enemy the country has ever faced since 1947.

The supposedly secular ANP has let Pakistan and the NWFP down with a thud, and the religio-political parties have made it clear, yet again, where their sympathies lie. The security forces did well to take on the Taliban in Lower Dir on Sunday. Let’s not ask at this stage why they didn’t act earlier. It is said that they moved against the militants following requests to do so by local elders and the provincial government. It is also a fact that the operation was launched after security forces came under fire.

Can we argue then that the response was more reactive than proactive? Welcome as it is, the operation in Dir may also strengthen the impression that the military cracks down hard only when its own are attacked. Taliban violence against civilians is largely ignored for some reason. The army chief said the other day that the military would drive back the Taliban if they made any further inroads. Why just ‘drive back’? These people are merciless and have no qualms about indulging in savagery.

It can only be hoped that the operation in Dir is not a one-off move aimed at countering western criticism of Pakistani inaction. To be successful, it has to be part of a wider strategy of taking on the Taliban with all the force the military commands. Tribesmen who opposed the Taliban have been losing heart ever since the Swat deal. They thought the government was on their side, and acted accordingly. They are now running scared. A clear message needs to be sent that the government, the army and the people of Pakistan are all on the same page.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Imran Khan : How to clear the Mess !

How to clear the mess in Pakistan !
Controversial politician Imran Khan has created a niche for himself in the political scene of Pakistan. His relentless opposition to a military oppsition in the FATA areas has bought him a few friends in that province. We have to wait 4 years to see if can win any seats in the next elections.

Oxford educated and the infamous playboy Imran Khan gives his version on how to clear the mess in Pakistan. Imran Khan's (Right Leaning) party Tehreek-e-Insaaf or the Justice Party could not even win from Imran's Ancestral Mianwali ! It is not represented in the National Assembly

Its interesting to note that the PPP government has come full circle with regards to a military operation in the NWFP. They are following the same policies that they had opposed when President Musharraf was in power.

Thursday, April 23, 2009
By Imran Khan

The reason why there is so much despondency in Pakistan is because there is no road map to get out of the so-called War on Terror - a nomenclature that even the Obama Administration has discarded as being a negative misnomer. To cure the patient the diagnosis has to be accurate, otherwise the wrong medicine can sometimes kill the patient. In order to find the cure, first six myths that have been spun around the US-led “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) have to be debunked.

Myth No. 1: This is Pakistan’s war

Since no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 and the CIA-trained Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan, how does it concern us? It is only when General Musharraf buckled under US pressure and sent our troops into Waziristan in late 2003-early 2004 that Pakistan became a war zone. It took another three years of the Pakistan army following the same senseless tactics as used by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan (aerial bombardment) plus the slaughter at Lal Masjid, for the creation of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If our security forces are being targeted today by the Taliban and their suicide bombers, it is because they are perceived to be proxies of the US army. Iran is ideologically opposed to both Al Qaeda and the Taliban yet why are its security forces not attacked by terrorists? The answer is because their President does not pretend to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism in return for US dollars and support.

Michael Scheuer (ex-CIA officer and author of the book Imperial Hubris), writing in The Washington Post in April 2007, cited Musharraf’s loyalty to the US even when it went against Pakistan’s national interests by giving two examples: the first was Musharraf helping the US in removing a pro-Pakistan Afghan government and replacing it with a pro-Indian one; and, the second, for sending Pakistani troops into the tribal areas and turning the tribesmen against the Pakistan army. To fully understand Musharraf’s treachery against Pakistan, it is important to know that almost a 100,000 troops were sent into the tribal areas to target around 1000 suspected Al-Qaeda members - thus earning the enmity of at least 1.5 million armed local tribals in the 7 tribal agencies of Pakistan.

The most shameful aspect of the lie that this is our war is that the government keeps begging the US for more dollars stating that the war is costing the country more than the money it is receiving from the US. If it is our war, then fighting it should not be dependent on funds and material flowing from the US. If it is our war, why do we have no control over it? If it is our war, then why is the US government asking us to do more?

Myth No. 2: This is a war against Islamic extremists ó an ideological war against radical Islam

Was the meteoric rise of Taliban due to their religious ideology? Clearly not, because the Mujahideen were equally religious - Gulbadin Hekmatyar (supported by the ISI) was considered an Islamic fundamentalist. In fact, the reason the Taliban succeeded where the Mujahideen warlords failed, was because they established the rule of law - the Afghans had had enough of the power struggle between the warlord factions that had destroyed what remained of the country’s infrastructure and killed over 100,000 people.

If the Pushtuns of the tribal area wanted to adopt the Taliban religious ideology then surely they would have when the latter was in power in Afghanistan, between 1996 and 2001. Yet there was no Talibanisation in the tribal areas. Interestingly, the only part of Pakistan where the Taliban had an impact was in Swat where Sufi Mohammad started the Shariat Movement. The reason was that while there was rule of law (based on the traditional jirga system) in the tribal areas, the people of Swat had been deprived of easy access to justice ever since the traditional legal system premised on Qazi courts was replaced by Pakistani laws and judicial system, first introduced in 1974. The murder rate shot up from 10 per year in 1974 to almost 700 per year by 1977, when there was an uprising against the Pakistani justice system. The Taliban cashed in on this void of justice to rally the poorer sections of Swat society just as they had attracted the Afghans in a situation of political anarchy and lawlessness in Afghanistan. It is important to make this distinction because the strategy to bring peace must depend on knowing your enemy. Michael Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986 to 1989, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine that the US is facing the same Pushtun insurgency that was faced by the Soviets in Afghanistan. According to him, as long as NATO is in Afghanistan, the Taliban will get a constant supply of men from the 15

million Pushtun population of Afghanistan and the 25 million Pushtuns of Pakistan. In other words, this Talibanisation is not so much religion-driven as politically-motivated. So the solution to the problem in the tribal belt today does not lie in religion and “moderate” Islam but in a political settlement.

Myth No. 3: If we keep fighting the US war, the super power will bail us out financially through aid packages.

Recently, the Government’s Adviser on Finance stated that the war on terror has cost Pakistan $35 billion while the country has received only $11 billion assistance from the US. I would go a step further and say that this aid is the biggest curse for the country. Not only is it “blood money” for our army killing our own people (there is no precedent for this) but also nothing has destroyed the self-esteem of this country as this one factor. Moreover, there is no end in sight as our cowardly and compromised leadership is ordered to “do more” for the payments made for their services. Above all, this aid and loans are like treating cancer with disprin. It enables the government to delay the much needed surgery of reforms (cutting expenditures and raising revenues); and meanwhile the cancer is spreading and might become terminal.

Myth No. 4: That the next terrorist attack on the US will come from the tribal areas.

First, there is an assumption, based purely on conjecture, that the Al Qaeda leadership is in the tribal areas. In fact, this leadership could well be in the 70 % of Afghan territory that the Taliban control. More importantly, given the growing radicalisation of the educated Muslim youth - in major part because of the continuing US partiality towards Israeli occupation of Palestinian land - why can it not follow that the next terrorist attack on the US could come either from the Middle East or from the marginalised and radicalised Muslims of Europe, motivated by perceived injustices to Islam and the Muslim World.

Myth No. 5: That the ISI is playing a double game and if Pakistan did more the war could be won.

If Talibanisation is growing in Pakistan because of the covert support of ISI in the tribal areas, then surely the growing Taliban control over Afghanistan (70 % of the territory) must be with NATO’s complicity? Surely a more rational understanding would be to see that the strategy being employed is creating hatred against the US and its collaborators. Aerial bombardment and its devastating collateral damage is the biggest gift the US has given to the Taliban. According to official reports, out of the 60 drone attacks conducted between 14 January 2006-April 8 2009, only 10 were on target, killing 14 alleged Al Qaeda. In the process almost 800 Pakistani civilians have been killed, while many lost their homes and limbs.

Despite its military surge effort, the US will eventually pack up and leave like the Soviets, but the “do more” mantra could end up destroying the Pakistan army - especially the ISI which is being targeted specifically for the mess created by the Bush Administration in Afghanistan.

Myth No. 6: That Pakistan could be Talibanised with their version of Islam.

Both Musharraf and Zardari have contributed to this myth in order to get US backing and dollars. Firstly there is no such precedent in the 15-hundred years of Islamic history of a theocracy like that of the Taliban, outside of the recent Taliban period of rule in Afghanistan. However, as mentioned earlier, the Taliban’s ascendancy in Afghanistan was not a result of their religious ideology but their ability to establish order and security in a war-devastated and anarchic Afghanistan.

In Swat, the present mess has arisen because of poor governance issues. Also, it was the manner in which the government handled the situation - simply sending in the army rather than providing better governance - that created space for the Taliban. Just as in Balochistan (under Musharraf) when the army was sent in rather than the Baloch being given their economic and provincial rights, similarly the army in Swat aggravated the situation and the present mess was created.

What Pakistan has to worry about is the chaos and anarchy that are going to stem from the radicalisation of our people because of the failure of successive governments to govern effectively and justly. Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, gives details of fundamentalist movements that turned militant when they were repressed. Ideas should be fought with counter ideas and dialogue, not guns. Allama Iqbal was able to deal with fundamentalism through his knowledge and intellect. The slaughter of the fundamentalists of Lal Masjid did more to fan extremism and fanaticism than any other single event.

Pakistan is staring down an abyss today and needs to come up with a sovereign nationalist policy to deal with the situation. If we keep on following dictation from Washington, we are doomed. There are many groups operating in the country under the label of “Taliban”. Apart from the small core of religious extremists, the bulk of the fighting men are Pushtun nationalists. Then there are the fighters from the old Jihadi groups. Moreover, the Taliban are also successfully exploiting the class tensions by appealing to the have-nots. But the most damaging for Pakistan are those groups who are being funded primarily from two external sources: first, by those who want to see Pakistan become a “failed state”; and, second, by those who wish to see the US bogged down in the Afghan quagmire.

What needs to be done: A two-pronged strategy is required - focusing on a revised relationship with the US and a cohesive national policy based on domestic compulsions and ground realities.

President Obama, unlike President Bush, is intelligent and has integrity. A select delegation of local experts on the tribal area and Afghanistan should make him understand that the current strategy is a disaster for both Pakistan and the US; that Pakistan can no longer commit suicide by carrying on this endless war against its own people; that we will hold dialogue and win over the Pushtuns of the tribal area and make them deal with the real terrorists while the Pakistan army is gradually pulled out.

At the same time, Pakistan has to move itself to ending drone attacks if the US is not prepared to do so. Closure of the drone base within Pakistan is a necessary beginning as is the need to create space between ourselves and the US, which will alter the ground environment in favour of the Pakistani state. It will immediately get rid of the fanaticism that creates suicide bombers as no longer will they be seen to be on the path to martyrdom by bombing US collaborators. Within this environment a consensual national policy to combat extremism and militancy needs to be evolved centring on dialogue, negotiation and assertion of the writ of the state. Where force is required the state must rely on the paramilitary forces, not the army. Concomitantly, Pakistan needs serious reforms. First and foremost we have to give our people access to justice at the grassroots level - that is, revive the village jury/Panchayat system. Only then will we rid ourselves of the oppressive “thana-kutchery” culture which compels the poor to seek adjudication by the feudals, tribal leaders, tumandars and now by the Taliban also - thereby perpetuating oppression of the dispossessed, especially women.

Second, unless we end the system of parallel education in the country where the rich access private schools and a different examination system while the poor at best only have access to a deprived public school system with its outmoded syllabus and no access to employment. That is why the marginalised future generations are condemned to go to madrassahs which provide them with food for survival and exploit their pent up social anger. We need to bring all our educational institutions into the mainstream with one form of education syllabus and examination system for all - with madrassahs also coming under the same system even while they retain their religious education specialisation.

Third, the level of governance needs to be raised through making appointments on merit in contrast to the worst type of cronyism that is currently on show. Alongside this, a cutting of expenditures is required with the leadership and the elite leading by example through adoption of an austere lifestyle. Also, instead of seeking aid and loans to finance the luxurious lifestyle of the elite, the leadership should pay taxes, declare its assets and bring into the country all money kept in foreign banks abroad. All “benami” transactions, assets and bank accounts should be declared illegal. I believe we will suddenly discover that we are actually quite a self-sufficient country.

Fourth, the state has to widen its direct taxation net and cut down on indirect taxation where the poor subsidise the rich. If corruption and ineptitude are removed, it will be possible for the state to collect income tax more effectively.

A crucial requirement for moving towards stability would be the disarming of all militant groups - which will a real challenge for the leadership but here again, the political elite can lead by example and dismantle their show of guards and private forces.

Finally, fundamentalism should be fought intellectually with sensitivity shown to the religious and heterogeneous roots of culture amongst the Pakistani masses. Solutions have to be evolved from within the nation through tolerance and understanding. Here, we must learn from the Shah of Iran’s attempts to enforce a pseudo-Western identity onto his people and its extreme backlash from Iranian society.

The threat of extremism is directly related to the performance of the state and its ability to deliver justice and welfare to its people.

As the Army watches -Mardan, Swabi, Haripur are Infiltrated by the Taliban !

(Click on the map to increase size)

Grapewine has it that Nawaz Sharif is willing to play ball with the US State Department. Zardari's graph has gone down hill after the Swat Peace deal. Mid-term elections might be held after the situation subsides. Secret meetings were held in Dubai between Hillary's aides and Zardari on the luke warm response on the Taliban take over of 4 districts and Swat peace deal. Army Chief Kiyani had a meeting on USS Abraham in the Arabian Sea with US Army General Patrias. Core Commanders are on board. A sigh of relief for Pakistan - the much awaited anti-Taliban operation is about to begin.

Army is waiting for a consensus of the political parties before it starts a military operation. This is a first for the Army to wait for the civilian 'go-ahead'. The political parties except the (Secular) MQM took their time to get on board for a consensus on an anti-Taliban operation. It was not till the (Ultra Right)JI started to harp on the tune and called the Sufi's in Swat 'Kafirs'. (Secular) PPP waited for (Center Right) PML-N to say 'yes'. Nawaz Sharif finally showed his concern in an interview with a foreign newspaper.
PPP's delayed move is very calculated as it does not want to run ANP out of the coalition in NWFP. But (Secular-Left) ANP has given a tactical yes to the operation. Casualties will be high and ANP's reluctance to the operation is obvious.

Tarbela Dam and KKH are at an arms length from the Talibans reach ! Tarbela dam touches Shangla and KKH starts at Mansehra. The 8 lane Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway is not too far.

More Districts fall to Taliban !

WITH districts around Swat seemingly falling like ninepins, the state has been shockingly ambivalent about it plans to restore its writ in northern Pakistan. But yesterday it appeared that the Pakistan Army has finally awoken from its slumber. The message from the chief himself, Gen Kayani: the militants will not be allowed to run amok and order will be restored. So far the army’s wait-and-watch policy in Malakand division has had dangerous consequences. Buner is now in the militants’ hands and IDPs are pouring into neighbouring districts, especially Swabi, Mardan and Haripur. Meanwhile, Shangla has been penetrated by the militants and Swabi and Mardan are the next likely targets. Shrewdly taking advantage of the cessation in hostilities in the valley, militants from Swat fanned out into neighbouring areas, expanding the theatre in which they will have to be taken on and ensuring that an even messier fight lies ahead.

Why has the army waited? It claims the ‘operational pause’ was meant to give a chance to the forces of reconciliation and not as a concession to the militants. Now that the army has sensed the panic among the people and seen the militants’ determination to expand their territorial control, it has pledged to achieve ‘victory’ against terrorism and militancy ‘at all costs.’ We hope this resolve will not melt in the days ahead. But two points regarding the overall war against militancy need to be flagged. One, the army has been particularly agitated by the recent spate of foreign comments that Pakistan is on the verge of collapse and that the army is unwilling or unable to defeat militancy. Gen Kayani’s forceful statement that the army ‘never has and never will hesitate to sacrifice, whatever it may take, to ensure [the] safety and well-being’ of Pakistan’s people and its territorial integrity should be noted in foreign capitals. Whatever the suspicions, the Pakistan Army is an indispensable element in any successful strategy against militancy in Pakistan and the region generally, and riling the army high command to score a few public points cannot be part of a sound strategy.

The second point concerns the political component here in Pakistan. While the Pakistan Army isn’t under the full control of the civilians, it has made it clear that it will only fight when there is a political consensus for it to do so. Thus far the politicians have been woefully divided; whether the dissenters blame America as the root cause of militancy or harp on about fuzzy ideas of dialogue, they have not been able to unite on the need to take on the militants militarily. That discord may finally be changing. The PML-N, the PML-Q and the religious parties have voiced concerns about militants on the march, while the MQM has come out as the foremost critic of the peace deal in Swat. It is not clear yet whether they will support the military option, but the army cannot fail to note that the politicians are at last beginning to agree on the seriousness of the threat of militancy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Taliban's cake walk to Dir, Swat, Malakand, Buner and Shangla !

Mardan, Swabi and Haripur Districts are under intense pressure from the Taliban and they are slowly infiltrating.

NEW YORK: After the Taliban take over Dir, Swat, Buner,Shangla and roll into Mardan, it will be the end of the game, a senior Pakistani law enforcement official in NWFP told The New York Times On Wednesday.
The report claimed that when the Taliban entered Buner, the Pakistan army did not put up a defence, apparently abiding by the agreement signed by the Zardari government in Swat.

A local politician, Jamsher Khan, told NYT that people were initially determined to resist the Taliban in Buner, but that they were discouraged by the deal the government struck with the Taliban in Swat.

‘We felt stronger as long we thought the government was with us,’ he said by telephone, ‘but when the government showed weakness, we too stopped offering resistance to the Taliban.’

The newspaper said the takeover of Buner was particularly significant because the people there have tried last year to stand up to the Taliban by establishing small private armies to fight the militants. Last year when the militants encroached into Buner, killing policemen, the local people fought back and forced the militants out.

Buner, home to about one million people, is a gateway to Mardan, the second largest in NWFP, after Peshawar.

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal reported that ‘militants have been moving into Buner since the Swat peace deal was signed with the government in February. But starting Tuesday night they seized control of the entire district, which has a population of more than one million people. Heavily armed militants streaming in from Swat, occupied government offices and set up their own check posts. Terrified residents fled their homes.’

Dozens of hooded fighters carrying rocket launchers and machine guns ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in the district and took away their vehicles. Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage. The militants set up their headquarters in the town of Buner after driving out government officials, the WSJ report said.

American officials led by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sounded ominous alarm bells Wednesday. Mrs Clinton said she was concerned that Pakistan’s government was making too many concessions to the Taliban, emboldening the militants and allowing them to spread by giving in to their demands.

A senior American official said Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were prompted in part by news of the Taliban takeover in Buner.

The officials said that the further erosion of government authority in an area so close to the capital ought to stir concern not only in Pakistan but also among influential Pakistanis abroad.

The NYT reported that staff members of local nongovernmental organisations have been ordered to leave, and their offices have been looted. Pakistani television news channels showed Taliban fighters triumphantly carrying office equipment out of the offices of the organisations.

The Taliban advance had been building for weeks, with the assistance of sympathisers and even a local government official who was appointed on the recommendation of the Taliban, the report said.

The US media noted that the Taliban incursion comes after the government of President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to the imposition of religious laws in Swat, as part of a deal with the Taliban.

But with a beachhead in neighboring Swat, and a number of training camps for fresh recruits, the Taliban were able to carry out what amounted to an invasion of Buner, the media reported.

The Taliban expansion into Buner has begun to raise alarm among the senior ranks of the Pakistani Army, said a Western official who was familiar with the Pakistani military.

On Wednesday, one of the highest-ranking army officers traveled from Islamabad to Peshawar and met the officers of the 11th Corps, the army division based in Peshawar, to discuss the ‘overall situation in Buner’, the media reported.

One of the major concerns is that from the hills of Buner the Taliban have access to the flatlands of the district of Swabi, which lead directly to the four-lane motorway that runs from Islamabad to Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province.

The Pakistani military does not have a presence in Buner, Pakistani and Western officials told Times. The main government authority in Buner is the police, who have become demoralised by their low pay and lack of equipment in the face of the Taliban, Pakistani police officials say.

The Taliban have set up checkpoints in a number of villages in Buner, intimidating policemen and forcing them into their police stations, residents told reporters.

The militants were patrolling the bazaar in Daggar, residents said. Women, who used to move freely around the bazaars, were scarcely to be seen, they said. Those who did venture out were totally covered.

The militants were helped by the actions of the commissioner of Malakand, Javed Mohammad, who is also the senior official in Swat and who was appointed on the recommendation of the Taliban, the US media reported said.

Buner taken over and now Shangla :

Eight Frontier Constabulary platoons rushed to Buner on Thursday to protect vital state installations in the northwestern town now virtually under Taliban control, while the Taliban entered the adjacent Shangla district in another brazen move.

Local residents and police in Poran tehsil of Shangla said around 30 armed Taliban arrived in the town on Thursday morning. “They entered the tehsil in cars and are still in the area,” a police official said.

Governing Buner: The march on Shangla came after the district administration recognised Taliban’s control over Buner district by holding a jirga with a local commander to lay down procedures to govern the district.

“We will not display weapons in public, and we will stay away from undue interference in the district administration,” Taliban commanders Mufti Bashir and Ustad Yasir told the jirga which local administration officials and jirga elders attended.

Attack on FC convoy: But moments after the Taliban pledged to stay peaceful, a convoy of Frontier Constabulary was attacked in the Totalai area. Two escorting police officers were killed and another was wounded.

No group has claimed responsibility so far, but the Taliban are being suspected.

In a second attack, armedmen robbed a truck carrying supplies for the security forces in Baboo area in Khawazakhela tehsil and abducted three soldiers, local residents said.

However, there was no official confirmation.

At the jirga earlier on Thursday, the Taliban agreed to pardon some of those who had taken up arms against them, but kept others on their hit list.

Army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas insisted the situation in Buner was not as dire as some have portrayed – telling the Associated Press that Taliban were in control of less than 25 percent of the district, mostly its north.

“We are fully aware of the situation,” Abbas said. “The other side has been informed to move these people out of this area.”

The NWFP government convened a meeting of provincial heads of political parties to discuss the situation after the approval of Nizam-e-Adal Regulation and the concerns following reports that the Taliban are running a parallel administration, abductions for ransom continue and the writ of the state is far from returning to the area.

“It was decided to convene a joint meeting of all political parties to brief them on the situation in the region,” a communiqué from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat in Peshawar read.

NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Bilour said the government “reserves the right” to use force if peace accord violations continued. “But first we want to let peace come,” he told reporters in Peshawar.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wake up call for the 6th Largest Army in the world !

The army must face up to Taliban ! 3 districts and FATA ! How much will they concede to the Taliban ?
Bravo Bravo MQM ! MQM is the only party that is crying hoarse on the Taliban's advance !
Where are the Civil Rights groups ? Lawyers anyone ? Iftikhar Chaudry - like hello ? 100's of judges and lawyers have been asked to wrap up and leave Swat, Dir and now Buner.
Please DO NOT tell me that the Pakistani Army is waiting for the Taliban to reach the Attock Bridge before they act ?
If the Pakistan Army acts now to evict the Taliban from the 3 districts the expected casualties at this time would be in access to a 100,000.

Pakistan army faces 5000 suicide bombers which will be leashed all over Pakistan to take revenge. LTTE got defeated after 30 years !
Wake up Pakistan. Its time to go for war !

The majority opinion which not so long ago favoured the Nizam-e Adl Regulation (NAR) in Swat is now shifting away from a pro-Taliban stance and conceding that Pakistan might have to fight them as Pakistan’s own war after all. This has happened owing to developments that were predictable to the entire world but not to most Pakistanis because of a media bias. The Swat Taliban have finally said that they are not bound to honour the peace accord between the government and the TNSM cleric Sufi Muhammad. That puts paid to the NAR.

Sufi Muhammad was supposed to declare war against the Taliban if they did not abide by the NAR, but he has instead condemned the Constitution of Pakistan as an infidel institution. A kind of jihadi nepotism has overcome him as he refuses to see what his son-in-law Fazlullah is doing in Dir and Buner in violation of the accord. Indeed, the Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan has denounced those who criticise the Sufi’s “verdict” against democracy and insists that his brand of shariat will be applied throughout Pakistan, with jiziya (protection tax) imposed on non-Muslims. (Jiziya can be retrospective, amounting to crores of rupees, as happened in the case of the Sikh community in Orakzai.)

There’s more disquieting news. Like all Taliban, including some pro-Pakistan warlords like Maulvi Nazir, the Taliban spokesman has welcomed Al Qaeda and its leadership to the areas conquered by the Taliban and vowed to help such formerly state-backed jihadi organisations as Lashkar-e Tayba and Jaish-e Muhammad in addition to the “foreign” outfits such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to consolidate their hold on Pakistan’s territory. The chief of the Lashkar is in protective custody and the Jaish chief has been made to “disappear” for the same reason — if they are visible, there may be pressure to extradite them.

The message is clear: the Taliban are linked to Al Qaeda and they are counting on such elements in Punjab to help them take their war down to other parts of Pakistan. When the Swat deal was being sewed up, only the MQM objected, but it was soon isolated in parliament when the National Assembly voted in favour of the NAR. The media-mujahideen acted in the same irresponsible manner in which they had acted during the Lal Masjid affair by siding with the Taliban over the videoed whipping of a 17-year-old girl. The Supreme Court added its bit by releasing the Lal Masjid cleric who immediately announced his resolve to spread the Taliban shariat in Pakistan.

Interior Adviser Mr Rehman Malik has growled ineffectually in reply and the advocate general in Peshawar has asserted that the High Court will exercise full authority over the qazi courts in Swat. But everyone knows that the advocate general will never go to Swat to say this and risk getting his head chopped off at a Mingora square. Mr Nawaz Sharif has expressed concern after his party kept saying it was not Pakistan’s war that the army was fighting against the Taliban. His refusal to morally support the PPP government earlier and his party’s rejection of an ISI briefing on the matter in a joint parliamentary session had actually made the army back off.

Finally, it is the army that has to step forward and face the Taliban. It has baulked so far because of adverse public opinion and an equally lethal media tilt. But now that the politicians are waking up to the danger and the media is increasingly disabused, the army must end its India-driven strategy and try to save Pakistan from becoming the caliphate of Al Qaeda. In fact, Islamabad has to reach an understanding with New Delhi over the matter in order to get the army to mobilise in the numbers required. However, if this is not done, the people will have to fight the war on their own. The MQM is asking the right question: what if the Taliban come and the army is not there to protect us?

Swat is the challenge staring us in the face. If we don’t accept it and fight the Taliban, then the world will have to come and fight it the way it thinks fit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pakistan on course to become Islamist state, U.S. experts say

WASHINGTON — A growing number of U.S. intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials have concluded that there's little hope of preventing nuclear-armed Pakistan from disintegrating into fiefdoms controlled by Islamist warlords and terrorists, posing the a greater threat to the U.S. than Afghanistan's terrorist haven did before 9/11.

"It's a disaster in the making on the scale of the Iranian revolution," said a U.S. intelligence official with long experience in Pakistan who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Pakistan's fragmentation into warlord-run fiefdoms that host al Qaida and other terrorist groups would have grave implications for the security of its nuclear arsenal; for the U.S.-led effort to pacify Afghanistan ; and for the security of India , the nearby oil-rich Persian Gulf and Central Asia , the U.S. and its allies.

" Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al Qaida sitting in two-thirds of the country which the government does not control," said David Kilcullen , a retired Australian army officer, a former State Department adviser and a counterinsurgency consultant to the Obama administration.

" Pakistan isn't Afghanistan , a backward, isolated, landlocked place that outsiders get interested in about once a century," agreed the U.S. intelligence official. "It's a developed state . . . (with) a major Indian Ocean port and ties to the outside world, especially the (Persian) Gulf, that Afghanistan and the Taliban never had."

"The implications of this are disastrous for the U.S.," he added. "The supply lines (from Karachi to U.S. bases) in Kandahar and Kabul from the south and east will be cut, or at least they'll be less secure, and probably sooner rather than later, and that will jeopardize the mission in Afghanistan , especially now that it's getting bigger."

The experts McClatchy interviewed said their views aren't a worst case scenario but a realistic expectation based on the militants' gains and the failure of Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to respond.

"The place is beyond redemption," said a Pentagon adviser who asked not to be further identified so he could speak freely. "I don't see any plausible scenario under which the present government or its most likely successor will mobilize the economic, political and security resources to push back this rising tide of violence.

"I think Pakistan is moving toward a situation where the extremists control virtually all of the countryside and the government controls only the urban centers," he continued. "If you look out 10 years, I think the government will be overrun by Islamic militants."

That pessimistic view of Pakistan's future has been bolstered by Islamabad's surrender this week for the first time of areas outside the frontier tribal region to Pakistan's Taliban movement and by a growing militant infiltration of Karachi , the nation's financial center, and the industrial and political heartland province of Punjab, in part to evade U.S. drone strikes in the tribal belt.

Civilian deaths in the drone attacks, the eight-year-old U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and U.S. support for Pakistan's former military dictatorship also have sown widespread ambivalence about the threat the insurgency poses and revulsion at fighting fellow Muslims.

"The government has to ratchet up the urgency and ratchet up the commitment of resources. This is a serious moment for Pakistan ," said Sen. John Kerry , D- Mass. , the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, on April 14 in Islamabad . "The federal government has got to . . . define this problem as Pakistan's ."

Many Pakistanis, however, dismiss such warnings as inflated. They think that the militants are open to dialogue and political accommodation to end the unrest, which many trace to the former military regime's cooperation with the U.S. after 9/11.

Ahsan Iqbal , a top aide to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif , said the insurgency can be quelled if the government rebuilds the judicial system, improves law enforcement, compensates guerrillas driven to fight by relatives' deaths in security force operations and implements democratic reforms.

"It will require time," Iqbal told McClatchy reporters and editors this week. "We need a very strong resolve and internal unity."

Many U.S. officials, though, regard the civilian government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as unpopular, dysfunctional and mired in infighting. It's been unable to agree on an effective counterinsurgency strategy or to address the ills that are feeding the unrest. These include ethnic and sectarian hatreds, ineffective police, broken courts, widespread corruption, endemic poverty and a deepening financial crisis, they said.

Pakistan's army, meanwhile, is hobbled by a lack of direction from the country's civilian leaders, disparaged for its repeated coups and shaken by repeated defeats by the militants. It remains fixated on India to ensure high budgets and cohesion among troops of divergent ethnic and sectarian allegiances, U.S. officials and experts said.

Many officers and politicians also oppose fighting the Islamist groups that Pakistan nurtured to fight proxy wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir , and because they think the U.S. is secretly conspiring with India to destabilize their country.

Alarm rose in Washington this week after the parliament and Zardari agreed to impose Islamic law in the Swat district, where extremists have repelled several army offensives; closed girls' schools; and beheaded, hanged and lashed opponents and alleged criminals.

The government's capitulation handed the militants their first refuge outside the remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan , and less than 100 miles north of Islamabad . Taliban fighters also advanced virtually unopposed from Swat into the Buner district, 60 miles north of Islamabad .

Buner is close to a key hydroelectric dam and to the highways that link Pakistan to China , and Islamabad to Peshawar , the capital of the North West Frontier Province , much of which is already under Taliban sway.

Many U.S. officials and other experts expect the militants to continue advancing.

The Taliban "have now become a self-sustaining force," author Ahmed Rashid , an expert on the insurgency, told a conference in Washington on Wednesday. "They have an agenda for Pakistan , and that agenda is no less than to topple the government of Pakistan and 'Talibanizing' the entire country."

Iqbal, the adviser to Sharif, disagreed. While militants will overrun small pockets, most Pakistanis embrace democracy and will resist living under the Taliban's harsh interpretation of Islam, he said.

"The psychology, the temperament, the mood of the Pakistani nation does not subscribe to these extremist views," Iqbal said.

The U.S. intelligence official, however, said that Pakistan's elite, dominated since the country's independence in 1947 by politicians, bureaucrats and military officers from Punjab, have failed to recognize the seriousness of the situation.

"The Punjabi elite has already lost control of Pakistan , but neither they nor the Obama administration realize that," the official said. " Pakistan will be an Islamist state — or maybe a collection of four Islamic states, probably within a few years. There's no civilian leadership in Islamabad that can stop this, and so far, there hasn't been any that's been willing to try."

Several U.S. officials said that the Afghanistan - Pakistan strategy that President Barack Obama unveiled last month is being called into question by the accelerating rate at which the insurgency in Pakistan is expanding.

The plan hinges on the Pakistani army's willingness to put aside its obsession with Hindu-dominated India and focus on fighting the Islamist insurgency. It also presupposes, despite doubts held by some U.S. officials, that sympathetic Pakistani military and intelligence officers will sever their links with militant groups.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taliban : Quick Summary of the Taliban Reign in NW Pakistan !

Pakistani Army withdraws from 3 key Districts :
Pakistani Army are sitting Ducks and watch three districts taken away ! What are they waiting for ? It will be a very sorry state if General Kiani acts against the Taliban after they reach the Attock Bridge. Are the people of Swat and Dir chicken feed ?

Talibaan carry out daily Killings of the "accused" ! The more Drones bomb the border towns the Taliban quietly moves inwards into Pakistan ! They have now have control of these areas in Pakistan and FATA !
and Buner.
Quetta and DI Khan are next ?

Watch Hamid Mir on on the Taliban :

Time line of Taliban Rule in Pakistan :

February 7, 2009 :
1100 ANP works were killed in a span of 3 months.

March 1, 2009 :
A Hijra (Eunuch) was hung from a pole in Swat because of his 'ways'

March 14, 2009 :
Threatened by the so called Islamic Taliban 100 Pushtoon Hindu and Sikh families migrate to India from Swat. Swat had been their home for centuries.

April 4, 2009:
Taliban flog a 17 year old Minor girl for taking a walk with her Father in Law !

April 10, 2009 :
Taliban Kill a couple who were accused of falling in love. They had eloped.

April 14, 2009
KOHAT: Local Taliban killed three men who were accused of assaulting an eight-year-old boy and threw their bodies in Arakhel square in the Kohat Frontier Region on Monday. A Taliban spokesman said the ‘accused’ had admitted before their shura and tribal elders to have assaulted the boy. The shura sentenced them to death before a firing squad. The Taliban had announced last month that they would enforce religious laws in the region.

April 14, 2009
Militants in Punjab allying with Taliban: NYT

NEW YORK: The militant groups in Punjab are coalescing with Taliban reinvigorating an alliance which is a serious ‘risk to the stability of the country.’ The New York Times reported Tuesday quoting American and Pakistani officials.

In a dispatch from Dera Ghazi Khan, the newspaper pointed out that manifestation of such an alliance was witnessed in the deadly assault in March in Lahore, Punjab’s capital, against the Sri Lankan cricket team, and the bombing last fall of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

At least 20 militants killed in American strikes in the tribal areas since last summer were Punjabi, according to people from the tribal areas and Pakistani officials. One Pakistani security official estimated that 5 per cent to 10 per cent of militants in the tribal regions could be Punjabi.

April 15, 2009 :
Armed militants occupy Sikhs' homes in Pak
Armed militants have occupied four homes of members of the minority Sikh community in Pakistan's restive Aurakzai tribal region near the northwestern city of Peshawar, a media report said on Wednesday. About 200 armed militants arrived at Qasimkhel village in Aurakzai Agency yesterday and demanded Rs 40 million from the Sikhs, said Galyan Singh, an elder of the minority community. "We failed to pay the amount and they forced the 38-member Sikh community to vacate houses," Singh told The News daily. The families that were evicted from their homes have taken refuge in Manikhel area, Singh said. Local residents of Qasimkhel condemned the incident and said injustice had been done to the Sikhs. There is a sizeable number of Sikhs living in Peshawar and adjoining semi-autonomous tribal regions.

Aprils 17, 2009 :
Taliban execute man, woman in Hangu
Footage shows Taliban militants shooting a man and woman charged with adultery in front of their relatives.

April 18, 2009:
Tehsildar dies in Taliban custody

GHALANAI: The Taliban in Mohmand Agency said on Saturday that the Yakaghund tehsildar they had abducted last month was dead. Taliban spokesman Ikramullah told Daily Times that Arshad Ali had died due to kidney failure. The government official was kidnapped on March 8, after a fierce gunfight between troops and the Taliban. Fourteen soldiers had been killed in the clash.Taliban had demanded the release of their arrested accomplices in return for the tehsildar’s release. They have declined to return the body until their demand was met. mukaram khan

April 19, 2009
(Keep watching the show )

Friday, April 10, 2009

Indian Caught planning attack on Police Academy in Rawalpindi

This is the most significant news of the year !

RAWALPINDI: Police arrested five more suspects in Sihala on Friday, after an Indian national arrested earlier in the day confessed to planning an attack on Police College Sihala, DawnNews reported.
Interrogation of the five arrested was underway. They were seized on a tip off by the arrested Indian.

The earlier arrest was made in the jurisdiction of Police College Sihala, near Rawalpindi, DawnNews reported.

He was arrested on suspicion after being seen in the area, officials said.

An investigation team has been set up to question him, Deputy Inspector General of Police and commandant of the college Fateh Sher Joyia told DawnNews.

However, sources said the alleged Indian spy admitted that he and others were planning terror attacks on Police College Sihala, DawnNews reported.

The alleged spy has been handed over to secret agencies for further investigation, sources told DawnNews.

Officials declined to give the name and other information on the Indian saying details could be shared only after the investigation process has been completed.

However the DIG confirmed that maps of important Pakistani cities along with some phone numbers were recovered from his possession.

The Indian was wearing five thick shirts and a belt, a police official said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Murtids" Flog a 17 year old Girl - watch complete Video

Swat Valley flogging video reveals harsh Taliban justice.
A video showing a teenage girl being flogged by Murtid Taliban fighters has emerged from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. The Taliban Cult claims that they are Muslims and are implementing their 'own' version of Islam.

WARNING: This video contains images some people may find disturbing

Immigration and Jobs: Where the Workers Come From !

Immigration interactive map from NY Times !

Thursday, April 2, 2009

$500m investment expected from UAE

KARACHI: FPCCI Pak-UAE Business Council Chairman Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig has said that investments worth $500 million are expected to come from UAE during the current year and a trade delegation from the emirate is also likely to visit Pakistan in November.

A delegation of FPCCI Pak-UAE Business Council comprising 35 members visited the UAE from March 24 to 27. The main purpose of the visit was to attract investment, specifically in the Coastal Refinery Oil Terminal, agriculture, textile city and alternative energy resources, Baig announced while speaking at a press conference on Wednesday. Listing the successful meetings the delegation had conducted, Baig said the National Bank of Dubai SANA Capital had shown interest in investing $200 million in the country whereas Bosicor, a sub-company of UAE’s Abraaj Group, also announced an investment of $10 million in projects of Khalifa Point Hub Coastal Refinery Oil Terminal.

Baig said Dubai Export Development Corporation CEO Saeed Al Awadi had promised to introduce an export insurance scheme in Pakistan under it 90 per cent protection would be provided to companies for their shipment money. Baig said no such export insurance was available in Pakistan and this would be a pioneer move by the UAE-based corporation.

He said an alternative energy company, Bin Din Group, had agreed to invest in the Thar coal project and produce 1,000 megawatts of energy and at the same time would provide employment to 90,000 labourers.

Similarly, another company Mazdar had announced to work on the carbon credit project in the country besides working for a scheme which would provide 15 per cent guaranteed return on alternative energy investments. Baig further said the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry had allotted a plot of 20,000 yards for the Pakistan Trade and Display Centre in Sharjah for which construction would commence soon under the public-private partnership scheme.

He further said Dubai Investment Bank had announced to open 60 branches in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Emirates Investment Group announced investments in livestock sector for importing 50 thousand superior quality breed cows. He also commented that an Abu Dhabi based company ALDAR had assigned a Pakistani company, Descon to construct the race tracks for the Formula One car race to be held in November this year.

Baig said the cement for the project was being exported from Pakistan whereas 20,000 Pakistani labours were also working on the construction project. He said UAE is the largest investor in Pakistan among Gulf states and during 2004-2008 had invested $3.74 billion. He said about 800,000 Pakistanis are employed in UAE who send remittances to the country to the tune of $1 billion annually.