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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pakistan - Taliban Hub
    Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 01:05
Pakistani city serves as a refuge for the Taliban

Quetta is a resting spot, recruiting ground and meeting point for the militia, officials say.

By Laura King
The Los Angeles Times
December 21, 2006

QUETTA, PAKISTAN At a time when the Taliban is making its strongest push in years to regain influence and territory across the border in Afghanistan, this mountain-ringed provincial capital has become an increasingly brazen hub of activity by the Islamist militia.

Quetta serves as a place of rest and refuge for Taliban fighters between battles, a funneling point for cash and armaments, a fertile recruiting ground and a sometime meeting point for the group's fugitive leaders, say aid workers, local officials, diplomats and others.

"Everybody is here," said Mahmood Khan Achakzai, a Quetta-based member of Pakistan's National Assembly, describing the routine comings and goings of senior Taliban commanders in Quetta, the capital of the Pakistani province of Baluchistan.

The apparent ease of Taliban movement in and out of Quetta comes against a backdrop of increasingly bitter squabbling by authorities in Afghanistan and Pakistan over who bears responsibility for the militia's use of tribal areas on the Pakistani side of the border as a staging ground for attacks that have killed at least 180 North Atlantic Treaty Organization and allied troops this year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai this month blamed Pakistan for orchestrating Taliban activity. Pakistan, a key ally in President Bush's "war on terror," in turn accused Karzai of seeking a scapegoat for his own failures of governance.

Nerve-racking encounters

Quetta is a microcosm for these tensions. Local Pakistani authorities insist that they keep a tight lid on Taliban activity a claim derided by many residents of this city of about 1.5 million people, and one backed by little demonstrable evidence.

Residents described nerve-racking random encounters with Taliban convoys bristling with weaponry and hearing volleys of automatic-weapons fire echoing from within some walled-off madrasas. Taliban recruitment videos sell briskly in stalls tucked between the gun emporiums and carpet shops of Quetta's raucous main market.

"For the Taliban, this is considered to be a safe haven," said Syed Ali Shah, a journalist who writes for the Baluchistan Times. "They come here, they regroup and retrain."

At a local madrasa, or Islamic seminary, black-turbaned young men gathered around a makeshift fountain on a recent day, performing their ablutions before noon prayers. One, then two, then half a dozen of them aimed steely glares at outsiders lingering near the rusty green gate of the mud-brick compound.

The madrasa is one of dozens in and around Quetta at which Taliban ideology is openly preached. From these schools, willing foot soldiers emerge by the hundreds to join the fight against Western forces in Afghanistan.

Secretive society

The Taliban presence in Quetta is helped by the insular and secretive nature of Pashtun tribal society, the virtually unsecured border with Afghanistan and the city's large population of Afghan refugees, with whom the militia's members can readily blend.

The city also has close historic, ethnic and cultural ties to the Taliban's birthplace, the Afghan city of Kandahar, a bone-jarring five hours away by road. Many Pashtun clans have roots on both sides of the border.

Afghan provinces close to Baluchistan have been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting this year between Taliban and Western and allied forces. The bulk of more than 115 suicide attacks against coalition troops has taken place in and near Kandahar, which was the seat of Taliban power when the movement ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Today in Quetta, it's almost as if the Taliban never went away.

Some Taliban-affiliated madrasas operate almost in the shadow of police and military installations. On the main road that runs from the border town of Chaman to Quetta, there is only one police checkpoint. On a recent day, two police officers sat in a lean-to, drinking tea and barely glancing up at passing cars.

Pakistani police in Quetta say they have rounded up hundreds of suspected Taliban militants in the last year, and report frequent raids on madrasas suspected of militant ties.

"All the time we are harassing them," said Salman Syed Mohammed, Quetta's deputy police inspector-general.

But one Western aid official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described such roundups as a "catch-and-release" program, with most of the detainees seen on the streets again within a matter of days.

Mingling with refugees

Militants who are deported to Afghanistan can make their way back to Pakistan at will, either traveling by motorbike on unmarked border trails or joining the crush of up to 6,000 people, mainly Afghans, who cross the border daily at Chaman.

By mingling with refugees, wounded fighters are able to seek treatment in several Quetta hospitals, which on the whole are better equipped than those on the Afghan side of the frontier. The International Committee of the Red Cross helps arrange medical care in Quetta for injured civilians, and says that inevitably some fighters slip in among them.

"According to international law, once a wounded combatant has put down his weapon, it becomes a humanitarian case," said Paul Fruh, who heads the Red Cross office in Quetta.

Although most local people are afraid to talk about sightings of senior Taliban figures, commanders are said to have unimpeded access to the city, even highly recognizable ones.

"Dadullah roams these streets, and they know it," said Achakzai, the lawmaker, referring to Mullah Dadullah, a one-legged Taliban commander with a reputation for egregious brutality.

Westerners monitored

Pakistan's security branches demonstrate far more efficiency in keeping track of Western outsiders, including foreign journalists, whose movements in and around Quetta are closely monitored.

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall was questioned this week by Pakistani security agents who forced their way into her Quetta hotel room and at one point struck her in the face, she said. Gall's notes and laptop were seized but later returned. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it was looking into the incident.

For the families of young fighters from Quetta and its environs, the subject of their decision to take up arms for the Taliban is taboo. A local leader said the tiny hamlet of Charqol, about a dozen miles northwest of Quetta, had produced half a dozen suicide bombers this year alone. None of their relatives would talk.

The climate of fear extends to foreign humanitarian agencies, whose workers are required to have armed escorts whenever they venture outside Quetta. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Quetta was briefly shut down this year in response to a Taliban threat.

"I'm afraid, not as an aid worker but as a citizen, as someone living here," said Duniya Khan of the refugee agency. "Everyone in this city feels insecure."
    

Edited by Afghanan - 19-Jan-2007 at 12:26
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 01:07
Ok once again why did the US invade afghanistan? If it was to destroy the taliban that is not true, cuz they are letting them live and letting them get stronger also. Osama was probably dead at least since 2002. What is the US trying to do there exactly?
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 01:10
This war will end in Pakistan, not US.
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 01:11
Dream on buddy, dream on.
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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 02:18
Taliban := A pushtun with a big beard who doesn't like the Major of Kabul or his keepers.
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  Quote TeldeInduz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 05:31
Good quote from the article..Least the Red Cross is also in there to monitor the situation.
 
 
Militants who are deported to Afghanistan can make their way back to Pakistan at will, either traveling by motorbike on unmarked border trails or joining the crush of up to 6,000 people, mainly Afghans, who cross the border daily at Chaman.

By mingling with refugees, wounded fighters are able to seek treatment in several Quetta hospitals, which on the whole are better equipped than those on the Afghan side of the frontier. The International Committee of the Red Cross helps arrange medical care in Quetta for injured civilians, and says that inevitably some fighters slip in among them.

"According to international law, once a wounded combatant has put down his weapon, it becomes a humanitarian case," said Paul Fruh, who heads the Red Cross office in Quetta.
 
Solution..mine the border (which Karzai rejected), send back all the Afghan refugees (which Karzai rejected), prevent border crossings into Pakistan (which Karzai/Pakistan cannot do). Pakistani authority patience with Karzai is wearing thin I think, because they're identifying millions of Afghani refugees, I suspect who are going to be deported. Then there'd probably be a mining of parts of the border (which noone wants, but it seems to be the only solution).
Quoo-ray sha quadou sarre.................
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 09:59
I say we should mine the border. And be done with it.
Karzai can go to hell. Wait he's already there. Since when the Yanks leave he will be outside the Pakistani Embassy begging to be taken back to his house in Islamabad, he need to watch what comes out of that incredibly foul mouth of his.
 
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  Quote malizai_ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Dec-2006 at 13:32
Originally posted by Afghanan

This war will end in Pakistan, not US.
 
That may well be the case, i don't think that such an outlandish prospect. Unless.., Pakistan can make its usefulness felt, for furthering strategic cooperation.
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  Quote TeldeInduz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 09:47
^Highly unlikely IMO. Al Qaeda started off in Afghanistan and festered there, until the 2001 invasion, when they (foreigners + easily recognizable) were pushed into FATA regions of Pakistan (read here IMU, Middle Eastern fighters). The foreigners have been pushed out from the FATA regions, and they're in different countries now presumably or locked up, the Taliban sympathizers are more difficult to spot, but their goals are local, reclaiming Afghanistan. From a strategic point of view, it is in the interests of Al Qaeda (and nationalists of Afghanistan who share the same goal of unification) to call up an American attack on Pakistan so that a civil war and a power vacuum occurs eventually making their power grab easier. The local war against the Taliban can only be partially won by hearts and minds I think, and it's not really going in that direction, partly because it's clear Karzai is having his strings pulled and the South is being ignored generally. Something of a more representative government would be needed and then peace and security needs to be established, not warlord fiefdoms. Gwadar is something that is more important to the big powers, but this brings in China..

Edited by TeldeInduz - 23-Dec-2006 at 10:40
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  Quote malizai_ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 12:46
I understand your view and share it, but the impatience of the politicians in the whitehouse can be seen in the comments of various NATO generals. Where time and again what is required of the Pakistanis is to deny the taliban operatives room for recovery on the Pakistani side having failed to do anything on their side. Which is near impossible to do.
 
There are IMO two possibilities:NATO crosses the border with or without Pakistani consent to make short swift strikes in the tribal region. Pakistanis repeat the Waziri episode and the tribal region is further galvanized in opposition to both the Pak military and NATO. Either way the Pakistanis lose out.
 
What i am agreeing with is that the war could firmly end up in Pakistan, not that it will end in Pakistan. The empire is in a belligerent mood and the intentions of some quarters can not be totally overlooked.


Edited by malizai_ - 23-Dec-2006 at 12:51
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  Quote TeldeInduz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 13:07

^Border crossings are easily preventable by mining the border routes that are difficult to man. I think this is an option for Pakistan still to do, and in the worst eventuality it will do it with or without consent of Karzai.

I dont think the Whitehouse does share the view you expressed about the Pakistani side failing to do anything. The Whitehouse is well aware of steps taken by GOP to curb border crossings and arrest militants and has said so on many occasions. NATO Generals support the Waziristan accords, link here . Like you say, it's impossible to completely stop this infiltration because of the terrain, and it's an impossible task for really anyone to stop border crossings like the Red Cross even admit. Eventually there could be a small presence of Special Forces in West Pakistan, but this would be only to see the ground realities that if there's any safe havens action is taken. This would be the maximum extent of any intervention by America that I can see. Toppling Musharraf would not serve any cause for the West, or for Pakistan but would serve the interests of the current government of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda as well. The Waziri deals will take time to emerge as reality, but these areas of FATA are basically independent of Pakistan anyway..if NATO disarms them, so be it.
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 13:16
It seems the Taliban are running a-bloody-mock in Pakistan. I think the truth is that Pakistan simply cannot control them, rather than colluding with them. I have seen some pretty nasty taliban footage from the aftermath of clashes with Pakistani forces. No doubt though, given the past connections there will be Taliban sympethisers in key Pakistani security branches.
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  Quote TeldeInduz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 13:36
^Generally it's blown out of proportion (like the Bruce Loudon link I quoted). Quetta is in Pakistan Army control and always has been. FATA is a very small region of Pakistan not under Pakistani control, and the "Taliban" of this region are actually locals that have taken the name. Part of the problem is identifying non local "real" Taliban. This is only in FATA, the coalition trouble though mainly resides in Afghanistan with established warlords/druglords who want a piece of Afghanistan.

Edited by TeldeInduz - 23-Dec-2006 at 14:41
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  Quote malizai_ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 14:03
Tele
 
The policy of engagement is different in the tribal region which the report inaccurately describes as Taliban, a gross generalization IMO(refer to Omar's description). A completely different policy of engagement exists in Helmand as well as Kandahar.
 
I see NATO's disarmament of the FATA region as a long term provocation, that will give easy access to the Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis who may interpret it differently, and may join the foray, widening the theater of war and having long term consequences for the stability of Pakistan itself. It will also adversely effect China's ambition to reduce any strategic threat to its energy shipments via Gwadar. If Pakistan does the disarming then it will lose political support at the centre and will lose morale amongst it forces. Even if every Pakistani agreed with the disarmament the sight of Pakistani infighting will not garner the same support.
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  Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 14:12
The area of Afganistan is huge and full with mountains.Nobody,not even the Afganis,can actuallly control the entire country.The USA started a cheap war in Afganistan,meaning few troops for a quick victory.The US forces currently stationed there,are simply too few to control this massive area.
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  Quote malizai_ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 14:31
Originally posted by Spartakus

The area of Afganistan is huge and full with mountains.Nobody,not even the Afganis,can actuallly control the entire country.
 
An excellent observation Spartakus.Clap Thet can only assert a degree of control.


Edited by malizai_ - 23-Dec-2006 at 14:32
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  Quote TeldeInduz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 14:38
Originally posted by malizai_

Tele
 
The policy of engagement is different in the tribal region which the report inaccurately describes as Taliban, a gross generalization IMO(refer to Omar's description). A completely different policy of engagement exists in Helmand as well as Kandahar.
 
I see NATO's disarmament of the FATA region as a long term provocation, that will give easy access to the Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis who may interpret it differently, and may join the foray, widening the theater of war and having long term consequences for the stability of Pakistan itself. It will also adversely effect China's ambition to reduce any strategic threat to its energy shipments via Gwadar. If Pakistan does the disarming then it will lose political support at the centre and will lose morale amongst it forces. Even if every Pakistani agreed with the disarmament the sight of Pakistani infighting will not garner the same support.
 
Probably. Pakistan shouldnt do any disarming imo. It's not really Pakistan's fight. The tribals have their own way, and it's been that way for centuries, no point in upsetting this from the Pakistani side. NATO doing it would cause provocation of course, and it could cause a wider war as you say. Not sure where China lies in all this though.
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  Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 14:52
Originally posted by malizai_

 
An excellent observation Spartakus.Clap Thet can only assert a degree of control.


If the Chinese send 1.000.000 troops,then we can say about control of some large part of the country.I still pull my hair off my head by the stupidity of American military leadership.They went in the middle of nowhere(sry for the expression) to fight some men with AK-47s and full of beards,which can enter the country whenver they want and from whatever small sh*tty path they want .You cannot control Afganistan,if you do not have Iran and Pakistan in your side.You cannot control Afganistan,if you do not solve the Palestinian issue.You cannot control Afganistan if your image to the Muslim world is that of Satan and not that of Jesus.Why alll these?Because,simply,it is a chain,a chain that starts from Turkey goes through the Middle East and reaches Central Asia.It's the Chain of the Muslim World.If you take a small piece of this chain to fix it,another piece will soon broke.And then another.


Edited by Spartakus - 23-Dec-2006 at 14:54
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  Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Dec-2006 at 15:11
Originally posted by Spartakus

The area of Afganistan is huge and full with mountains.


This doesn't hold any water when we discuss cities and large population centres which must surely be under the control of any capable central government..
    
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Dec-2006 at 03:00
Cities are usually alwasy under control reletivly speaking. And they are mostly under US control at least Kabul is (the only place the US has shown interest in).I think before making such statements you should go to the areas concerned. It is very difficult terrain, about the worst ground in the world. Damn near impossible to operate under (and more so for US troops who have been trained to fight in rolling field of Europe or the desert).
 
And these mountaisn are higher than any in Europe or outside of the Himalyas. US troops who came to Pakistan to train suffered something like 80 % sickbay in a week. It took almost a year to train the fully.
 
As for incursions that is all talk. NATO is a political entity. Not a militray one. They may talk about incursions, but any actual attempt to go into that terrain will lead to disaster for them. Not enough troops, not to mentions not enough mountain troops at all. The South of Afganistan is flat lands (at least where the fighting is occuring) the pakistan side is rugged mountain.
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