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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Pakistan - Taliban Hub
    Posted: 06-Feb-2007 at 18:10

So your answer to terrorist attacks in Pakistan is Xenophobia.  I don't understand why it's so hard to understand this, it's quite simple...

1.  Fundamentalist perform suicide bombings in Afghanistan.
2.  Fundamentalist perform suicide bombings in Pakistan.
 
3.  The Taliban were kicked out of power, they retaliate with suicide bombings.
 
4.  The Taliban in Pakistan were getting bombed, they retaliate with suicide bombings.
 
Why is it so hard to understand?  This is a problem in both countries and it should be dealt with equally in both countries.  Pakistan needs to remove the fundamentalist madrassas that are preaching suicide and murder in Afghanistan.
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2007 at 18:52
What Xenophobia? I am just telling a simple fact that KHAD the Afghan secret service has been sending suicide bombers into pakistan for decades and decades and has no intention of stopping. You make no mention of that instead you come up with these one sided news reports that completely distort the whole picture.

Why doesnt KHAD stop supporting people like Bugti? Does Afghanistan have a problem stopping open financing and suport for terrorists like Bugti? And then people like you cry when he gets killed

Why doesn't KHAD stop exporting Heroin and Opium? Why doesnt Karzai do something about that? Afghanistan is now the world's #1 heroin producer--blame that on paki madrassas too? So a few fundies fire some firecrackers in kandahar and they get accused of being from Quetta, maybe some did come from there,  big deal thats not the whole picture. Most of the people blowing things up in Afghanistan have nothing at all to do with pakistan why don't you accept that fact?

Its also a fact that almost all the people blowing things up in Pakistan are backed by KHAD or RAW. There are no large organised separaratist groups in pakistan that the ISI does NOT control. In Afghanistan its different--but you are the one who likes to blame pakistan 100% for it. Take a look and see which country is in anarchy and which country is stabalized. The hub of Taliban is in Kandahar not Pakistan. 

4 pages of utter deceptive trash just to push onesided distorted pictures of what is really going on LoL.
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2007 at 10:36
Originally posted by maqsad

What Xenophobia? I am just telling a simple fact that KHAD the Afghan secret service has been sending suicide bombers into pakistan for decades and decades and has no intention of stopping. You make no mention of that instead you come up with these one sided news reports that completely distort the whole picture.

Why doesnt KHAD stop supporting people like Bugti? Does Afghanistan have a problem stopping open financing and suport for terrorists like Bugti? And then people like you cry when he gets killed

Why doesn't KHAD stop exporting Heroin and Opium? Why doesnt Karzai do something about that? Afghanistan is now the world's #1 heroin producer--blame that on paki madrassas too? So a few fundies fire some firecrackers in kandahar and they get accused of being from Quetta, maybe some did come from there,  big deal thats not the whole picture. Most of the people blowing things up in Afghanistan have nothing at all to do with pakistan why don't you accept that fact?

Its also a fact that almost all the people blowing things up in Pakistan are backed by KHAD or RAW. There are no large organised separaratist groups in pakistan that the ISI does NOT control. In Afghanistan its different--but you are the one who likes to blame pakistan 100% for it. Take a look and see which country is in anarchy and which country is stabalized. The hub of Taliban is in Kandahar not Pakistan. 

4 pages of utter deceptive trash just to push onesided distorted pictures of what is really going on LoL.
 
Man you are totally running out of arguments.  Next you will be blaming Mossad.  LOL
 
Its not reporters in Kandahar who are running for their lives when talking to locals, its in Quetta where foreign reporters are beaten and guns pointed at them for talking with locals.  BUT, for some reason Taliban commanders can walk around freely in public?  C'mon Maqsad, this isn't rocket science.
 
 
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2007 at 10:44
Originally posted by Afghanan

 
Its not reporters in Kandahar who are running for their lives when talking to locals, its in Quetta


Oh yeah? If any of these reporters in Kandahar tried to investigate the KHAD supported Pakhtoon drug lords who finance militias I can assure you they will be running for their lives. The only reporters that are allowed to function in Kandahar are the shills sent there pre approved by Mayor Karzai who places restrictions on all reporters.

And if you are talking about the female reporter who was beaten up in Quetta by the ISI, she KNEW she was in a restricted zone without permission. In fact I would not be surprised if she stages the whole incident how stupid are we expected to believe someone is that they walk around in a war zone without permission from the appropriate authorities when the law clearly states such permission is needed. Its not rocket science you know.
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2007 at 10:54
Actually, Maqsad, she is quoted as saying herself:
 
"I explained that I had a one year, multi-entry visa with no restrictions, and was permitted to work anywhere in Pakistan, including Quetta. The only place we know is not permitted to visit without special permission is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA. "
 
Drug lords working for the government exist, I'm not denying that.  A customs security officer in Kabul was threatened many times for exposing the government's complacency with the drug runners.  He even had a press breifing with foreign press  and accused the government.  When he continued with even more press briefings the government accused him of corruption and sacked him from his job.  He is now in the UK under amnesty.    I don't deny that, the fact is, how can you deny that the Taliban have a hub in Pakistan?
 
 
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2007 at 11:13
The reporter had repeated communications with ISI and she chose to ignore them. The thing about visas is they can be revoked at any time and if any official with authority wants to they can restrict any reporter at any time from operating in any zone deemed to be off limits. If she didnt understand that then she is extremely dumb. If she is not dumb then she deliberately staged the whole incident.

And I am sure the Taliban have many hubs. Quetta might be just one of the hub but their world headquarters is Kandahar. Thats where their central soul is located. Why do you deny that and create 4 page threads with snippets of anti paki propaganda making them look like they are some sorta undercover paki operatives lol.
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2007 at 15:44

Quetta MIGHT be a Hub?  ...just admit it Maqsad, it's not that hard.

Oh and this thread will die when the reports from BBC news, NY times, LA Times, Asia Times, The Telegraph, CNN, Associated Press, Reuters lose interest or Pakistan bars all foreign media outlets in the country.
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Feb-2007 at 13:55

Militants put squeeze on Musharraf

M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Karachi
Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Islamic militants have struck in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, for the second time in a fortnight, bringing a feeling of dj vu.

In December 2003, two attacks in as many weeks on the country's president and army chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf, shook Islamabad and the world.

But analysts believe recent attacks foreshadow worse times ahead than did the previous ones.

Three years ago, the militants were still struggling to consolidate their position and needed a high-profile target to establish their credentials.

Those attacks propelled Gen Musharraf into a position of strength, with Western powers lining up behind him to prevent the anarchic Islamist forces from capturing Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

This goodwill enabled Gen Musharraf to authorise a series of peace deals with the militants in 2004-05, thereby creating room for Islamabad to win back its estranged former allies in Afghanistan and the border region.

'New breed' of militant

The present attacks come at a time when Gen Musharraf is under increasing Western pressure to eliminate militant sanctuaries that have come to exist as a result of those deals.

A frequently-asked question in Pakistan is; is the peace deal with the militants still on?

While both Pakistani officials and the militant leaders insist that they want the deal to work, the situation on the ground tells a different story.

Since 22 January, militants have hit eight targets in northern Pakistan, killing at least 24 people.

Among the attackers are five suicide bombers, and their victims include five military personnel and nine personnel from other security units including the police.

Police investigators say the attacks were launched by a "new breed" of militant linked to Baitullah Mehsud, a Taleban commander from South Waziristan and a signatory of one of the peace deals.

Mr Mehsud vowed revenge following a Pakistani air strike that killed eight people in South Waziristan's Zamzola area on 16 January.

He called it a breach of the peace deal and said its future now depended on the actions of the Pakistan army.

'Safe havens'

Analysts believe the attacks are a warning that if Pakistan scuttles the peace deal, it will have to suffer the consequences.

But can Pakistan withstand Western pressure and hold peace in the tribal region?

Although President Musharraf has been defending the peace deals as a means of isolating al-Qaeda and Taleban militants, he has also shown occasional signs of cracking under Western pressure.

During his visit to the US late last year, he said that while the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI was not helping Taleban, some former ISI officials may have done so.

More recently, he has further conceded that he knew of some incidents at some Pakistani border posts where a "blind eye was being turned" to Taleban movements.

Apparently, Gen Musharraf is trying to come clean with the Western powers on the issue at a time when the US administration is upping the ante.

Pakistani officials were ruffled when John Negroponte, the director of US national intelligence, told a Senate intelligence committee on 12 January that al-Qaeda was re-establishing its global network from safe havens in Pakistan.

Further pressure came in the shape of a new US Congress bill linking military assistance for Pakistan to its commitment to fighting terrorism.

There may be some bargaining positions involved, but the bottom line seems to be a hammer-and-anvil operation involving Nato and Pakistani troops to crush tribal militants.

Pressure

This will entail grave political risks for Gen Musharraf and his regime. A similar operation in June 2004 led to upwards of 300 military casualties and made the army permanently unpopular in the region.

But skirting commitments on the "war on terror" may create its own set of problems.

Western officials believe that in economic terms, various aid and arms agreements between the US and Pakistan are crucial for the survival of the regime.

A harsh Congress law requiring annual waivers by the US president would therefore put a squeeze on the Pakistan military's supply line.

This could lead to political problems for Gen Musharraf, who observers say is surrounded by a group of political turncoats that are likely to melt away at the first sign of trouble.

And as the spring approaches, there is a sense of urgency in the air.

The Americans have already shown their resolve to carry the war into Pakistani territory by bombing suspected militant hideouts in the border regions.

To prevent that, Pakistan is likely to try harder to meet the demands of Nato troops.

Pakistan's willingness to accept responsibility for the strikes in Bajaur last November and in South Waziristan's Zamzola area on 16 January may be an indicator of which way the air is going to blow in the coming weeks and months.

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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Feb-2007 at 11:52
700 Insurgents have Arrived from Pakistan
 
 
Helmand 'seeing insurgent surge'
 
 
By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Kabul

The governor of Helmand province in Afghanistan says up to 700 insurgents have crossed over from Pakistan and are preparing to fight British forces.

Haji Asadullah Wafa, who has been in his job just a few weeks, told the BBC foreign fighters were among them.

He said their intention was to disturb a major dam project being protected by British troops.

The UK taskforce in Helmand said it was aware of reports that insurgents had moved into the Sangin area.

A spokesman said it was nothing unusual and if it became necessary they would strike at a time of their choosing.

Drugs trade

There has been much talk of a spring offensive but the Helmand governor has given the biggest indication yet that hundreds of insurgents are preparing to fight British troops in southern Afghanistan.

He said the    700, including Arabs, Chechens and Pakistani Taleban had crossed into Helmand from Pakistan and had moved to Sangin,

the centre of the drugs trade where British forces faced some of the heaviest fighting last summer.
 
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/6352089.stm
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Feb-2007 at 13:01

Taliban flee battle using children as shields: NATO

By Terry Friel
February 14, 2007

KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban fighters used children as human shields to flee heavy fighting this week during an operation by foreign and Afghan forces to clear rebels from around a key hydro-electric dam, NATO said on Wednesday.

The Taliban have used human shields before, but never children, local residents say.

The fighting occurred during Operation Kryptonite on Monday, an offensive to clear insurgents from the Kajaki Dam area in southern Helmand province to allow repairs to its power plants and the installation of extra capacity.

"During this action ... Taliban extremists resorted to the use of human shields. Specifically, using local Afghan children to cover as they escaped out of the area," Colonel Tom Collins, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told reporters in Kabul.

The Kajaki Dam fighting was in an area where 700 mainly foreign fighters, including Chechens, Pakistanis and Uzbeks, arrived from Pakistan this week to reinforce Taliban guerrillas.

NATO also said it killed a senior local Taliban commander and several comrades in a pre-dawn air-strike on Wednesday between the dam and the rebel-held town of Musa Qala to the west, but denied residents' accounts civilians were also killed.

TARGETING REBEL LEADERS

The leader, identified by police and tribal elders as Mullah Manan, was involved in the capture of Musa Qala 13 days ago and clashes around Kajaki.

NATO said its soldiers saw 11 bodies, all fighting-age males, dragged from the wreckage by Taliban fighters. Provincial police said Manan and at least eight more Taliban were killed and that they had no word of civilian casualties.

But local residents and elders said civilians also died.

"It is a well-known enemy tactic to try to blame civilian casualties on ISAF forces," Collins said in a statement.

"We continue to conduct specific shaping operations -- to go after specific Taliban extremists, the leadership who are impacting the enemy's operations," he told reporters later.

The Interior Ministry said it has also arrested a Taliban leader in the province of Khost.

The Kajaki dam has seen major fighting in recent weeks between the Taliban and NATO forces, mainly British and Dutch.

NATO-led forces have been conducting operations in the area for several months to allow reconstruction on the dam and the power transmission lines to boost output, after fighting halted repair and development work last year.

The Taliban cannot destroy the dam, which would also flood a large area of the Helmand Valley, but its tactics are aimed at making it too unsafe for work to go ahead.

The dam was first built on the Helmand river in the 1950s.

Its hydroelectric plants, with a generating capacity of 33 megawatts, were installed in 1975. Once fully operational, the dam will bring electricity to 1.8 million people, NATO says.

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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 03:44

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 in Pakistani court


QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed 15 people, including a judge, in a courtroom in the city of Quetta on Saturday, the latest in a series of suicide blasts to have sent shudders through the country.

Intelligence officials have attributed other attacks to sectarian Sunni militants linked to al Qaeda and groups operating from tribal areas, regarded as hotbeds of support for the Taliban.

Police made a string of arrests this week, including two suicide bomb teams caught in southern Pakistan.

The bomb in Quetta exploded while a lower court was in session. A senior judge and six lawyers were among those killed, police in the capital of Baluchistan province said.

"According to our reports a man entered the room and blew himself up. A head has been found," Baluchistan province Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf said.

"It could be a continuation of what is happening in other parts of the country."

At least 25 people were injured and police chief Rahu Khan Brohi told Reuters six of them were in a critical condition.

The suicide attacks started after an army air strike on a militant base in South Waziristan tribal region in mid-January.

Including the death toll from Quetta, nearly 45 people have been killed in bomb attacks since then, as militants have sought to destabilize President Pervez Musharraf's government and weaken his resolve to confront the Taliban, al Qaeda and their allies.

ARRESTS TARGET AL QAEDA ALLY

Police arrested two suicide bomb teams in southern Sindh province on Friday, and identified them as factions of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim sectarian militant group that has established ties with al Qaeda.

One team of three militants was captured after a gunfight in the southern city of Karachi, and another team of three was caught in the evening boarding a train at Sukkur, 515 km (321 miles) northeast of the port city.

"We found explosives, splinters, circuits and jackets used in suicide bombings, as well as Jihadi literature on them," district police officer Mazhar Nawaz, told Reuters from Sukkur.

Police said the militants arrested in Karachi and Sukkur had been planning attacks on Pakistan's Muslim Shi'ite minority at the end of the holy month of Muharram, which falls in the first week of March.

On Thursday , police arrested two members of Laskar-e-Jhangvi in Rawalpindi, the garrison town next door to Islamabad.

Road blocks had been set up in Islamabad, and police were stopping and questioning drivers of small cars, taxis and trucks. Foreign embassies have told their staff to limit their travel in the capital.

Officials in Quetta were unsure who carried out Saturday's blast.

"Initially we suspect nationalist extremists, as well as Afghan Taliban could be behind the attack," Razak Bugti, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government, said.

Television footage from the wrecked courthouse showed people and police walking through pools of blood, collecting belongings. Body parts and torn clothes could be seen all around.

Pakistan has been under mounting pressure from the United States and Afghanistan to tackle Taliban sanctuaries on its territory.

Taliban leaders are widely believed to be operating from in and around Quetta, capital of the restive province of Baluchistan, though Pakistan consistently denies their presence.

Baluchistan is also beset with unrest due to ethnic Baluch militants, who are fighting for greater autonomy.

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSISL32927020070217?pageNumber=1

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 06:40
The BLA and theior cohorts have been sent to hell by the FC. Its the Afghanis up to their old tricks again.
 
And people wonder why we need a friendly gov on our Western Border.
 
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 09:13
I just thought I should balance out Afghanan's paki bashing thread with news of some of KHAD's doings as well.  LOL
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 10:13
let him have his fun. Not gonna change anything anyway.
 
BTW you, Pathan, Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch or Kashmiri.
Or Urduite.
 
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  Quote maqsad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 12:28
Urdu speaking Punjabi. 
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  Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 12:46
Originally posted by Sparten

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,
Another good point about NATO being a political entity.  The effort in Afghanistan is not a true unified NATO military effort .  There in reality two NATOS in Afghanistan.  Canada, USA and Britain that are willing to send troops to fight in the south.  And the other NATO countries who have either refused to send more troops or have creative rules designed to keep their troops from ever being deployed to the Taliban areas.
Originally posted by Sparten

I say we should mine the border. And be done with it. 
Disagree here.  Mining the border would take millions of mines that would last for generations.  Minefields are useless with out being constantly watched.  Sure, the mines would kill a few Taliban, but then the Taliban and local sympathizers would quickly learn where the minefields are, how to cross them and which mine fields are being actively monitored.
 
Instead of actually mining the border, more effort can be put towards stopping non Afghan and non Pakistani "Taliban" at the airports and harbors.  Tight Visas controls  deny visiting privelages to anybody who even appears to be a Jihader.   Intelligence experts at airports identify potential Jihaders who still got visas.  Numerous  intelligent, focused sweeps in the interior detain and deport foreign Jihaders already in Pakistan as simply being illegal aliens.  


Edited by Cryptic - 18-Feb-2007 at 13:26
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 14:16
Maqsad, get over it already, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban work as one.  If you still think this is a problem for one country alone, you're really naive.
 
 
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Feb-2007 at 14:20

Where the Taliban breeds

Analysis | The porous Afghan-Pakistani border has been lawless since being imposed on Pashtun tribes in 1893. But this wild frontier must be tamed if Afghanistan is to flourish.

Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star
February 18, 2007

When Hassan Abbas, then a Pakistani police chief, went on a raid in the country's lawless border region, he was surprised to find himself outside his territory and inside Afghanistan.

"We weren't the only ones who were confused," says Abbas, now a fellow of the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

"For hundreds of years, people have been living on both sides of the border, and when it was divided they found it inconceivable that they should suddenly be residents of another country."

The story illustrates how porous is the wild, mountainous frontier that separates the two countries along the 2,400-kilometre line, which is still in dispute more than a century after it was negotiated by British diplomat Sir Henry Mortimer Durand.

But for Canadian and other NATO troops and the traumatized people of southern Afghanistan the border is real and menacing as they anxiously await a predicted spring onslaught of Taliban fighters and suicide bombers from Pakistan.

The coming battles are said to be crucial for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership presence inside of Pakistan remain a very significant problem," said the outgoing American commander in Afghanistan, Lt.-Gen. Karl Eikenberry, urging a "steady, direct attack" on their operations bases in the border areas.

But those who are familiar with the turbulent border regions say the realities there are far more complex than Western policy-makers believe. And they warn that putting a stop to the "Talibanization" that is threatening both Afghanistan and Pakistan will not be accomplished by military means alone.

"The Pashtuns are the historically dominant group in the area, and they have been split by the Durand Line, so that there is a feeling their destiny has been interrupted," says Selig Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy and author of five books on the border regions.

Moreover, he says, no foreign army has ever subdued the fierce border tribes.

The Durand Line, which divided Pashtun tribes between British India and Afghanistan in 1893, is viewed with resentment by people on both its sides and many of them of them consider it irrelevant.

"When you look at the partition today, it doesn't make a lot of sense," says geography professor Jack Shroder of University of Nebraska, Omaha, who has mapped the rugged areas.

"In the time of the British Raj, it was a ploy to divide and rule, and they put down white rocks to mark it. But people move the rocks around, because the border doesn't exist for them."

Like the border, law and order is a fluid concept in the tribal lands.

Pakistan has never managed to take control of the largely Pashtun area and created seven semi-autonomous units Bajaur, Momand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram and North and South Waziristan administered by federally appointed political agents.

Six smaller Frontier Regions provide a buffer between the agencies and the North West Frontier Province to the east. To the south is the large but sparsely populated province of Baluchistan, whose capital, Quetta, is said to be a Taliban command centre.

In the tribal regions, Pakistani courts and law enforcers have almost no sway, and the real power are the jirgas, or assemblies of elders, says Abbas, author of Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror.

The border regions have a population of some 38 million, including members of 60 Pashtun tribes and 400 sub-clans. With a literacy rate of little more than 10 per cent, few job opportunities beyond subsistence farming, deeply conservative religious views and an abundance of guns, the regions are a staging ground for militancy, drug trafficking and numerous smuggling rackets.

All these factors give the Taliban a head start in recruiting.

"The Taliban are sons of the soil, not foreigners," says Kamran Bokhari, a Toronto-based senior analyst for Strategic Forecasting Inc. "Over the past two decades, there has been a drift toward their kind of conservative Islam. An Islamist wave has hit the region, and there are many people who don't believe 9/11 happened and are convinced that there is a war going on against Muslims."

The tribal areas also have sheltered foreign and Afghan fighters fleeing previous wars in Afghanistan, and some of them have married local women and settled there.

Abbas says the Taliban was encouraged by "the Pakistani military's hidden alliance with religious political parties," in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. When the United States urged Pakistan to attack the militants, the campaign was brutal but disastrous. In a territory where revenge is part of the traditional code, secular parties lost out and Islamists gained ground.

But pockets of secular Pashtuns who oppose extremism still remain, with little support from the government and constant threats from Islamist groups.

Some analysts point to these secularists as the hope for future peace on the borders. A leader of the nationalist Pashtun Awami National Party, Asfandyar Wali, recently defeated pro-Taliban politicians in an election in Bajaur Agency.

Nevertheless, Islamists in Bajaur have threatened local men against shaving their beards, and while some men have protested, Abbas says, the episode demonstrates the strength of extremism even in opposition areas.

But even among the Taliban, there are divisions and opportunities for negotiation, says veteran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of several books on militancy in the borderlands.

"Negotiating with the present leadership (Mullah Omar, Mullah Dadullah and others) is not acceptable," says Rashid, adding that there are "moderate elements" who are willing to talk to the Afghan government and have met with the secular and nationalist Pashtun groups.

Rashid points out that the Pakistani government is deeply suspicious of those groups, fearing a new secession movement if they gain support. Pakistan rejected a recent peace plan put forward by Wali and approved by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to hold a jirga of tribal leaders from both sides of the border.

"Wali believes it's the last hope for the region," says Abbas. "But in Pakistan, it is difficult to challenge the military intelligence establishment."

Bokhari, who had a recent meeting with President Pervez Musharraf, says the Pakistani leader admitted he had "no magic wand" for solving the crisis on the borders but was open to political negotiation, as well as fencing and mining the frontier (the latter opposed by Canada). And Musharraf denied reports that the Pakistani intelligence service was supporting militants, saying that creating an unstable neighbour was against his country's interests.

But as the countdown to a predicted spring offensive continues, so will pressure on Musharraf to shut down Taliban bases in Pakistan's borderlands.

Says Harrison: "Since the economic viability of Pakistan depends on continued aid, a credible threat to cut it off would alarm the armed forces and other sectors of the Pakistani business and political establishment, forcing Musharraf to tack with the wind."

But most analysts agree that force alone will not be effective on the frontier. They say that tightly targeted attacks against the hard core of the Taliban, avoiding civilian casualties, should open the way for negotiations with those who are willing to lay down their arms.

"People who want to fight can be tackled militarily, and NATO must not allow (the militants) to believe they will just leave the area," says Abbas.

But Pakistan, he adds, is only part of the problem.

"It's crucial to support development of Afghanistan. A person with a job, and kids in school, will think twice before picking up a gun."

The perceptive man is he who knows about himself, for in self-knowledge and insight lays knowledge of the holiest.
~ Khushal Khan Khattak
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Feb-2007 at 14:57

The Problem With Pakistan

William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security
The Washington Post / February 28, 2007

In the you-are-either-with-us-or-against-us paradigm, the Bush administration has always had a difficult time dealing with Pakistan, a country that just happens to be both with us and against us.

In testimony before the Senate yesterday, the new Director of National Intelligence retired Admiral John M. ("Mike") McConnell, was as careful as all U.S. officials, lauding Pakistan's "ongoing efforts," but also highlighting many of America's concerns and disappointments.

One can't help but read the annual "threat" assessment from the intelligence community and come to the conclusion that for all of the American honor involved in "victory" in Iraq, the real danger of terrorism, and the country with the greatest potential for a world-shattering implosion, is not Iraq or Afghanistan or even Iran: it is Pakistan.

Saying that 2007 will be a "pivotal year" for Afghanistan, as well as raising concerns that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda leadership are rebuilding and that the Taliban is in resurgence, retired Vice Adm. McConnell, Director of National Intelligence for just a week, had some special words about Pakistan.

Any new attack on the United States, McConnell said, is "most likely" to emerge from Pakistan, which hosts the al Qaeda leadership and other international terrorists in the ungoverned northwest region, and which serves as the breeding ground for broader Islamic radicalism.

"Many of our most important interests intersect in Pakistan, where the Taliban and al-Qa'ida maintain critical sanctuaries," McConnell said in his written report. The country, McConnell said "is our partner in the war on terror and has captured several al-Qa'ida leaders. However, it is also a major source of Islamic extremism."

The Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, agreed with McConnell. In his written testimony to the same committee, Maples said that the "Afghanistan Pakistan border area remains a haven for al-Qaida's leadership and other extremists."

Maples said that despite a September 2006 accord between Islamabad and North Waziristan tribes to curtail attacks into Afghanistan, "the tribes have not abided by most terms of the agreement," leading to increased "freedom of movement and operation" for al-Qaeda's network.

Pakistan's internal inaction against terrorists and other militants, Maples and McConnell both agreed, also threaten stability in Afghanistan and India. "Afghanistan's relations with Pakistan are strained due to continued Taliban reliance on safe-haven in Pakistan," Maples said. "Pakistan-based militants continued attacks against India undermine Pakistan's ability to make lasting peace with its neighbor," he continued. McConnell spoke of the need to eliminate the "safehaven" that the Taliban and others have found in Pakistan's tribal areas, but he also bent over backwards to explain the country's failure to bring the region under central government control:

"We recognize that aggressive military action, however, has been costly for Pakistani security forces and appreciate concerns over the potential for sparking tribal rebellion and a backlash by sympathetic Islamic political parties. There is widespread opposition among these parties to the US military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. With elections expected later this year, the situation will become even more challenging--for President Musharraf and for the US."

Democracy in Pakistan, McConnell also said, "has not been fully restored since the Army took power in 1999." It has, he meant to say, not been restored. Upcoming elections are not expected to change Musharraf's status: He will continue to be President and commander-in-chief and head of the Army and hold all of the actual power.

So, here is the American contradiction: Al-Qaeda is the greatest threat to the United States, at least according to the U.S. intelligence community and conventional wisdom. The terrorist organization is headquartered and lodged in northwest Pakistan, where it has virtual impunity. It operates within a country that has nuclear weapons and is labeled "a major source of Islamic extremism."

And yet the United States excuses and explains away a military dictatorship for eschewing a "costly" battle that might weaken it? Isn't the very core argument of the Bush administration in Iraq that we need to accept the cost and sacrifice -- no matter what -- in the name of our future security? But Pakistan doesn't? No wonder the Bush administration's worldview is so questionable.

The perceptive man is he who knows about himself, for in self-knowledge and insight lays knowledge of the holiest.
~ Khushal Khan Khattak
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  Quote Afghanan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Feb-2007 at 14:58

Our Pals in Pakistan

Charles Pea / antiwar.com

February 28, 2007

Making an unannounced stop in Pakistan on Monday, Vice President Cheney "expressed U.S. apprehensions of regrouping of al-Qaeda in the tribal areas and called for concerted efforts in countering the threat" according to an aide to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. According to Musharraf, Pakistan "has done the maximum in the fight against terrorism." Furthermore, Musharraf contends that there is no evidence that either Osama bin Laden or the Taliban's Mullah Omar are hiding out in Pakistan. But if bin Laden and company are not in Pakistan, where does Musharraf think they are? Did they flee Afghanistan to sip pia coladas on the beach in Fiji?

Pakistan is supposed to be an ally in the war on terrorism. The United States should not have to plead with an ally to go after public enemy number one. Nor should the United States have to put up with constant excuses for why the man responsible for ordering the Sept. 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and Pentagon remains at large.

To be sure, some of the bigger successes in the war on terrorism have come in Pakistan. The biggest success being the March 2003 capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. In each of these successes, the U.S. military or intelligence was involved in some way. But when left to their own devices, there has been a Keystone Kops-like aspect to Pakistani efforts. For example, in March 2004 the Pakistani military claimed they had surrounded several hundred al-Qaeda fighters, including a "high value target" thought to be Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command. But when the dust settled from the pounding by helicopter gunships and artillery in southern Waziristan, Zawahiri was nowhere to be found. Despite Pakistani military claims to have sealed off a 20-square-mile area that no one could have escaped from, Zawahiri either slipped the noose or was never there to begin with.

Another farce also occurred in March 2004 when Pakistani intelligence claimed that al-Qaeda spy chief Abu Mohammed al Masri (AKA Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists for his involvement in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya) was killed. The next day, however, the Pakistanis admitted to a case of mistaken identity the slain militant was only a small fry local operative and not an al-Qaeda big fish. To add insult to injury, not only did the Pakistanis come up empty-handed during their March 2004 terror sweep, but they also had 12 soldiers killed and 15 wounded when a convoy was ambushed.

Although capturing or killing bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda leadership will not put an end to the terrorist threat facing America, they are nonetheless important targets too important to be delegated to the Pakistanis if they are unable or unwilling to mount a serious effort to hunt them down. Gary Schroen a former CIA officer who oversaw agency operations in the region until August 2001 believes Musharraf is willing to hand over lesser al-Qaeda figures, but unwilling to go after any of the big fish because he fears a horrendous Islamic backlash if he is seen as capturing or killing a man viewed as Robin Hood by many Muslims around the world. According to Newsweek's Michael Hirsch:

"As evidence, Schroen says that it took the Pakistanis five months to act against [Abu Faraj] al-Libbi [thought by many analysts to be Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's successor] after the Americans delivered intelligence on the whereabouts of an al-Qaeda suspect who could not, at the time be specifically identified; Schroen believes the Pakistanis acted only after determining that the suspect was not bin Laden but a smaller fish. 'We gave them information on Libbi back in December [2004 al-Libbi was captured in May 2005],' says Schroen. 'They didn't want to do it.'"

Lack of seriousness on the part of the Pakistani government is further evidenced by all their deals to halt or curb military operations in southern Waziristan, the very area where bin Laden and al-Qaeda's senior leadership are thought to be in hiding. For example, in April 2004 the Pakistani military announced it had reached an agreement to halt military operations against tribesmen in return for a pledge not to harm Pakistan's interest. Yet, at the same time, the tribesmen announced they were ending their hunt for al-Qaeda militants. The most recent deal was struck with tribal leaders last September, in which they are supposed to take responsibility for curbing militant activities. As with past deals, critics believe that the Musharraf government has abdicated its responsibility and that the deal essentially cedes control of the area to militants, allowing them to step up recruitment and cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

But if Pakistan is going to claim to be an ally in the war on terrorism and be treated as such such folly cannot be allowed to continue. If for whatever reasons the Pakistani government is not willing or able to go after al-Qaeda with a vengeance, then the U.S. government must be willing to take matters into its own hands. This does not mean a large-scale military incursion of Pakistan. Rather, it means that U.S. special forces must be allowed to act in discrete operations against al-Qaeda targets when there is reliable, actionable intelligence. Officially for understandable reasons the Musharraf government may not be able to sanction U.S. military operations in Pakistan. But unofficially, the Pakistani government needs to allow U.S. forces to conduct covert operations into Pakistan against al-Qaeda.

Admittedly, this is easier said than done. On the one hand, the United States does not want to take actions that would destabilize the Musharraf regime because a likely successor government could be radical Islamists who would inherit Pakistan's nuclear weapons. But at the same time, the United States cannot continue to embrace Musharraf as an unequivocal ally in the war on terrorism if his government is not willing to do more to find bin Laden and other important al-Qaeda figures hiding out in Pakistan.

Perhaps most importantly, the United States cannot afford to turn a blind eye (as it seemingly does to Saudi Arabia has anyone noticed how the U.S. government doesn't complain about all the Saudi money being used to fund the Sunni insurgency in Iraq?) to the possibility that Pakistan may be enabling and facilitating al-Qaeda. Although it is important to consider the source, India has previously claimed that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI is aiding al-Qaeda. Given the ISI's involvement aiding the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and their previous support for bringing the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, such accusations cannot be blithely ignored.

The perceptive man is he who knows about himself, for in self-knowledge and insight lays knowledge of the holiest.
~ Khushal Khan Khattak
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