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Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan (Read 336702 times)
Reply #50 on:
March 15, 2007, 09:06:40 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Judge's Ouster Causes an Uproar in Pakistan
An extraordinary meeting of Pakistan's military commanders will be held in the next few days, Pakistani daily The News reported Wednesday. Sources told the newspaper the meeting was called to discuss the crisis caused by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's March 9 suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
Musharraf's move against the country's senior judiciary official was intended to help the president secure a second term in September. Musharraf likely was advised by close aides that Chaudhry, who has demonstrated a certain degree of independence since Musharraf appointed him in June 2005, cannot be relied upon to rule in Musharraf's favor should his opponents challenge his re-election bid in the highest court.
Acting on this advice, Musharraf suspended the chief justice on allegations of corruption, misconduct and other wrongdoings, and referred the matter to the country's highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The government expected that, like all of its previous decisions, Chaudhry's suspension would go smoothly. But the government was taken by surprise when the country's legal community sternly opposed the move. The chief justice himself has chosen to fight the decision in the SJC.
Meanwhile, declaring the suspension an attack on the judiciary, lawyers and judges are boycotting courts across the country and have staged demonstrations that police have violently suppressed. The government reportedly has tried to restrict media coverage of the controversy.
The crisis is quickly turning into the most serious challenge Musharraf has faced since coming to power in October 1999. Political opponents from across the ideological spectrum are trying to exploit the opportunity and force Musharraf from office. Chaudhry's lead attorney is Aitzaz Ahsan, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians and a current parliament member.
Though there is a consensus against the ouster of the chief justice, a grand strategy on how to use the crisis to generate enough unrest against the government to force Musharraf from power is still in the works; it is too early to tell just how the strategy will unfold. There also is dissent within ruling political circles, and many of Musharraf's senior civilian allies are critical of his decision to suspend Chaudhry.
Musharraf can do one of two things: He can have the SJC declare Chaudhry guilty and remove him from the post of chief justice. This would not be easy, given the current national uproar and the likelihood that the protests would intensify in the run-up to the September election. The government might be reluctant to take such a bold step when it has very little support on the matter. The second option would involve cutting a deal with the suspended chief justice whereby the SJC acquits him and restores him to his position. This would be in exchange for assurance that the chief justice would not move against Musharraf. This way, the president could demonstrate that he respects the law of the land and thereby undercut his opponents.
This second option, however, assumes that the sacked chief justice would be willing to negotiate. Musharraf also would be dealing from a position of relative weakness, which Chaudhry and his supporters could exploit. Given the adverse effects the chief justice's restoration could have on Musharraf's hold on power, the regime might not be inclined to move in that direction.
It is quite possible that the current situation will not create an immediate crisis of governance for Musharraf, but it could lead to more trouble as the country gets closer to election time. Increasing international pressure on Islamabad to more effectively contain the jihadists would complicate matters for Musharraf all the more.
Reply #51 on:
March 19, 2007, 01:52:43 AM »
Pakistan: Musharraf on the Defensive
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has condemned the March 16 police action against the office of GEO TV. This and related developments suggest the government has gone on the defensive as the controversy worsens over the government's suspension of the country's top jurist. Musharraf might not be the only casualty in this crisis; the military's hold on power could also be weakened once the dust settles.
Demonstrations continue in Pakistan against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's March 15 suspension of Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, with ordinary citizens joining the legal community in protest. Significant clashes took place March 16 in the federal capital, Islamabad, and in the provincial capitals Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi. The most serious incident involved security forces raiding the office of private satellite television network GEO TV, ransacking the facility and physically assaulting employees.
Such was the gravity of the situation that many senior members of the Cabinet condemned the incident -- as did Musharraf, who publicly apologized for the raid. Appearing on the network's popular talk show "Capital Talk," Musharraf vowed to oversee personally the investigation of the attack and to take action swiftly against those found responsible. Musharraf also apologized personally to the show's anchor, Hamid Mir, who was manhandled by police officials during the incident.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Judicial Council, which is hearing the government's case against the chief justice, ruled that restrictions against Chaudhry be lifted.
These events have further exacerbated the crisis and have put the government in such a panic mode that various state agencies are starting to commit blunders. There seems to be a disconnect between orders given from above and how they are being handled by subordinates. After turning the legal community against it, the government has now angered the media. All the while, Musharraf's political opponents are trying to exploit the situation.
The Musharraf regime also is reportedly trying to cut a deal with the chief justice to resolve the matter. Any compromise, however, will not help the regime recover from this crisis. In fact, it will only make matters worse for Musharraf, since it will lead to the empowerment of the judiciary and opposition political forces, the cooperation of which Musharraf needs in order to defuse the crisis.
The growing sentiment against the military-dominated regime could force Musharraf into a corner, especially given that 2007 is an election year. Should Musharraf be forced to step aside, it is unlikely that his successors in the military would take over. A caretaker government would emerge and hold elections in three to six months, as one did when the last military ruler of Pakistan, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, was killed in plane crash in 1988.
In that case, even though a civilian government took power, the military establishment continued to control it from behind the scenes. This time around, it is unlikely that the military will be able to do that -- at least not to the degree it did in 1988. This is because the corps commanders and agency heads who would form a post-Musharrafian military hierarchy would be a group of young and inexperienced generals, the result of Musharraf's periodic reshuffling of the deck and frequent promotions.
Another Musharraf legacy is the rise of a relatively free media, especially the proliferation of private television networks. This is opening up the country's political culture and eroding the military's ability to control the political process.
There are too many moving parts in the current crisis to predict a likely outcome. One thing is clear, however: Once the dust settles, Musharraf will lose sovereignty, whether he continues to rule or not, and the military will be forced to share political power with civilian institutions.
PAKISTAN: Residents in Pakistan's South Waziristan agency said at least 10 people were wounded following fighting between al Qaeda-linked Uzbek militants and Pakistani tribesmen. Hundreds of foreign militants, including Uzbeks, Arabs and Chechens, have been hiding in Pakistan's tribal areas since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with television channel Geo News that general elections will be held on schedule. Despite the current crisis, Musharraf said he will not declare a state of emergency or bring in the army to quell riots.
Last Edit: March 19, 2007, 10:46:55 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #52 on:
March 22, 2007, 01:16:38 AM »
Shaky Musharraf holds only the military card
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - As Pakistan's judiciary crisis deepens and a political storm escalates as daily developments spin the situation into new dimensions, maintenance of public order is uppermost in the minds of those in the corridors of power at military headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Should they leave the maintenance of public order to the civilian administration and the police, who have already failed to control violent protests over the "reference" of Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhary for alleged abuse of power to the Judicial Council, given that further mishandling could easily be exploited by opposition politicians?
Even bigger questions are, what options would be left for President General Pervez Musharraf if military or paramilitary forces are used to confront the mobs, and where would this leave the army? Musharraf, who is also chief of army staff, will seek re-election in presidential polls this year.
While these questions are being pondered, the Judicial Council hearing on the Chaudhary reference has been deferred from March 21 to April 3, giving the authorities some breathing space.
Despite the deferment, the pace of developments is so rapid that anything could happen in the interim. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, president of the six-party opposition religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, has already announced that protests will continue. On Monday seven judges from Sindh and Punjab quit their posts and on Tuesday two more judges tendered their resignations.
The deferment also provides opposition political parties with an opportunity to mobilize their members to take advantage of the snowballing anti-Musharraf campaign.
Such developments leave plenty of potential for more mob violence, and many expect that the next hearing on April 3 will bring out the protesters in numbers not seen during the previous two hearings.
Nevertheless, Musharraf has dismissed the idea of declaring an emergency or deploying the army, despite the fact that all armed-forces intelligence agencies have reported the failure of the civilian administration and the police to handle the protests. The agencies say that probably the only way to contain the protests would be the deployment in sizable numbers of paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers.
The crisis is being compounded by other developments. According to latest reports, the Pakistani Taliban have seized control of settled areas such as Tank in North West Frontier Province, and the leader of the Awami National Party, Isfandyar Wali, revealed on television that the Taliban now control Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, just 15 kilometers from the provincial capital, Peshawar. "I am constantly saying that Taliban are very rapidly getting powerful in the North West Frontier Province, but nobody is listening to me," said Wali.
FR Kohat is hardly three hours from the national capital, Islamabad, and such a development will undoubtedly bolster the anti-Musharraf forces. As it is, Islamabad itself is home to many Taliban who have been preparing for Musharraf's ouster.
The police are also coming under increasing fire at a time when any missteps could touch off a wildfire of rioting. After failing to contain the protests in Islamabad and Lahore last Friday, they became embroiled in fresh controversy when they received an instruction to "fix" a senior journalist from a national newspaper. The instruction came at an individual level from an intelligence agency, under pressure from the minister for law, Wasi Zafar, whose elder brother was previously director general of internal security in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Zafar had previously abused a journalist on a Voice of America talk show, and a local TV channel repeatedly broadcast a recording of the program. As soon as the police received the "advice" from the intelligence agency, they entered the offices of the largest media group of the country and ransacked them. Fortunately, the journalist was not present at the time and escaped being "fixed".
Thereupon, the government banned many talk shows that discussed Musharraf's action against the chief justice. In the ensuing media havoc, some TV channels announced the ban and at the same time openly defied it. Musharraf then personally appeared on TV and apologized to the nation and the media for the mishandling of the situation.
Countdown to chaos
This is the first judicial crisis of its kind in Pakistan's history. It began with the chief justice being referred by Musharraf to the Judicial Council, on the advice of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (MI).
MI is responsible for counterinsurgency operations in Balochistan, where Chief Justice Chaudhary comes from. Chaudhary had incurred the military's wrath by ruling in some cases in favor of those who were defined as "insurgents" by the military apparatus. He had also taken up the issue of people who had gone "missing" in the "war on terror".
The military establishment had misgivings about the whole modus operandi of the court. But getting rid of Chaudhary is doing nothing to help their cause. Rana Bhagwandas, the new acting chief justice who will preside over the Judicial Council, is a Hindu. He is well known for his integrity and professionalism, and could prove to be a sharp thorn in Islamabad's flesh.
Weakening the case against Chaudhary, all those named as "victims" in the reference against him have denied that they have any complaint against the chief justice. And retired justice Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, who was named as government counsel, refused to appear on behalf of the government and instead appeared on TV to appeal to the nation to stand against the high-handedness of the government.
The crisis has thus severely eroded the credibility of the Musharraf government, and when the dust settles, both he and the military will find themselves on shaky ground.
Compounding the situation are regional developments. The Taliban are about to launch an offensive in Afghanistan, and a US attack on Iran is not out of the question. These events could propel stronger Iraqi resistance to the US-led occupation there, and set shock waves in motion from Pakistan to Israel. As a major US ally in a region where anti-US forces are calling the shots, any weakening of the Pakistani leadership would have far-reaching ramifications.
It would seem that the military card is the only one Musharraf has left to play. He is truly between the proverbial rock and hard place.
Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at
Reply #53 on:
March 23, 2007, 10:59:19 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Afghan Taliban and Talibanization of Pakistan
Pakistani Taliban commanders on Thursday tried to negotiate a cease-fire between Pashtun fighters linked to tribal maliks and Uzbek militants linked to al Qaeda. The negotiations come after several days of fighting in the country's northwestern tribal badlands, which has killed at least 135 people. The fighting, which began March 19 after former militant commander Mullah Nazir, who Islamabad says is now on its side, ordered fighters loyal to Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldashev to disarm. The jirga overseeing the negotiations includes Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mahsud (wanted in connection with a wave of jihadist attacks across the country) and Sirajuddin Haqqani (the son of senior Afghan Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani).
Meanwhile, Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said the battles between tribesmen and foreign militants underscore the government's success in establishing a policy for the "betterment of tribal people," and in persuading such people to drive-out foreign militants.
That the Pakistanis have been able to turn some tribal Pashtuns against transnational jihadists is a significant development. The fact that the Taliban are now trying to mediate between the maliks allied to the government and the jihadists shows that they are worried, which means Islamabad might have had a considerable degree of success in its efforts to drive a wedge between the guests and their hosts. But it remains to be seen whether this is a single event in a limited area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), or whether it will spread across the tribal region.
The Taliban's efforts to end the fighting also indicate their own vulnerability. Since they rely on foreign jihadists in their cause, they cannot afford to see the destruction of these allies; they also need to manage their ties to the maliks. The Taliban know that some of the maliks have turned against the foreign jihadists and that these tribal leaders could turn against them as well -- the Pakistani Taliban have even challenged the tribal leadership in FATA.
The Talibanization of Pakistan's Pashtun areas is a much bigger problem for Islamabad, and not just because of issues that deal with domestic political stability. Pakistan needs to figure out how it can continue to use the Afghan Taliban as an instrument in gaining influence in Kabul without Talibanizing its own territory.
The problem for Islamabad is that the Pashtuns are the only ethnic group that Pakistan can use to gain influence in Kabul. What is even more problematic is that, among the Pashtuns, the Taliban is the most powerful movement. This means the Taliban are the only force that can aid the Pakistanis in securing their geopolitical objectives in Afghanistan.
But the Taliban are a bad option because of their ideology and because the same Pashtun ethnic medium that Pakistan is using to gain influence in Afghanistan is the one the Taliban are using to gain influence among Pakistani Pashtuns.
This explains why the Pakistanis are more concerned about the Taliban in FATA than the Taliban waging the insurgency in Afghanistan, and hence make a distinction between the two. But the reality is not as simple as Islamabad would like to believe. The Taliban cannot be easily bifurcated along nationalistic lines because of both ethnic and ideological reasons. Ethnically both are Pashtuns, and ideologically they both adhere to the same transnational jihadist cause. Though they have different areas of operation, they cooperate.
Therefore, Pakistan's efforts to block Taliban activity in its territory while it seeks to use the Pashtun jihadist movement to gain a foothold in Afghanistan are not going to work.
Man bites dog: Hindu Chief Justice
Reply #54 on:
March 25, 2007, 10:34:44 AM »
Pakistan gets its first Hindu chief justice
Judge Rana Bhagwandas is on panel that will hear charges against suspended top jurist Chaudhry.
By Henry Chu, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007
KARACHI, PAKISTAN — He is the first Hindu to preside over this Muslim nation's highest court. And he is now in the eye of a political hurricane engulfing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Judge Rana Bhagwandas, 64, was sworn in Saturday as acting chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court. Upon taking the oath in this southern port city, Bhagwandas was thrust into the controversy surrounding the removal of the man who had held the top job.
Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9 on the basis of charges that he had abused his position. The move prompted street protests that caught the Pakistani leader off guard and triggered his most serious domestic crisis since he came to power in a coup nearly eight years ago.
Critics see Chaudhry's removal as a naked attempt to silence a judge who had embarrassed the government on several occasions, including by making a strong push to make Pakistan's powerful intelligence services subject to the rule of law. A police crackdown on lawyers and opposition politicians protesting Chaudhry's dismissal has fueled public anger at Musharraf, whose grip on power, analysts say, has been compromised as he prepares for national elections this year.
As the acting chief justice, Bhagwandas will head the panel of five senior jurists hearing the case against their colleague. Chaudhry, who was appointed by Musharraf in 2005, has called the charges a sham, and his supporters are demanding his reinstatement.
Bhagwandas, who joined the Supreme Court in 2000 after serving on the bench here in Sindh province, told reporters Saturday that the judges would "decide this case on merit, without any favor or ill will."
A member of Pakistan's tiny Hindu community, Bhagwandas has a master's degree in Islamic studies. He has been treated as something of a rock star since his return a few days ago from a visit to India. Cameras and reporters surround him wherever he goes.
He is not the first non-Muslim to preside over Pakistan's high court. In the 1960s, a Roman Catholic, A.R. Cornelius, served in the post for eight years.
But the appointment of a Hindu in a nation that was founded as a homeland for Muslims by breaking away from predominantly Hindu India, has stirred up consternation among hard-line religious parties. The Daily Times quoted an academic last week as saying Bhagwandas' elevation would be "against Islam."
Such voices appear to be in a very small minority. Many analysts and observers described Bhagwandas as an ethical judge who would act fairly.
Even a member of Chaudhry's legal defense team, which boycotted Saturday's swearing-in ceremony on the grounds that their client was still the rightful chief justice, praised Bhagwandas.
"No reasonable man can raise an objection," said attorney Tariq Mahmood. "He is a man of integrity."
No one is taking bets as to how the judges' council will rule on Chaudhry's case.
The suspended chief justice is popular among Pakistanis because of stands he has taken against powerful interests. Last year, he voided the privatization of the nation's largest steel mill, which critics said would line the already-deep pockets of a well-connected clique.
In recent months, Chaudhry has repeatedly ordered Pakistan's intelligence agencies to answer allegations that they are illegally holding dozens of people officially listed as missing.
Jihadist War on ISI?
Reply #55 on:
March 28, 2007, 08:56:35 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: A Jihadist War Against the ISI?
Suspected jihadists in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt on Tuesday attacked a vehicle belonging to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the country's premier intelligence agency. The incident took place near the village of Rashakai -- six miles from the town of Khar, in the Bajaur agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) -- when masked assailants on a motorbike opened fire and lobbed grenades at the vehicle, which was on its way from the town of Nawagai to Khar. At least four ISI officials, including a deputy director who is also a major in the Pakistani military, were killed.
This is perhaps the first incident in which jihadist elements have staged an attack against the ISI, which is indicative of a change -- especially given the historically close relationship between the two. Even now, certain elements within and close to the ISI are believed to maintain relations with militant Islamists. The political context and the location of the recent attack suggest the perpetrators likely are Pashtun jihadists with close ties to al Qaeda.
The travel itineraries of ISI officials are not easy to acquire, especially by those living in the tribal badlands. The only way the attackers could have gained access to such information is through a tip-off from someone within or close to the ISI office in which the officials worked. This lends credence to the suspicion that there are still ties between the agency and some Islamist militants, despite the purges and shakeups the ISI has undergone since Sept. 11, 2001.
This also shows that, connections not withstanding, the jihadists view the ISI as a threat to their existence, and are targeting it. This decision likely has to do also with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's move to de-Talibanize the country's Pashtun areas, even as Islamabad continues to exploit the Afghan Taliban for its foreign policy objectives vis-a-vis Kabul.
The attack against the ISI officials took place a day after the Pakistani government signed a peace deal with the Salarzai and Utmankhel tribes, under which the tribal leadership in Bajaur agreed to work with the government to rid the agency of foreign militants. This is the third such deal between Pashtun tribal militants and the government in the past three years, including one in South Waziristan in 2004 and in North Waziristan in 2006.
While the 2004 agreement did not produce the desired results, the 2006 deal caused fighting to break out between tribal maliks and al Qaeda-linked militants. The Taliban, who are trying to maintain ties to both al Qaeda and local Pakistani contacts, were caught in the middle.
There appears to be a fault line running through the militant spectrum in the Pashtun areas, causing a rift between transnational al Qaeda elements and religious nationalists. The foreign militants are seeing Islamabad's attempts to use regional religious elements against them, and are reacting. Al Qaeda also worries that, unlike the North and South Waziristan deals, the Bajaur deal threatens the group directly because the northernmost agency in the FATA is a known operating area for al Qaeda. Four ranking al Qaeda operatives were killed in a Hellfire missile strike in January 2006, and later in October, another U.S. airstrike against a madrassa killed some 80 individuals. Deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is known to frequent the area as well, and escaped the January 2006 missile attack by a CIA Predator drone.
Moreover, Bajaur borders Dir and Malakand, the two districts of the North-West Frontier Province and the likely location of al Qaeda's global headquarters and the hideouts of its apex leadership. A number of people deemed U.S. spies have also been killed in the area, because al Qaeda knows that human intelligence, as opposed to signals intelligence, will reveal its hideouts.
It is too early to predict the outcome of the deal in Bajaur, but the killing of the ISI officials suggests that at least some jihadists have declared war on their former handlers.
1135 GMT -- PAKISTAN -- Militants equipped with rockets and mortars attacked a police station and Frontier Constabulary paramilitary base in the Pakistani town of Tank in the North-West Frontier Province on March 28. Fighting lasted from midnight until dawn and several buildings reportedly were destroyed. The town is near the border of the restive Waziristan tribal region.
1114 GMT -- AFGHANISTAN -- A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle targeted Kamaludin Khan Achikzay, a director of Afghanistan's secret service agency, the National Directorate of Security, on March 28 in Kabul. Achikzay and his guards were unhurt, though some four people were killed in the blast. Achikzay is the former intelligence chief of counter-insurgency in the southern province of Kandahar. This is the second suicide bombing in the Afghan capital in 2007.
Last Edit: March 28, 2007, 08:58:52 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #56 on:
April 02, 2007, 12:38:55 AM »
Sorry no URL on this one but it comes to me from a highly reliable internet friend from India.
Note the concluding point of this article...
*Paper no. 2189*
*LOOMING JIHADI ANARCHY IN PAKISTAN - INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
MONITOR--PAPER NO. 212*
by B. Raman
There has been an increasingly disturbing challenge to the authority of
Pakistan's President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, from jihadis inspired by the
Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda, who are actively supported by a group of retired
officers of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This group
is led by Gen. Mohammad Aziz, a Kashmiri Sudan from the Pakistan-Occupied
Kashmir (POK), Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, Lt. Gen. Javed Nasir, Lt. Gen. Mahmood
Ahmed, Maj.Gen. Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi and Sq. Leader Khalid Khawaja.
2. Mohammad Aziz and Mahmood Ahmed used to be the most trusted Lt.Gen. of
Musharraf when he took over as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in
October,1998. It is they who staged the coup against Nawaz Sharif, the then
Prime Minister, on October 12,1999, when he dismissed Musharraf while he was
flying from Colombo to Karachi and ordered Lt. Gen. Ziauddin, the then DG of
the ISI, to take over as the COAS. They prevented Ziauddin from taking over
and overthrew Nawaz even before Musharraf's plane landed in Karachi. After
taking over as the Chief Executive, Musharraf sacked Ziauddin and had him
arrested. He promoted Mahmood Ahmed in his place as the DG of the ISI.
3. The US did not feel comfortable with them because of their perceived
links with the Islamic fundamentalist elements and they had to be shifted by
Musharraf under US pressure in October 2001. Mohammad Aziz, who was then the
Chief of the General Staff (CGS) in the Army Headquarters, was transferred
to Lahore as a Corps Commander. Ahmed was also transferred to a Corps. Both
of them have since retired. They were lying low for a while avoiding
participating in any activities directed against Musharraf. Even now, they
avoid any statements, remarks or actions, which could be misinterpreted as
anti-Musharraf, but they have been increasingly hobnobbing with Hamid Gul.
4. Hamid Gul was the DG of the ISI under Mrs.Benazir Bhutto during the first
few months of her first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988 to 90), but she
removed him from the post following the fiasco of an attack by the Afghan
Mujahideen and Osama bin Laden's followers which he had organised in a bid
to capture Jalalabad from the control of the then Afghan President
Najibullah's army in 1989. The attack was repulsed by the Afgan Army after
inflicting heavy casualties on the invaders.
5. After his retirement, Hamid Gul joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) of Qazi
Hussain Ahmed and worked for some years for the Pasban, the militant youth
wing of the JEI. He is no longer with the Pasban. He now owns a flourishing
road transport business and has been at the forefront of all anti-Musharraf
and anti-US activities by ex-servicemen. He has also been helping the Neo
Taliban and its Amir, Mulla Mohammad Omar, in running their training camps
in Pakistani territory. He has also rallied the support of many
ex-servicemen for the current agitation by the lawyers and the JEI against
Musharraf over the suspension of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, the Chief
Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, on March 9, 2007.
6. Javed Nasir, former Amir of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), was the DG of the
ISI during Nawaz Sharif's first tenure as the Prime Minister (1990-93). The
US forced Nawaz to sack him because of its unhappiness over his perceived
non-co-operation in the implementation of a project of the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the purchase of the unused Stinger missiles
from the Afghan Mujahideen. Since then, he has been virulently anti-US and
has been helping the Neo Taliban and the TJ. He has also been playing an
active role in the mobilisation of TJ cadres to join the lawyer's agitation.
Mohammad Rafique Tarar, former President, who was removed from office by
Musharraf in 2001, has also been in the forefront of this agitation. He was
and continues to be an active member of the TJ.
7. Abbasi used to be the ISI station chief in New Delhi in the late 1980s.
He was expelled by the Government of India. In 1995, the Pakistan Army then
headed by Gen. Adul Waheed Kakar, discovered a plot by Abbasi and some other
officers to have the General and Benazir Bhutto, then Prime Minster for a
second time (1993-96), assassinated and capture power. They were working
secretly with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI). They were arrested,
court-martialled and jailed. After coming out of jail, Abbasi has been
active in campaigning against the policies of Musharraf. He is since
reported to have joined the Hizbut-Tehrir (HT), which has many followers in
the lower levels of the army.
8. Khawaja was also in the ISI and used to be in touch with the Taliban
after it came into being in 1994 and Osma bin Laden after he shifted to
Afghanistan in 1996. After leaving the ISI, he joined the Jamaat-ul-Furqa
(JUF) of Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Jilani, which has many followers in
the Muslim communities of the US and the West Indies. Daniel Pearl had
sought his help for arranging a meeting with Jilani. Pearl wanted to enquire
about any links between the JUF and Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. It was
Khawaja, who had tipped off the kidnappers of Pearl about his Jewish
background and created a suspicion in their mind that Pearl had links with
the CIA and Mossad. He is now in detention on a charge of instigating the
women students of a madrasa of Islamabad (Jamia Hafsa) to start an agitation
against the demolition of some mosques in Islamabad. This agitation has been
going on for the last two months. In addition to other demands, the
agitating women students, who project themselves as future wives and mothers
of suicide bombers, are now demanding his release from jail. They have been
shouting slogans in praise of bin Laden and Mulla Omar.
9. These retired officers and their followers have been actively helping the
Neo Taliban by organising training camps for its recruits and by
facilitating its procurement of arms and ammunition. They have also been
instigating the madrasas not to comply with the orders of Musharraf for
their registration and for the expulsion of foreign students. They have also
been urging the tribals in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to continue to provide
hospitality to the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in their territory and help them
in their operations in the Afghan territory. They have been encouraging the
lawyers to keep up their agitation against Musharraf.
10. The jihadis trained, armed and motivated by them have stepped up their
activities not only in Afghan territory against the NATO forces, but also in
Pakistani territory in reprisal for the co-operation allegedly extended by
Musharraf to the US in its war against Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban. Recent
examples of the resulting escalation in the jihadi violence in Pakistani
- An unidentified suicide bomber blew himself up at a military
training ground near Kharian, 130 kilometers south-east of Islamabad, on
March 29, 2007, killing one (some reports say three) soldier and wounding
at least six more. Three Lt. Gen of the Pakistan Army were to visit the camp
that day. It is not yet known whether he was planning to kill them and blew
himself up prematurely. As the suicide attacker approached the training
centre, an Army security guard stopped and asked him to show his identity
card. The attacker blew himself up. This is the eighth incident involving a
suicide bomber in Pakistani territory since the beginning of this year.
- On March 27, 2007, unidentified gunmen on motorbikes hurled
grenades and opened fire on an army vehicle in the Bajaur Agency, killing
five persons, including two officials of the ISI, one of them a
middle-level officer of the rank of Assistant Director. This attack came
despite a cease-fire agreement concluded by the Army earlier this week with
the pro-Neo Taliban tribal leaders of the Agency.
- On March 28, there was a confrontation between the Islamabad police
and the agitating women students of the Jamia Hafsa madrasa. The students
took hostage three women from a house near Lal Masjid to which the madrasa
is attached. They accused them of running a brothel. The police retaliated
by capturing four members of the staff of the madrasa. The women retaliated
from their side by setting fire to a police van and taking two police
officers hostage. Ultimately, the two sides released their respective
hostages. The deputy imam of the Lal Masjid, which is headed by Qazi Abdul
Aziz, and the agitating women students have given a 15- day ultimatum to the
police to release Khalid Khawaja and four other activists of their movement
who have been detained. The agitating women students and their male
supporters from other madrasas nearby attacked police vehicles and seized
their communication sets. The pro-Neo Taliban madrasas and mosques in the
Islamabad area have managed to get hold of FM radio equipment from the FATA,
to which many of the women students belong, and started making
anti-Musharraf and anti-US broadcasts to the people of the capital.
- On March 26, 2007, there was a clash between the police of Tank
(previously known as Tonk), a district headquarters town of the NWFP, and
some recruiters of the Neo Taliban who went to a local school to recruit its
students to the Neo Taliban. One police officer and one of the recruiters
were killed. About 200 members of the Neo Taliban raided the town in
retaliation for the death of the recruiter on March 28, looted the local
banks and engaged in exchanges of fire with the local security forces for
six hours in different parts of the town. The Army had to be called out and
a curfew imposed in order to restore law and order.
11. Earlier, on March 6, 2007, the Governor of the NWFP Lt-Gen (retd) Ali
Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, had convened a meeting attended by the Chief
Minister, Mr. Akram Khan Durrani, and senior officials of the province to
discuss the worsening law and order situation in the province due to the
escalation in the activities of the Neo Taliban and its local supporters.
According to the "Dawn" of Karachi (March 29), the local officials gave the
following assessment to the Governor: ""Inaction on the part of the
law-enforcement agencies has led to the Government being on the retreat.
Writ of the government shrinking with every passing day. Vacuum being filled
by non-state actors. Respect for law and state authority gradually
diminishing. Morale of the law-enforcing agencies and people supportive of
the Government on the decline. Talibanisation, lawlessness and terrorism on
12. The following points were reportedly made at the meeting: The number of
bomb explosions in the NWFP increased from 27 in 2005 to 35 in 2006.In the
first two months of this year, there have already been 25 explosions,
killing 23 persons. Talibanisation has particularly affected Tank, Dera
Ismail Khan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat. There has been a resurgence of the
activities of the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi, particularly in the
Swat region where Maulana Fazlullah alias Maulana Radio was making full use
of his illegally set up FM radio station to carry on propaganda against the
Government. While the situation is getting out of control, there appears to
be a total paralysis and inaction on the part of the Federal Government.
13. Sources in the local police force say that a time when there has been
an escalation in the activities of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in the FATA
and the NWFP, they are finding themselves handicapped in dealing with the
situation for want of adequate forces. According to them, Musharraf has
been giving priority to quelling the Baloch nationalist movement in
Balochistan rather than to action against the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda. As a
result, there are more security forces deployed in Balochistan than in the
FATA and the NWFP. The peace agreements signed by him with the pro-Taliban
elements in South and North Waziristan and Bajaur agencies were mainly
intended to enable the Army to divert forces to Balochistan. This has given
a free field for the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in the FATA and the NWFP. They
have not only stepped up their offensive against the NATO forces in
Afghanistan, but also launched an offensive against the Pakistani security
forces themselves in Pakistani territory.
14. The Neo Taliban, assisted by Al Qaeda, has become Musharraf's
Frankenstein's monster. He helped in its post-9/11 resurgence to achieve
Pakistan's Afghan agenda. It is showing signs of slipping out of his
control. As regards the role of the retired officers backing the Neo Taliban
with their own anti-US agenda, it is doubtful whether they would have
instigated some of the incidents mentioned above such as the suicide attack
at a training camp of the army and the killing of two ISI officers.
15.It would seem that the Neo Taliban has assumed a momentum of its own and
is increasingly not amenable to anybody's control----either Musharraf's or
his detrators'. The international community has reasons to be seriously
concerned over the goings-on in Pakistan. It is slowly moving towards a
situation of jihadi anarchy.
*(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Government
of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical
Studies, Chennai. E-mail:
Reply #57 on:
April 11, 2007, 05:37:20 PM »
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he will not dissolve the country's assemblies, despite calls to do so. Musharraf added that this is the first time in Pakistan's history that the assemblies will finish their full terms, and that elections will be held to continue the democratic process.
PAKISTAN: An operation in the Wana Valley of Pakistan's South Waziristan agency has cleared out all foreign militants, regional commander Maj. Gen. Gul Muhammad said. However, he added, a key Uzbek militant linked to al Qaeda has not been captured. The general said the operation's success was due to the cooperation of local tribesman, whose relations with the foreign fighters soured after the militants killed several locals.
PAKISTAN: The radical fundamentalist Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has weapons on the premises and will defend itself should the government attempt to crack down on its Taliban-style "morality campaign," deputy mosque leader Abdul Rashid Ghazi said. The government has continued to negotiate with the mosque's leaders despite public pressure to crack down on "Talibanization" in the city.
Reply #58 on:
April 12, 2007, 02:33:51 AM »
Pakistan: The Challenge of Religious Extremism and the Musharrafian State
Pakistan's government remained internally divided April 11 over how to handle the standoff with extremist mullahs running a key mosque in Islamabad. Just as civil society groups -- rather than secular political parties -- spearheaded the public unrest stemming from the legal crisis over the sacking of Pakistan's top judge, ultra-conservative social elements -- not Islamist political parties -- are stirring the controversy over vigilante attempts to Islamize the capital. The nature of the controversy and the manner in which it is being handled will prove detrimental to both President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his opponents.
Since February, radical clerics and their followers at a mosque/seminary facility in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad have been challenging the government's authority by trying to impose their version of "Islamic" law in parts of the capital through kidnappings, illegal occupations of buildings and attempts to forcibly prevent "un-Islamic" behavior. Moreover, these armed mullahs have established a self-styled Islamic court and have said that if the Pakistani government does not enforce Islamic law, the mullahs will do it themselves. The extremist clerics have also reportedly threatened suicide attacks in response to a government crackdown.
The standoff between authorities and the hard-line mullahs from the Red Mosque continued April 11. Despite a second meeting with ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the two top clerics at the mosque/madrassa complex -- Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed -- are in no mood to negotiate an end to the standoff at the mosque and its affiliated madrassa, Jamia Hafsa. Meanwhile, senior Cabinet members are at odds over how to resolve the matter; some advocate an ironhanded policy, while others urge caution.
Meanwhile, in northwestern Pakistan, fighting between Pashtun tribesmen and transnational jihadist elements is continuing in the South Waziristan agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). A PML parliament member appealed to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to deploy the army to quell raging Sunni-Shiite clashes in FATA's Kurram agency. In Karachi, a new kind of sectarian violence has emerged; a Barelvi religious group (the main school of thought in Pakistan that adheres to Sunni Islam's Sufi leanings) used high-powered assault rifles to attack Wahhabi mosques April 10 in retaliation for a jihadist suicide attack that killed top leaders of the Sunni Tehreek.
The growing security problems and political unrest would explain Musharraf’s comments April 11 in a speech at a political rally in the eastern city of Narowal, during which he said he will not dissolve parliament despite growing pressure to do so. The crisis involving the mullahs has overshadowed the legal crisis over Musharraf's dismissal of Pakistan's chief justice, giving the president a breather, but the mosque/madrassa standoff could create both short-term and long-term problems for the Pakistani state.
Ruling PML party chief Hussain has been pushing for a negotiated settlement with the mullahs, arguing that the government cannot handle the black coats (a euphemism for the legal community) and the black burkas (the female vigilantes who have symbolized the religious extremist campaign in Islamabad) teaming up against it. However, the Red Mosque issue has given Musharraf something with which to scare his secular political opponents into treading carefully, lest they empower the religious right. Conversely, his political opponents -- particularly the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P), with whom Musharraf is engaged in power-sharing negotiations -- hope to convince the president he needs them to stem the rising tide of religious extremism. His secular opponents hope that a Musharraf weakened by the Red Mosque crisis would be more likely to deal on their terms. Put differently, each side wants to use the situation to extract concessions from the other.
While Musharraf has been focusing on dealing with the political forces -- both secular and Islamist -- the problems he is facing are not coming from political groups. In both the legal crisis and the mosque/madrassa controversy, his opponents are civil society groups. In fact, the mosque controversy is posing problems for the country’s main Islamist group, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), which is worried that the religious vigilantes in Islamabad are actually hurting their cause. Moreover, the crisis has sharpened the differences between the MMA’s two main component parties.
Having contained the MMA and engaged the PPP-P, the government feels that it still has a handle on the overall situation in Pakistan. However, because the political parties have proven ineffective, public discontent of one kind or another has found other channels of expression, including civil society groups. This was the case in the aftermath of the suspension of the country’s top jurist, when the legal community and the media took to the streets to demand rule of law while the pro-democracy groups either did not want to or were not able to take up the cause.
Similarly, the social liberalization that Musharraf has been pushing has triggered another backlash from the conservative elements of society -- people affiliated with mosques and seminaries who have taken it upon themselves to thwart the re-secularization of state and society.
Musharraf must hold and win a presidential election at some point between late September and early October, but his problems seem to be increasing with time. On one hand, the legal crisis is still playing out; on the other hand, he is faced with religious extremists in the heart of the capital creating an even more disturbing crisis of governance.
He has some time to fix the legal crisis because it has now moved to the Supreme Court, and the wheels of the judicial system turn very slowly. But the crisis with the rogue mullahs in Islamabad will have to be dealt with much sooner. Part of the problem is that the president's current civilian allies in the ruling PML are not on the same page as he is on issues related to the role of religion in society and state.
This would explain why Hussain has pushed for a conciliatory approach to the mullahs. Musharraf's lack of social capital, due to his alienation of mainstream political forces, prevents him from taking a firmer stance against religious extremism in the country. Part of the reason he has agreed with the defensive approach is his concern over the backlash that could come should he adopt an ironhanded policy against the mullahs when dealing with such a sensitive issue.
If the crisis deepens, Musharraf could impose some form of emergency rule -- which does not involve dismissing the Cabinet or the parliament. But in the end, Musharraf’s only hope for effectively combating growing religious extremism in the country is a deal with mainstream political parties. For that, he will need to cut a power-sharing deal with his opponents, which is something he wants to avoid for as long as possible.
Whether the standoff with the mullahs ends peacefully (which would involve the government giving concessions to the mullahs) or in police action, it will have long-term repercussions for both the current government -- in terms of its ability to maintain power -- and for its opponents, who will be around long after the Musharrafian period has ended.
Reply #59 on:
April 12, 2007, 02:58:54 PM »
Second post of the day:
PAKISTAN: Gunmen thought to be Sunni Muslim tribesmen on April 11 raided the Shiite Muslim village of Chardiwar in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region, near the Afghan border, killing five people, officials said.
AFGHANISTAN: Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef said he and other members of Afghanistan's old regime will not mediate between the current government and rebel forces, as President Hamid Karzai has asked them to do, until the United States backs the plan, and unless they receive safety assurances from the government and their Taliban comrades. Zaeef said that while the Taliban believe Karzai is serious about his desire for peace talks, the Pashtun jihadist movement does not think the Afghan leader is free to make this decision.
Reply #60 on:
April 12, 2007, 10:40:06 PM »
Footage from the Afghani/Pakistani border region.
Reply #61 on:
April 21, 2007, 12:52:10 AM »
No URL for this, but from a usually reliable source.
Jihadist video shows boy beheading man
By ABDUL SATTAR, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 20, 2:24 PM ET
The boy with the knife looks barely 12. In a high-pitched voice, he denounces the bound, blindfolded man before him as an American spy. Then he hacks off the captive's head to cries of "God is great!" and hoists it in triumph by the hair.
A video circulating in Pakistan records the grisly death of Ghulam Nabi, a Pakistani militant accused of betraying a top Taliban official who was killed in a December airstrike in Afghanistan.
An Associated Press reporter confirmed Nabi's identity by visiting his family in Kili Faqiran, their remote village in southwestern Pakistan.
The video, which was obtained by AP Television News in the border city of Peshawar on Tuesday, appears authentic and is unprecedented in jihadist propaganda because of the youth of the executioner.
Captions mention Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's current top commander in southern Afghanistan, although he does not appear in the video. The soundtrack features songs praising Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar and "Sheikh Osama" — an apparent reference to Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of hiding along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The footage shows Nabi making what is described as a confession, being blindfolded with a checkered scarf.
"He is an American spy. Those who do this kind of thing will get this kind of fate," says his baby-faced executioner, who is not identified.
A continuous 2 1/2-minute shot then shows the victim lying on his side on a patch of rubble-strewn ground. A man holds Nabi by his beard while the boy, wearing a camouflage military jacket and oversized white sneakers, cuts into the throat. Other men and boys call out "Allahu akbar!" — "God is great!" — as blood spurts from the wound.
The film, overlain with jihadi songs, then shows the boy hacking and slashing at the man's neck until the head is severed.
A Pashto-language voiceover in the video identifies Nabi and his home village of Kili Faqiran in Baluchistan province, which lies about two hours' drive from the Afghan border.
A reporter went to the village, and Nabi's distraught and angry father, Ghulam Sakhi, confirmed his son's identity from a still picture that AP made from the footage. He said neighbors had told him the video is available at the village bazaar, but he had no wish to see it.
Sakhi said his son had been a loyal Taliban member who fought in Afghanistan and sheltered the hard-line Afghan group's leaders in the family's mud-walled compound.
He blames the Taliban and wants to avenge his son's death.
"The Taliban are not mujahedeen. They are not fighting for the cause of Islam," the 70-year-old said. "If I got my hands on them I would kill them and even tear their flesh with my own teeth."
Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, told AP he had no information about Nabi or the video. None of the group's commanders he contacted could confirm the execution, he said.
The method of Nabi's death was not unusual for Pakistan's lawless tribal regions. Suspected informers are regularly found beheaded and dumped along the side of the road in the lawless, mountainous regions along the Afghan-Pakistani border where al-Qaida and Taliban militants find sanctuary.
But such al-Qaida-style killings are rarely featured in the Taliban's increasingly frequent propaganda videos. The use of a child to conduct the beheading stands out even among those filmed by militants in Iraq.
"This is outright barbarism," Iqbal Haider, secretary-general of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said after viewing the video. "Whosoever has committed this, whether they are Taliban or anybody else or any Afghan or al-Qaida or anybody, they are enemy No. 1 of the Muslims."
The video accuses Nabi of responsibility for a U.S. airstrike that killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani, who was regarded as one of the top three associates of Omar, the Taliban supreme leader. He was hit while traveling by car in Afghanistan's Helmand province Dec. 19.
Osmani was the highest-ranking Taliban leader to die since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that ousted the hard-line regime in late 2001 for refusing to hand over bin Laden following the Sept. 11 terror attack on the United States.
The U.S. military said at the time that Osmani's death was a serious blow to militant operations, and NATO commanders said this week that a feared spring offensive had yet to materialize.
Sakhi, a retired mosque preacher with a long gray beard, spoke unashamedly of his son's Taliban affiliation and wept twice during an interview in his simple home at the foot of a mountain valley in Baluchistan province.
He said Nabi fought against the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance that helped U.S. forces to victory in Afghanistan.
After returning to Pakistan, Nabi ran a religious school in the Baluchistan capital of Quetta and had regularly sheltered both Osmani and Dadullah at the family compound, the father said.
He said Nabi also bought weapons for Taliban fighters and organized medical treatment for those injured during fighting in Afghanistan.
Some days after Osmani's death, Nabi went to Peshawar and then to Wana, a tribal town considered a militant stronghold, to collect money from Taliban officials to buy guns and food for militants in Afghanistan, Sakhi said.
He said his son called at the end of January to reveal that a tribal council had sentenced him to death on charges of tipping off U.S. forces about Osmani's movements, despite his denials.
His son passed the phone to Dadullah, but the militant leader ignored his pleas for clemency, Sakhi said.
"I talked to him and said you visited us and my son was a close friend so why are you going to hang him? He just said, 'How are you?', and switched off the phone," Sakhi said.
"They are the enemies of Islam," he said of the Taliban. "They are behaving like savages."
Sam Zarifi, Asia research director for Human Rights Watch, said the use of a child to commit such an act constituted a war crime and was a "new low" in the conflict in Afghanistan.
He noted the Taliban had teenage combatants but they were not recruited on a large scale because of the availability of adult fighters. He said he had seen children in the background of some jihadist videos but none in which they were directly involved in violence.
"I don't know why they would do this," Zarifi said. "The Taliban have to some extent tried to play to the public in Afghanistan and have not engaged in the complete sowing of mayhem that we have seen in Iraq. But this kind of act is really egregious. It's off the charts."
Reply #62 on:
April 21, 2007, 01:03:45 AM »
Reply #63 on:
April 24, 2007, 12:25:06 AM »
AFGHANISTAN: Approximately 200 Taliban fighters have been surrounded by Afghan and NATO forces in a village in the Chora district of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province, the Afghan Interior Ministry said. Several Taliban leaders, including Mullah Dadullah, are believed to be in the group, though the Taliban have denied Dadullah is in Uruzgan province. U.S. forces also reported that rebel leader Gul Haqparast was killed in an April 20 air attack in Afghanistan's Laghman province.
Pakistan: Political Pressure on the President
Pakistani opposition forces prepared for a large demonstration outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on April 21 to protest the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his aides have made plans to instigate clashes between the opposition and government supporters to justify a police crackdown in the Pakistani capital and send a strong message to the Red Mosque mullahs who are pursuing an aggressive Talibanization campaign. Though Musharraf still faces intense political pressure, he and his advisers seem to have more tricks up their sleeves to help the general finagle his way out of this political fracas.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party plans to lead a massive rally outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on April 24 to express the opposition's solidarity with Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, whose suspension by the government sparked a national outcry that threatens Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's hold on power. Musharraf might have thought the agitation caused by Chaudhry's suspension would fizzle out and give him room to ensure his and his party's victory in upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections; but the opposition, despite ongoing government raids and arrests targeting opposition leaders, has sustained a relatively solid campaign to oust Musharraf.
The chief justice issue is the driver behind a host of problems Musharraf is facing, including ongoing tensions between Kabul and Islamabad over Pakistan's involvement in sustaining the Afghan Taliban insurgency, a growing Talibanization campaign in Pakistan (especially the one led by a group of rogue mullahs from the Red Mosque in Islamabad), fresh sectarian clashes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the ongoing struggle to crack down on jihadist and Talibanizing forces in order to manage Islamabad's relations with Washington. Musharraf has had one too many sleepless nights riding this derailing train but knows that if he can manage to hold off the opposition on a couple of these fronts, he can handle the other issues and ensure he remains Pakistan's president.
In line with this plan, Musharraf is temporarily escaping the heat from the Chaudhry protests by going on a tour to Poland, Spain, Bosnia and Turkey to enhance Pakistan's trade ties. By leaving the country during a political imbroglio, Musharraf is indicating that he has things under control and his government is still in the driver's seat. The trip also will give Musharraf a chance to tackle one of his difficulties: Afghanistan. During the president's April 29-30 visit to Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will mediate a face-to-face meeting between Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Musharraf realizes the need to sustain Pakistan's relevance in Washington's eyes and has thus tacitly allowed Islamist militants to use Pakistan as a launchpad for attacks in neighboring Afghanistan, much to the ire of the Afghan government. Islamabad previously brushed off Karzai's allegations that Pakistan was fueling the Taliban insurgency as mere lies; however, Musharraf is likely to exhibit a marked change of attitude during the Turkey visit. Already fearing the growing Talibanization in his own country, Musharraf will assure Karzai that Pakistan will do more to rein in the Taliban along the border. Nothing concrete is likely to come out of these talks, but Musharraf could take incremental steps toward smoothing over Pakistan's relations with the Afghan government by the time he leaves Ankara.
While traveling, Musharraf has left his security and intelligence agencies in charge of managing the opposition protests. To counter the opposition's April 24 demonstrations, the Pakistani government has organized a 2,000-strong pro-government procession from Punjab to Islamabad, led by supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League. Two notable figures that helped plan this march were Punjabi Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja and Salman Shah, financial adviser to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Islamabad is eager to show that there are sizeable numbers of pro-Musharraf lawyers willing to contend with the anti-government protesters. The purpose of the pro-government lawyers' march is to create the perception that the lawyers protesting the government are not the sole representatives of the legal community -- rather, they are a section of the legal community manipulated by the PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami, the more radical of the two top parties in the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) Islamist alliance. The pro-government march planners also have arranged for several delinquents, party strongmen and government agents to take part and set off a confrontation between the chief justice supporters and the pro-government demonstrators. The anticipated clashes are intended to justify a government crackdown against the opposition protesters and demonstrate how the government is going on the offensive. Musharraf hopes to kill two birds with one stone by using this police crackdown to send a message to the Red Mosque mullahs, who have taken advantage of the Chaudhry debacle to advance their own aggressive Talibanization campaign.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that Musharraf has finally cut a deal with his primary political opponent, Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People's Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P). The two are ready to cut a deal, but there is no assurance that either side will uphold its part of the bargain without backstabbing the other. In essence, Musharraf is being advised that Bhutto will betray him while Bhutto thinks Musharraf does not want to give up power to the extent the PPP-P would like. Bhutto is working on a power-sharing agreement with Musharraf that would allow her to return to Pakistan from exile in Dubai and build up the PPP-P's presence in the government. To finalize a deal, however, Musharraf has to stand down as the country's army chief to allow for the return of a civilian government. Musharraf has indicated during closed-door meetings that he will give up the army uniform in October. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it looks as though Musharraf will not be able to escape from this political storm without giving up his military title once the electoral transition is over.
The talk of Musharraf-Bhutto deal-making has also given the Pakistani government enough fodder to keep the Pakistani opposition front divided. The country's main Islamist group, the MMA, voiced its concerns April 22 about Bhutto's intentions when party leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman said in a Daily Times report that if the PPP-P was planning a deal with the government, it should do so in the open and not through hidden channels. Bhutto's PPP-P has long been wary of joining hands with the MMA because of ideological differences. This has prevented Bhutto from entering into any "grand alliance" with both the MMA and the PML-N (the smaller of the country's two main opposition parties led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf ousted from office in the 1999 coup). Knowing that Musharraf would not bend to the demands of a broad opposition coalition, Bhutto sees it in her interest to wage an independent campaign that would allow her to shore up her political position while keeping Musharraf in the picture to manage the army generals.
More important -- and contrary to public statements -- Bhutto sees Musharraf, who shares with the PPP-P a common secular ideology, as a medium through which her party could stage a political comeback. Should Musharraf lose his power, all bets are off. This is why, unlike Sharif, Bhutto does not favor using the Chaudhry crisis to oust Musharraf. She wants to use the crisis to pressure Musharraf into negotiating with her.
For any real deal to come from the Bhutto-Musharraf talks, the Pakistani president needs to devise some way to ensure he remains president without making the PPP-P look like it has sold out. One plan that has been circulating involves Musharraf getting re-elected by a comfortable majority in the current parliament before the parliament is dissolved ahead of general elections, thereby ensuring that he would not have to go up against a possibly unfriendly parliament when the time comes to vote on who takes the presidency in September or October. Such a move would be easily labeled unconstitutional, however, and would be a big risk for Musharraf considering the political pressure he already faces over the chief justice suspension. Another plan is to finish the current government's term as planned, dissolve the parliament and bring in an interim government to conduct the elections. Without the parliament in session to form an electoral college for the presidential election (the federal parliament and the four provincial legislatures constitute the electoral college that elects the president, per the constitution), the constitution dictates that the sitting president remains in charge. Musharraf can then step down as army chief, and give Bhutto and a large chunk of the opposition a legitimate reason to vote for him after the new parliament is voted in.
A number of different plans are in the works, and Musharraf is unlikely to have decided just yet on how he plans to contain the opposition forces. One thing for certain is that the general has not run out of options, and officials in Washington are just as eager to see how Musharraf manages to work his way out of this political fracas to ensure U.S. interests in combating al Qaeda and Taliban militants do not get tangled up in Musharraf's mess.
Last Edit: April 24, 2007, 11:06:45 AM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #64 on:
April 26, 2007, 11:04:25 AM »
PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais published today that Afghan and NATO forces are losing the war against Taliban militants. Musharraf also said claims that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence is aiding Taliban fighters are false and were invented by Afghan and NATO officials attempting to "hide their shame because they are losing."
Reply #65 on:
May 08, 2007, 11:10:19 AM »
PAKISTAN: Pakistan has enlarged its military presence along the Afghan border, increasing the number of troops from 80,000 to 90,000 and increasing the number of military posts from 100 to 110, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said. Kasuri also said Pakistan expects Afghanistan to increase its efforts to secure the border. The increases are aimed at stopping Taliban militants from crossing the border.
PAKISTAN: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited Pakistan to meet with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. They are expected to discuss regional security with a special focus on Afghanistan, where militant violence has recently increased. There has been pressure on Pakistan to stop militants from using the country as a base to stage attacks inside Afghanistan.
PAKISTAN: Rustam Shah Mohmand, head of the Pakistani delegation for the Pakistani-Afghan Peace Jirga Commission, said he does "not have much hope" that the commission will succeed against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting in August.
AFGHANISTAN: The upper house of the Afghan parliament voted to hold direct talks with Taliban members and other opposition forces. Parliament members also voted to advise coalition forces to stop pursuing militants in the country. The resolution will go to President Hamid Karzai for approval.
Last Edit: May 08, 2007, 02:13:34 PM by Crafty_Dog
Reply #66 on:
May 14, 2007, 08:12:14 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Examining Mullah Dadullah's Death
Afghan intelligence announced on Sunday that top Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah was killed early Saturday during a battle with an Afghan-NATO force in Helmand province. The 40-year-old Taliban leader had emerged as the most important operational commander on which Mullah Mohammad Omar could rely in pressing ahead with the jihadist insurgency in the country. Under his leadership, the Pashtun jihadist movement adopted the tactic of suicide bombings, and he represented the faction close to al Qaeda.
Dadullah's killing is the first major success for Kabul and NATO against the Pashtun jihadists since the resurgence of the Taliban shortly after the ouster of their regime in 2001. Until now, fighters and low- to mid-level leaders had been killed; this is the first time a major Taliban figure has been eliminated. He is known to have been a member of the 10-man Taliban leadership council. His death also will have serious implications for al Qaeda's plans involving the Taliban.
Media reports based on information released by Afghan and NATO officials suggest Dadullah was killed during one of the many battles that have taken place between Taliban fighters and coalition troops in southern and eastern Afghanistan over the past several years. Given the operational security protocols of the Taliban and the stature of Dadullah, however, the official version does not add up. In other words, Afghan and NATO forces carried out the operation to take out Dadullah on the basis of specific human intelligence regarding his location. It is not likely a matter of coincidence nor is it probable that Afghan and NATO troops have been able to enhance their intelligence capabilities on the jihadists. This leaves only one possibility -- the involvement of a third party.
Given the close ties between the Taliban and the Pakistani state and society, it is highly likely that Islamabad is the source of the intelligence on Dadullah. It should be noted that after several years of tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with Kabul claiming that Islamabad was backing the Taliban, the Pakistanis pledged to cooperate with the Afghans against the Taliban. This was relayed by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an April 30 meeting in Turkey, during which they agreed to share intelligence on militant groups.
Though the Musharraf government's decision to work with Kabul on containing the Taliban is fueled by its domestic concerns, Dadullah's death has certain implications for the domestic situation in Afghanistan. Though the insurgency will continue, it has been dealt a significant blow -- and the pace of the Taliban's advance has likely been dampened. More important, the vacuum created by Dadullah's death could trigger infighting between hard-liners linked to al Qaeda and more pragmatic elements.
The Taliban will be worried about how their organizational security net was penetrated and will be suspicious of many within their own ranks, which could lead to internal strife. Already those close to Omar and al Qaeda are concerned about the more pragmatic elements talking to the Karzai administration. There are signs that such elements, knowing Kabul would not strike a deal with them unless they parted ways with Omar and his allies, might have actually helped in the elimination of Dadullah; many within the movement actually did not approve of Dadullah's harsh policies.
Former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdus Salam Zaeef, who represented the Taliban in recent talks with Karzai, reacted to Dadullah's killing by saying it would lead to more fighting, and that talks are the only way to bring the violence to an end. Dadullah's killing also comes a few days after the upper house of the Afghan legislature approved a bill calling for direct talks with the Taliban and a halt to NATO operations against jihadists.
Though anti-jihadist operations will continue, negotiations involving Kabul and Islamabad geared toward further weakening those loyal to Omar and strengthening pragmatic leaders within the movement will become increasingly important in the months ahead.
Reply #67 on:
May 14, 2007, 11:58:31 PM »
Pakistan: A Border Shooting and Musharraf's Troubles
A NATO soldier was killed and four were wounded May 14 after meeting with Pakistani and Afghan forces. NATO said "unknown assailants" opened fire on the soldiers. The Pakistani and Afghan governments have offered wildly different accounts of the attack. The incident spells more trouble for Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ability to tame his government's relations with Afghanistan and to convince Washington he has what it takes to hold the Pakistani army together while a political crisis boils at home.
Service members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) held a flag meeting with Pakistani and Afghan forces May 14 in the Kurram tribal agency on the Pakistani side of the Pakistani-Afghan border. After the meeting, which was called to stem a border clash between Pakistani troops and Afghans that started the previous day, "unknown assailants" ambushed the ISAF members near Teri Mangal as the convoy traveled back to the Afghan side of the border, leaving one NATO solider dead and four wounded, according to a NATO statement.
Three to four U.S. soldiers and three to four Pakistani soldiers also were injured, Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said, though Pakistan's GEO TV reported that one U.S. soldier and one Pakistani soldier were killed. Another senior Pakistani security official said a man disguised as a Pakistani paramilitary soldier had opened fire on the troops.
The Afghan government offered a starkly different account, however. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi said that at the meeting, "A Pakistani officer rose up and fired at U.S. soldiers, resulting in the deaths of two soldiers and the wounding of two others."
Evidently, many different stories are circulating. But it appears that a group of jihadists fired at the NATO convoy after the meeting ended. A great deal of resentment is brewing among Pashtuns in the Kurram tribal agency, and it would be reasonable to assume that a NATO convoy would be vulnerable to an attack in the area, particularly after the killing of the Taliban's top military commander, Mullah Dadullah.
The attack and recent border clashes between Pakistani troops and Afghan troops follow an April 30 meeting between Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Ankara, Turkey, aimed at quelling hostilities between the two governments. Afghan-Pakistani relations have long been on the rocks because of Kabul's repeated allegations that Islamabad is dangerously undermining stability in the region by fueling the Taliban insurgency next door. Pakistani moves to build a security fence along the border have further inflamed tensions between Kabul and Islamabad, since the Afghan government views such an effort in an area that is essentially impossible to fence because of the terrain as a blatant attempt to seize Afghan territory.
Faced with a growing political imbroglio at home over the suspension of Pakistan's chief justice, Musharraf has decided to clear his plate a bit by making a concerted effort to improve relations with his Afghan neighbors. Though the two countries have deep-rooted Pashtun ties, Pakistan cannot afford to alienate the Afghan government too much for fear of losing influence in Kabul, contributing to the spread of Talibanization within Pakistan's own borders and giving longtime rival India an opportunity to cozy up to the Afghan government and team up against Islamabad.
Musharraf's meeting with Karzai did result in some notable improvements in the Afghan-Pakistani relationship, with both sides agreeing to share intelligence and quell the jihadist insurgency engulfing the region. The intelligence that led to the death of Dadullah might have been the Musharraf government's way of delivering on the promises it made to Karzai at that summit, though the Afghan government clearly is not ready to ease the pressure off the Pakistani leader any time soon.
By claiming that a Pakistani soldier simply stood up at the meeting and fired at U.S. soldiers, the Afghan government delivered a politically motivated message to Washington that Musharraf cannot be relied on to cooperate on the counterterrorism front, and that he cannot even control his own military. Though the NATO statement contradicted the Afghan story, the idea that Musharraf is gradually losing his grip on the Pakistani army could be gaining some ground in Washington.
The political crisis in Pakistan reached its tipping point May 12-13, when more than 42 demonstrators in the southern port city of Karachi were killed in clashes between pro-government and opposition protesters. The legal row over suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry's dismissal has so emboldened Pakistan's civil society and political opposition parties that everywhere Chaudhry travels massive street demonstrations follow in a show of support against the Musharraf government.
The Pakistani government attempted to quell the demonstrations by playing up militant threats against Chaudhry, urging him to not travel by car and to keep a low profile, but Chaudhry saw through the political ploy and has continued to catalyze mass protests throughout the country. By instigating violent protests, Musharraf and his advisers likely were hoping the ensuing instability would pressure Chaudhry into toning down his campaign and bring calm to Pakistan. But this appears to be yet another miscalculation by Musharraf, as the opposition protesters have only became more emboldened following the deadly riots in Karachi.
Pakistan's generals are watching closely as Musharraf's support is rapidly eroded, and they are now seeing it in their best interest to distance themselves as much as possible from the president. It appears that even the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the military, has been told to back away from Musharraf. Though the director-general of ISPR has recently operated as Musharraf's press secretary and has often come to the defense of the president, routine journalistic inquiries addressed to the ISPR are now being directed to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In other words, the ISPR appears to have been issued a directive of some sort telling it not take a stand and to keep a safe distance from the political crisis.
The Karachi riots have backed Musharraf into a tighter corner, and if he wants to finagle his way out of this mess, he will have to make the appropriate concessions: reinstate the chief justice, stand down as army chief and strike a deal with the country's main opposition group, Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) that allows PPP-P leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to save face for dealing with a president whose image has been severely tarnished.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Musharraf has been left with little choice but to yield to the demands of his opponents -- or else risk being pressured by the army generals to step aside in the interest of safeguarding the authority of the military establishment. The Karachi riots have created a scenario in which the best Musharraf can hope for is to be able to play a role in the transition from military to civilian rule during the early 2008 general election and negotiate to stay on as a transitional president, a post that could provide him a safe exit from power. If he does not move soon to quell this political crisis, Washington could need to seriously consider what it can expect from a post-Musharraf regime in Islamabad.
Musharraf a goner?
Reply #68 on:
May 16, 2007, 07:37:02 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Examining a Post-Musharraf Pakistan
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in an interview published Wednesday in the British daily Times Online, calls President Gen. Pervez Musharraf "a gone man." Sharif, who also is leader of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and was ousted from power by Musharraf in 1999, said Musharraf's "options are totally exhausted, and starting from today [his fall] is simply a matter of time." Sharif is not exaggerating -- with each passing day Musharraf appears to be losing his hold on power.
Musharraf's own constituency, the military, is beginning to show signs of concern -- even his close generals are now privately admitting things have gotten out of hand. There also are indications that the United States has begun to gradually move away from the embattled Pakistani leader.
The developing shift in Washington's attitude is notable, considering that the Bush administration has heavily depended on Musharraf being at the helm in Islamabad during the war on terrorism. But the United States has been preparing for a post-Musharrafian Pakistan for at least a little over a year. In the beginning, however, the U.S. move stemmed from a desire to move beyond reliance on a single individual leader, not because of any threat to Musharraf's hold on power.
Now that the political crisis has imposed a crisis of governance on the Musharraf regime, it is only natural that the United States now move from planning to actually preparing for the time when Musharraf will no longer be Pakistan's president. But the military establishment dominates Pakistan, and Musharraf being both president and military chief raises the question of who will replace him.
However, it is unlikely that one successor will hold both positions because the domestic and international situation precludes the possibility of a military takeover of the country. It should be noted that this assumes that Musharraf continues to try and tough it out, in which case the growing unrest and violence in the country could prompt the corps commanders and agency heads to force him to step down.
In such a situation, the chairman of the Senate, Muhammad Mian Soomro, would become acting president and an interim prime minister would be appointed to lead a caretaker government. Such a government would then be tasked with holding new parliamentary elections. The interim administration would be based more or less on a consensus between the political forces and the military. Such elections would lead to a coalition federal government likely composed of at least the two main parties -- the PML-N and the Pakistan People's Party -- with the latter being the senior coalition partner. The new parliament and provincial legislatures, which together constitute the Electoral College that elects the president, would install a new head of state who likely would be a consensus candidate of the parties in the coalition government.
Regarding the position of the chief of the army staff, it is likely that the current vice chief of army staff (VCOAS), Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hayat, would succeed Musharraf. This is assuming that, if current trends persist, Musharraf will be unable to hold on to power until October, when Hayat is expected to retire. Hayat has worked extensively with Washington in the past several years, especially since he assumed the post of VCOAS in October 2004.
Furthermore, though the current political crisis will lead to the ouster of Musharraf, the military establishment will remain in control of the state for some time. From the U.S. viewpoint this is important because it ensures continuity in policy on the war on terrorism. In the long run it is in Washington's interest to see the military come under civilian control because such a government allows for relatively smooth transitions of power. But in the current circumstances, such a political dispensation could create hurdles in the path of ongoing counterterrorism cooperation because elected regimes are answerable to the masses, which in this case resent U.S. foreign policy toward their region of the world.
Musharraf's exit certainly will represent a major shift in the Pakistani political scene, but it is one for which the United States has been preparing.
Reply #69 on:
May 16, 2007, 07:59:11 AM »
We better hope he ain't a goner. Without him in office, we would have had a much tougher road to hoe in Afghanistan, the place we did need to go into and clean house.
"This is a war, and we are soldiers. Death can come for us at any time, in any place." ~ Morpheus
Reply #70 on:
May 26, 2007, 12:20:20 PM »
Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail has daily updates on Islam over the World. He frequently travels to the different areas for first hand looks.
Pakistan - Hostage of the Taliban
Hostage crises ended in Islamabad & North Waziristan as one begins in Bannu; anti-Taliban elements calls for help go unheeded
As the political crisis over the suspension of Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for alleged misconduct consumes the energy of the government of President Pervez Musharraf, the Taliban and its allies continue to push forward with the establishment of Talibanistan in Pakistan. In Islamabad, the capital, the clerics of the Lal Masjid – or Red Mosque – held police hostage and faced no repercussions. In the Northwest Frontier Province two hostage crises involving government officials went unanswered by the Pakistani government. All the while, the Northwest Frontier Province descends further into a Taliban dominated state within a state.
The hostage standoff in Islamabad began after the Lal Masjid 'brigade' kidnapped 4 Pakistani policemen on May 18 and accused them of ‘spying’ for the government. two days later, the government caved to the kidnappers' demands and released 4 members of the mosque in exchange for 2 of the 4 kidnapped police. Security forces then cordoned the area around the mosque and arrested 36 members, while the "Lal Masjid brigade" began setting up fighting positions. Maulana Ghazi then threatened a wave of suicide attacks against Pakistan if an assault ensued.
One day later, the security forces called off any potential operation to free the two remaining policemen, and two days later the standoff has ended as the 2 remaining police have been released.
The Lal Masjid showdown intensified at the end of March, when Maulana Abdul Aziz, the senior cleric at the mosque gave the government 7 days to impose sharia law, and began setting up sharia courts and sending out the burke clad, baton wielding female students as enforcement squads. Maulana Abdul Aziz, the leader of the Lal Masjid, stated the brigade can now enforce sharia and attack CD and video shops in the capital. “Our students can attack these outlets anytime because the deadline given to their owners had already passed,” Aziz said in his Friday sermon. Aziz also encouraged the Taliban “to continue their jihad against obscenity, prostitution, video shops and other social vices and expand it to every nook and corner of the NWFP,” Dawn reported.
To the west, in the lawless, Taliban dominated regions of the Northwest Frontier Province, the other hostage drama played itself out in North Waziristan. The Taliban kidnapped nine government employees, including six women, and held them for five days before releasing them on May 23. The Taliban openly run North Waziristan, and were unhappy they were not informed of an outside presence. "The militants [Taliban] complained that they were not consulted by the government on development works launched in the area," said Zair Gul Wazir, one of the hostages. "He said that the militants had kidnapped them to protest against the policies of the NWFP governor and the agency’s political administration."
North Waziristan has been a hotbed of activity the past week. On May 20, the Taliban beheaded a 'US spy' in the tribal agency. Thirteen dead Taliban were repatriated to North Waziristan after being killed in the fighting in Afghanistan. The Pakistani military purportedly struck an al Qaeda training camp in the village of Zargarkhel, where three Uzbeks were said to be among the 4 killed. Eleven of the 15 members of the North Waziristan "tribal peace committee," which is responsible for maintaining the North Waziristan accord, resigned over the Zargarkhel strike. The reason given was they believe the Pakistani government broke the terms of the accord, despite the fact that the Taliban violates the terms of treaty on a daily basis.
Pakistani Police believe Matiur Rehman, al Qaeda commander in Pakistan, is "spending most of his time in Waziristan training and organizing al Qaeda militants." President Pervez Musharraf admitted that al Qaeda is in Pakistan on local television. "Al -Qaeda is in our mountains, in Mir Ali [North Waziristan]. This is completely true." Several days later, Pakistan's Foreign Office claimed "there is no Al Qaeda base in Pakistan."
As the hostage crises ends in Islamabad and North Waziristan, another begins in the Northwest Frontier Province district of Bannu. The Taliban kidnapped 3 government agents, including a military intelligence officer, as they were driving through the region. The officer's driver and other official were released, but the intelligence officer is still in custody. On May 20, Bannu police found 3 suicide vests on a bus bound for Lahore. In early March, the Pakistani government assessed Bannu, along with several other districts and tribal agencies, as falling under the influence of the Taliban. The situation has gotten so bad the Bannu tribes vowed to take action against the Taliban if the government would not. The tribes request for help has fallen on deaf ears.
The situation in Charsadda has faired no better. The Taliban bombed a music shop in the settled district on May 23. A "student of a local madressah" detonated a bomb near Pakistani Interior Minister Sherpao's home. A suicide bomber attempted to assassinate Mr. Sherpao in Charsadda in April and South Waziristan's Abdullah Mehsud was behind the attack. And the Christian residents of Charsadda have pleaded with the government to provide protection after the Taliban threaten to kill them if they failed to convert to Islam. The government has remained silent on the issue of protecting Charsadda's Christians.
Elsewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province, the Taliban’s power grows. Taliban fighters from Waziristan are reported to be massing in the district of Swat and are being sheltered by Faqir Mohammad’s banned Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi [TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law]. Faqir, who is based out of the Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuary of Bajaur and is an ally of Ayman al-Zawahiri, was recently pardoned by the Pakistani government.
In Tank, where a curfew was imposed after the Taliban raided cities and towns in the settled district, the Taliban fired 7 rockets at a military outpost on May 24. In Bara, the Lashkar Islam put out a order for a journalist’s death and ordered the closure of music shops. In Torkhum, the Taliban bombed 10 fuel tankers, which were heading to Afghanistan to supply NATO forces. Pakistani truck drivers have gone on strike out of fear of being attacked.
In Mohmand Agency, a tribal jirga met to discuss the prevention of the ‘Talibanisation’ of the agency. Like the Charsadda Christians and the Bannu tribes, the Mohmand tribal leaders’ calls for help from the Pakistani government have gone unanswered.
Reply #71 on:
June 01, 2007, 08:50:55 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Musharraf Cracks Down
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Thursday called an emergency meeting of the country's top military brass, including corps commanders and agency heads, for June 1 to discuss the domestic political situation. The same day, Information and Broadcasting Minister Sen. Muhammad Ali Durrani said all private electronic media outlets must now obtain permission from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority before each live broadcast. Pakistan's Supreme Court also said it plans to investigate reports of state authorities and political groups harassing and threatening journalists.
The country's increasingly assertive judiciary and media have played a key role in the growing crisis of governance. The most recent blow to Musharraf came May 26 during a Supreme Court Bar Association seminar titled "Separation of Powers and Independence of the Judiciary," when several prominent lawyers harshly criticized the government and the military's control of the state. Several TV channels carried the event live.
The seminar enraged the Musharraf regime, which responded by saying abusive and derogatory remarks about national institutions, especially the armed forces, will not be tolerated. In a May 30 speech to officers at the Jehlum garrison, Musharraf warned the media to stop politicizing the judicial crisis, though media criticism of the Pakistani government is hardly unprecedented.
In fact, the country has seen a major proliferation of private television channels under Musharraf's rule. The government allowed this in order to counter public criticism that it is a military-dominated autocratic regime. It also could afford to allow the increasingly vibrant media its freedom since Musharraf faced no real challenge to his rule.
But in the wake of the suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, this vibrancy has damaged the public perception of the government. Yet, because the country's opposition parties continue to be divided over how to move against Musharraf, media coverage of political events and the broadcasting of damning criticism have not resulted in the protests attaining critical mass. Nonetheless, the government is moving toward a major crackdown that will drastically curtail free speech.
The nature of the criticism -- which has been aimed not only at the president, but also at the military's domination of the state -- and its reception within Musharraf's own constituency could present major problems for Musharraf's ability to rule.
Musharraf's most important source of power is the support he receives from the military, particularly the army. Criticism of Musharraf due to his dual role as military chief and president is one thing, but the questioning of the military's control over the state changes things dramatically. This forces the top generals to question Musharraf's ability to look after the military's interests. Hence, Musharraf is rushing to clamp down on the media. He must now show the generals he is very much in control and is capable of ensuring that the military maintains its hold on the state. Losing the confidence of the army's senior leadership would prove fatal to his own hold on power.
It is unlikely a crackdown on political dissent will help Musharraf shore up his position; in fact, it likely will make the situation worse for him. The verdict in Chaudhry's appeal case and the controversial presidential vote set to take place in September will only accelerate the momentum of the country's growing unrest.
Reply #72 on:
June 05, 2007, 07:28:42 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: The Meltdown of the Musharraf State
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Monday amended laws governing the country's electronic media, GEO television reported. Musharraf empowered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to block transmissions, suspend licenses, confiscate equipment and seal the buildings of electronic media organizations deemed in violation of PEMRA regulations. This, combined with the ongoing political crisis, has increased the number of protests in Pakistan. The same day Musharraf also chaired a special meeting of the National Security Council, during which he discussed ways and means of dealing with the increasingly deteriorating crisis of governance.
Thus far all the steps taken by the Musharraf government to fix the growing political instability have backfired, and even have made matters worse. For the most part, this outcome is the result of serious miscalculations. This is not altogether surprising because Musharraf is now relying on a small circle of bureaucratic advisers, and is no longer listening to his political allies in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML).
However, not heeding the PML's advice might not have major consequences, since it is the party that is dependent on Musharraf for its position of power. But Musharraf is critically dependent on the military's support to ensure his regime's continuity. This is why Musharraf on June 1 called an emergency meeting of the corps commanders and army's agency heads, during which the top generals reportedly expressed complete support for the president.
During this meeting Musharraf made use of the increasingly loud criticisms of the military's domination of the state. He was able to convince the generals that the government's opponents are not just out to force the country's military chief from power, but also want the military establishment to lose control of the political system.
In this regard, Musharraf also exploited the recent release of the new book "Military, Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy," authored by Ayesha Siddiqa, a top Pakistani political and military analyst. Siddiqa's book, which provides a detailed account of the military's hold over Pakistan's economic system, has further fueled the public ire against the military's domination of the country. As a result the government scrambled to torpedo the launching ceremony of the book and has accused the author of spreading lies and of being an enemy of the state. There are reports that Siddiqa is being intimidated by intelligence officials.
Taking all of this into account, the generals are currently rallying around Musharraf and are saying they will support his efforts to do all that is necessary to remedy the faltering situation. But they, more than anyone else, know that the need to hold such a special meeting indicates a weakness in Musharraf's position.
Therefore, the generals will be watching the situation more closely than ever and will be considering contingency plans as the political temperature rises in the coming weeks. Then, if needed, they can intervene and force Musharraf to step down in order to avoid risking an ugly confrontation on the streets.
For now, the generals figure the anti-Musharraf movement, though growing in size, lacks direction, organization and critical mass because the main opposition parties remain divided. Put differently, they believe their interests can still be secured through a compromise involving the reinstatement of the chief justice, and perhaps even with Musharraf assuming the role of a civilian president. But Musharraf does not believe he can both compromise and sustain power, which is why he has decided to tough it out in an effort to get past the re-election in September.
The generals would prefer a situation in which they are not forced to move against Musharraf because they know such a situation does not necessarily help them salvage the position of the institution. Having Musharraf step down could land them in a situation in which the new military leadership would be forced to negotiate a new civil-military power-sharing mechanism with the political forces, and from a position of relative weakness. Part of this has to do with the fact that Musharraf has been reshuffling the military deck so much that most of the top generals have not had much experience in dealing with national politics.
But when the generals know things have reached a point of no return, they will act; this could happen before the end of summer depending on how fast events progress. The prevention of news broadcasts and political talk shows deemed critical of the government on private television channels could prove to be one key step in that direction. Because of the immense popularity of these private channels, the anti-Musharraf movement is likely to gain greater momentum -- and rapidly.
The growing public unrest will only get worse because the government is determined to deal with the situation by cracking down. Unless Musharraf reverses course and opts for the path of accommodation with his opponents -- both among the political parties and with civil society -- it is quite feasible that the unrest, which is expected to peak around the time of the presidential vote in September, could surge earlier. Even his key civilian partner, the PML, is starting to show signs of hemorrhaging, indicating that it might not be possible for Musharraf to secure a second term.
Reply #73 on:
June 13, 2007, 08:25:30 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Washington and the Musharraf Administration's Future
Great expectations have been attached to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher's visit to Islamabad, which began on Tuesday. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is hoping the visit will help him sustain his faltering hold on power. Musharraf's opponents hope the Bush administration will help them eventually force Musharraf from office. The day of Musharraf's departure is imminent; he has simply made too many mistakes and burned too many bridges.
Yet, despite all of his eminent and obvious weaknesses, Musharaff's (many) opponents have not been able to eject him from the scene. This is in part because of an odd belief within Pakistani structures.
Many within the Pakistani political world believe that the player with the most irons in the Pakistani fire is the United States. Understanding that mindset is not particularly difficult. One of the commonalities in Pakistani governments going back to nearly the country's creation is that the United States has ultimately played the role of security supporter, if not outright guarantor. Regardless of whether the opponent was Soviet or Indian, the United States has played a critical role in Pakistani security, leading to the cynical view among many Pakistanis that their governments have been supported by three As: Allah, the army and America. And with the war in Afghanistan almost exclusively supplied via Pakistani supply routes, that does not appear about to change.
Therefore many Pakistani political players -- particularly within the military -- are unwilling to move against Musharraf, no matter how bad things get, without a green light from Washington, for fear they could get burned.
Ultimately, however, such thinking not only misses the point, it is simply wrong. It is Pakistan that holds the balance of power in this relationship, not the United States. And though Islamabad depends on financial and military assistance from Washington, it is Washington that cannot fight the war in Afghanistan without Pakistan, not the other way around. It is the United States that is bogged down in Iraq, not Pakistan.
Strategically, Washington would much rather count India as an ally. It is bigger, richer and the political culture is more similar. Yet the United States is fighting a war that requires troops and materiel to be moved through Pakistan. That means the United States will work with whoever happens to be in Pakistan's big chair, not because Washington wants to, but because it must.
The United States, then, is not allied with Musharraf the person, or the Musharraf government, but with the state of Pakistan -- read: its military. This means should Musharraf suddenly be out of the picture, the United States, after few heartburn-filled meetings, will simply hammer out a new deal with his replacement.
Put another way, the United States does not much care who runs Pakistan as long as there is stability in Islamabad; after all, it currently is supposedly enamored with a man who rose to power via a coup in 1999. And as soon as the various power players in Pakistan recognize that little fact, Musharraf's days truly will be numbered.
Pakistan in the Balance
Reply #74 on:
June 16, 2007, 11:12:35 AM »
Pakistan in the Balance
By NAJAM SETHI
June 16, 2007
LAHORE, Pakistan -- As lawyers, civil society activists and now journalists protest President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's ham-handed ouster of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry last March and his recent crackdown on the press, most Pakistanis are convinced the military strongman is a "goner." Most international commentators see Mr. Musharraf's increasingly repressive measures as a sure sign of his regime unraveling. Others are already calculating the beneficial effects of a likely return to "civilian democracy" sooner rather than later.
Mr. Musharraf has other ideas. Last week he told worried bigwigs of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party that he might be down but was definitely not out. This storm will pass, he assured them, the next general elections would be held as pledged by the end of this year, and they would win.
So how is the United States' core ally in the war against terror going to fare? Who will replace him if he is ousted, will there be greater or lesser democracy, and would that be good or bad for Pakistan?
The protests aren't sufficient to end Mr. Musharraf's rule. They lack a mass base. There haven't been any prolonged countrywide shutdowns. Traders and businessmen still support Mr. Musharraf. Opposition parties have failed to impress in the numbers game. The two main opposition leaders, former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, are reluctant to end their exile and return to Pakistan, fearing arrest. Even the most virulent opposition from the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of six religious parties who hate Mr. Musharraf because of his support for the U.S. war against terror, is tempered with pragmatism. Its leading political party, Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam, is averse to clashing with the federal government, which could endanger its political rule in two provinces.
All political parties fear that any head-on confrontation with Mr. Musharraf might lead to martial law. As if to reinforce this fact, Mr. Musharraf last week called a meeting of his top military commanders -- who duly warned against the expression of any anti-army sentiment in public or in the media.
The situation could worsen for Mr. Musharraf if the Supreme Court were to reinstall the chief justice and thereby invigorate the pro-democracy movement. Or if the government were to blunder into killing protestors, fueling their anger and swelling their ranks. Or if Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif were to return to the country and succeed in whipping up a storm. Or if Washington were to nod at another general to take over.
But all these scenarios are uncertain. The Supreme Court case may drag on until next year. The government may successfully avoid provoking more violence. Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif might stay away longer. Finally, the U.S. is unlikely to ditch Mr. Musharraf, partly because he is still shoring up the war against terror in Pakistan and partly because there is no guarantee that his military or civilian successor would fare any better in fulfilling this international agenda.
Pakistan's experience with "democratic" governments hasn't been reassuring. Previous administrations under Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif saw corrupt, squabbling politicians drive the economy to bankruptcy. They lost their sheen when they became dynastic, autocratic and repressive. Worse, their political failures no less than those of the military led to the growth of the religious right.
If Mr. Musharraf were to be ousted by the popular forces of "undiluted democracy" in a country that is deeply fissured by regionalism, ethnicity, religious sectarianism, separatism, Talibanism and class struggle, the result could be political anarchy and economic meltdown. There is no single mainstream party strong enough to hold the center and the periphery. Stumbling and squabbling coalition governments would bring democracy into disrepute again. This would only benefit the forces of political Islam, which are the real long-term pretenders to the throne in Pakistan because of their strategy of merging religious ideology, Islamic nationalism and class struggle.
Meanwhile, shorn of all responsibility for its actions after retreating to the barracks, the powerful army would start pulling strings to destabilize and discredit elected governments from behind the scenes, as it has done during every civilian stint in power. Under these circumstances, the gains made under Mr. Musharraf's regime, like the peace initiative with India, economic revival, efforts to stall religious extremism and support for the war against terror -- however insufficient -- would fall by the wayside without generating an alternative sustainable governance paradigm.
One other significant issue needs to be factored into the analysis. In the next five years, many middle-class army officers recruited from the urban areas of Pakistan during the Islamicization years of Gen. Zia ul Haq in the 1980s will become three-star generals. These homespun officers are all imbued with Islamic nationalism, anti-India sentiment and anti-Westernism.
Their anti-Americanism is rooted in the 1990s, when the U.S. cut off all military aid to Pakistan for pursuing its nuclear program. As field officers they compelled Mr. Musharraf not to wage war against "our own people in Waziristan" at the behest of America. They remain unhappy at the ostracism of Pakistan's nuclear hero, A.Q. Khan, by Gen. Musharraf, again at America's behest. And they have personally benefited in terms of perks and privileges from the direct intervention of the army in politics and civilian affairs. If the army is not led in the future by a strong, moderate and cosmopolitan leader, it could institutionally succumb to the collective mindset of Islamic nationalism.
Pakistan's military has historically been part of its problem. But, left to themselves, Pakistan's mainstream democrats, conservative and liberal alike, have not been able to provide the solution. Meanwhile, the country has become seriously ungovernable and the state's writ has progressively broken down in large areas of the nation. Political Islam is seeking to fill these spaces.
What is needed is a transitional power-sharing partnership between the military and political parties on the basis of an agreed moderate and liberal reform agenda -- a sort of truth and national reconciliation process that heals political wounds and charts the road to a new Pakistan. It is a tall order.
Much will depend on whether or not Mr. Musharraf can pull off the next general elections without provoking an effective opposition boycott and further instability. That, in turn, will depend on renewed efforts to diffuse the current judicial crisis and make new political allies. After the elections he will have to take off his uniform and share power with mainstream politicians in order to enlarge the new government's capacity to reform state and society.
In the past, Mr. Musharraf has demonstrated the skills of a commando in blasting his way out of trouble or beating a tactical retreat when the odds were against him. But in recent times he has seemed isolated, arrogant and rigid. Which Mr. Musharraf will prevail? What will Pakistan look like with or without him in the near future? The conclusions are not foregone.
Mr. Sethi is the editor of the Friday Times and Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan.
Reply #75 on:
June 21, 2007, 04:23:26 PM »
PAKISTAN: Osama bin Laden has been awarded the Pakistani Ulema Council's highest honor as a reaction to the United Kingdom knighting Salman Rushdie The Pakistani Ulema Council, a leading group of Pakistani Islamic scholars with a purported membership of 2,000 Pakistanis, gave bin Laden the title of Saifullah, meaning "sword of God."
Reply #76 on:
June 25, 2007, 06:04:36 PM »
6 year old jihad!
Reply #77 on:
July 02, 2007, 09:36:22 PM »
PAKISTAN: Pakistani students of the madrassa affiliated with Islamabad's Red Mosque are fortifying their positions using barbed wire and have closed down a road adjacent to the mosque facility, GEO News reported. They are reportedly using walkie-talkies to coordinate their preparations for a possible operation. Authorities have asked residents in the vicinity to relocate for a few days, and the Environment Ministry building and a girls' school have also been asked to close in anticipation of the operation.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the law license of Chaudhry Akhtar Ali, a government lawyer representing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in his case against the country's dismissed chief justice. The court also asked the Intelligence Bureau to make sure the Supreme Court and its judges' residences are free of electronic bugging devices, barred intelligence agency personnel from entering the Supreme Court or high court offices or seeking any documents from the courts, and ordered court officials not to surrender any documents to intelligence agency workers.
Reply #78 on:
July 06, 2007, 06:00:33 AM »
Pakistan: After the Red Mosque Operation
July 05, 2007 18 57 GMT
Regardless of whether it ends by force, the security operation at the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital will result in the militant Islamist cult losing control of the mosque. The end of the standoff could allow Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some degree of a temporary reprieve from the ongoing political crisis in the country. However, the coming elections and the verdict in the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will return to center stage quickly, putting Musharraf's troubles back in the spotlight.
The security operation against the Islamist cult holed up in the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has entered its final stages. Since the standoff began July 3, the on-and-off heavy gunfire exchanges between security forces and the militants have resulted in some two dozen casualties. Authorities are trying to avoid storming the mosque/madrassa complex by getting the remaining militants and seminary students inside the facility to surrender.
Regardless of whether the standoff ends with a surrender, with security forces storming the complex or with a combination of the two, the defeat of the Red Mosque cult will give Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf some relief from his larger legal and political crisis. But this reprieve likely will be temporary, because the case of suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Pakistan's coming elections will once again take center stage.
Though the Musharraf government will gain some political capital from its ability to end the standoff with the Red Mosque cult, expectations will increase -- within the country and, more important, internationally -- for the Musharraf government to deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda militants and their allies using Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. This expectation will come from the perception that if the Musharraf government can successfully crack down on militants in one part of the country, it can reproduce those results in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, North-West Frontier Province and the Pashtun corridor in northwestern Balochistan. The Pakistani government's ability to actually crack down on Islamist militants had been in question up until now, but the Red Mosque situation has dispelled those doubts.
For now, Musharraf will be able to use the Red Mosque operation to impress upon the United States and the West that he must stay in power if the fight against Islamist radicalism and militancy is to continue. This could help counter any slide in Washington's support for his government. However, this support will not take care of the domestic situation, in which -- now more than ever -- Musharraf needs support from the main opposition party, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP). This situation could give Bhutto a certain element of leverage in her back-channel communications with Musharraf, allowing her to drive a harder bargain and potentially forcing Musharraf to make concessions.
Additionally, this unprecedented operation against a mosque likely will create more resentment among conservative and extremist circles, which could lead the mainstream Islamist coalition, the Muttahida Majilis-i-Amal (MMA), to lose some of its influence to more extremist elements.
Musharraf, who already is in negotiations with the PPP and the largest component party of the MMA -- the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman -- to help him get over the hurdle of his own re-election and the parliamentary polls, will now need the opposition parties' support not only to secure a second term but also to deal with the fallout from the Red Mosque operation, which could see increased militancy in the country.
Prior to the Red Mosque operation, Musharraf was already headed toward a situation in which he would at least be forced to share power. The operation could prevent him from losing power altogether -- which has been a prospect since early March, given the brewing crisis. That said, the continuing crisis and upcoming elections will put him in a position in which he cannot avoid giving up some of his power to the next civilian administration.
Reply #79 on:
July 08, 2007, 06:40:59 AM »
U.S. Aborted Raid on Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05
By MARK MAZZETTI
Published: July 8, 2007
WASHINGTON, July 7 — A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.
The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.
But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.
Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said.
The decision to halt the planned “snatch and grab” operation frustrated some top intelligence officials and members of the military’s secret Special Operations units, who say the United States missed a significant opportunity to try to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.
Their frustration has only grown over the past two years, they said, as Al Qaeda has improved its abilities to plan global attacks and build new training compounds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which have become virtual havens for the terrorist network.
In recent months, the White House has become increasingly irritated with Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for his inaction on the growing threat of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
About a dozen current and former military and intelligence officials were interviewed for this article, all of whom requested anonymity because the planned 2005 mission remained classified.
Spokesmen for the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and the White House declined to comment. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed about the planned operation.
The officials acknowledge that they are not certain that Mr. Zawahri attended the 2005 meeting in North Waziristan, a mountainous province just miles from the Afghan border. But they said that the United States had communications intercepts that tipped them off to the meeting, and that intelligence officials had unusually high confidence that Mr. Zawahri was there.
Months later, in early May 2005, the C.I.A. launched a missile from a remotely piloted Predator drone, killing Haitham al-Yemeni, a senior Qaeda figure whom the C.I.A. had tracked since the meeting.
It has long been known that C.I.A. operatives conduct counterterrorism missions in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Details of the aborted 2005 operation provide a glimpse into the Bush administration’s internal negotiations over whether to take unilateral military action in Pakistan, where General Musharraf’s fragile government is under pressure from dissidents who object to any cooperation with the United States.
Pentagon officials familiar with covert operations said that planners had to consider the political and human risks of undertaking a military campaign in a sovereign country, even in an area like Pakistan’s tribal lands, where the government has only tenuous control. Even with its shortcomings, Pakistan has been a vital American ally since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the militaries of the two countries have close ties.
The Pentagon officials said tension was inherent in any decision to approve such a mission: a smaller military footprint allows a better chance of a mission going undetected, but it also exposes the units to greater risk of being killed or captured.
Officials said one reason Mr. Rumsfeld called off the 2005 operation was that the number of troops involved in the mission had grown to several hundred, including Army Rangers, members of the Navy Seals and C.I.A. operatives, and he determined that the United States could no longer carry out the mission without General Musharraf’s permission. It is unlikely that the Pakistani president would have approved an operation of that size, officials said.
Some outside experts said American counterterrorism operations had been hamstrung because of concerns about General Musharraf’s shaky government.
“The reluctance to take risk or jeopardize our political relationship with Musharraf may well account for the fact that five and half years after 9/11 we are still trying to run bin Laden and Zawahri to ground,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.
Those political considerations have created resentment among some members of the military’s Special Operations forces.
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“The Special Operations guys are tearing their hair out at the highest levels,” said a former Bush administration official with close ties to those troops. While they have not received good intelligence on the whereabouts of top Qaeda members recently, he said, they say they believe they have sometimes had useful information on lower-level figures.
“There is a degree of frustration that is off the charts, because they are looking at targets on a daily basis and can’t move against them,” he said.
In early 2005, after learning about the Qaeda meeting, the military developed a plan for a small Navy Seals unit to parachute into Pakistan to carry out a quick operation, former officials said.
But as the operation moved up the military chain of command, officials said, various planners bulked up the force’s size to provide security for the Special Operations forces.
“The whole thing turned into the invasion of Pakistan,” said the former senior intelligence official involved in the planning. Still, he said he thought the mission was worth the risk. “We were frustrated because we wanted to take a shot,” he said.
Several former officials interviewed said the operation was not the only occasion since the Sept. 11 attacks that plans were developed to use a large American military force in Pakistan. It is unclear whether any of those missions have been executed.
Some of the military and intelligence officials familiar with the 2005 events say it showed a rift between operators in the field and a military bureaucracy that has still not effectively adapted to hunt for global terrorists, moving too cautiously to use Special Operations troops against terrorist targets.
That criticism has echoes of the risk aversion that the officials said pervaded efforts against Al Qaeda during the Clinton administration, when missions to use American troops to capture or kill Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan were never executed because they were considered too perilous, risked killing civilians or were based on inadequate intelligence. Rather than sending in ground troops, the Clinton White House instead chose to fire cruise missiles in what became failed attempts to kill Mr. bin Laden and his deputies — a tactic Mr. Bush criticized shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Since then, the C.I.A. has launched missiles from Predator aircraft in the tribal areas several times, with varying degrees of success. Intelligence officials say they believe that in January 2006, an airstrike narrowly missed killing Mr. Zawahri, who hours earlier had attended a dinner in Damadola, a Pakistani village.
General Musharraf cast his lot with the Bush administration in the hunt for Al Qaeda after the 2001 attacks, and he has periodically ordered Pakistan’s military to conduct counterterrorism missions in the tribal areas, provoking fierce resistance there. But in recent months he has pulled back, prompting Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to issue stern warnings in private that he risked losing American aid if he did not step up efforts against Al Qaeda, senior administration officials have said.
Officials said that mid-2005 was a period when they were gathering good intelligence about Al Qaeda’s leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas. By the next year, however, the White House had become frustrated by the lack of progress in the hunt for Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri.
In early 2006, President Bush ordered a “surge” of dozens of C.I.A. agents to Pakistan, hoping that an influx of intelligence operatives would lead to better information, officials said. But that has brought the United States no closer to locating Al Qaeda’s top two leaders. The latest message from them came this week, in a new tape in which Mr. Zawahri urged Iraqis and Muslims around the world to show more support for Islamist insurgents in Iraq.
In his recently published memoir, George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director, said the intelligence about Mr. bin Laden’s whereabouts during the Clinton years was similarly sparse. The information was usually only at the “50-60% confidence level,” he wrote, not sufficient to justify American military action.
“As much as we all wanted Bin Ladin dead, the use of force by a superpower requires information, discipline, and time,” Mr. Tenet wrote. “We rarely had the information in sufficient quantities or the time to evaluate and act on it.”
Reply #80 on:
July 09, 2007, 07:34:43 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: The War Between Pakistan and its Ex-Proxies
After days of avoiding an all-out assault against the mosque/madrassa complex, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reportedly has issued orders to storm the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The government also has claimed that the Islamist militants holed up in the mosque include both wanted hard-core Pakistani jihadists and foreign fighters -- mostly Arabs -- affiliated with al Qaeda. The six-day security operation to dislodge Islamist militants from the Red Mosque thus appears to have entered a decisive stage.
The government's new claims could have some merit, thus warranting an examination of the facts associated with the operation. The Pakistanis, fearing possible public backlash in an already charged political atmosphere, have until now avoided taking the facility by force. Nonetheless, the government has brought in some of its best security units to flush the militants from the mosque. These include the army's 111th Brigade, its Special Services Group (SSG) commando force, the ninth wing of the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force and the elite anti-terrorism squad of the Punjab police.
Despite being up against some 12,000 well-trained, professional and heavily armed security personnel, the militants inside the Red Mosque have managed to hold their ground. They have managed to survive several days of intense bombardment in the form of shelling and gunfire. Moreover, they managed to kill a commander of the SSG (a lieutenant colonel) during one operation late July 6.
All of this does not appear to be the work of mere seminary students who are followers of the rogue mullahs running the Red Mosque, perhaps boasting only a little experience handling an AK-47. Radical seminary students do not possess the skills to strategize against -- let alone hold off -- a superior force. Holding out in the face of insurmountable odds demands a certain level of nerve as well.
The leaders of the resistance in the mosque probably are battle-hardened jihadists, not a mere ragtag band of seminarian zealots, which raises a number of questions. How did these elements establish themselves in a major mosque in the South Asian country's capital, just a few miles from the city's diplomatic enclave, key government institutions and -- above all -- the headquarters of the country's premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate? How did the fighters procure the weapons and other supplies needed to sustain such a standoff without setting off alarms? Why are the militants able to make back-channel contacts with some key top officials even after the government has made it clear the fighters must surrender unconditionally?
The answers to such questions are not readily available, but the questions themselves bolster claims that the Pakistani state, especially its military and intelligence agencies, has been significantly infiltrated by jihadist elements. This has directly resulted from the army's past practice of employing Islamist militant actors to pursue its domestic and foreign policy objectives.
Pakistani media reported July 7 that a close relative of the mullahs controlling the Red Mosque is the driver for Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, and he was also the driver for the minister's two predecessors. Meanwhile, the bodyguard of the deputy leader is an employee of the National Crisis Management Cell, led by retired Director-General Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema -- who is also the Interior Ministry's spokesman.
Consequently, these militants are not just challenging the writ of the state; they enjoy a significant number of sympathizers within both the government and wider society. The military leadership led by Musharraf might have embarked upon a strategic shift as far as the role of Islam in state and society is concerned, but clearly a large number of people both inside and outside the government do not subscribe to his philosophy of "enlightened moderation."
Though radical Islamist forces constitute a minority, they constitute a significant one. And while the vast majority of Pakistanis do not support jihadists, they do not necessarily support Musharraf's agenda either. Overall, Pakistan lacks a national consensus regarding Islam's role in public affairs, something extremist and radical forces are exploiting.
Therefore, the Red Mosque operation does not amount to a one-off event. Rather, it is likely the beginning of a long confrontation between the state and radical/militant Islamist forces. Such a clash will involve military operations in areas such as the North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as well as nationwide social unrest.
As War enters classrooms,
Reply #81 on:
July 10, 2007, 06:45:54 AM »
QALAI SAYEDAN, Afghanistan, July 9 — With their teacher absent, 10 students were allowed to leave school early. These were the girls the gunmen saw first, 10 easy targets walking hand-in-hand through the blue metal gate and on to the winding dirt road.
The stataccato of machine-gun fire pelted through the stillness. A 13-year-old named Shukria was hit in the arm and the back, and then teetered into the soft brown of an adjacent wheat field. Zarmina, her 12-year-old sister, ran to her side, listening to the wounded girl’s precious breath and trying to help her stand.
But Shukria was too heavy to lift, and the two gunmen, sitting astride a single motorbike, sped closer.
As Zarmina scurried away, the men took a more studied aim at those they already had shot, killing Shukria with bullets to her stomach and heart. Then the attackers seemed to succumb to the frenzy they had begun, forsaking the motorbike and fleeing on foot in a panic, two bobbing heads — one tucked into a helmet, the other swaddled by a handkerchief — vanishing amid the earthen color of the wheat.
Six students were shot here on the afternoon of June 12, two of them fatally. The Qalai Sayedan School — considered among the very best in the central Afghan province of Logar — reopened only last weekend, but even with Kalashnikov-toting guards at the gate, only a quarter of the 1,600 students have dared to return.
Shootings, beheadings, burnings and bombings: these are all tools of intimidation used by the Taliban and others to shut down hundreds of Afghanistan’s public schools. To take aim at education is to make war on the government.
Parents are left with peculiar choices. “It is better for my children to be alive even if it means they must be illiterate,” said Sayed Rasul, a father who had decided to keep his two daughters at home for a day.
Afghanistan surely has made some progress toward development, but most often the nation seems astride some pitiable rocking horse, with each lurch forward inevitably reversed by the backward spring of harsh reality.
The schools are one vivid example. The Ministry of Education claims that 6.2 million children are now enrolled, or about half the school-age population. And while statistics in Afghanistan can be unreliably confected, there is no doubt that attendance has multiplied far beyond that of any earlier time, with uniformed children now teeming through the streets each day, flooding classrooms in two and three shifts.
A third of these students are girls, a marvel itself. Historically, girls’ education has been undervalued in Afghan culture. Girls and women were forbidden from school altogether during the Taliban rule.
But after 30 years of war, this is a country without normal times to reclaim; in so many ways, Afghanistan must start from scratch. The accelerating demand for education is mocked by the limited supply. More than half the schools have no buildings, according to the Ministry of Education; classes are commonly held in tents or beneath trees or in the brutal, sun-soaked openness.
Only 20 percent of the teachers are even minimally qualified. Texts are outdated; hundreds of titles need to be written, and millions of books need to be printed. And then there is the violence. In the southern provinces where the Taliban are most aggressively combating American and NATO troops, education has virtually come to a halt in large swaths of the contested regions. In other areas, attacks against schools are sporadic, unpredictable and perplexing.
By the ministry’s estimate, there have been 444 attacks since last August. Some of these were simple thefts. Some were instances of tents put to the torch. Some were audacious murders under the noon sun.
“By attacking schools, the terrorists want to make the point of their own existence,” said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the minister of education.
Western-educated and notably energetic, Mr. Atmar is the nation’s fifth education minister in five and a half years, but only the first to command the solid enthusiasm of international donors. Much of the government is awash in corruption and cronyism. But Mr. Atmar comes to the job after a much-praised showing as the minister of rural redevelopment.
He has laid out an ambitious five-year plan for school construction, teacher training and a modernized curriculum. He is also championing a parallel track of madrasas, or religious schools; students would focus on Islamic studies while also pursuing science, math and the arts. “This society needs faith-based education, and we will be happy to provide it without teaching violence and the abuse of human rights,” Mr. Atmar said.
(Page 2 of 2)
To succeed, the minister must prove a magnet for foreign cash. And donors have not been unusually generous when it comes to schools. Since the fall of the Taliban, the United States Agency for International Development has devoted only 5 percent of its Afghanistan budget to education, compared with 30 percent for roads and 14 percent for power.
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Afghanistan School Attacks
Virtually every Afghan school is a sketchbook of extraordinary destitution. “I have 68 girls sitting in this tent,” said Nafisa Wardak, a first-grade teacher at the Deh Araban Qaragha School in Kabul. “We’re hot. The tent is full of flies. The wind blows sand and garbage everywhere. If a child gets sick, where can I send her?”
The nation’s overwhelming need for walled classrooms makes the killings in Qalai Sayedan all the more tragic. The school welcomed boys through grade 6 and girls through grade 12. It was terribly overcrowded, with the 1,600 students, attending in two shifts, stuffed into 12 classrooms and a corridor.
But the building itself was exactly that: two stories of concrete with a roof of galvanized steel, and not a collection of weather-molested tents. Two years ago, Qalai Sayedan was named the top school in the province. Its principal, Bibi Gul, was saluted for excellence and rewarded with a trip to America.
But last month’s attack on the school caused parents to wonder if the school’s stalwart reputation had not itself become a source of provocation. Qalai Sayedan is 40 miles south of Kabul, and while a dozen other schools in Logar Province have been attacked, none has been as regularly, or malignly, singled out. Three years ago, Qalai Sayedan was struck by rockets during the night. A year ago, explosives tore off a corner of the building.
In the embassies of the West, and even within the Education Ministry in Kabul, the Taliban are commonly discussed as a monolithic adversary. But to the villagers here, with the lives of their children at risk, it is too simplistic to assume the attacks were merely part of some broad campaign of terror.
People see the government’s enemies as a varied lot with assorted grievances, assorted tribal connections and assorted masters. Villagers ask, has anyone at the school provided great offense? Is the school believed to be un-Islamic?
At the village mosque, many men blame Ms. Gul, the principal. “She should not have gone to America without the consultation of the community,” said Sayed Abdul Sami, the uncle of Saadia, the other slain student. “And she went to America without a mahram, a male relative to accompany her, and this is considered improper in Islam.”
Sayed Enayatullah Hashimi, a white-bearded elder, said the school had flaunted its success too openly. “The governor paid it a visit,” he said disparagingly. “He brought with him 20 bodyguards, and these men went all over the school — even among the older girls.”
Education is the fast track to modernity. And modernity is held with suspicion.
Off the main highway, 100 yards up the winding dirt road and through the blue metal gate, sits the school. It was built four years ago by the German government.
On Monday, Ms. Gul greeted hundreds of children as they fidgeted in the morning light: “Dear boys and brave girls, thank you for coming. The enemy has done its evil deeds, but we will never allow the doors of this school to close again.”
These would be among her final moments as their principal. She had already resigned. “My heart is crying,” she said privately. “But I must leave because of everything that people say. They say I received letters warning about the attacks. But that isn’t so. And people say I am a foreigner because I went to the United States without a mahram. We were 12 people. I’m 42 years old. I don’t need to travel with a mahram.”
In the village, she wears a burqa, enveloped head to toe in lavender fabric. This is a conservative place. For some, the very idea of girls attending school into their teens is a breach of tradition.
Shukria, the slain 13-year-old, was considered a polite girl who reverently studied the Koran. Saadia, the other student killed, was remarkable in that she was married and 25. She had refused to let age discourage her from finishing an education interrupted by the Taliban years. She was about to graduate.
A new sign now sits atop the steel roof. The Qalai Sayedan School has been renamed the Martyred Saadia School. Another place will be called Martyred Shukria.
For three days now, students have been asked to return to class. Each morning, more of them appear. Older girls and women are quite clearly the most reluctant to return.
Shukria’s home is only a short walk from the school. Nafiza, the girl’s mother, was still too scalded with grief to mutter more than a few words. Shukria’s uncle, Shir Agha, took on the role of family spokesman.
“We have a saying that if you go to school, you can find yourself, and if you can find yourself, you can find God,” he said proudly. “But for a child to attend school, there must be security. Who supplies that security?”
Zarmina, the 12-year-old who had seen her sister killed, was called into the room. She was not ready to return to school, she said. Even the sound of a motorbike now made her hide. But surely the fear would subside, her uncle reassured her. She must remember that she loves school, that she loves to read, that she loves to scribble words on paper.
Someday, she would surely resume her studies, he told her.
But the heartbroken girl could not yet imagine this. “Never,” she said.
Reply #82 on:
July 13, 2007, 06:57:03 AM »
Pakistan: Al Qaeda After the Red Mosque
The Red Mosque operation in Pakistan has created both a major opportunity and a serious challenge for al Qaeda prime. The standoff, which ended bloodily, has generated a significant degree of resentment among many Pakistanis, something al Qaeda can be expected to exploit. But the post-Red Mosque operation atmosphere also represents a major security threat to al Qaeda's apex leadership -- which is hiding out in northwestern Pakistan -- explaining the remarks from al Qaeda's No. 2 in his latest communique.
Deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's most recent taped message, which addresses the Red Mosque standoff in Pakistan's capital, contains very telling insights about the situation facing the apex leadership of the transnational jihadist organization, despite being issued before Pakistani security forces overran the mosque/madrassa complex. Now that the mosque operation has ended, having whipped up a great degree of anti-government sentiment, al-Zawahiri can be expected to release a follow-up tape to try to exploit the situation. But even in this initial tape, which was made some time after Red Mosque cult leader Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested while trying to escape from the facility wearing female robes, al-Zawahiri demonstrates an awareness of the threat to al Qaeda that lies ahead.
As far back as June 2005, we identified that al Qaeda's clandestine global headquarters had relocated to the area comprising the districts of Dir, Malakand and Swat in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) following the ouster of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan. Being based in Pakistan meant al Qaeda could not go too far in staging attacks in country for fear of attracting unwanted attention. It therefore tried to ensure that jihadist activity in the country did not become a security liability for the apex leadership.
Clearly, a great deal of militant activity within Pakistan is not commissioned by al-Zawahiri, but rather is the handiwork of domestic jihadist actors. Despite several attacks against Western and Pakistani government targets since Islamabad joined the U.S. war against jihadism, the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf refrained from engaging in major action against the Islamist militancy. The Red Mosque crisis, however, forced the Pakistanis to change their attitude. Not only did the government decided to engage in an unprecedented assault against a mosque, but in a July 12 address to the nation Musharraf also announced plans to go after militant groups all over the NWFP and the adjacent tribal badlands.
We forecasted this move, predicting it could prove devastating for al Qaeda prime. Al-Zawahiri is well aware of the potential for such an outcome, which explains his remarks urging Pakistanis to focus on jihadist activity in Afghanistan as opposed to the situation in Pakistan -- which, from al Qaeda's point of view, is hopeless. Al-Zawahiri said, "Muslims of Pakistan ... you must now back the mujahideen in Afghanistan with your persons, wealth, opinion and expertise, because the jihad in Afghanistan is the door to salvation for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the rest of the region. Die honorably in the fields of jihad."
The call to focus on Afghanistan makes sense given the strategic and tactical situation al Qaeda faces. Pakistan has thus far provided the leadership sanctuary, but at the cost of significantly diminishing al Qaeda's operational capability. Furthermore, despite the significant radical Islamist presence within Pakistan, the country poses significant structural impediments to al Qaeda's objectives.
What al Qaeda really needs is the anarchy Afghanistan offers, presenting conditions conducive not only to the group's survival but also to a revival of its operational capabilities. Al Qaeda calculates that, given U.S. problems in Iraq and the disarray among NATO member states, the United States eventually will force the West yet again to abandon Afghanistan. The jihadists would then be able to use Afghanistan again for their purposes. The West is not going to leave Afghanistan anytime soon, but al Qaeda prime, which faces only bad options, will pursue the best one.
Although al Qaeda would love to exploit the anti-government sentiments that have arisen among Pakistanis in the wake of the storming of the Red Mosque, the group probably is bracing for what Stratfor has identified as the beginning of a long-term struggle between the Pakistani state and the jihadist Frankenstein it created over an extended period. While the struggle against the jihadists will be a long engagement, the founders of al Qaeda could get caught in the cross-fire between Islamabad and its former proxies in the not-too-distant future.
NYT: Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Regions raises concerns
Reply #83 on:
July 16, 2007, 08:38:32 AM »
GHALANAI, Pakistan — The United States plans to pour $750 million of aid into Pakistan’s tribal areas over the next five years as part of a “hearts and minds” campaign to win over this lawless region from Qaeda and Taliban militants.
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Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 49 in North Pakistan (July 16, 2007)
But even before the plan has been fully carried out, documents and officials involved in the planning are warning of the dangers of distributing so much money in an area so hostile that oversight is impossible, even by Pakistan’s own government, which faces rising threats from Islamic militants.
Who will be given the aid has quickly become one of the most contentious questions between local officials and American planners concerned that millions might fall into the wrong hands. The local political agents and tribal chiefs in this hinterland on the Afghan border have for years accommodated the very groups the American and Pakistani governments seek to drive out.
A closely scripted visit to the hospital here, used for a pilot project by the United States Agency for International Development, showed the challenges on full display. The one-story hospital here was virtually empty on a recent day.
Local people had no way to get there. Three of the 110 beds were occupied. Two operating tables had not been used in months. Many doctors had left because the pay was too meager and security too precarious, said Dr. Yusuf Shah, the chief surgeon.
Sher Alam Mahsud, the local political boss who escorted this reporter on a rare visit, said he wanted all the American aid money “delivered to us.” But the precarious security does not allow the Americans to assess the aid priorities firsthand, or to provide oversight for the first installment of $150 million allocated by the Bush administration.
“Delivering $150 million in aid to the tribal areas could very quickly make a few people rich and do almost nothing to provide opportunity and justice to the region,” said Craig Cohen, the author of a recent study of United States-Pakistan relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Yet it is here in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, as the region is formally called, that Washington is intent on using the development aid as a counterinsurgency tool, according to a draft of the Agency for International Development plan given to The New York Times by an official who worked on it.
The draft warns that the “severe governance deficiencies” in the tribal areas will make it virtually impossible for the aid to be sustainable or to overcome the “area’s chronic underdevelopment and consequent volatility.”
The ambitious plan was publicly highlighted during a visit to Pakistan in June by Richard A. Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, as a measure of Washington’s support for Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
“The objective driving this decision is the hope that by bringing the FATA into the mainstream and assuring that basic human services and infrastructure are on par with the rest of Pakistan, the people of FATA would be less likely to welcome the presence of Al Qaeda and Taliban,” the draft states. The projects include health and education services, water and sanitation facilities, and agricultural development, it says, making clear that these are a means to a broader end. “The main goal of the United States government in relation to the FATA is counterterrorism,” it says.
One way to improve the chances of the aid’s efficacy would be greater emphasis on political reform in the tribal areas, according to the draft. The Pakistani government has created a panel to study reform of the political structure in the areas, the draft noted, adding that “Usaid should explore opportunities for contributing its substantial experience in local government capacity building to any reform efforts the government of Pakistan decide to undertake.”
Even if the tribal areas were not under the sway of the Taliban, which they increasingly are, the development challenge here would be steep enough, the document and interviews make clear.
The area, home to 3.2 million people, remains a desolate landscape where women are strictly veiled. Female literacy — at 3 percent — is among the lowest in the world. Schools are often used to run businesses. There is no banking system. Smuggling of opium and other contraband is routine.
The hostility to almost anything that smacks of foreign influence is such that money from the modest development agency program, administered by the charity Save the Children at the hospital here, was being delivered anonymously, undercutting any potential public relations benefit for the United States.
“We can’t do branding,” said Fayyaz Ali Khan, the program manager for Save the Children, in an interview in the city of Peshawar. “Usually we say the aid comes from the American people, but here we can’t.”
Suspicions about modern medicine are rife. A Pakistani doctor was blown up in his car in June after trying to counter the anti-vaccine propaganda of an imam in Bajaur, one of the tribal agencies, Pakistani officials said.
The Pakistani government has virtually no authority here. After years of fighting to assert its authority, at the cost of about 600 soldiers, it negotiated peace accords with tribal authorities that have all but confined Pakistani troops to their barracks.
Published: July 16, 2007
(Page 2 of 2)
Tribal elders, local imams and governors known as political agents — their title goes back to the British colonial days — are the on-the-ground arbiters of all decisions in many districts. The political agents are widely considered corrupt.
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Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 49 in North Pakistan (July 16, 2007) A senior American official in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, who would not speak for attribution, defended the plan’s goals as necessary and achievable. The official said that “Pakistani firms, consulting organizations and nongovernmental organizations” would be the main deliverers of the assistance.
The official said, referring to the international aid agency, that these would in turn be “managed under Usaid direct contracts and grants to American and international organizations.”
Mr. Cohen, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was skeptical. Almost every potential recipient of the money was suspect in the eyes of the people it was supposed to help, he said. “The notion that there’s going to be $150 million a year to Pakistani nongovernmental organizations who are going to be out in the open seems naïve to me,” he said.
“The insecurity of the area will require a heavy reliance on local partners” like Pakistani nongovernmental organizations to administer projects, he added. “But the nongovernmental organizations don’t trust the military, the military doesn’t trust the tribal chiefs, and the tribal chiefs won’t trust us unless they’re getting a cut of the money.”
Such Pakistani groups were often targets of the Islamic militants in the tribal areas. The militants are increasingly destroying CD shops and attacking small efforts to gain advantages for women.
Mr. Mahsud, the political agent for the tribal agency, or district, of Mohmand, where the hospital is, had his own ideas. Any aid money from Western donors should be “pooled here,” he said, during an interview at the FATA secretariat headquarters in Peshawar, meaning it should be distributed through local officials.
His power was evident when he drove in his impressive new four-wheel-drive vehicle through the heavy metal black gates that mark the boundary to his tribal agency. Armed men in heavy gray uniforms, wearing black felt berets in the summer heat, snapped to attention.
The hospital itself was barren, and silent. Dr. Shah, the chief surgeon, and other doctors who had come to the hospital for the visit of an outsider, said water was a luxury trucked in by tanker, arriving at best every other day.
One doctor, Aaquila Khan, brimmed with passion about helping the poor and feeble women who came to visit the woefully underequipped hospital, but she lives in Peshawar, more than an hour’s drive away, and so comes in just two or three days a week, mornings only, to treat those female patients.
“They are very much anemic,” she said of eight women she treated during a recent visit. “They are not educated, they are not aware of family planning, they have no money.” Only the women living within walking distance could come, she said.
The aid program run by Save the Children, a small $11 million starter project that hints at the bigger things planned by the Americans, formally began last December with a signing of a memorandum of understanding with the tribal authorities.
The idea is for Pakistani doctors to train health care workers who will go into the field and train traditional health assistants on more modern methods.
But the first training sessions have only just begun, said Mr. Khan, the program manager for Save the Children. The only sign of the program was a “resource room” with a large blond wood table and a dozen or so chairs still in their plastic wrapping.
The training sessions take place in Peshawar, over the tribal boundary, to ensure the safety of the doctors.
Reply #84 on:
July 20, 2007, 02:27:25 AM »
From the Los Angeles Times
Al Qaeda said to operate across Pakistan
By Josh Meyer
Times Staff Writer
8:10 PM PDT, July 19, 2007
WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda has strongholds throughout Pakistan, not just in the areas bordering Afghanistan that were emphasized in a terrorism assessment this week, according to U.S. intelligence officials and counter-terrorism experts who say Osama bin Laden's network is more deeply entrenched than described.
The National Intelligence Estimate on the Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland, which reflects the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, described Al Qaeda as having "regenerated key elements" and freely operating from bases in northwestern Pakistan. But several officials and outside experts interviewed since the document's release this week say the situation is more problematic.
These analysts said the Bush administration was blaming Al Qaeda's resurgence too narrowly on an agreement that the Pakistani government struck in September with tribal leaders in the country's northwest territories.
In recent years, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials focused on South Asia say they have watched with growing concern as Al Qaeda has moved men, money and recruiting and training operations into Pakistani cities such as Quetta and Karachi as well as less populated areas.
Militant Islamists are still a minority in Pakistan — commanding allegiance of a little more than 10% of the population, judging by election results. But Al Qaeda has been able to widen its sway throughout the country by strengthening long-standing alliances with fundamentalist religious groups, charities, criminal gangs, elements of the government security forces and even some political officials, these officials said.
Bin Laden's network also has strengthened ties to groups fighting for control of Kashmir, most of which is held by India, a broadly popular cause throughout Pakistan that has the backing of the government and military.
"It is a much bigger problem than just saying it is a bunch of tribal Islamists in the fringe areas," said Bruce Riedel, a South Asia expert who served at the CIA, National Security Council and Pentagon and retired last year after 30 years of counter-terrorism and policy-making experience.
Riedel disagreed, in particular, with the administration's effort to blame Al Qaeda's resurgence primarily on the September peace agreement. Under the terms of that truce, Pakistan pulled its troops out of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in North Waziristan in exchange for promises by tribal leaders that militants affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Taliban would not engage in violent activity, in Pakistan or across the border in Afghanistan.
The peace accord has been roundly criticized as having backfired, with Taliban attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan soaring, and Al Qaeda activity in the tribal areas growing noticeably, according to top U.S. military and intelligence officials.
The Pakistani government has limited authority in the largely autonomous tribal areas, and has had little success in attacking Al Qaeda there, but it also has refused to allow U.S. forces to go in.
Reidel and others who share his view said the intelligence estimate put too much emphasis on the September agreement. "By putting it all in the [tribal region] we are trying to downplay this, saying it is all a problem of one cease-fire agreement that was a bad idea, when in fact Al Qaeda has spread throughout Pakistan," said Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
One U.S. counter-terrorism official confirmed Riedel's assessment that Al Qaeda's influence extended far beyond the tribal areas, but said those areas had become more important to the group in recent years because of increased pressure by Pakistani authorities in urban centers.
"As pressure increased in the urban areas, you look for a more permissive environment, and the tribal areas are thought to have provided that. You tend to go to where your opponent isn't," the counter-terrorism official said in reference to Al Qaeda. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he was not allowed to discuss counter-terrorism operations on the record, especially regarding the sensitive but fragile U.S. alliance with Pakistan.
But, the official, said Al Qaeda's presence in the rest of Pakistan remains a problem. "Nobody is looking at one to the absolute exclusion of the other," the official said. "This is not a one-dimensional problem."
The signs of Al Qaeda's spread across Pakistan have been apparent for years. The 15 so-called muscle hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks trained at an Al Qaeda hide-out in the southern port city of Karachi, according to the 9/11 Commission report.
Husain Haqqani, a former advisor to several Pakistani prime ministers, said that before the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda had hide-outs and logistical bases throughout Pakistan from where it moved foreign fighters into and out of Afghanistan.
"Once their headquarters in Afghanistan was shattered, they turned to making their logistical bases in Pakistan into operational bases," said Haqqani, director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University and the author of "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military."
"Look at the arrests of Al Qaeda in recent years," he said. "They have been all over the country. People there were providing them with guidance and help."
Top Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubeida was captured in Faisalabad in 2002 and reputed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who also had close ties to Karachi, was caught in 2003 in the city of Rawalpindi, headquarters of Pakistan's military. Mohammed's replacement, Abu Faraj Libbi, was arrested in 2005, in Mardan, about 75 miles northwest of Islamabad, the capital.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Al Qaeda's presence throughout Pakistan has enabled it to recruit and train operatives, raise significant sums of money, and to film and disseminate high-quality propaganda videos through its Al Sahab multimedia arm.
Al Qaeda's No. 2 and chief propagandist Ayman Zawahiri has released numerous tapes in recent months, each of them issued with increasing speed after a significant event. After Pakistani troops stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad, killing and captured Islamist militants, Zawahiri's professional-looking video was coursing through cyberspace in a matter of days.
"When you look at the quality of these propaganda tapes, they are not being produced in some primitive area but where you can get access to news media on a regular basis," Riedel said.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday in response to the U.S. intelligence paper, strongly protesting the conclusion that the government had allowed Al Qaeda a haven in the tribal areas.
"It does not help simply to make assertions about the presence or regeneration of Al Qaeda in bordering areas of Pakistan," the statement read. "What is needed is concrete and actionable information and intelligence sharing."
The Foreign Ministry statement added that Pakistan was determined not to allow Al Qaeda or any other terrorist entity to establish a base on its territory, but in an apparent reference to the U.S.. said no foreign security forces would be allowed to pursue militants in Pakistan.
Last week during testimony to Congress on global threats, Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of National Intelligence for analysis, cautioned against an overly aggressive effort to crush Al Qaeda in the tribal areas.
"Part of the dilemma ... here is the risk of taking actions in the less-well-governed areas of Pakistan, the federally administrated tribal areas ... that could lead to developments in all of Pakistan, that would increase the problem," Fingar told the House Armed Services Committee.
"There are an awful lot of potential recruits that are being engaged in the struggle in Kashmir that are held in check by the security forces in the rest of Pakistan. So it is not too great an exaggeration to say there is some risk of turning a problem in northwest Pakistan into the problem of all of Pakistan."
Excrement heading towards the fan
Reply #85 on:
July 20, 2007, 07:22:36 AM »
Interesting piece GM.
Here's this from Stratfor:
Geopolitical Diary: Pakistan on the Table, Germany on the Rise
Frances Townsend, Homeland Security adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, said on Thursday that the United States would be willing to send troops into Pakistan to root out al Qaeda, noting specifically that "no option is off the table if that is what is required." Just in case Islamabad -- or al Qaeda -- missed Townsend's statement, White House spokesman Tony Snow paraphrased it shortly afterward.
While the statements are hardly a declaration of war, one can be positive that Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is going to need a nightcap to get to sleep. It is not every day that the global superpower ruminates that invading your country is an option "not off the table."
Townsend and Snow are hinting at an operation that has been six years in the making. There never really has been any doubt that al Qaeda sought refuge in northwest Pakistan after fleeing the United States' November 2001 assault on Afghanistan. But the absolute necessity of maintaining Pakistan as an ally has stayed Washington's hand (aside from nearly continuous small-scale border raids against targets of opportunity). Rooting out al Qaeda from the tribes that shield it would require a thousands-strong force, ideally with Pakistani cooperation. Until now, the dominant belief in Washington has been that such an operation would lead to a Pakistani rebellion and the consequent overthrow of the Musharraf government. Ergo, the attack has not happened.
But now two things have changed. First, Islamic radicals of the Red Mosque -- whom Pakistani security forces raided July 12 -- have tripped public anger. Out of a mixture of necessity and opportunism, Musharraf is now moving in force against Pakistani's long-ignored jihadist circles.
Until now, the jihadists have been quiet in Pakistan because that is where they recruit, train and fundraise. Now that the state is closing in on them, the suicide bombs have started going off in earnest, with more than 50 dead just on Thursday and more than 200 since the wave of explosions began. The conflict is going to be a bloody one no matter how it goes -- not only does Musharraf need to battle a desperate, experienced force with few places to retreat to, but many within his intelligence services actually are pro-jihadist. The purge and the fighting could well happen simultaneously.
The second big change is that Washington is becoming convinced Musharraf is on his last legs -- and that if his government is going to implode anyway, the United States might as well go in and get al Qaeda. From Washington's viewpoint, if statements alone are sufficient to get the good general to dispose of the jihadists on his own, fanbloodytastic. If not, then the United States has thousands of troops just across the border in Afghanistan available for the job.
Not that this would be easy, of course. As Snow noted, "You don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations," and this is more than just an issue of politeness. NATO's Afghan operation, as it is now, would be flatly impossible without the supply lines that snake through Pakistan. And if the United States had reliable intelligence as to exactly where al Qaeda's apex leadership was, a grossly excessive tonnage of GPS-guided ordnance would have been dropped on that location ages ago. That means the United States would have to go in with ground forces, and go in big -- and immediately upon arrival, they would be hit from all sides: the Afghan Taliban, and the Pakistani jihadists, the Pakistani public, and even the military.
1145 GMT -- AFGHANISTAN -- Taliban insurgents kidnapped 23 South Korean Christian volunteers from a bus traveling from the Afghan capital of Kabul to Kandahar late July 19, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said July 20. The incident happened in Ghazni province, 110 miles south of Kabul. A Taliban spokesman said the group kidnapped only 18 South Koreans, though he did not outline the group's demands. Two Germans were abducted in Afghanistan on July 18 and the Taliban demanded the pullout of German forces.
1127 -- PAKISTAN -- Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled July 20 that the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was illegal, GEO television reported. The 13-member court ruled 10-3 against the suspension. Chaudhry, who was suspended March 9, is to be reinstated. The government had accused him of obtaining a series of promotions for his son and of assembling a fleet of cars and demanding the use of planes he was not entitled to. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf announced plans to chair a high-level emergency meeting to discuss the growing jihadist violence in the country and the court's decision.
Reply #86 on:
July 21, 2007, 08:19:23 AM »
Afghanistan: A Possible Move by a Political Survivor
Reuters, citing Afghan television, reported July 19 that Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Afghan insurgent group Hizb-i-Islami, has issued a signed statement saying his group will cease fighting U.S., NATO and Afghan government forces, and that it will resume political activities. If the statement is true -- and not one invented by the Afghan government and foreign agents, as a purported spokesman for Hekmatyar later claimed -- it indicates Hekmatyar is changing sides -- again. Given the beating his Taliban and al Qaeda allies have been taking at the hands of U.S. and NATO forces, Hekmatyar could be trying to cut his losses and maneuver himself into a more advantageous position on Afghanistan's political scene.
It does seem unusual for Hekmatyar to announce a major shift in his strategy and allegiance in a written statement. In May 2006, when he declared his allegiance to the Taliban and al Qaeda, he did so in a videotaped message. Furthermore, Hekmatyar's latest position seems out of context given his recent condemnation of the United States and its allies. On July 12, via a purported spokesman, he strongly condemned the storming of Islamabad's Red Mosque by Pakistani security forces, calling it part of a "crusader war" against Muslims by U.S. President George W. Bush and his allies. Hekmatyar, a northerner from Kunduz province, also called for a revolt against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Furthermore, rumors of changing alliances are often floated by both sides in Afghanistan in an effort to keep each other off balance. These factors, however, do not necessarily mean that Hekmatyar's cease-fire statement is bogus. He rarely appears in public or issues statements using the Internet or other media. In addition, as a Sunni militant leader, Hekmatyar would have to have gone on record as condemning the Red Mosque siege in order to maintain his credentials and legitimacy.
In recent months, the Taliban and their allies have been unable to dictate the tempo of combat in Afghanistan as they did in 2006, when NATO troops new to the country took over from more experienced U.S. units. Since then, NATO -- particularly the Britons and Canadians in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces -- has had more success at preventing insurgent attacks and destroying large Taliban formations. In response to this, the Taliban and their allies have been adopting tactics such as suicide bombings and assassination attempts, rather than traditional Afghan methods of fighting.
Hekmatyar has always been a survivor. He has been a military and political figure in Afghanistan since before the 1979 Soviet invasion, which is no small achievement. Shifting allegiances has been one of his main methods of staying alive in the region's tumultuous political and militant environment. Over the years, he has sought refuge in Pakistan and Iran when various Afghan governments have hunted him. He also has been a CIA asset, has fought with and then against Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud before the Taliban came to power, and has fought against the Taliban. Before this latest statement, his most recent shift in allegiance occurred when the Taliban and al Qaeda were increasing attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghan forces, and Hekmatyar was trying to take advantage of the situation. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been trying to reach out to the various insurgent factions in Afghanistan in an effort to divide them. Indeed, Hekmatyar apparently has been considering ending his alliance with the Taliban for some time.
Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami group, which operates on the Afghan-Pakistani border, is a minor player among Afghan militias and militant groups. Over the years, it has lost many leaders and members as a result of combat, shifting alliances and desertions. For Hekmatyar to remain a viable player among Afghanistan's factions, he has to use his political -- rather than his military -- weight.
If Hekmatyar believes the insurgency is going badly at the moment, it would not be surprising to see him try to better position himself on the Afghan political scene -- and declaring a cease-fire would be one way to go about it. In doing so, Hekmatyar would be giving Karzai little, since his group is not a major player. Given Karzai's beleaguered position, however, any apparent defection from the insurgency is a welcome development.
For an insurgency like the Taliban's to win, it just has to survive. The current military situation in Afghanistan is certainly subject to change, and could be altered by a single dramatic event. However, to survive for as long as he has in Afghan politics, Hekmatyar has to think and move in the short term, rather than the long term.
Reply #87 on:
July 21, 2007, 06:41:09 PM »
'Action in tribal areas can split Pak army'
21 Jul, 2007 l 0945 hrs ISTlPTI
NEW YORK: A strong action in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan by beleaguered Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf could lead to a spilt in the army, a media report said on Saturday.
Detailing a multitude of troubles that Musharraf faces at home, Time magazine quoting a former head of the powerful intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence said many foreign observers believe that his days are numbered as leader of Pakistan, raising the issue of who could possibly replace America's primary ally in the war against terror in this critical region.
The Pakistan President has come under strong criticism from the United States for his policy of non-engagement in the tribal areas which is now considered a complete failure.
Washington is demanding that Musharraf do more to rein in terrorists, extremists and religious fundamentalists. But in an interview with the magazine, Hamid Gul, former head of ISI, has warned that if Musharraf does take both gloves off in tribal areas, it would just increase the likelihood of a split in army.
"The officer cadres are liberal, secular, they come from the elite classes. But the rank and file of the army were never secular, they were always religious," Gul said.
"If there is a face-off between the army and people, the leadership may lose control of the army. The army does not feel happy. They are from the same streets, the same villages, the same bazaars of the lower and middle classes, and they want the same thing (Islamic law) for their country."
The increasing suicide attacks in Pakistan in the wake of storming of Lal Masjid by army in which a large number of militants were killed have brought some relief to Afghanistan.
Time reported that the spate of suicide bombings in Pakistan seems to have cooled the immediate sense of crisis in Afghanistan.
Word on the streets of Kabul is that the suicide bombers from Pakistan's tribal areas who until recently headed west into Afghanistan to train Afghan militants or carry out attacks themselves are now heading east into the cities of Pakistan, where they have new motives and better targets to attack, it added.
"Normally the Pakistanis come to Afghanistan, but now they are busier in Pakistan," Waheed Muzhda, an Afghan political analyst who worked for the foreign ministry during the Taliban regime, is quoted by Time as saying.
"The media is also focusing on Pakistan's violence. That is why everyone thinks the violence has been reduced here."
Talking about jubilations following reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Time has said the decision is a major blow for Musharraf who is facing increased resistance to his rule, new pressure from Washington to crackdown on militants and a wave of suicide bombings in the country.
Reply #88 on:
July 21, 2007, 09:41:42 PM »
Al Qaeda: Internal Power Struggle Looms
By Sami Yousafzai And Ron Moreau
July 30, 2007 issue - Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf's moment of triumph was brief. Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque—a complex in the heart of the normally sleepy capital of Islamabad that had been occupied by extremists—the retaliations began. Early last week Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants launched suicide attacks against several Pakistani military convoys. Another bomber walked into a police recruiting center, killing 29 in a single gory blast. The next day militants launched a classic guerrilla ambush using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades that killed 14 Pakistani soldiers traveling in a convoy. The attacks demonstrated a shocking degree of organization and speed—not to mention strategic cunning. After former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto publicly backed Musharraf's counter terror operation against the Red Mosque, yet another suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a group waiting to attend a rally of her Pakistan Peoples Party in Islamabad. At least 13 people died in that incident, bringing the week's toll to more than 150 killed in retaliatory attacks since the Red Mosque was raided.
Who was the shadowy general behind the wave of violence? Pakistani and Taliban officials interviewed recently by NEWSWEEK say it was none other than Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the Qaeda No. 2 who has also been appearing in a recent flurry of audio- and videotapes. While Osama bin Laden has been keeping a low profile—he may be ill, U.S. intel officials say—Zawahiri has moved aggressively to take operational control of the group. In so doing, Zawahiri has provoked a potentially serious ideological split within Al Qaeda over whether he is growing too powerful, and has become obsessed with toppling Musharraf, according to two jihadists interviewed by NEWSWEEK last week.
After years in which Zawahiri seemed constantly on the run, his alleged orchestration of last week's attacks would be further evidence that Qaeda and Taliban forces are newly empowered and have consolidated control of a safe haven along the Pakistani border. A new National Intelligence Estimate out of Washington last week also concludes that Al Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan—and more centrally organized than it has been at any time since 9/11. The NIE—a periodic intel assessment that is considered the most authoritative issued by the U.S. government—concluded Al Qaeda has "regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States. These include a sanctuary in Pakistan's tribal regions of North Waziristan and Bajaur, and an intact hierarchy of top leadership and operational lieutenants.
The anti-Zawahiri faction in Al Qaeda fears his actions may be jeopardizing that safe haven, according to the two jihadists interviewed by NEWSWEEK. Both have proved reliable in the past: they are Omar Farooqi, the nom de guerre for a veteran Taliban fighter and chief liaison officer between insurgent forces in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, and Hemat Khan, a Taliban operative with links to Al Qaeda. They say Zawahiri's personal jihad has angered Al Qaeda's so-called Libyan faction, which intel officials believe may be led by the charismatic Abu Yahya al-Libi, who made a daring escape from an American high-security lockup at Baghram air base in 2005. The Libyan Islamists, along with bin Laden and other senior Qaeda leaders, would love to see Musharraf gone, too. But they fear that Zawahiri is inviting the Pakistani leader's wrath, prematurely opening up another battlefront before the jihadists have properly consolidated their position.
Pakistani intelligence officials believe Zawahiri was behind two attempts to kill Musharraf that failed in December 2003. Since then, Zawahiri has been on an almost personal crusade to assassinate or overthrow the Pakistani leader. In his latest video, which is among at least 10 audio and video spots he has released this year, and which was produced and put on a jihadist Web site in record time, Zawahiri condemned the Red Mosque raid and urged Pakistani Muslims to "revolt," or else "Musharraf will annihilate you." (The mosque apparently served as a safe house for foreign and jihadist militants moving between urban areas and the tribal agencies until Pakistani security forces stormed it on July 10, killing about 70 militants and students holed up inside.)
The Egyptian-born Zawahiri is nominal leader of the Egyptian faction, the Jamaat al-Jihad, which he united with Al Qaeda in the 1990s. It is larger and contains more senior people than the Libyan group. Both jihadist sources who spoke to NEWSWEEK say there is now what Khan calls "a clear divide" between the two factions. In part, the Libyans seem to be irked by Zawahiri's unchecked ego and self-righteousness. "The Libyans say he's too extremist," says Farooqi, and they resent Zawahiri for appearing to speak for bin Laden. "Libyans tell me that the sheik [bin Laden] has not appointed a successor and that only the U.S. government and the international media talk of Zawahiri as being the deputy," Farooqi says.
A senior U.S. official involved in counterterrorism policy, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was addressing sensitive matters, agrees that there are tensions between Al Qaeda's Egyptian and Libyan factions, as well as between Saudi and Central Asian elements. "These guys are not immune to nationalist tendencies," he says. John Arquilla, an intelligence expert at the Naval Postgraduate School who closely follows radical Islamist traffic, calls it "the battle for Al Qaeda's strategic soul. There is a profound strategic debate over whether to focus on overturning the government in Pakistan ... because that puts them in control of a nuclear capacity."
Bin Laden himself has not personally intervened to end the internal feud, according to the jihadist sources. For security reasons he rarely has face-to-face meetings with his deputies. "He doesn't want to get involved," says Khan. "He's already too busy with strategic planning and inspirational duties and with directing his own security." Instead, bin Laden has tried to resolve the dispute by dividing duties between the two factions and appointing a pair of mediators, these sources say.
The infighting also hasn't prevented Zawahiri and his Qaeda brethren, along with Afghan Taliban and militant Pakistani tribal leaders, from establishing a complex command, control, training and recruitment base largely in Waziristan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. U.S. officials say Al Qaeda has vastly improved its position there since Musharraf signed a controversial peace deal with North Waziristan's Pashtun tribal elders in September 2006, which gave pro-Taliban tribal militants full control of security in the area. Al Qaeda provides funding, training and ideological inspiration, while Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal leaders supply the manpower: both fighters and the growing ranks of suicide bombers. Scattered across the rugged and remote mountains are small training camps and command and communications posts set up in hundreds of mud-brick compounds.
Last week tribal officials, who have become increasingly radicalized, indicated the deal was off. The governor of Afghanistan's Khowst province, Arsala Jamal, told NEWSWEEK that Qaeda and Afghan and Pakistani militants have moved some of their top fighters and commanders from Waziristan into safe areas in Afghanistan in case Pakistani and U.S. forces launch retaliatory raids.
U.S. counterterrorism operatives have been reluctant to cross into Waziristan for fear of violating Pakistani sovereignty and upsetting Musharraf. The general—who has refused demands to relinquish his uniform since taking power in a coup—has faced dramatically rising opposition from both secular and Islamist Pakistanis. On Friday, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled against Musharraf's summary suspension of the nation's top judge—a move that had triggered widespread demonstrations.
But Hank Crumpton, a longtime CIA senior official and former counterterrorism coordinator for the State Department, says U.S. reluctance must be overcome, because Musharraf can't deal with the problem alone. The Pakistani leader sent more than 100,000 troops to the tribal areas last year, but "they lacked the requisite counterinsurgency skills," Crumpton says. And if Musharraf doesn't confront the situation more squarely, he'll face a growing Taliban movement in Pakistan. "There is encroaching Talibanization now outside the tribal areas into Pakistan proper," says Crumpton, a judgment seconded by a confidential report from Pakistan's Interior Ministry, obtained by NEWSWEEK.
U.S. and Pakistani officials hope that Zawahiri overreaches in his zeal to kill Musharraf, and they get an intel break on his whereabouts. Crumpton says the United States needs to lead an effort with anti-Taliban local tribes, some of whom have been targeted by Al Qaeda. "If we are attacked here [in the United States], which we will be, it almost certainly will have originated from that territory. What will we do then?" One hopes that Ayman Al-Zawahiri—and his resurgent Al Qaeda—can be stopped before that happens.
With Michael Hirsh, Jeffrey Bartholet and Mark Hosenball in Washington and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
Reply #89 on:
July 24, 2007, 07:15:43 AM »
Geopolitical Diary: Pakistan Reacts to U.S. Call for Action
U.S. forces on Monday moved a day closer to launching a major military operation into Pakistan -- or more accurately, the Pakistani public and government came to realize that the United States was not kidding when, last week, it broached the topic of launching major operations into Pakistan.
The U.S. government -- and Stratfor -- remain convinced that the apex leaders of al Qaeda, those behind the 9/11 attacks, currently are hiding out in northwest Pakistan. And with the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on the ropes largely due to its own devices, the United States no longer feels the need to go around the issue. The U.S. message is fairly simple: Take care of the problem, or we will.
The message has definitely been received. The topic of a pending U.S. invasion was all the Pakistani press could discuss Monday, and the unfortunate Pakistani foreign ministry spokeswoman who was given the task of addressing the issue stumbled trying to hit that balance between bluster and calm.
U.S. foreign policy has become hopelessly bogged down in all things Iraq of late, with precious little bandwidth left for anything else. So it is no small accomplishment that the United States has finally broken through the noise and gotten the attention of the Pakistani government. After all, Pakistan has enough crises in various states of percolation these days to outfit an entire continent.
A partial -- and by no means conclusive -- list of Pakistani problems includes the legal and political crisis that stems from Musharraf's now unsuccessful attempts to sack the country's chief justice; the debate over Musharraf's position as military chief; Musharraf's controversial re-re-election bid; competing opposition party demands for fresh parliamentary elections; fallout from the Red Mosque protests and raids; the insurgency in Balochistan; the chaos of ethnic politics in Karachi; the split within -- and Islamist-riddled nature of -- the intelligence agencies; the social divide over the very nature of the republic; the rising power of extremists in general; and the identity crisis that comes natural in a country whose name is actually an acronym.
Make no mistake. It is not as if the United States is looking forward to a Pakistan operation. Any such operation would need to secure and segment a large tract of land before additional forces could come in and scour it bit by bit. This would not be a snatch and grab, but a major sweep through a large area. The United States would not be looking for an army, but instead for a handful of individuals that would include Osama bin Laden. That sort of operation would require thousands of troops -- and is not something that could be done quickly and quietly. U.S. forces would swiftly find themselves in direct conflict with local tribes and perhaps even the Pakistani military -- not to mention that any incursion into Pakistan would also energize the Taliban in Afghanistan to attack from behind. And if the Pakistani government did start to totter, Washington would have to make a very uncomfortable decision about what to do about the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Getting out would be even worse. The troops that would be used are all in southeast Afghanistan -- part of an operation that is logistically possible without the go-ahead from Islamabad. So immediately after doing a tour of the wonders of northwest Pakistan, the Defense Department would then need to figure out how to get its people -- and likely the other coalition forces still in Afghanistan -- out of the landlocked South Asian state as well.
Like we said, this is nothing the United States is champing at the bit to do. Actually, the United States would much rather have Pakistan take care of the issue itself. And there is nothing like the threat of invasion to slice through a list of Pakistani problems and seize people's attention.
But seize their attention the United States has done. Now the question will be whether the chaos that is Pakistani politics can solidify for an internal housecleaning that precludes the need for Washington to decide whether this was an ultimatum or a bluff.
The death of Mehsud
Reply #90 on:
July 24, 2007, 10:23:43 PM »
Pakistan: The Implications of a Jihadist Commander's Death
One of the most senior Pakistani Taliban commanders active in the country's tribal belt, Abdullah Mehsud, killed himself July 24 during a raid in the province of Balochistan. Mehsud's rank, along with the timing and location of his death, provide several insights into the problems that thwart effective counterjihadist efforts. In the past, the elimination of a high-value target helped Pakistan satisfy U.S. concerns; however, Mehsud's death will increase the pressure on Islamabad to show more progress.
Perhaps the most publicly renowned Pakistani Taliban commander, Abdullah Mehsud, killed himself July 24 by detonating a hand grenade in order to avoid capture from a house in the town of Zhob in Balochistan province. Mehsud's two brothers and a third Taliban leader were arrested in the raid provincial police conducted on the house, which allegedly belongs to a senior leader of the country's main Islamist political coalition, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).
Mehsud's status, the circumstances of his death and the timing of the incident point to a number of problems associated with counterjihadist operations in Pakistan. For starters, it is hard to swallow the idea that authorities just happened to stumble upon the intelligence pertaining to Mehsud's whereabouts and then caught up with him within hours of U.S. threats of unilateral action against jihadists in northwestern Pakistan. The likely reason the government was able to track down Mehsud quickly is that Pakistani intelligence has at its disposal certain resources that it brings to bear in a very selective and limited manner in response to domestic and foreign policy needs.
The historic links between jihadist forces and Pakistani intelligence have led to contacts that both sides recently have been using in their war against one another. The jihadists have been aggressive in using their connections to the state's security and intelligence apparatuses to conduct their operations. The state, however, is only now beginning to employ its connections within the murky jihadist universe to undercut the militants.
Clearly, Pakistani intelligence has been in touch with elements who had information concerning Mehsud's whereabouts. These elements with ties to both sides were called upon to offer their assistance at a difficult time, and they obliged. This is not the first time this has happened. As recently as May 14, Pakistani authorities made a similar demonstration of abilities when they relayed intelligence to Afghan and NATO forces about the whereabouts of the Afghan Taliban's senior-most commander, Mullah Dadullah, who was then killed in an operation.
While not as illustrious as Dadullah, Mehsud was the best-known Pakistani Taliban commander operating in the Waziristan agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The 30-something-year-old Mehsud, who lost one leg while fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan before the extremist movement seized Kabul in 1996, had quite a jihadist career. He was among those jihadists who surrendered to northern alliance forces in the city of Kunduz in late 2001, after which he was transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. U.S. military officials released him in March 2004 after concluding that Mehsud did not pose a threat.
After returning to the tribal belt, Mehsud resumed his old activities and, after the killing of another top Pakistani Taliban commander, Nek Mohammed, emerged as a major figure. Mehsud was behind the abduction of Chinese engineers in 2004 shortly after his return and a rash of suicide attacks against Pakistani security forces. Like his predecessor, Mehsud struck and then scrapped a peace deal with Islamabad. He was also reportedly engaged in the recent fighting between jihadists and pro-government tribal militias. In the wake of the Red Mosque operation, Mehsud declared war against the Pakistani state and is believed to have been behind the latest wave of suicide attacks against security forces.
There are two noteworthy aspects of the location where Mehsud was tracked down. First, it is in the Pashtun corridor in the northwestern part of Balochistan, which runs roughly between FATA's South Waziristan agency to the north and the provincial capital of Quetta in the south. The town of Zhob -- the likely location of Taliban leader Mullah Omar -- is in this area. Second, the house where Mehsud killed himself belongs to Sheikh Mohammed Ayub, who is allegedly the district leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) -- led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the opposition in Pakistan's parliament. JUI-F is not only the largest component within the MMA alliance, it also holds the majority of Cabinet positions in Balochistan's coalition government with the pro-Musharraf ruling Pakistan Muslim League party. The leader of JUI-F in the province, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, who has a close relationship with the Musharraf government, said the house's owner was no longer with the party since he had been expelled four months ago because of indiscipline.
Regardless of whether Ayub is still part of the JUI-F, Mehsud's capture from Ayub's house is a classic representation of the fluid nexus involving radical Islamists of various shades and the Pakistani state. These complex relationships are what allow jihadists to sustain themselves and their activities and at the same time prevent the Pakistani state from effectively pushing ahead with counterjihadist efforts.
Pakistan's elimination of Mehsud -- just days, if not hours, after the highest political offices in Washington threatened Islamabad with unilateral military action against jihadists in northwestern Pakistan -- will not elicit as much praise from the United States as it will trigger increased pressure to "do more." This is because, from the U.S. viewpoint, it is clear that the Pakistanis can do a whole lot more in the war against jihadists. Also, Mehsud was more of a threat to the Pakistanis than to Afghanistan, NATO or the United States. There is still the matter of going after al Qaeda and the real Taliban in Afghanistan, and there will be both more action against high-value targets and more jihadist attacks in the coming days.
Reply #91 on:
July 25, 2007, 09:03:03 AM »
Woof, These kind of storys help keep me depressed in our efforts to effectivly fight a "global war" on terror.
My interpretation of the Stratfor report: Mehsud killed himself because he was tipped off that the Pakistani Gov. was comming for him, because of pressure from the U.S. to do more, we do this periodacly to justify the Bazzilions that we give thier Gov. for no apparent good reason.
The tipped off Target(mehsud) was more of a threat to the Pakistani Gov. than he was to us.(So big deal)
Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows this is a joke and just another successful application of making the U.S. out to be the fool that our Gov. so williningly plays to be. (by the Paki. gov) Maybe we will send them another gazillion in support for this great feat.
Weve been doing this for YEARS now with no real success.
How about we for a change we thumb our noses at the Paki GOV. send our troops across the border and start to do some real operations, and seriously start to fight this golbal war on terror.
I will give you one good reason that most won't care to admit to.........because It will be a real war and a bloody one and most likley a good number of American troops will be hurt/killed, but thats when and where we will find a real sucess to fighting this war.
Of course our Gov. won't do this because of how badly they've messed up the "Global war" on terror in Iraq, and they know the American people will no longer tolerate a large number of casualtys even if they are for good reason.
We have missed this window of oppertunity, due to a poor war effort by our Gov.
Soon Bush will be out of office and most likely a peace loving Dem will be elected........and essentially the war will be lost.
I'am no defeatist but I try to be a realist......and we never fought this to win.....nor are we making any direction change to win and so we most likely won't......
Reply #92 on:
July 30, 2007, 11:14:22 AM »
The Sunday Times (of London)
July 29, 2007
Musharraf risks civil war as he invades the Al-Qaeda badlands
Pakistan’s president takes on the Islamic militants who have set up a rogue state on his country’s wild north
IN North Waziristan, the wild border land that America hopes will be Osama Bin Laden’s graveyard, the normally busy roads are almost deserted and the fear is pervasive. Army helicopters sweep the valleys at night hunting for Al-Qaeda militants as troops and gunmen exchange artillery and rocket fire.
America and Britain regard this usually autonomous tribal area - where Bin Laden is long believed to have been hiding - as the logistics centre of Islamic terrorist attacks around the world.
President Pervez Musharraf sees it as the centre of a campaign to “Talibanise” Pakistan. Spurred on by Washington, he has abandoned a truce with Waziristan’s Islamist guerrillas and ordered his army to root them out.
There are believed to be about 8,000 gunmen – a mix of foreign Al-Qaeda volunteers, Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Islamists and local Waziris whose families have for centuries fought off any attempt to impose outside rule on this area. In modern times, even map-makers have been shot to hide the region’s mysteries from the outside world.
Last week soldiers sealed all the roads into Miran Shah, the provincial capital, occupied the hills around it and fired the first artillery salvo in what Musharraf’s many critics have called a war on his own people.
On Friday morning the army moved into parts of Miran Shah itself after militants blew up government buildings overnight. Most of the 60,000 townspeople are feared trapped, but hundreds of families have fled their mud homes in villages nearby and headed east for the sanctuary of Bannu, a town in the neighbouring North West Frontier province.
Reply #93 on:
July 30, 2007, 04:50:03 PM »
Haven't had a chance to review these yet, but it seems like a interesting list
Jinnah's Pakistan: An Interview with MA Jinnah, and how the Pakistan of
Yesterday is the Pakistan of Today
Know Your Pakistan
The Monkey Trap: A synopsis of Indo-Pak relations
A landmark article that demolishes myths built up about Pakistan
Pakistani Role in Terrorism Against the U.S.A
Pakistani Education, or how pakistan became what it is: Curricula and
textbooks in Pakistan
Making Enemies, Creating Conflict: Pakistan's Crises of State and Society. A
book written by Pakistanis on Pakistan.
Should Pakistan Be Broken Up? by Gul Agha
PAKISTAN & TERRORISM:
Pakistani sponsoring of Terrorism
Ethnic cleansing in Pakistan - a statistical analysis
A chronicle of genocide by the Pakistan army
Inside Jihad - How Pakistan sponsors terrorists in India
Pakistan's Role in the Kashmir Insurgency - Op-ed by Rand's Peter Chalk
This is a list of Pakistani businesses that may be aiding and funding terror
against India and other countries.
On the Frontier of Apocalypse: Christopher Hitchens seminal article on
Nuclear Enabler - Pakistan today is the most dangerous place on Earth by Jim
A Slender Reed in Pakistan - Editorial in the Christian Science Monitor
Seymour Hersh Interview
Pakistan's Nuclear Crimes (Wash. Post editorial)
Commentary: The real culprit of 9/11?
BOOK REVIEW Fulcrum of Evil: ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus
PAKISTAN-FAILED STATE: an ebook that owes its origin and existence to BRF.
Article from Vinni Capelli - Foreign Policy Research Institute:
Containing Pakistan: Engaging the Raja-Mandala in South-Central Asia
Essential videos on Pakistan actively supports the Taliban - Files are WMV
The videos are from this documentary:
Reply #94 on:
July 30, 2007, 08:49:19 PM »
Second post of the day:
Pakistan: Mooting the Bhutto-Musharraf Alliance
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the South Asian country's largest opposition party, could be on the verge of the much-awaited deal catapulting Bhutto out of exile and into the prime minister's chair. Contrary to expectations, the deal could end up damaging both. It also is unlikely that a power-sharing agreement between the military and Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party will help the struggle against extremism in the country -- and even could exacerbate it.
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the country's main opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), met July 27 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Pakistani presidential spokesman retired Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi officially confirmed July 30. Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi, himself a former PPP leader, said Musharraf can step down as military chief in order to facilitate the power-sharing agreement being worked out with Bhutto. Reports also surfaced that a number of Bhutto's bank accounts were unfrozen ahead of the meeting.
It appears back-channel negotiations between the Musharraf regime and the PPP, which have been going on for several years now, finally are headed toward the much-anticipated Musharraf-Bhutto power-sharing arrangement. Both Musharraf and Bhutto face intense opposition from within their respective camps regarding any deal. Musharraf's allies in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League are worried about their party's future in any power-sharing arrangement with the PPP, while Bhutto's party is very concerned about the fallout of doing business with a military ruler, an unthinkable deal not too long ago.
We have predicted that Musharraf is unlikely to emerge unscathed -- to say the least -- from the multiple crises brewing in Pakistan, especially his attempts to deal with the situation. But Musharraf might not be the only casualty from the political wheeling and dealing: Bhutto and her party also could end up being damaged. The expectations in various quarters -- such as the Pakistani government, Washington, etc. -- that Bhutto's entry into the Pakistani political system will stabilize it and will be good for democracy ignore certain ground realities.
First, Bhutto's party does not enjoy a monopoly over the Pakistani electorate. Though in a relatively free and fair parliamentary election the PPP probably will emerge as the single-largest party in parliament, a fresh legislative vote will produce a parliament divided among five major political forces and a number of smaller parties. This means the PPP probably will head an unstable coalition government, one far more volatile than during two previous PPP governments in the 1990s.
Second, the PPP is not what is used to be in 1986, when Bhutto made her first dramatic return to her country. The PPP's reputation has been tainted by allegations of corruption during her two terms. Moreover, in the last five years, the party has been weakened significantly because of the defection of some two-dozen members of parliament who joined the Musharraf government. Thus, going into the negotiations the PPP already is a weak force.
Deal-making between Bhutto and Musharraf, which has become a very public affair, is bound to cost the PPP some more votes no matter how carefully its leadership pursues the negotiations. Bhutto knows this well, and has acknowledged as much. She faces an uphill task involving doing business with a military government to stage a political comeback and avoid the cost of abandoning her party's historic image as the anti-establishment party.
PPP re-entry into the halls of power in Islamabad is thus unlikely to put Pakistan on the path of democracy, or for that matter even political stability. More disconcertingly, for a number of reasons a PPP government will be unable to deal effectively with increasing extremism and militant activity in the country.
Pakistan's problems run much deeper than a simple question of democracy versus authoritarianism, and extremism and militant activity are not simply byproducts of chronic political instability. The issue goes to the historical debate over the nature of the Pakistani state, which has raged since before the country's birth. The debate is over whether Pakistan should be secular or "Islamic;" and over who would define the latter using what criteria.
Further complicating matters, the historic mullah-military relationship has empowered radical and militant Islamist forces. Extremism and militancy are problems that cannot be cured alone by a democratically elected government working with the country's military establishment. As a secular party, the PPP cannot contain extremism and radicalism without working with moderate and pragmatic Islamist forces. Even the United States, with all its resources, is forced to work with political Islamists to contain the violent ones.
Historically, the PPP has faced the religious right's ire. In the current polarized atmosphere, particularly in the wake of the Red Mosque operation and Bhutto's open support for the facility's storming, such anti-PPP sentiment is likely to have grown. The PPP has gone out of its way to shun the country's main Islamist alliance, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), fearing that by cooperating with the MMA against Musharraf could strengthen the MMA.
Even assuming the PPP would work with the MMA or its relatively moderate component, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the incoherent nature of the MMA and/or the JUI would present a serious obstacle. Pakistani Islamists not only are divided, they also have a murky relationship with the jihadists, further complicating matters from an anti-extremism and counterterrorism perspective. Overall, political Islamists in Pakistan are far more radical in their agenda than their Muslim Brotherhood counterparts in the Arab World.
Regardless of whether a deal between Musharraf and Bhutto emerges and how political events unfold as elections approach, the PPP is unlikely to create a stable democratic setup by partnering with the Musharraf government's civil-military hybrid. And the PPP not only would fail to curb extremism and militancy, the situation could get worse.
Reply #95 on:
July 31, 2007, 10:44:26 AM »
MUSHARRAF & BENAZIR: A THREE-LEGGED RACE TO SAVE PAKISTAN
By B. Raman
Pakistan's President Gen.Pervez Musharraf and Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, twice Pakistan's Prime Minister in the past, have met in Abu Dhabi to discuss their plans for a three-legged race to refurbish their dented image and save Pakistan from a fate similar to what happened to Afghanistan post-1994, when the two acting in tandem----she as the Prime Minister and he as the Director-General of Military Operations--- brought the Taliban into existence and allowed Osama bin Laden to shift from Khartoum in the Sudan to Jalalabad in Afghanistan.
2. Nobody can question their patriotism. Both wish well of Pakistan and want it to play an important role not only in South Asia, but also in the Islamic world and the international community as a whole. Unfortunately, both have a strongly dented image.
3. Benazir's image got dented during her two spells as the Prime Minister (1988-90 and 1993-96). Her most important contribution to Pakistan during this period was in persuading North Korea, through the intermediary of Beijing, to sell medium and long-range missiles and related technologies to Pakistan in return for Pakistan's help to North Korea in getting over its food crisis and developing a military-related nuclear technology. The proliferation activities of Dr. A. Q. Khan reached their zenith when she was the Prime Minster and continued thereafter under Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf.
4. She had no other contribution to make to the well-being of Pakistan and its people. Karachi was up in flames. The Sindhis and the Mohajirs hated her despite the fact that she was from Sindh. Pakistan's economy went into the intensive care unit (ICU) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Fears that Pakistan might become a failed state surfaced for the first time when she was the Prime Minister. She let her husband Mr.Asif Zirdari handle the governance of the country for all practical purposes and draw financial benefit from it.
5. When Musharraf seized power in October,1999, and jailed his democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his action was greeted with some public applause. Not because he was popular with the people, but because Benazir and Nawaz through their misgovernance had become so unpopular that anybody after them was seen as a possible source of salvation. Musharraf's brief honeymoon with his people was not the outcome of any positive qualities which he had, but because of the people's disenchantment with the political class in general and with Benazir and Nawaz in particular.
6. Musharraf, a zig-zagger and a tactician par excellence, exploited the newly-realised importance of Pakistan for the US post-9/11, not only to improve his image in the eyes of the West, but also to take Pakistan out of the IMF's ICU. Pakistan has benefitted in some ways under Musharraf. Its economy has done well. Its strategic importance to the West is once again admitted. Its Armed Forces have once again been the recipients of military equipment from the US. Musharraf too has been a beneficiary of these changes. He is no longer seen as an unadulterated military dictator in the mould of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Zia-ul-Haq. He has managed to have himself perceived as an enlightened authoritarian ruler----- just the medicine the jihadi-ridden Pakistani society supposedly needs.
7. But, unfortunately for him, his honeymoon with his people ended after the ham-handed manner in which he tried to intimidate Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury of Pakistan. His honeymoon with the US shows signs of ending after his repeated failures to implement his promises to modernise the madrasas, bring them under effective state control and put a stop to the use of Pakistani territory by Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and other terrorist organisations.
8. After Musharraf, the jihadi deluge. That was the impression he had managed to create in the US State Department. That impression now shows signs of changing. The present belief in the State Department is: Musharraf is good for the US so long as he lasts, but the jihadi deluge is already there.
9. The exercise to explore the possibility of power-sharing by Musharraf and Benazir, which has been undertaken, is an attempt by two leaders----one military and the other political--- whose image has been dented by their sins of commission and omission, to prop up each other and help each other in retrieving some of their lost image. Domestically in the case of Benazir and domestically and internationally in the case of Musharraf.
10.If the two reach a final understanding and rule Pakistan jointly---he as the President with or without the uniform and she as the Prime Minister--- will Pakistan and its people benefit, will it be the beginning of the end of jihadi terrorism,will moderate forces ultimately prevail in Pakistani society?
11. Unlikely. Benazir and Musharraf let loose the jihadi Frankenstein's monsters during her second tenure as the Prime Minister. It will be unwise to believe that these two joint creators of the monsters will be able to vanquish them. Both are manipulators and opportunists to the core. Look at the way Musharraf is prepared to ditch the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), which he brought into existence in 2002, in order to ensure his continuance in power. Look at the way Benazir is prepared to ditch the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders, who had suffered under Musharraf, in order to get back into the political orbit with the help of Musharraf.
12. What Pakistan needs today is a sincere ruler genuinely committed to the task of ridding Pakistan of the evil of religious extremism and jihadi terrorism. Neither Musharraf nor Benazir is such a figure. There is no such candidate for power visible on the horizon. Pakistan will continue to bleed till such a leader emerges.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:
Reply #96 on:
August 04, 2007, 12:51:05 PM »
PAKISTAN: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to run in parliamentary elections expected in December or January 2008, despite running the risk of being arrested, Reuters reported, citing comments from a Bhutto spokesman. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf has met with Bhutto, who leads the opposition Pakistan People's Party, twice recently in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, creating speculation that the two have reached a political compromise allowing for her return.
Reply #97 on:
August 04, 2007, 02:40:12 PM »
Whos really running the show......
Politics Video Elections White House Congress U.S. Government World Supreme Court Press Releases Search: All News Yahoo! News Only News Photos Video/Audio Advanced
Another record poppy crop in Afghanistan By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 59 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world's near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.
As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.
U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world's crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.
But counterdrug proposals by some U.S. officials have met fierce resistance, including boosting the amount of forcible poppy field destruction in provinces that grow the most, officials said. The approach also would link millions of dollars in development aid to benchmarks on eradication; arrests and prosecutions of narcotraders, corrupt officials; and on alternative crop production.
Those ideas represent what proponents call an "enhanced carrot-and-stick approach" to supplement existing anti-drug efforts. They are the focus of the new $475 million program outlined in a 995-page report, the release of which has been postponed twice and may be again delayed due to disagreements, officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because parts of the report remain classified.
Counternarcotics agents at the State Department had wanted to release a 123-page summary of the strategy last month and then again last week, but were forced to hold off because of concerns it may not be feasible, the officials said.
Now, even as Bush sees Karzai on Sunday and Monday at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md., a tentative release date of Aug. 9, timed to follow the meetings, appears in jeopardy. Some in the administration, along with NATO allies Britain and Canada, seek revisions that could delay it until at least Aug. 13, the officials said.
The program represents a 13 percent increase over the $420 million in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Afghanistan last year. It would adopt a bold new approach to "coercive eradication" and set out criteria for local officials to receive development assistance based on their cooperation, the officials said.
Although the existing aid, supplemented mainly by Britain and Canada and supported by the NATO force in Afghanistan, has achieved some results — notably an expected rise in the number of "poppy-free" provinces from six to at least 12 and possibly 16, mainly in the north — production elsewhere has soared, they said.
"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."
Almost all the heroin from Afghanistan makes its way to Europe; most of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Latin America.
Afghanistan last year accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought world production to a record high of 7,286 tons in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2005.
A State Department inspector general's report released Friday noted that the counternarcotics assistance is dwarfed by the estimated $38 billion "street value" of Afghanistan's poppy crop, if all is converted to heroin, and said eradication goals were "not realistic."
Schweich, an advocate of the now-stalled plan, has argued for more vigorous eradication efforts, particularly in southern Helmand province, responsible for some 80 percent of Afghanistan's poppy production. It is where, he says, growers must be punished for ignoring good-faith appeals to switch to alternative, but less lucrative, crops.
"They need to be dealt with in a more severe way," he said at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from."
But, in fact, many question whether this is the right approach with Afghanistan mired in poverty and in the throes of an insurgency run by the Taliban and residual al-Qaida forces.
Along with Britain, whose troops patrol Helmand, elements in the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Defense Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have expressed concern, saying that more raids will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists.
There is also skepticism about the incentives in the new strategy from those who believe development assistance should not be denied to local communities because of poppy growth, officials said.
Opponents argue that the benefits of such aid, new roads and other infrastructure, schools and hospitals, will themselves be powerful tools to combat the narcotrade once constructed.
One U.S. official said the plan was a good one but might take another year or two before it can be effectively introduced
Reply #98 on:
August 05, 2007, 03:36:27 PM »
Certainly no Micheal Yon Blog.....Just good old AP...... I post this because it shows the troubles we are having in Afghanastan, but not onley that.....how much more do these very things apply to Iraq for many many years to come.
Politics Video Elections White House Congress U.S. Government World Supreme Court Press Releases Search: All News Yahoo! News Only News Photos Video/Audio Advanced
Karzai sees no gains in bin Laden hunt By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
25 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - In the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the United States and its allies have essentially gotten nowhere lately, says Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
"We are not closer, we are not further away from it," Karzai said ahead of his two-day summit with President Bush at Camp David, Md. "We are where we were a few years ago."
Karzai ruled out that bin Laden was in Afghanistan, but otherwise said he didn't know where the leader of the al-Qaida terror network was likely hiding. Karzai's comments, in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition," were taped Saturday in Kabul and broadcast Sunday.
Bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida network and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is believed to be living in the tribal border region of Pakistan. His ability to avoid capture remains a major source of frustration for U.S.-led forces.
Karzai arrived at Camp David in the late afternoon greeted by Bush and first lady Laura Bush. The president did a 360-degree spin in a golf cart for the assembled media and drove the three of them away.
The Afghan leader's visit comes as he faces competing troubles at home — civilian killings, surging opium production and steady violence.
All of those matters are expected to be discussed with Bush.
Afghanistan's fragility remains of paramount concern to the United States. Bush is expected to prod Karzai on how his government can exert — and extend — its authority.
"Karzai wants to shore up his ties in Washington," said Teresita Schaffer, a former top State Department official for south Asia. "And I think the U.S. government very much wants to get a stronger sense of how we can develop a common political strategy."
Despite its progress since U.S.-led forces toppled the militant Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan still is dominated by poverty and lawlessness. Stability has been hindered by the lack of government order, particularly in the southern part of the country.
"The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated," Karzai said in the interview. "There is no doubt about that."
Overshadowing the Bush-Karzai meeting is the fate of 21 South Korean volunteers who were abducted by the Taliban on July 19 and are now believed to be in central Afghanistan. The captors took a total of 23 people hostage and have shot and killed two of them.
The Taliban is seeking the release of prisoners; the Afghan government has refused, and the U.S. adamantly opposes conceding to such demands. The crisis has put considerable pressure on Karzai and raised more doubts about his ability to enforce the rule of law.
Bush and Karzai are also likely to discuss Afghanistan's distrustful relationship with neighboring Pakistan. Karzai said the flow of foreign fighters from Pakistan into his country is a concern he will address soon with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
The two are expected to meet this month as part of a gathering of tribal elders in Kabul.
Karzai said he is investigating reports that Iran is fueling violence in Afghanistan by sending in weaponry such as sophisticated roadside bombs. Yet he also praised Iran as a partner in peace and against narcotics. "So far, Iran has been a helper," he said.
On another front, Afghanistan now accounts for 95 percent of the world's poppy production used to make heroin and profits from the drug trafficking have helped the Taliban.
Violence has been rising sharply in Afghanistan, led by different Taliban groups with various links to tribal leaders and residual al-Qaida forces.
As U.S. and NATO forces target Taliban insurgents, the civilian deaths associated with the attacks have enraged the Afghan population and eroded Karzai's authority. He has repeatedly asked military commanders for more caution and lashed out at foreign forces aiding his nation.
Karzai is likely to seek some reassurance from Bush that "whatever the U.S. is doing is going to result in fewer civilians killed," said Schaffer, now the director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Militants often wear civilian dress and seek shelter in villagers' homes, making it hard to differentiate the enemy from the innocent. Bush "is absolutely satisfied" that the U.S. military is doing all it can avoid civilian casualties, spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
Reply #99 on:
August 06, 2007, 05:01:30 PM »
Woof, I was googling around trying to find out where A'Q gets its money and I came across this article. I thought it intresting, it is from the Seattle Times ......I'am guessing its just more left wing propaganda....but seems logical.
Iraq a "big moneymaker" for al-Qaida, says CIA
By Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times
Prewar intelligence foretold Iraq upheaval
Carter flays U.S. foreign policy
WASHINGTON — A major CIA effort launched last year to hunt down Osama bin Laden has produced no significant leads, but has helped track an alarming increase in the movement of al-Qaida operatives and money into Pakistan's tribal territories, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials.
In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said al-Qaida's command base in Pakistan increasingly is being funded by cash from Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.
The influx of money has bolstered al-Qaida's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of al-Qaida funds, with the leadership surviving to a large extent on money from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.
Al-Qaida's efforts were aided, intelligence officials said, by Pakistan's withdrawal in September of tens of thousands of troops from tribal areas along the Afghanistan border where bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding.
Little more than a year ago, al-Qaida's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles.
"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.
Big undercover effort
The evolving picture of al-Qaida's finances is based in part on intelligence from an aggressive effort launched last year to intensify pressure on bin Laden and his top deputies.
The CIA deployed as many as 50 clandestine operatives to Pakistan and Afghanistan — a dramatic increase over the number of case officers permanently stationed in those countries. New arrivals were given the primary objective of finding what counterterrorism officials call "HVT1" and "HVT2." Those "high value target" designations refer to bin Laden and al-Zawahri.
The CIA operation was part of a broader shake-up designed to refocus on the hunt for bin Laden, officials said. One former high-ranking agency official said the CIA had formed a task force that involved officials from all four agency directorates, including analysts, scientists and technical experts, as well as covert operators.
The officials were charged with reinvigorating a search that had atrophied when some intelligence assets and special-forces teams were pulled out of Afghanistan in 2002 to prepare for war with Iraq.
Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence and military officials said, not a single lead that could be substantiated has been produced on the location of bin Laden or al-Zawahri.
"We're not any closer," said a senior U.S. military official who monitors the intelligence on the hunt for bin Laden.
Despite a $25 million reward, current and former intelligence officials said, the United States has not had a lead on bin Laden since he fled U.S. and Afghan forces in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in early 2002.
"We've had no significant report of him being anywhere," said a former senior CIA official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing U.S. intelligence operations. U.S. spy agencies have not even had information that "you could validate historically," the official said, meaning a tip on a previous bin Laden location that could be verified subsequently.
President Bush is given detailed presentations on the hunt's progress every two to four months, in addition to routine counterterrorism briefings, intelligence officials said.
The presentations include "complex schematics, search patterns, what we're doing, where the Predator flies," said one participant, referring to flights by unmanned airplanes used in the search.
Still, officials said, they have been unable to answer the basic question of whether they are getting closer to their target.
"Any prediction on when we're going to get him is just ridiculous," the senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.
In a written response to questions from the Los Angeles Times, the CIA said it "does not as a rule discuss publicly the details of clandestine operations," but acknowledged that it had stepped up operations against bin Laden and defended their effectiveness.
"The surge has been modest in size, here and overseas, but has added new skills and fresh thinking to the fight against a resilient and adaptive foe," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in the statement. "It has paid off, generating more information about al-Qaida and helping take terrorists off the street."
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials involved in the operation said it had been hobbled by other developments. Chief among them, they said, was Pakistan's troop pullout last year from border regions where the hunt has been focused. Only months after the CIA deployed dozens of additional operatives to Pakistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced "peace agreements" with tribal leaders in Waziristan.
Driven by domestic political pressures and rising anti-American sentiment, the agreements called for the tribes to rein in the activities of foreign fighters, and bar them from launching attacks in Afghanistan, in exchange for a Pakistani military pullback.
But U.S. officials said there is little evidence that the tribal groups have followed through.
The pullback took significant pressure off al-Qaida leaders and the tribal groups protecting them. It also made travel easier for operatives migrating to Pakistan after taking part in the insurgency in Iraq. Some of these veterans are leading training at newly established camps, and are positioned to become the "next generation of leadership" in al-Qaida, the former senior CIA official said.
"Al-Qaida is dependent on a lot of leaders coming out of Iraq for its own viability," said the former official, who recently left the agency. "It's these sorts of guys who carry out operations."
The official added that resurgent Taliban forces in Afghanistan are "being schooled" by al-Qaida operatives with experience fighting in Iraq.
Money is flowing
Pakistan's pullback also has reopened financial channels that had been constricted by the military presence.
The senior U.S. counterterrorism official said there are "lots of indications they can move people in and out easier," and that Iraq operatives often bring cash.
"A year ago we were saying they were having serious money problems," the official said. "That seems to have eased up."
The cash is mainly U.S. currency in relatively modest sums — tens of thousands of dollars. The scale of the payments suggests the money is not meant for funding elaborate terrorist plots, but for covering al-Qaida's day-to-day costs: paying off tribal leaders, hiring security and buying provisions.
Al-Qaida in Iraq has drawn increasingly large contributions from elsewhere in the Muslim world — largely because the fight against U.S. forces has mobilized Middle East donors, officials said.
"Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the reason people are contributing again, with money and private contributions coming back in from the gulf," the senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.
He added that al-Qaida in Iraq also has become an effective criminal enterprise.
"The insurgents have great businesses they run: stealing cars, kidnapping people, protection money," the counterterrorism official said.
The former CIA official said the activity is so extensive that the "ransom-for-profit business in Iraq reminds me of Colombia and Mexico in the 1980s and '90s."
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