March 3, 2009
Warning: Some of the photographs are graphic in nature
March 3, 2009
Warning: Some of the photographs are graphic in nature
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The Crime Investigation Department (CID), Punjab, had accurately warned the Punjab government on Jan 22, 2009 about an Indian plan to target the Sri Lankan cricket team during its visit to Pakistan.
The CID, while referring to a source report, said this terrorist attack would be carried out by the infamous RAW, especially while the Sri Lankan team would be travelling “between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay”.
And the incident, which the whole world saw on March 3, precisely happened the same way, raising a hundred-million dollar question as to why the Punjab government, under Governor Salmaan Taseer, let it happen so easily despite a clear warning from the intelligence agencies of the country.
Copy of this fabulous work of the CID, which was wasted by the government in the Punjab in a sheer show of criminal negligence harming the national interest, shows that Additional Inspector General of Police, CID, Punjab, Malik Muhammad Iqbal, shared this report with all concerned in the federal and provincial governments.
The report tagged “SCRET/IMMEDIATE” with subject “SOURCE REPORT” reads: “It has reliably been learnt that RAW (Indian intelligence agency) has assigned its agents the task to target Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore, especially while travelling between the hotel and stadium or at hotel during their stay.
2. It is evident that RAW intends to show Pakistan a security risk state for sports events, particularly when the European and the Indian teams have already postponed their proposed visits considering it a high security risk to visit Pakistan.
3. RAW has also collected photographs of leaders of Jamaatud Daawa (proscribed) and its establishments to target them.
4. Extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangements indicated.”
The above report was sent to Syed Kamal Shah, interior secretary, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, Javed Mehmud, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Lahore, Dr Syed Tauqir Shah, Secretary to Chief Minister, Punjab, Lahore, and Nadeem Hassan Asif, Home Secretary, Government of Punjab, Lahore, on Jan 22 with the covering letter of Additional IGP, CID, Punjab, Lahore, Malik Muhammad Iqbal.
The same covering letter also included a note announcing that the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Lahore, and the Lahore commissioner were being informed separately for necessary action.
The same day on Jan 22, the issue because if its sensitivity was brought into the notice of the then-chief minister Shahbaz Sharif on whose instructions an urgent and confidential note was sent to the IGP Punjab, the Lahore commissioner, the CCPO Lahore, the chief secretary and the home secretary.
On behalf of the chief minister, it was said: “The chief minister has seen the enclosed source report and has desired that every effort may be made for the security of the Sri Lankan cricket team during its current visit to Lahore. He has further desired that extreme vigilance and heightened security arrangement may be made to avert any untoward incident.”
On the very next day on Jan 23, a meeting was held on the subject under the chairmanship of commissioner, Lahore, Khusro Pervaiz Khan, and attended by IB Director Mirza Tamraiz M Khan, DIG (traffic) Muhammad Ghalib Bandesha, Military Intelligence rep Col Saqib, Director ISI (Lahore) Ashraf Khan, DCO, Lahore, Sajjad Ahmad, district emergency officer, Lahore, Dr Ahmad Raza, SP/CID Lahore Azmatullah, Protocol Officer c/o DG Protocol, Lahore, Noorul Hassan, SP (traffic) Lahore Muhammad Asif Khan, SP City Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar and others.
In the said meeting, the provincial government under Shahbaz Sharif took extremely tight security measures for the one-day international match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which was held on Jan 26, 2009.
Minutes of the meeting, as available with this correspondent, show how minutely the authorities at that time discussed each and every aspect of the terrorism threat and the security measures to be taken.
These minutes show the evolution of a comprehensive security plan and contingency plan to pre-empt the possible threat of terrorism by RAW.
The then-IG, Punjab, Shaukat Javed, personally visited the whole route of the cricket team for the one-day match and even talked to cops deployed there. The then-CCPO, Pervez Rathore, also visited the site more than once.
However, after the recent imposition of governor’s rule, not only the chief secretary and the inspector general police were changed but also the whole lot of police officers in Lahore, including the CCPO, SP (operations) and six other SPs, who were replaced by officers some of whom enjoy highly stinking reputation.
There is no explanation offered so far by any government authority as to why the warning of the CID was overlooked this time when the Punjab was ruled by Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer.
A two-day visit of this correspondent to Lahore shows the civilian bureaucracy there talking of how the civilian administration and police have been (mis)used by the provincial administration for political wheeling-dealing since the imposition of governor’s rule in the Punjab.
“Keeping in view the CID source report, the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team is a clear FIR against the Punjab governor and his administration,” one of these officials commented.
Marina Ostapenko is a spokeswoman for the SBU national security service. She told The Associated Press Wednesday’s raid is in connection with a criminal investigation launched this week into the alleged diversion of gas worth some 7.4 billion hryvna (US$900 million).
Details on the criminal case were not immediately available.
Naftogaz has been the focus of a series of disputes with Russia over payment for Russian gas. The most serious dispute prompted a two-week cutoff of gas in January that severely affected supplies throughout Europe.
“Security Service officials, who are investigating a criminal case that was opened into the misappropriation of 6.3 billion cubic meters of gas by Naftogaz Ukrainy officers, entered the office of Naftogaz to seize documents under a warrant issued by the investigator handling this case,” the service said.
Ever since a Russian and an American satellite collided in orbit last month, scientists have been trying to figure out what caused the crash, exactly. Retired Major General Leonid Shershnev, former head of Russia’s military space intelligence, says he has the answer: Darpa did it.
In an interview with the Moskovsky Komsomolets tabloid, Shershev claims that the U.S. satellite involved in the collision was part of Darpa’s “Orbital Express” project. That effort was meant to show that satellites could be automatically refueled in space. When it was done in the summer of 2007, U.S. military e-mails show, the spacecraft involved were “de-orbited.”
Not so, asserts Shershnev (pictured). He claims that the Pentagon decided to continue with the project to “develop technology that would allow monitoring and inspections of orbital spacecraft by fully-automated satellites equipped with robotic devices.”
The February collision could be an indication that the U.S. has successfully developed such technology and is capable of manipulating ‘hostile satellites,’ including their destruction, with a single command from a ground control center, the general said.
This isn’t Shershnev’s only wild military idea, apparently. The general allegedly served as a consultant for a doctoral program in “Consciousness-Based Military Defense” — using meditation to end wars.
Nor is this the first Darpa project that’s sparked some rather, um, outlandish fears in Russia. In 2002, the Russian Duma raised alarms that HAARP, the Darpa-funded ionospheric research project, was some sort of “geophysical” weapon that could scramble the Earth’s atmosphere. Later, a Russian military journal went even further, suggesting that HAARP could cause the planet to “capsize.”
By Wije Dias
04 March, 2009
Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times has revealed plans for a US-led military mission into the island’s northern war zone in the guise of evacuating civilians trapped by intense fighting between the army and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
According to the newspaper, the task would be carried out by a Marine Expeditionary Brigade attached to the US Pacific Command (PACOM). The US Navy and Air Force would also be involved. The newspaper reported in its initial article on February 22 that a high-level PACOM team was in Colombo to pave the way for the operation.
No announcement has been made by the Obama administration or the US military, but Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, told the Sunday Times that he was aware of the intended US-led “coalition humanitarian task force”. Last weekend, the foreign minister told the newspaper that France had also offered assistance to evacuate civilians. India, which had made its own evacuation offer, last week indicated its support for a joint operation.
No agreement has been reached between the government and the LTTE on any evacuation. Both sides are using the trapped civilians as political pawns. The army has been seeking to drive civilians out of the remaining LTTE-held territory, in order to allow for the area’s complete levelling. With its back to the wall, the LTTE has called for a ceasefire and talks before any civilians are allowed to leave—a step rejected by the government which is demanding a full, unconditional surrender.
The Sunday Times indicated that the US-led operation might proceed without LTTE agreement—a provocative move that has the potential to precipitate clashes between US Marines and the guerrillas. “[C]ontinued LTTE refusals, the Sunday Times learns, may force the government to allow the humanitarian exercise to get underway notwithstanding LTTE objections,” it stated.
The UN and International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that as many as 200,000, Tamil civilians are trapped inside LTTE-held territory, which has now shrunk to less than 50 square kilometres. Hundreds have been killed and injured by army shelling. The military has allowed in only limited supplies of food. Fleeing civilians have been shot at by LTTE fighters, and those who manage to cross the frontlines are being held in detention camps.
Members of the international grouping known as the Donor Co-Chairs—the US, the European Union, Japan and Norway—that oversees the defunct Sri Lankan “peace process” have expressed concerns over this humanitarian disaster. Their unease, however, has nothing to do with any genuine sympathy for the plight of the refugees—it is driven by fears that a bloodbath in northern Sri Lanka would have a profoundly destabilising impact throughout the region.
The hypocrisy of the so-called Co-Chairs can be seen from their tacit backing of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse as he relaunched the war in mid-2006 in open breach of the 2002 ceasefire. Thousands of civilians have already been killed. Hundreds of thousands more have been driven from their homes and live in squalid refugee camps. Military-sponsored death squads have killed hundreds of people—young Tamils, opposition politicians, journalists and aid workers—with impunity. All of this has raised barely a murmur from those powers overseeing the “peace process”.
In fact, the US-led “humanitarian mission” conveniently meshes with the tactics of the Sri Lankan military, which has used indiscriminate artillery barrages and aerial bombardment to terrorise civilians, drive them out of LTTE-held territory and turn it into a free fire zone. The method has been repeatedly employed by the military over the past two years during its capture of LTTE strongholds in the East and North of the island.
However, the US has its own strategic agenda in Sri Lanka. The Bush administration backed Rajapakse’s “war on terrorism” as a means of ending a conflict that was a destabilising influence in South Asia, particularly in India, which is becoming Washington’s most important strategic and economic partner in the region. The 25-year conflict was not the product of LTTE “terrorism” but decades of official discrimination against the island’s Tamil minority.
In the wake of army victories over the LTTE late last year, the US, India and the European powers have been, increasingly insistently, pressing the Rajapakse government for a “political solution” to end the war. What is meant by this term is not talks with the LTTE, which Washington has specifically excluded, but rather a compromise between the island’s Sinhala and Tamil elites. The fear is that without such a deal the festering communal tensions that led to the war in the first place will erupt again in another form.
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened last week to discuss these concerns. Former US ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey Lunstead told the committee that the decisions made now by the Sri Lankan government would affect the island for decades to come. “It can fail to treat its Tamil civilians properly, fail to engage seriously in political reform, and continue to allow human rights to be violated and dissent to be threatened. If so, unrest will continue, violence will certainly recur, and the promising future which has always seemed just out of reach will recede even further,” he warned.
Lunstead called for the US “to play an important role in shaping Sri Lanka’s future”. Well aware of the severe financial crisis in Sri Lanka produced by huge military budgets and now the global economic recession, Lunstead proposed that international donors insist that aid “only flow if strict conditions are met”. After outlining his “reforms” to ease communal tensions, he concluded: “Without such changes, the prospect is for an inevitable recurrence of ethnic conflict.”
However, Lunstead’s proposal for an end to official discrimination against Tamils and a power-sharing arrangement between the island’s Sinhala and Tamil elites is precisely what successive Colombo governments have proven incapable of achieving. Since independence in 1948, the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie has relied on Sinhala supremacism to divide the working class and buttress its own rule. The recent military victories over the LTTE have only strengthened the hand of the most reactionary sections of the Colombo political establishment that regard any concessions to Tamils as a betrayal of the Sinhala Buddhist nation.
In this context, the presence of a sizeable US military force in the north of the island would give Washington considerable political leverage in Colombo in shaping the outcome of the war to its strategic interests. While Lunstead did not hint at military intervention, he did stress that US action had to be carried out “in close coordination with India,” which has traditionally regarded Sri Lanka as part of its sphere of influence. The US fears that growing political unrest among Tamils in southern India over the Sri Lankan war has the potential to destabilise the Indian government and affect the US-India strategic partnership.
Concerns about India are not the only factor motivating a US military intervention in Sri Lanka. For years, the Pentagon has been seeking to establish a foothold on the island as a base of operations in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The deep water harbour of Trincomalee on the eastern coast, to the south of the current fighting, has long been regarded as a strategic prize—a point that was made by a US PACOM team that surveyed Sri Lanka in 2002. Following the devastating 2004 tsunami, the US military sent a battalion of marines to southern Sri Lanka, setting an important precedent for the present “humanitarian” plans.
The long-term geo-political significance of the Indian Ocean, and therefore of Sri Lanka, was underscored by an article entitled “Center Stage for the Twenty-first Century: Power Plays in the Indian Ocean” in the latest issue of the US magazine Foreign Affairs. Veteran journalist Robert Kaplan identified three related geo-political challenges facing the US in Asia: “the strategic nightmare of the greater Middle East, the struggle for influence over the southern tier of the former Soviet Union, and the growing presence of India and China in the Indian Ocean.”
The article emphasised the rising naval power of China and India in the Indian Ocean, the importance of the ocean’s trade routes, the strategic significance of the adjacent energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia, and the dangers of the relative decline of the US in the region. In relation to Sri Lanka, it noted: “Whereas the prospect of ethnic warfare has scared away US admirals from considering a base in Sri Lanka, which is strategically located at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the Chinese are constructing a refuelling station for their warships there.”
The need for greater strategic focus on the Indian Ocean is undoubtedly a major motivation behind a US military intervention on the island. The last consideration of any US military operation in Sri Lanka will be the plight of Tamil civilians trapped in the North. Like the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which have led to disasters for the Afghan and Iraqi peoples, an intervention in Sri Lanka would seek to advance the strategic and economic interests of US imperialism and must be opposed by the working class in Sri Lanka, South Asia and internationally.
Editor’s Note: Our current focus on Pakistan is due to President Barack Obama’s attempt to take the U.S. “war on terror” into Pakistan. The Obama regime has done so by trying to link Pakistan with Afghanistan, and by logical extension, to the 9/11 attacks, etc. He is following through with his campaign promise to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq to both countries and he has already carried out attacks inside Pakistan, killing civilians with unmanned drone-missile strikes. Axis of Logic Columnist, Talha Mujaddidi lives in Pakistan and has written a series of articles for our readers which unravel the mysteries that have left many people confused by the corporate media in the West. Recently, another Axis Columnist, Robert Thompson, wrote about the use of the term “complicated” by those are obfuscating issues rather than clarifying them with the simple truth. We are grateful to Talha Mujaddidi for this excellent treatise which helps us fulfill our mission, i.e. “Finding Clarity in the 21st Century Mediaplex”. Talha kindly agreed when we asked him to begin this report on current events in Pakistan by giving us a Glossary of Terms which facilitates understanding for our readers.
- Les Blough, Editor
Geographic Areas covered in this report: The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Swat Valley.
Organisations and Political Parties
Swat: From Chaos to a Peace Agreement
By Talha Mujaddidi*
Axis of Logic
After two years of brutal conflict in Swat, Pakistan, a complicated peace deal has been achieved. Before we get to this peace deal let me continue on expansion of some facts from my previous article on Swat. A lot has been discussed in Pakistani media on Swat and the causes of militancy there. Based upon various television reports and articles appearing in the local newspapers here it is clear that Pakistan government has made some moves that can only be described as “suspicious”. Just like in former Yugoslavia, law enforcement funds were cut off to different provinces; similar steps have been taken in Pakistan. Hamid Mir, famous journalist/anchor of Geo Television (Pakistan’s top news channel) reported that local police and law enforcement agencies in Swat are facing the biggest shortfall in terms of arms, ammunition, troop morale, equipment such as police vehicles, bullet proof vests, etc. Also, in the past year, the town police officer has been rotated repeatedly. As mentioned in my earlier article “Playing with fire in Pakistan”, Pakistan is being given the same medicine that was given to former Yugoslavia.
In his Global Research article, The Destabilisation of Pakistan (Dec 20, 2007), Michael Chossudousky wrote:
“Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a ‘Yugoslav-like fate’ for Pakistan …
“in a decade with the country raven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Balochistan.” (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005).
“According to the NIC-CIA, Pakistan is slated to become a ‘failed state’ by 2015, as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons.”
The reports about lack of police equipment and funds are not only limited to the Swat Valley, but to the entire North West Frontier Province (NWFP) which envelopes Swat. The question is why is the government not releasing more funds to improve law and order in this region? Why are the funds withheld?
The answer lies in the fact that this government came into power under National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). NRO was a deal that was brainchild of Condi Rice, Richard Boucher, and John Negroponte. One of the first orders of business for the NRO was to cleanse all politicians of Pakistan of all their past crimes of corruption, lies, deceit, murder, and political persecution of opposition. In short, NRO baptized all the corrupt politicians of Pakistan. It was brokered between former President of Pakistan Musharraf and slain leader Benazir Bhutto.
The CIA suspected that both Musharraf and Benazir were unreliable for their purposes and their combination at Presidency and Prime minister posts, respectively, would mean a disaster for CIA’s motives in Pakistan. As we all know, Benazir was removed from the scene once and for all on December 27, 2007. The investigation into her assassination is still being conducted by UN special commission. The fallout from Benazir’s assassination was sufficient to eventually push Musharraf out of office. In came her former husband, Mr. Zardari (commonly known in Pakistan as “Mr. Ten Percent” due to his cut on various government deals). Zardari has been given a task, that offers more to the U.S, more than anything that Benazir would have or could have done and all that Musharraf wouldn’t or couldn’t deliver for the U.S.
The Main Government-Opposition Party
In order to understand what is happening in Pakistan, it will be important to become acquainted with some names of organisations and their leaders whose unfamiliar names may require some effort by our English language readers.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the main anti-government party in Pakistan at the moment. The history of the TTP is interesting and essential for understanding the current situation in Swat and the NWFP. The TTP was founded by Abdullah Mehsud, cousin of the current leader Baitullah Mehsud. The U.S. grabbed the former, Abdullah Mehsud, in Afghanistan after US invasion of Afghanistan, and took him to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Then they released and sent back to Pakistan. Their reasons for releasing him are obscure. Why did the US release him? Was he a double agent? As soon as Abdullah returned to Pakistan, he organized and founded TTP. Mullah Umar, the leader of real Taliban in Afghanistan told his followers to disassociate themselves with Mehsud. Abdullah Mehsud was later killed by Pakistani Army when he was entering Pakistan from Afghanistan not in Tribal Areas but in border area of Zhob, Balochistan. If the U.S. ordered his assassination by the Pakistan Army, it’s unclear why they didn’t kill him with one of their drone-fired missiles which are very active in the region. Clearly, they could have tracked his movements when he was giving press statements on regular basis. After Abullah’s assassination, his cousin Baitullah Mehsud took over the leadership of TTP. Finally, Maulvi Fazalullah is also part of the TTP story as he is the militant leader of Swat, loyal to the TTP and Baitullah Mehsud.
The Turmoil in Swat
The turmoil in Swat seems to have subsided for a while. When the Pakistan Army entered Swat, they realized that it will not be easy to take control of Swat area without incurring many civilian casualties. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants have been scattered all over the valley. They were using human shields with ease, often setting up positions on roof tops of residential homes. People began to move out of the area fearing full-scale intense fighting.
The Local Government of the Northern Provinces
The local government of NWFP is the Awami (peoples) National Party (ANP). The ANP is a party based on Marxist ideology. When Pakistan was being created, the ANP didn’t want to be part of Pakistan. But the majority of Pukhtoon population wanted to accede to Pakistan, since it was to be a Muslim-majority country. During the Afghan Jihad, when Osama Bin Laden was Washington’s blue eyed boy, the ANP was the only party in Pakistan which was against the Mujahedeen fighting against the USSR.
Surprisingly now, the ANP has become pro-US party and is in coalition with ruling PPP (political party of Pakistan president Zardari). In the year past, the TTP (identified above) has begun a campaign of killing ANP members, especially elected members of provincial and national parliament. The TTP views the ANP to be pro-US and part of pro-US Pakistan government. There have also been a few attempts on the life of Asfandyar Wali, ANP’s party chair. Note that all these complexities are not the result of what would have been the natural political developments in Pakistan. Instead, they are a direct result of meddling in the domestic affairs of a sovereign country by the CIA and other foreign elements who have their own agenda for Pakistan.
The Current Peace Agreement
The ANP, local government of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) finally came to the conclusion that in order to control its province it was imperative that Swat be reverted back to Islamic courts. The Pakistan Army also suggested to the government that there is still time to give peace a chance in Swat. Reluctantly government of Pakistan planned or rather ill-planned a peace deal for Swat. Please consider the basic elements of that peace deal:
Sufi Mohammed and the Implementation of Islamic Laws
The peace deal is not between Pakistan government and TTP. The deal is between local NWFP government and Sufi Mohammad (the original leader of the Swat Islamic courts movement and leader of Tehrik-e-Nizam e Shariat e Mustafa (movement for implementation of Islamic laws (TNSM). Sufi Mohammad commands respect of the local population, and Fazalullah (militant leader of TTP) is his son in law. Because of their relationship, it can be assumed that Sufi will will be able to negotiate with Fazalullah successfully and lasting peace will be achieved. Fazalullah has already announced a ten day cease fire.
Demand for Islamic Court System
According to investigative journalist, Ansar Abassi:
“Sufi Muhammad, chief of (TNSM), had assured the authorities two months ago that he would ensure peace in Swat only if his demand of setting up of an Islamic appellate court named Darul Qaza is met to ensure quick justice. The president (Zadari), who was initially scared of the expected international pressure in case he approves the Shariah system in Swat but has now agreed to this and given a go-ahead to the Frontier regime to sign and announce the peace deal.”
A Fragile Peace is Developing
The peace deal between the local, ANP government of NWFP and TNSM has been approved, and recently the situation in Swat has moved toward normalization. Schools, shops are open; people have started to restock their supplies and are trying to assess the damage done by the fighting.
President Zardari, the Pakistan Army and the Parliament
President Zardari has not yet officially approved the peace deal. If it works, he will take credit for it. If it fails he will say that I knew it would fail – that is why I didn’t support it. The Pakistan Army has said that it will not remove troops from the areas under its control unless “real peace” is established and TTP militants disarm themselves. Sufi Mohammad has taken his followers and moved into Swat and has started negotiations with Fazalullah on behalf of the NWFP government. The public opinion in Pakistan is that Fazalullah, who has been responsible for killing numerous people and destroying lot of property, should be brought to justice.
The peace deal at the moment allows Fazalullah to escape with impunity. Some commentators are rightly pointing out the Pakistan Army is skeptical of this peace deal. Personally, I think that this deal should have been decided by vote in either NWFP parliament or in the National Assembly of Pakistan if it were to have had real legitimacy. But then again, the very corrupt parliament of Pakistan has been unable to deal with most disturbing issues facing Pakistan in the past so it’s naive to assume that they would do otherwise this time around.
U.S. Involvement in Pakistan’s Internal Affairs
Most interesting was the reaction of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was cautious in her comments when speaking to reporters in Japan. She said Pakistan’s efforts still needed to be “thoroughly understood” before she could comment. Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist with the RAND Corporation, said, “The real reason for [Hillary] being silent is there’s really no good answer” in Washington for what is happening in Pakistan.
The last time a comprehensive peace deal was done between the Pakistan government and pro-Taliban militants was in 2004, in a place called Shakai in tribal areas of Pakistan. The deal was between Nek Mohammad who was then a TTP militant – and Pakistan government. After the agreement was reached, a U.S drone-fired, Hellfire missile and killed Nek Mohammad and the deal was surely finished. Will a U.S drone again hit a missile at TTP leaders or Fazalullah, or Sufi Mohammad?
Future of the Peace Accord
Sufi Mohammad has moved into Swat in form of a large convoy of reportedly 9000 people, all of whom are his followers. Note that the followers of Sufi Mohammad and Fazalullah are not in the best of terms with each other either. Sufi Mohammad had virtual control over Swat during the 90’s. Now he has no power on ground. If the peace deal dies, will we see a conflict between Sufi Mohammad and Fazalullah? What happens then? Which side will Pakistan support? Or will the TTP and TNSM join hands?
These are some disturbing questions which are very difficult to answer at this moment. At this time, the biggest concern is that people who had left the area need to be brought back in their old homes. Major construction work needs to be done to rebuild the area into what it once was. Just one example is the need to restore the ski resort which is an important recreational resource and source of income for the people. But all that can only happen when this peace pact is has matured and been in place for a while. Recently, Sufi Mohammad has been negotiating with Fazalullah but they have not yet reached a breakthrough. Fazalullah is asking for removal of the Pakistan Army from the valley. The Pakistan Army is unlikely to agree. Already Pakistan Army Chief has met with the Prime Minister and President and they agree that Army must remain on ground in Swat. In the meantime, just one day after ceasefire in Swat, a local correspondent for Swat’s Geo TV was shot and killed by unknown gunmen. He had been covering the Swat chaos for last two years. This has bought angry protests from the journalists and people from all walks of life. As of February 21st, Fazalullah has agreed to a long-term cease fire in talks with Sufi Mohammad.
The new line taken by U.S is that Pakistan is the root cause of trouble in Afghanistan. The Barack Obama regime in Washington has adopted a new doctrine which it calls “AfPak”, a term that couples two sovereign countries as one for the foreign policy agenda of the U.S. This is seen as arrogant and degrading by Pakistani public. Instead of dealing with Pakistan as an independent nation, they are confusing the history and issues of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In effect, “AfPak” does not respect the history or sovereignty of either country. To be sure, in Pakistan we have our problems and our international image as a country has not always been. But most people around the world have an image of Afghanistan that includes perpetual wars, Taliban, Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 attacks, poppy fields and heroin traffic, warring tribes, chaos, etc.) “AfPak” overlays this image on Pakistan.
The root cause of all trouble in this region is U.S occupation of Afghanistan. The suspicion shown by U.S on Swat peace deal is not new. U.S has always been skeptical of peace deals in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The reason is that permanent peace deals will result in more stability in Pakistan and less Washinton control. More on AfPak, Afghanistan turmoil, and Pakistan-India relations next time.
Editor’s Note: A great deal has taken place in this saga in Pakistan between the writing and publication of this article on Axis of Logic. An update by Talha Mujaddidi is forthcoming for publication on Axis of Logic. - LMB
© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com
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CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs urged Arabs on Tuesday to stand up to Persian Iran’s ambitions in the region, including its nuclear programme.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers that non-Arab countries should not interfere in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories – all places where Iran had been accused of supporting militants. Saud stressed that the resolution of disputes among Arabs depended on “a unified and a joint vision” in dealing with the “Iranian challenge in regard to the Arabian Gulf security and the nuclear issue”. His remarks came a day after he and his Arab counterparts had expressed their concerns about the growing influence of Shia Iran to United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The ministers and Clinton met on the sidelines of an international conference in Egypt on Monday that raised $5.2 billion in pledges to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip. ap
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: Five Shias were killed in Quetta when unidentified assailants attacked members of a family in the city on Tuesday – taking the death toll from sectarian attacks in a single week to twelve.
According to police, the assailants ambushed a van carrying the Shia family on the eastern bypass of Quetta – killing five people immediately.
The slain citizens were returning to Quetta from the Mach area when they were targeted. While police and other law-enforcement agencies reached the area soon after the attack, doctors at Bolan Medical Complex, where the bodies were taken, said five members of the family died immediately after the attack.
Although no group claimed responsibility for the assault on Tuesday, the killings appeared to be part of a series of sectarian attacks that started in Quetta a couple of months ago. The banned terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, has accepted responsibility for most of the recent attacks. Meanwhile, a shutter-down strike was observed in Quetta and various parts of Balochistan in protest at a suicide blast that had killed six people at a girls’ madrassa in Pishin district on Monday.
—Dr Manzur Ejaz
It seems certain that the political system will not reach equilibrium and stabilise unless the basic contradiction is addressed and resolved. It may not mean a mammoth revolution, but it would certainly mean a reconfiguration of our judicial system
How does one view the recent political developments in Pakistan that have been termed “playing with fire” by the New York Times and a step towards total collapse by others?
Most analysts are fond of psychoanalysis, which easily accommodates the perceived morality of the major players — in this case, Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharif brothers. However, the problem with such an approach is its lack of objectivity and verifiability. Therefore, it is always better to describe the process that triggered a certain trend in political history.
The present crisis originated from the public’s struggle against the state for greater access to justice and equality. Consequently, the system will only stabilise when this fundamental contradiction is resolved.
After eight years of military misrule, during which the distribution of wealth and power in society worsened, the masses rose against state power. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, by his defiance against an all-powerful dictator, became the catalyst for a movement for the independence of the judiciary.
For the common people, the movement represented much more than an independent judiciary; the kind of people that started showing up at rallies were last seen during the Bhutto gatherings circa 1968-70. Therefore, for the domestic and foreign establishment, this was a most dangerous trend that needed to be stopped right there and then.
Therefore, the two major political parties, the PPP and the PMLN, shunned so far to keep General Musharraf comfortable, were re-inducted in Pakistani politics. There is little doubt that the motive behind allowing exiled political leaders to return was to overshadow the chief justice’s rabblerousing, though unintended, leadership. The return of major leaders and the elections did marginalise the original movement for justice, but since it was based on the basic contradiction outlined above, it did not die out completely.
Both Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif, being seasoned politicians, understood the basic political process that had forced a military dictator to let them return to Pakistan. Bhutto, risking her agreement with Musharraf and putting her life in danger, was compelled to visit the chief justice’s compound and declare her support. She knew that she could not win over the masses, particularly in Punjab, without being viewed as a supporter of the movement for an independent judiciary. Of course she kept vacillating, but she could not openly oppose Iftikhar Chaudhry.
Nawaz Sharif, whose political infrastructure had fractured during his absence from Pakistan, had to depend entirely on central Punjab, which happened to be the centre of the lawyers’ movement. He went overboard in supporting an independent judiciary, and consequently won overwhelmingly in Punjab.
The PPP, after losing its only leader Benazir Bhutto, wavered and lost its edge in the Punjabi hinterland, the area that went with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto in many elections. However, Zardari, who became PPP leader by default, had no experience or political sophistication to gauge the sensibility of the masses. For him, politics was another business that could be run with alternative models bypassing public support.
After winning a majority in the National Assembly, Zardari used varying strategies and tactics to form government at the Centre and in three provinces (except Punjab), and later win the presidency. To achieve these goals, he had to enter into many agreements and make many promises. However, all his broken agreements and promises with the PMLN, the PPP’s major rival, revolved around the reinstatement of Iftikhar Chaudhry and other deposed judges.
In the end, the choice between Chaudhry and Justice Dogar became the symbol of the confrontation between President Zardari and the PMLN.
Disregarding President Zardari’s personal motives for opposing Iftikhar Chaudhry and the reinstatement of an independent judiciary, one can safely suggest that the feudal elite President Zardari represented could not afford such a judiciary. There are federal ministers in the Gilani administration that were brought to justice by the Chaudhry court; some PPP allies had their own skeletons in the closet and could not risk Chaudhry heading the Supreme Court.
However, the PMLN, by conviction or due to fear of backlash, could not back out from its election stand that promised the reinstatement of deposed judges and an independent judiciary. In other words, the fundamental contradiction that triggered political change in Pakistan on March 9, 2007 — the day General Musharraf suspended the chief justice — has kept its primacy throughout the life of the present political set-up.
At times, it appeared that the movement had been damaged beyond repair, but this was an illusion to dodge those oblivious of the dynamics of history.
Again, without going into the nature of political alliances and the scripts opposing forces are following, it seems certain that the political system will not reach equilibrium and stabilise unless the basic contradiction is addressed and resolved. It may not mean a mammoth revolution, but it would certainly mean a reconfiguration of our judicial system and the putting in place of a more equitable socio-economic system.
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
A new spectre haunts America. It enters the well-protected boardrooms of newspapers and banks, shakes the deep foundations of its towers. It is the spectre of glasnost: the dark secret of Jewish power is out. Just recently it was ‘third rail’, touch-and-die, deadly dangerous to mention, certain end to a career. Just recently, Joe Public snapped his TV from an eminence with an Israeli passport to a member of a Jewish think-tank, and muttered to himself: Surely it is just a coincidence that so many important and largely unelected people in our country happen to belong to this small minority group. Surely it is just a coincidence that they belong to different parties but reach the same conclusions. Surely it is just a coincidence that ninety per cent of American foreign aid goes to their cousins in prosperous Tel Aviv. Surely it is just a coincidence that they run our newspapers, television, cinema, universities. Anyway, we are not allowed to notice this elephant in our sitting room.
Only rare desperados comment, as Edgar Steele did on Rense.com: “The silence in America concerning Jews is simply deafening, isn’t it? The old adage has it that, when visiting a foreign country, to ascertain who really runs things, one need determine only who is spoken about in whispers, if at all.” Judged by this measure, the Jews rule supreme. Indeed, when I referred to ‘Jewish media lords’ during a UNESCO conference in the summer of 2001, the audience’s hearts missed a beat.
The yet-unfought War on Iraq changed this. The American Ultimatum date was set on 17 March, the Jewish feast of Purim. Purim, 1991 saw destruction of Iraqi armies and death of 200,000 Iraqis. Too many coincidences for a purely American war. The Americans peeped into the bottomless abyss of World War Three and woke up from their generation-long stupor. Thus the first victim of the Iraqi War is not truth, but the strongest taboo in the West. A Democrat member of Congress, usually a most docile specimen, one James Moran, dared to tell his supporters: “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq we would not be doing this.”
He was immediately slapped by a Jewish overseer: “It is simply stunning to hear Representative Moran make such accusations”, said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director, Ira N. Forman. “First, a number of the current leaders of the anti-war movement are Jewish, and Jewish organizations have clearly not been at the forefront among those groups actively and stridently supporting a war in Iraq”. Forman had spoken, and the media reported and amplified his view, and Moran duly recanted, slapped. But he is not the only one.
The secret is out, and like the secret of King Midas and his long ears, it is being sung now from coast to coast, despite the frantic efforts of the organised Jewish community to clamp the lid back on the boiling cauldron. Kathleen and Bill Christison,[i] two ex-CIA experts, exposed the link between right-wing American Jews and the Bush Administration. Edward Said, the most celebrated American thinker of Palestinian origin, stated the cause: “An immensely wealthy and powerful republic has been hijacked by a small cabal of individuals, all of them unelected and therefore unresponsive to public pressure.”[ii]
He was seconded by courageous Herman, Neumann and Blankfort. These Americans of Jewish origin object to the un-elected, anti-democratic Jewish power as they would object to any disproportionate minority power. Their presence, as they were not afraid of the anti-Semitic label, was instrumental in turning the tide and saving the intimidated majority from its browbeating.
Edward Herman, the author of Manufacturing Consent (together with Noam Chomsky), wrote of “the powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States, which advances Israeli interests by pushing for U.S. aid and protection to Israel, and, currently, by pressing for a war against Iraq, which again will serve Israeli interests. This lobby has not only helped control media debate and made congress into `Israeli occupied territory’, it has seen to it that numerous officials with ‘dual loyalties’ occupy strategic decision-making positions in the Bush administration…”
Jeffrey Blankfort, the Californian who defeated ADL in court and made Foxman pay heaps of dollars for his espionage against activists, took an important next step and rejected the views upheld by Noam Chomsky, Joel Beinin and Stephen Zunes, for these older radicals play down the crucial importance of Jewish power. Jeff Blankfort noticed the roots of the Rupture Evangelicals’ meteoric rise in the US. This obscure sect would never have left its lair in remote Dixie, but for the Jewish media lords. Jeff noticed that when Black Entertainment Television was taken over by Viacom, whose owner, Sumner Redstone (né Murray Rothstein), was recently described in the New York Times as the world’s biggest media owner, he eliminated BET’s news program and began running evangelical Christian infomercials for Israel. Blankfort’s list of ‘Jews in media’[iii] enables an understanding of the secret of Jewish charm, and it can be compared with a similar extensive list by Prof. Kevin MacDonald of California State University.
The Iraqi War, and even more its linkage with Palestine, became the litmus test of Jewish power. Organised Jewry pushed for war and at the same time denied its involvement. Thus in New York City, the City Council rejected an anti-war resolution, and only 12 of its 51 members were for it. This is not strange for heavily Jewish New York. Indeed, a Democrat, Rep. Robert Jackson, said it in a most straightforward way: “New York City is the home away from home for most Jews; and many members of the Jewish community think [the war is] in the best interests of the state of Israel.” According to Jackson, several of his council colleagues have been intimidated into silence by the pro-Israel crowd: “People are not talking about this.”
Jackson was certainly right, but a Jewish newspaper[iv] (surprisingly or not, all newspapers in the New York area are Jewish) condemned him for … racism: “[He claimed that] not only do the Jews run New York City, but they’ve cowed their opponents into silence. Jackson could as well call New York Hymietown.”
This response is remarkable for its typically Jewish logic. First, the opponent’s rational argument is perverted and distorted, then it is aligned with opprobrium; and at the last stage, the opponent is destroyed forever. That is one of the secrets of Jewish might: the Jews enter a dialogue berserk-like, with great vehemence, quite foreign to the Socratic style. While sane people are satisfied with quoting their opponent and fighting his arguments, madmen (for berserk is a temporarily-mad individual) go for the jugular.
David Mamet, the Jewish American playwright, provides a good example of this vehemence as he notices a “Volvo of old, the vehicle of my brethren, the congenitally liberal. It was festooned, as are its kind, with every sort of correct exhortation: Save James Bay, Honour Diversity, and so on. A most interesting bumper sticker read: Israel Out of the Settlements … a slogan which could best be translated as Hook-nosed Jews Die”.
I wonder why Mamet stopped at this, for with equal adequacy the slogan can be translated as Torture Babies, Denounce America and Burn Apple Pie. Who cares for the form of the Jewish nose? Mel Brooks noticed long ago that Jewish girls have the cutest noses, made by the best plastic surgeons…
It is the racist Jewish policies in occupied Palestine that annoy good, ‘congenitally liberal’ people. But if Mamet were honest, he would not be Mamet.
Now, Bill Keller of the NY Times read the Riot Act to the Americans. He kindly allows that ‘most of the big Jewish organizations and many donors are backing the war’ but insists that ‘the idea that Israel’s interests are driving one of the most momentous shifts in America’s foreign policy is simple-minded and offensive’. Well, Keller is certainly being paid for his convictions by a Jewish media lord, and one of the nastiest, Arthur Sulzberger Jr, the owner of the NY Times, the Boston Globe and a host of other publications. This undermines the possible veracity of Keller’s words. Let something similar be written in a thoroughly non-Jewish newspaper! But alas, there are no important media outlets in the US that are not owned or controlled by Jews …
Surely a coincidence? Do not bet on it. A few days ago, in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at the Sasson Conference on anti-Semitism, the French Jewish historian Simcha Epstein of the Antisemitism Institute dealt with the situation in pre-war France but pertained more immediately to America. This is what Epstein said:
“The pre-war anti-Semites said that the Jews of France organized a syndicate secretly bankrolling and subverting the press. And what did the Jews say at that time? They said: ‘Of course not! No, it’s a lie, of course not! We are not engaged in conspiracies!’ And what did the historians and the Jewish historiography coming afterwards say? ‘Of course not! It is anti-Semitic drivel!’ But we know now from Jewish sources that before the WWII the Jews of France secretly financed the press.
“Since the end of 19th century, there was a secret Jewish organization, well financed, which bought and bankrolled newspapers. Sometimes it took over existing newspapers, which suddenly became pro-Dreifus because they received Jewish subsidies. New papers were created especially by the Jews. Two very important papers of the period, one was called Les Droits de l’Homme, the Rights of Man, was financed by the Jews, and L’Humanité, which was the Socialist and then the Communist newspaper of France, was also financed by Jews. I say this on the authority Jewish sources of course.
“And this brings us to a dramatic dilemma of historiography. Saying this, saying what I said, is something horrible and unacceptable, because it means that the Jews organized a conspiracy and secretly bought the media, or part of the media. That was precisely what the anti-Semites said at that time, and what they still say today. And we know now from Jewish sources that the allegations were true, that there was a Jewish clandestine activity of bankrolling the press.” [Listen to this sentence ]
Some people perceive every suggestion that Jews are able to act together as a mad conspiracy theory. Let them read and re-read this report by a Jewish historian made at a Jewish conference. If it is proven now beyond any reasonable doubt that the Jews of France secretly bought and subverted French media for many years in order to distort the national discourse and eventually push unprepared France into the horrible and unneeded World War Two, is it impossible to consider that the Jews of the US have secretly taken over their national media and are now pushing the US into a horrible and unneeded World War Three?
Actually there is no need for secrecy. One of the chief Zionist ideologists, Zeev Hefetz (ex-spokesman of PM Begin), wrote in an American daily: “Disarming Iraq is only a start in Middle East” as “the Arab and Iranian (sic!) cultures” are “irrational” and that nothing can be done, short of war, to “improve the collective mental health of Arab societies”. [v]Certainly this massive ‘disarmament’ will be carried out by American soldiers, though the commands will be given by the Jewish chicken-hawks roosting in Pentagon. As for reasons for the war, they were eloquently stated by a keynote speaker at a conference on anti-Semitism by Yehuda Bauer, the director of the Holocaust Memorial Institute Yad va-Shem in Jerusalem:
The Jews are not a nation, neither a religion, he said. They are a civilisation, and they have their civilising mission. They cannot tolerate the competing civilisation of Islam, as they could not tolerate Christendom or Communism. That is why the war with Islam is unavoidable.
But the war is avoidable. Even today, at minutes before H-hour, the war is avoidable. And if fire is unavoidable, let the Jewish advisers of President Bush be fired. Let this Purim see the great Exodus of the “Wolfowitz Cabal” from the Pentagon. Excluding the clinical possibility of his actual zombification, G W Bush should be able to understand that he has been misled by this powerful, un-elected minority. They cannot deliver what they promised. Moreover, their own days at the helm of the Republic are numbered. They over-estimated their abilities, and pushed too hard. As the frog of La Fontaine, they can blow up. Bush still can do a U-turn, and save himself and his country.
In a way, today’s America reminds of Russia in 1986, at the beginning of glasnost. After the Soviet citizens were allowed to learn who rules them and how, the days of the Soviet regime were counted. Glasnost gave place to perestroika. Now, for the first time in a generation, Americans are allowed to see the men in power, the toxic combination of the Right-Wing Democrats of Lieberman, the Republican neo-liberals, the Neo-Cons and plain Con-men. The Iraqi War brought them forward and presented them in clear light. Now is the time to undo their hold.
It can’t be postponed for the divisive presidency of G W Bush is perceived as the period of ‘White’ Protestant Anglo-Saxon rule, despite the prevalence of his Jewish advisers. All available contenders for the next elections – Lieberman, Kelly and even Kuchinich – claim their Jewish connections and declare their undivided loyalty to Jewry and to the state of Israel. In the present political setup of America, there will be no real alternative to Jewish ascendancy. If Bush flops, it will be construed by the media as a WASP flop. If he succeeds, it will be seen as success of his Jewish advisers.
That is why American patriot forces should not wait for the next elections, or for the end of war. They must act now, by calling the war off. They have an enemy, but he is not in Iraq. What is called for is a new American revolution, on a par with the New Deal and abolition of slavery, with de-monopolisation of the discourse; that is of media and universities, for starters. In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Americans undid the mighty Standard Oil. They created new anti-monopoly laws and terminated the threat to democracy. This achievement could be repeated now.
[i] Kathleen and Bill Christison, `A Rose By Another Name: The Bush Administration’s Dual Loyalties’, Counterpunch, Dec. 13, 2002).
[iii] Here is enough sampling to indicate that it is not:
First of all, Sumner Redstone ( né Murray Rothstein) owns $8 billion dollars worth of Viacom, which gives him the controlling interest in CBS, Viacom, MTV worldwide (Brian Graden, president), and most recently he bought Black Entertainment Television and proceeded immediately to cut down its public-affairs programming. The president of CBS is Leslie Moonves, the great nephew of David Ben-Gurion.
Michael Eisner is the major owner of Disney-Capitol Cities, which owns ABC. David Westin is the president of ABC News. Although it has lost viewers, Nightline host Ted Koppel is a strong supporter of Israel. Lloyd Braun is chair of ABC Entertainment. And there is the perennial Barbara Walters.
Neil Shapiro is the president of NBC News. Jeffrey Zucker is the head of NBC Entertainment and Jack Myers has some important post there, as well.
Although Rupert Murdoch of Fox is not Jewish, Mel Karamazin, the president of the corporation is, as is Peter Chernin, the second in command at Murdoch’s News Corps.
Sandy Grushow is chairman of Fox Entertainment, and Gail Berman is president. Murtdoch has received numerous awards from various Jewish charities.
Jamie Kellner is chair and CEO of Turner Broadcasting.
Walter Issacson is the News Director of CNN which also has Wolf Blitzer, host of Late Edition, Larry King of Larry King Live, Paula Zahn, and Andrea Koppel, Ted’s daughter.
Jordan Levin is chairman of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Howard Stringer is chair of Sony Corp. of America.
Robert Sillerman is the founder of Clear Channel Communications,
Ivan Seidenberg is chair of Verizon Communications
Terry Semel, former co-chair of Warners is CEO of Yahoo.
Barry Diller, former owner of Universal Entertainment, is the chair of USA Interactive.
Joel Klein is chair and CEO of Bertelsmann’s American operations, the largest publishing conglomerate in the world.
Mort Zuckerman, the Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, owns US News and World Report and the NY Daily News.
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. publishes the NY Times, the Boston Globe and a host of other publications.
Marty Peretz publishes the New Republic, which is unabashedly pro-Israel, as is
William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard.
Donald Graham, Jr. is the chair and CEO of Newsweek and the Washington Post.
Michael Ledeen, of Iran-Contra fame, edits National Review.
Ron Rosenthal is the Managing Editor of the SF Chronicle and Phil Bronstein is the Executive Editor.
David Schneiderman owns the Village Voice and a number of other “alternative” weeklies.
Columnist William Safire, Tom Freidman, Charles Krauthammer, Richard Cohen, Jeff Jacoby, are among the most widely syndicated columnists.
There are a number of widely syndicated talk show hosts such as Michael Savage (ABC) on more than 100 stations, Michael Medved, 124 stations, and Dennis Prager who has an Israeli flag on his website. Others include Ron Owens, Ben Wattenberg, and former ZOA official Jon Rothman, all in San Francisco on ABC.
In Hollywood, which was founded by Jews, there is of course, Stephen Spielberg, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Kranzberg of Dreamworks, Eisner of Disney, Amy Pascal, chair of Columbia, and many, many more.
For the intellectuals, we have NPR, with pundit Daniel Schorr and weekend hosts Scott Simon and Liane Hansen, Robert Segal, Susan Stanberg, Eric Weiner, Daniel Lev, Linda Gradstein (a well-known speaker at pro-Israel events) covering Jerusalem, Mike Schuster (whose soft-ball interview with Ariel Sharon after Sabra and Shatila should have brought him before the court of Hamarabi). Brook Gladstein.
And that’s just for starters. From the boss to the delivery it’s an impressive list. While they certainly can’t be put in the same box when it comes to Israel, they more or less guarantee that there will be limits to any criticism they may make of Israel”.
[iv] NY Post 22.02.03
[v] November 12, 2002 The New Haven Register
Source: Israel Shamir
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the largest organization of Pakistani militants operating in the country’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which includes the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Launched in a secret meeting on December 13, 2007, it is active in most of the 24 districts, seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions in the province. The militants’ strongholds are in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, and Darra Adamkhel tribal regions and in the settled districts of Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Mardan, Charsadda, and Kohat.
The following is a profile of important Pakistani Taliban commanders active in areas of the NWFP and FATA excluding South Waziristan and North Waziristan, which were covered in an earlier article (see Terrorism Monitor, September 22, 2008).
In Bajaur Agency, where Pakistan’s armed forces launched an intensive military campaign against militants on August 6, 2008, the mainstream TTP is led by Maulana Faqir Mohammad, a former leader of the banned Islamic group Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM). The group’s founder, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, is presently playing an active role in peacefully resolving the two-year-old conflict in Swat district. In 1994, the black-turbaned followers of Maulana Sufi Mohammad (commanded by Maulana Faqir Mohammad) turned to violence in support of their demand for enforcement of Shari’a (Islamic law) in Bajaur and the rest of the Malakand region, including Swat.
Maulana Faqir Mohammad is a resident of Sewai village in Bajaur’s Mamond area, a stronghold for the Pakistani Taliban. He belongs to a family of clerics who fought in Afghanistan during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation and later as allies of the Taliban. The TTP in Bajaur is reported to have several thousand fighters and supporters. They put up stiff resistance against the Pakistani security forces but the military campaign has diminished their strength and disrupted their command structure and supply routes to other tribal regions, as well as Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces. The TTP managed to establish a Shari’a court in Sewai village with six branches in different parts of Bajaur. The courts were part of the parallel administration that the TTP set up before the military moved in and took tough action against the group. Under heavy pressure from government forces, Maulana Faqir Mohammad’s faction declared a unilateral ceasefire on February 24 in order to initiate talks with tribal elders (Daily Times [Islamabad], February 25).
Another militant group operating in Bajaur is the Jaish-e-Islami, which parted ways with the TTP in 2008 but now appears to have mended its ties with the TTP in a desperate bid to resist the Pakistan Army’s military operation. Led by Waliur Rahman (a.k.a. Raihan), the group consists of militants hailing from the Bajaur village of Damadola. Attacked with laser-guided missiles three times by CIA-operated Predator drones in 2007 and 2008, Damadola enjoys special status with the Islamist movement in Bajaur. Another important figure in the group, which used to have several hundred fighters before the military operation in August 2008, is Maulana Ismail. There were reports that Waliur Rahman had developed some differences with Maulana Faqir Mohammad, but these were apparently not serious in nature and are reported to have been resolved.
Prior to the army’s campaign in Bajaur, the Karwan-e-Niamatullah was considered one of the most powerful groups in Bajaur. Led by Haji Niamatullah of the Salarzai area, the group stuck with the TTP despite having some differences with its policies. At its height, the group had several thousand fighters. It suffered losses when tribesmen from the Salarzai area formed a tribal lashkar (an armed force usually raised with a specific objective), with support from the government and under the leadership of their tribal chiefs. The lashkar started chasing out the militants, who retaliated with suicide bombings, one of which killed scores of their armed rivals, including some tribal elders (Newsline [Karachi], October 2008). The Karwan-i-Niamatullah established its own Shari’a court in Pashat, the main town of the Salarzai area, but the group has since been uprooted from there.
Dr. Ismail (who is not a qualified medical doctor) is another powerful commander in Bajaur. He was affiliated earlier with Pakistan’s biggest religious-political party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, who recently declared that the government has no writ in any part of the NWFP (Daily Times, February 20). Dr. Ismail once employed the services of a few hundred fighters until the military struck in Bajaur and pushed his group out of their strongholds. Two young sons of Dr. Ismail were killed in Afghanistan. The TTP considers him and his supporters as part of the organization, but Dr. Ismail is against the TTP’s policy of fighting against Pakistan’s armed forces. Instead, he wants the Pakistani Taliban and other militants to concentrate on fighting the U.S.-led coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
Maulana Abdullah is another known commander of the militants in Bajaur. He is affiliated with the TTP and has operated mostly in the Charmang and Utmankhel areas of Bajaur. At one time he had a few hundreds fighters at his command. Also operating until recently in the Charmang area was an Afghan Taliban commander named Saeedur Rahman. He seems to have become less active after being warned by the Afghan Taliban to decide whether he wants to fight in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Two militant groups are known to have operated in Mohmand Agency. One of the groups was evicted after a clash with the TTP cadres in the area. Its commander, Shah Sahib (a.k.a. Shah Khalid), was active in Mohmand Agency for two years until July 2008, when TTP fighters led by Omar Khalid (a.k.a. Abdul Wali) overran his base and killed him and several of his men. Shah Sahib, a known Salafi, did not want to fight the Pakistani state or its armed forces. From his camp near the Pakistani-Afghan border, Shah Sahib sent his followers to fight in Afghanistan. He had several hundred fighters in his group, which was commonly known in the area as the Ahle Hadith group.
A larger group of militants was led by Omar Khalid (a.k.a. Abdul Wali) and was affiliated with Baitullah Mahsud’s TTP. It emerged from obscurity in July 2007, when its fighters captured the shrine of Haji Sahib Turangzai (1858-1937), a social reformer, anti-British freedom-fighter, and religious scholar, in the Lakarro area of Mohmand Agency. Omar Khalid’s group renamed the mosque adjacent to the shrine “Lal Masjid” after the radical mosque in Islamabad that was the site of a bloody siege by security forces in July 2007. The group pledged to avenge the killing of Lal Masjid’s religious students at the hands of the Pakistan Army and President General Pervez Musharraf. The group extended its control over most of the Mohmand Agency when it publicly slaughtered notorious criminal Yousaf Khan and seven members of the gang and evicted the rival Ahle Hadith militants group of Commander Shah Khalid.
Initially, the shrine of Haji Sahib Turangzai was turned into a base for the militants and a Shari’a court with Afghan scholar Sayyad as the judge was set up. The group had several hundred fighters but its strength was reduced following the military operation in Mohmand Agency in late 2008 and early 2009. Tribal elders from Mohmand recently expressed their support for continuing military operations in the area by the Mohmand Rifles of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (Daily Times, February 8).
There are three groups of Pakistani Taliban operating in Darra Adamkhel, a semi-tribal area known officially as the Frontier Region of Kohat. It has a strategic location due to its position on the main road linking Peshawar to the southern NWFP and beyond via the Kohat Tunnel, which was built by Japanese engineers and opened in 2003. The groups active in Darra Adamkhel are the Tehrik-e-Islami, Islami Taliban, and al-Hezb (see Terrorism Focus, February 13, 2008; March 25, 2008).
The Tehrik-e-Islami and the Islami Taliban became active in the area in mid-2007. The former was founded by a local Afridi tribesman named Muneer Khan, while the Islami Taliban was founded by Momin Afridi. The groups later merged and became part of the TTP. Both leaders were killed in a military operation in the area in 2008. Leadership then passed to Commander Mohammad Tariq, a tribesman hailing from the Bazidkhel Afridi tribe. Another important commander is Mufti Ilyas, a resident of the Sheraki area of Darra Adamkhel. Mufti Ilyas is now deputy to Commander Tariq and acts as a sort of ideologue for the group. Another known commander is Hamza Afridi, who the group’s spokesman calls simply Mohammad. Several months ago the group kidnapped a Polish engineer, Petr Stanczak, from the Attock district in Punjab and killed him in February 2009 after the Pakistan government refused to accept a demand for the release of its members (The News International, February 15). The group has several hundred fighters under its command. Following the military operation, the militants lost control of the Kohat Tunnel and the Darra bazaar, a gun-manufacturing center for over a century. The leadership has shifted to the adjacent Orakzai Agency, but the group’s fighters are still able to occasionally attack security forces in the area.
An obscure group calling itself al-Hezb made its appearance in Darra Adamkhel in late 2008 by distributing pamphlets and leaflets and pasting them in shops. Al-Hezb declared its opposition to the other militant groups and offered an alternative platform. However, al-Hezb never held any public meetings and its leaders are still unknown. In fact, it has even stopped distributing leaflets. Both militants and tribesmen in Darra Adamkhel felt it was part of a trick by the government to confuse the Taliban groups and create differences in their ranks.
The TTP, through its regional commander Hakimullah Mahsud, has set up bases in the Lower Kurram valley, which is inhabited by Sunnis, unlike the Upper Kurram valley where the Shi’a are in the majority. Recently, the U.S. carried out its first Predator missile strike in Kurram against an alleged hideout of Afghan Taliban in an Afghan refugee camp. The attack killed at least 26 people, including several militants (Daily Times, February 17; The News International, February 17).
The TTP has sanctuaries in the Orakzai Agency, a tribal territory with a Sunni majority and Shia minority. Orakzai is the only tribal region in Pakistan that does not border Afghanistan. Hakimullah Mahsud, a young tribesman from South Waziristan and a deputy to TTP head Baitullah Mahsud, operates out of Oarkzai Agency and is also commander of the militants in the Kurram and Khyber tribal regions. A young man in his late 20s, Hakimullah Mahsud invited the media to his hideout in Orakzai Agency in November 2008 to give his first news conference. This interaction enabled him to emerge from the shadows of Baitullah Mahsud and become known as a commander in his own right (The News International, November 29, 2008).
Kamran Mustafa Hijrat (a.k.a. Mohammad Yahya Hijrat) was, until a few months ago, the top Taliban commander in the Khyber Agency, which is named after the famous Khyber Pass that serves as a gateway between Central and South Asia and has been the route taken by invaders, conquerors, and traders for centuries. Hijrat was arrested in Peshawar’s Hayatabad town in late 2008 and is now in the custody of Pakistan’s security services (The News International, December 10, 2008).
Hijrat was a deputy to Hakimullah Mahsud and was reportedly responsible for attacks on trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan. His men also burnt more than 300 vehicles destined for Afghanistan at a terminal for NATO trucks on Peshawar’s Ring Road (see Terrorism Focus, January 21). Hijrat is an Afghan by birth and was a small-time Afghan Taliban commander before making it big as a member of the Pakistani TTP. His deputy, Rahmanullah, also an Afghan national, has taken over as acting commander of TTP for Khyber Agency.
Several non-Taliban Islamist militant groups are active in Khyber Agency, mostly in the Bara area. These include Mangal Bagh’s Lashkar-i-Islam, the late Haji Namdar’s Amr Bil Maruf wa Nahi Anil Munkar (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), and Ustad Mahbubul Haq’s Ansar-ul-Islam (Newsline, October 2008).