Malik tables ‘proof’ of India’s hand in Balochistan unrest

Malik tables ‘proof’ of India’s hand in Balochistan unrest

* Interior adviser briefs in-camera sitting of Senate
* Says Afghan government not cooperating with Pakistan

By Tahir Niaz and Muhammad Bilal

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik on Thursday tabled in the Senate ‘documentary proof’ of India and Afghanistan’s involvement in the unrest in Balochistan and the Tribal Areas, sources told Daily Times.

Addressing an in-camera session of the House, Rehman alleged that India was using Afghanistan as a base to destabilise Pakistan by fanning an insurgency. The sources said the ‘documentary proof’ showed that India was funding and training Pakistani terror groups. However, the ‘proof’ was nothing new for several of the senators, the added.

A senator said he was already aware of all anti-Pakistan conspiracies hatched by India and some other neighbouring countries. He said a neighbouring state was opposed to Pakistan’s progress and stability, but did not name the country.

The sources said Rehman used a multimedia system to show the senators images of terrorists arrested from Balochistan and other troubled areas. They said the arrested terrorists had admitted on camera to being trained in Afghanistan on India’s behalf.

According to the sources, Rehman also claimed that the majority of terrorists, equipped with latest weapons, arrested in Balochistan and the Tribal Areas had crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan. He said FATA was suffering from the spill over effect of the insurgency in Balochistan.

The sources said Rehman also showed the senators ‘documentary proof’ of the nationality of three Baloch leaders who were recently killed.

As stated by the prime minister’s interior adviser – one of the three leaders, Ghulam Muhammad, was wanted by Tehran, while another, Sher Baloch, was an Iranian national.

He showed the House images of Taliban slaughtering anti-Taliban and pro-government people in FATA.

Afghan govt: Rehman said President Asif Ali Zardari had complained to his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, of the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan, but the response had not been positive.

He said that Balochistan Liberation Army chief Brahamdagh Bugti was hiding in Afghanistan, and Kabul was not facilitating Islamabad over his arrest despite repeated requests.

The sources said Balochistan senators, including Abdul Malik and Shahid Bugti, opposed Rehman’s assertions. They said the senators rejected the interior adviser’s proposal for the formation of a House committee to oversee the investigation into the killing of the three Baloch leaders.

According to the sources, Rehman Malik spoke for seven-and-a-half hours on the situation in Balochistan, the Tribal Areas and NWFP. He also responded to the senators’ questions.

The interior adviser later told reporters that the briefing was based on ‘true facts’ and was given keeping in mind national interest. He said the government would defend the country at every cost.

Thursday’s briefing was the first-ever of its nature, and – according to the Online news agency – political parties are satisfied with it. The agency said that politicians were now hoping that the briefing would facilitate the formation of an effective policy for Balochistan.

Ex-Pak Army officer served as Lakhvi’s adviser: Report

SEE:  Gen Alvi murder case suspects remanded

Ex-Pak Army officer served as Lakhvi’s adviser: Report

Islamabad A former Pakistani Army officer, allegedly involved in abduction of the Karachi-based filmmaker uncle of Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla, had joined LeT after leaving military and served as an adviser to the Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a media report said on Monday.

During the interrogation of Major (Retd) Haroon Rasheed alias Abu Khattab, who was arrested some time ago for alleged links to terror groups, investigators learnt that he was the leader of the gang that kidnapped Chawla’s uncle Satish Anand six months ago, ‘Dawn’ newspaper reported.

Anand was freed last week after payment of Rs 16 million as ransom.

Rasheed, 43, told interrogators that he and his brother Khurram, who was a Captain in the army’s elite Special Service Group, met Lashkar-e Toiba chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Lakhvi in 2000 when both of them were still serving the military, it said.

Rasheed sought premature retirement in 2001 while Khurram quit army in 2003 and both of them joined the LeT. Rasheed became an adviser to Lakhvi and also served as a trainer and made improvised

mortars for the LeT. He told interrogators he left the LeT after differences with Lakhvi.

In December 2006, Rasheed visited Wana in South Waziristan tribal agency where he met Taliban commander Mullah Nazir. He also travelled to Miranshah in North Waziristan to meet jehadi commander Ilyas Kashmiri.

Rasheed’s brother Khurram went to Afghanistan’s Hemand province to fight along side the ‘mujahideen’ and was killed there in March 2007.

Earlier media reports said Rasheed had allegedly killed Maj Gen (Retd) Amir Faisal Alvi, a former chief of the Special Service Group and brother-in-law of author V S Naipaul, in November last year to avenge Khurram’s death.

During subsequent visits to Waziristan in 2007, Rasheed met Mullah Nazir and Ilyas Kashmiri and helped them modify mortar guns.

During a meeting with Kashmiri in September last year, Rasheed learnt the militants were facing a shortage of funds and came up with a plan to kidnap affluent persons from urban areas for ransom.

Kashmiri and Rasheed then planned the abduction of Anand, who was kidnapped in Karachi on October 20 last year. Rasheed, LeT operative Nawaz Khan and a retired Major named Basit were involved in the kidnapping, the report said.

Rasheed has also told interrogators that several militant groups in the restive tribal areas have identified other persons in urban areas for kidnapping to raise funds by seeking ransom.

LeT operations commander Lakhvi is currently in judicial custody along with four others in connection with the Mumbai attacks. They were arrested for alleged involvement in planning and coordinating the 26/11 attacks, which India has blamed on Pakistan-based elements including LeT.

The Pulitzer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV

The Pulitzer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV

By Glenn Greenwald

April 21, 2009 “” — The New York Times‘ David Barstow won a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize yesterday for two articles that, despite being featured as major news stories on the front page of The Paper of Record, were completely suppressed by virtually every network and cable news show, which to this day have never informed their viewers about what Bartow uncovered.  Here is how the Pulitzer Committee described Barstow’s exposés:

Awarded to David Barstow of The New York Times for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.

By whom were these “ties to companies” undisclosed and for whom did these deeply conflicted retired generals pose as “analysts”?  ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox — the very companies that have simply suppressed the story from their viewers.  They kept completely silent about Barstow’s story even though it sparked Congressional inquiries, vehement objections from the then-leading Democratic presidential candidates, and allegations that the Pentagon program violated legal prohibitions on domestic propaganda programs.  The Pentagon’s secret collaboration with these “independent analysts” shaped multiple news stories from each of these outlets on a variety of critical topics.  Most amazingly, many of them continue to employ as so-called “independent analysts” the very retired generals at the heart of Barstow’s story, yet still refuse to inform their viewers about any part of this story.

And even now that  Barstow yesterday won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting — one of the most prestigious awards any news story can win — these revelations still may not be uttered on television, tragically dashing the hope expressed yesterday (rhetorically, I presume) by Media Matters’ Jamison Foser that “maybe now that the story has won a Pulitzer for Barstow, they’ll pay attention.” Instead, it was Atrios’ prediction that was decisively confirmed: “I don’t think a Pulitzer will be enough to give the military analyst story more attention.”  Here is what Brian Williams said last night on his NBC News broadcast in reporting on the prestigious awards:

The Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and the arts were awarded today. The New York Times led the way with five, including awards for breaking news and international reporting.  Las Vegas Sun won for the public service category for its reporting on construction worker deaths in that city. Best commentary went to Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, who of course was an on-air commentator for us on MSNBC all through the election season and continues to be. And the award for best biography went to John Meacham, the editor of Newsweek magazine, for his book “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.”

No mention that among the five NYT prizes was one for investigative reporting.  Williams did manage to promote the fact that one of the award winners was an MSNBC contributor, but sadly did not find the time to inform his viewers that NBC News’ war reporting and one of Williams’ still-featured premiere “independent analysts,” Gen. Barry McCaffrey, was and continues to be at the heart of the scandal for which Barstow won the Pulitzer.  Williams’ refusal to inform his readers about this now-Pulitzer-winning story is particularly notable given his direct personal involvement in the secret, joint attempts by NBC and McCaffrey to contain P.R. damage to NBC from Barstow’s story, compounded by the fact that NBC was on notice of these multiple conflicts as early as April, 2003, when The Nation first reported on them.

Identically, CNN ran an 898-word story on the various Pulitzer winners — describing virtually every winner — but was simply unable to find any space even to mention David Barstow’s name, let alone inform their readers that he won the Prize for uncovering core corruption at the heart of CNN’s coverage of the Iraq War and other military-related matters.  No other television news outlet implicated by Barstow’s story mentioned his award, at least as far as I can tell.

The outright refusal of any of these “news organizations” even to mention what Barstow uncovered about the Pentagon’s propaganda program and the way it infected their coverage is one of the most illuminating events revealing how they operate.  So transparently corrupt and journalistically disgraceful is their blackout of this story that even Howard Kurtz and Politico — that’s Howard Kurtz and Politico — lambasted them for this concealment.  Meaningful criticisms of media stars from media critic (and CNN star) Howie Kurtz is about as rare as prosecutions for politically powerful lawbreakers in America, yet this is what he said about the television media’s suppression of Barstow’s story:  “their coverage of this important issue has been pathetic.”

Has there ever been another Pulitzer-Prize-winning story for investigative reporting never to be mentioned on major television — let alone one that was twice featured as the lead story on the front page of The New York Times?  To pose the question is to answer it.

UPDATE:  Media Matters has more on the glaring omissions in Brian Williams’ “reporting” and on the pervasive impact of the Pentagon’s program on television news coverage.  Williams’ behavior has long been disgraceful on this issue, almost certainly due to the fact that some of the “analysts” most directly implicated by Barstow’s story are Williams’ favored sources and friends.

On a different note, CQ‘s Jeff Stein responds today to some of the objections to his Jane-Harman/AIPAC/Alberto-Gonazles blockbuster story — quite convincingly, in my view — and, as Christy Hardin Smith notes, the New York Times has now independently confirmed much of what Stein reported.

UPDATE II:  For some added irony:  on his NBS News broadcast last night suppressing any mention of David Barstow’s Pulitzer Prize, Brian Williams’ lead story concerned Obama’s trip to the CIA yesterday.  Featured in that story was commentary from Col. Jack Jacobs, identified on-screen this way:  “Retired, NBC News Military Analyst.”  Jacobs was one of the retired officers who was an active member of the Pentagon’s “military analyst” program, and indeed, he actively helped plan the Pentagon’s media strategy at the very same time he was posing as an “independent analyst” on NBC (h/t reader gc; via NEXIS).  So not only did Williams last night conceal from his viewers any mention of the Pentagon program, he featured — on the very same broadcast — “independent” commentary from one of the central figures involved in that propaganda program.

On a related note, Howard Kurtz was asked in his Washington Post chat yesterday about  Mike Allen’s grant of anonymity to a “top Bush official” that I highlighted on Saturday, and Kurtz — while defending much of Allen’s behavior — said:  “I don’t believe an ex-official should have been granted anonymity for that kind of harsh attack.”

Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the New York Times Bestselling book “How Would a Patriot Act?,” a critique of the Bush administration’s use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, “A Tragic Legacy”, examines the Bush legacy.

Adrift and lost, Pakistan awaits a miracle

[One of America’s best and most faithful friends, the people of Pakistan, face a national terror that we asked them to help us create.  We owe them more than we could ever repay for the sacrifices they have made, willingly distorting their national character to fit the mask that we thrust upon them.  We owe Pakistan a “Marshall Plan” without strings attached.  Are you listening, Holbrooke and Obama?]

Adrift and lost, Pakistan awaits a miracle

Ayaz Amir

There was nothing lion-like about the supporters of the Swat accord: they looked sheepish from the start. But they assured us there was no other way out and that, reservations notwithstanding, it would buy peace for the stricken valley. Just as in an earlier time, and far removed from Swat, a British prime minister had assured his people that the Munich agreement with Hitler would ensure “peace in our time.”

On the roof of the National Assembly is affixed a huge disc on which, in beautiful calligraphy, are inscribed the 99 names of God. But on that afternoon when the Swat Sharia Regulation was placed before the National Assembly, hanging over that august body was less any reference to the Almighty than a pall of fear, almost visible to the eye and sensible to the touch, Taliban spokesmen not having minced their words in saying that anyone opposing the deal would take himself out of the pale of Islam. Since in Islam the punishment for apostasy is death, everyone knew what the warning implied.

But apart from fear, the National Assembly was also stricken by misjudgement. The resolution had been tabled without warning and members from the ANP (the major ruling party in the Frontier) were crying themselves hoarse that no one was paying heed to the fact that it was Pakhtoon blood being spilt in FATA and Swat. So, apart from a few dissenting voices (the MQM’s Farooq Sattar giving a powerful speech), the National Assembly, closing its eyes, acquiesced in that act of surrender.

Now hardly ten days later, (affirming once again Harold Wilson’s timeless dictum that a week is a long time in politics), the pendulum has swung the other way, with more and more voices criticising the Swat deal. Behind this sudden change of heart lie two stark events.

Firstly, Maulana Sufi Muhammad’s declaration at a well-attended public meeting in Mingora that democracy and higher courts lay outside the circle of Islam. This has had a devastating effect on all those prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the erratic patron saint of the mayhem in Swat.

Secondly, the Taliban’s advance from Swat into the adjoining district of Buner. One of the illusions fostered by the Swat deal was that the Taliban would be content with what they had gained and not try further adventures. The seizure of Buner — not very far from Islamabad, as every pundit has been at pains to emphasise — has underscored the foolishness of this thinking.

All the warnings coming from here and abroad that the Taliban were on the march were falling on deaf ears. Much of Pakistan was in a state of denial. But the Maulana’s rhetoric and Buner, both happening in quick succession, have hit public opinion like a bombshell. All at once Pakistan has woken up to the Taliban danger, the state of denial transformed almost overnight into a state of alarm.

For this we must be thankful to Maulana Sufi Muhammad. He has shaken our minds and helped us to concentrate. What was vague and confusing before is now almost blindingly clear. What seemed distant has been brought closer home. Jinnah’s Pakistan–or rather the mess we have made of it over the years–is not only shrinking but is in mortal peril. Serious-minded people talk candidly of the prospects of the further breakup of Pakistan. For alerting us to this danger, the bishop of Swat deserves our thanks.

The turmoil in Swat thus could be Pakistan’s salvation provided, for a change, we get serious. That Pakistan is in danger should not be a matter of any further doubt. Balochistan is angry and alienated; FATA outside any notion of federal control. Even Punjab, once thought secure, is beginning to sense the approaching storm.

Add to this the weakness of the political leadership, and the army’s scarcely encouraging performance in FATA and Swat, and we have the ingredients of full-fledged despair.

The leadership question is the most vital of all. More than at any other time in its history Pakistan stands in need of a de Gaulle or a Mustafa Kemal to pick up the pieces, rally the nation and summon it to action. There is no such figure around but this only means that instead of lamenting our fate, we make do with whatever is available.

Asif Zardari, alas, hasn’t shown much leadership. Probably he had it not in him to show anything of the kind. But what prevents him from choosing good advisers and acting on good advice? Why doesn’t he rise above his former self? Ronald Reagan was no one’s idea of an intellectual. But the American system throws competent people into the top slots of government. Pakistan is not without its share of bright people. Why don’t we see any of them in higher advisory positions?

But regardless of whether the presidency and the federal government improve their performance a huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N. As the party in waiting–as the party governing Punjab, the largest province–it has to deliver the vision and leadership that the PPP has failed to provide, if Pakistan is not to go over the precipice.

But if it is vision that we are talking about, sad to think that the PML-N went along with the Swat resolution when it was tabled in the National Assembly. Some of the reservations it is sounding now should have been voiced then, so that the people of Pakistan could have seen the difference between what was being proposed and what needed to be done.

The PML-N must develop a clear position on terrorism. There can be no countenancing of drone attacks and this must be made clear to the Americans. But the time has also come–and for this we must again be grateful to Maulana Sufi Muhammad–to speak out boldly against the Taliban, without ifs and buts. The nation is looking for a lead. The PML-N, above any other party, has the responsibility of providing one.

Yes, there are some democracy issues still to be sorted out, like doing away with the more egregious of Pervez Musharraf’s constitutional amendments. The party must work to achieve this but without forgetting that democracy is no longer Pakistan’s number one issue. We have enough democracy and the higher judiciary also stands restored. The number one problem is terrorism and the growing ambitions of the Taliban.

Like the rest of the nation, the army too is bewildered and confused and after its reverses in FATA and Swat not a little demoralized. It also needs a direction and an over-arching strategy. But for this it is necessary that the vision of our political leadership should be superior to the army’s . If we begin from the premise that the army’s notions about many things are flawed, the critique makes sense only if someone can present a better alternative.

But for any headway in FATA and Swat, the political leadership and the army (which must work in tandem) need no distraction in Balochistan. The army is engaged on multiple fronts which takes away its focus from the threat posed by the Taliban. The disaffection of the Baloch people must therefore be addressed–and for this we need a grand initiative from the federal government–if we are to move forward elsewhere.

We should have had the good sense to make someone from Balochistan, some respected figure like Sardar Attaullah Mengal, president of the republic to begin assuaging Baloch grievances. Talk of opportunities squandered, we squandered this one too. All the same, we have to look to the anger of the Baloch if Pakistan is to be saved.

Yes, the Americans are a problem and, stuck in Afghanistan, they have their own axes to grind. True also that more often than not we give the impression of being a plaything in their hands, serving their interests more than our own. But this can be corrected and we can be masters of our own fate if we set the direction of our national compass right.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. We shake ourselves and take matters in hand. Or we allow the present drift to continue, in which case we could do worse than study the fate of Yugoslavia.


Baloch backlash

Baloch backlash

In a shockingly insensitive and senseless speech to the Senate, the adviser on interior has said India, Afghanistan and – oddly enough – the Russians were engaged in unrest in Balochistan and that the Baloch Liberation Army and the Baloch National Army had links with them. He has also attacked their leaders as traitors, declared the recent kidnapping of UNHCR chief John Solecki to have been a conspiracy hatched in Kabul, said one of the nationalist leaders killed recently in a grotesque murder was a terrorist and insisted that Baloch complaints of thousands of people being missing or women being tortured in lockups were lies.

Let us not even pause to discuss the veracity or otherwise of Mr Malik’s remarks. There are other facts that are far more important than the insults he hurled towards Baloch nationalists, in a move that seems geared to sabotage the reconciliation process initiated in the province by President Zardari. The reality is that feelings of deprivation and anger exist everywhere in Balochistan. It is these that have led to the emergence of nationalist outfits in the province over a period of decades. It is quite possible other countries have used the resentment that exists for their own purposes; this after all is a tactic we are familiar with – but they could not have done so had Balochistan been a more content federating unit within the state of Pakistan.

Mr Malik’s ill-advised diatribe, which was met by a predictably furious reaction from Baloch senators, makes it even less likely the people of the province will be persuaded to change their mind about the state of Pakistan. Rather than pulling them back into its embrace, Mr Malik has succeeded in pushing them away – and by doing so has put at further risk the welfare of a country so badly in need of greater harmony.

Govt mulls over operation against Taliban

Govt mulls over operation against Taliban

Militants enter Shangla; TTP spokesman denies

By Daud Khattak

and Delawar Jan

PESHAWAR: The NWFP government has reportedly made up its mind to opt for plan-B — a military operation — if the “intransigent” Taliban did not agree to vacate Buner district, cease patrolling in Swat and stop moving to other districts, according to sources.

The decision was discussed and later recommended as ‘second option’ after a high-level meeting at the Chief Minister’s House on Thursday with Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti in the chair.

The meeting was briefed about the Taliban build-up and their running over of some villages in Buner district, the armed patrolling of militants in Swat and the threats to the government and contradictory statements from banned Tehrik Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) head Maulana Sufi Muhammad.

Requesting anonymity, the sources privy to the meeting told The News that the meeting was unanimous on action against those violating the peace agreement and intimidating civilians in Malakand.

Situation arising out of the Taliban infiltration into Dir and Shangla districts was also reviewed. The meeting was told that everything was not good in the area and the NWFP government and the security agencies must come to the rescue of people in Buner, who had been taken hostage by the Taliban from Swat.

Besides the chief minister, the meeting was attended by Senator Afrasiyab Khattak, senior ministers Bashir Bilour and Rahimdad Khan, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) parliamentary leader in NWFP Assembly Abdul Akbar Khan, NWFP Chief Secretary Javed Iqbal and Home Secretary Fiaz Khan Toru.

The meeting decided to convene a grand jirga of the NWFP-based political parties to discuss the situation. The sources said the chief minister and other participants of the meeting were also informed about the Wednesday’s visit of Afrasiyab Khattak and Mian Iftikhar Hussain to Malakand and their talks with Sufi Muhammad about his deadline for the establishment of Darul Qaza and Darul-Darul Qaza (appellate and final appellate courts, respectively) and his criticism of the Parliament and judiciary during a public meeting in Mingora.

The provincial government was perturbed after Sufi’s threat to pull out of the peace deal if the government failed to establish Darul Qaza and Darul-Darul Qaza in Malakand by Thursday evening.

However, a TNSM spokesman extended the deadline till an indefinite period, minutes after its time of expiry following reports that the government was set to carry out an operation against militants.

Talking to The News, Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the first option with the provincial government was peaceful means. “However, we’ll be compelled to use force as second option if the other side failed to honour its promises and continued challenging the writ of the government,” he said.

Mian Iftikhar said they would not allow anyone to establish a parallel government. “Disregarding internal and external pressure, we enforced Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in Malakand after which there was no justification for the other side to display arms and challenge the writ of the government,” he added.

About the government’s grand jirga at the Chief Minister’s House, Mian Iftikhar said he had himself talked to leaders of all the NWFP-based political parties to join the meeting on Friday to develop a consensus.

The ANP government had convened a similar jirga at the CM’s House in mid-February before the signing of peace pact with the TNSM.Another such meeting was held at the Governor’s House with NWFP Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani in the chair. Besides others, the chief minister, Peshawar corps commander and Home secretary attended the meeting.

The sources said the situation in Malakand Division was reviewed in the high-level meeting where a voice of concern was heard about the Taliban build-up in Buner.A day earlier, the NWFP governor had warned that those bent upon scuttling the peace deal in Swat would be dealt with sternly.

Signed with much fanfare and an overwhelming criticism from some internal and external quarters, the peace deal with the TNSM seem to be in the doldrums following Sufi Muhammad’s everyday threats and his provocative statements about the provincial and central governments as well as the Parliament and the superior judiciary.

Meanwhile, tension in Malakand region dramatically escalated as suspected Taliban militants attacked a convoy of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) being moved to Buner district to guard government buildings and take action against the intruders. Taliban militants also reportedly entered Shangla district and started their activities there.

The militants have also established an FM radio channel in Pir Baba to disseminate their messages to the people, official and local sources confirmed.The fresh advances by the militants despite a peace deal set alarm bells ringing for the government and security agencies as they are now threatening several strategic sites of the country.

Some 30-40 militants advanced into the Shangla district, which they had controlled in 2007, triggering a military operation to evict them. They patrolled in the bazaar of Aloch, the headquarters of Puran tehsil. Locals said later they dispersed and hid in the population. The local police station of Aloch confirmed the presence of Taliban.

However, spokesman for Swat militants Muslim Khan denied entry of Taliban into Shangla district. “Certain elements are spreading these rumours to sabotage peace here,” he said, adding they had directed their fighters in Buner to be peaceful and unarmed.

“The advances of the militants are dangerous as their march onto the Hazara region could threaten Khanpur Dam, Tarbela Dam on Topi, Swabi side and Karakoram Highway to the Shangla district side. What is alarming is that only Margalla Hills separate Islamabad from Hazara, which is a great matter of concern,” an official source having knowledge of the situation told The News.

As tension escalated in Buner, the government moved eight platoons of Frontier Constabulary — some 240 personnel — to man government buildings and installations. The convoy of the FC was attacked on its way to Daggar at Totalai, killing one police head constable escorting the FC officials and injuring another. The slain cop was identified as Gul Said and the injured as Yehya.

The district has 200-250 force of police apart from 57 officials of elite force but they were confined to the district headquarters Daggar, officials and locals said. The civil administration is becoming ineffective in the district, providing freedom to the militants to do their activities. The militants have already recruited a good number of people, while their “preaching” is still underway. A local jirga held on Thursday allowed militants to continue “preaching.”

The militants stormed a police checkpost in Jangali area of Buner on Thursday and kidnapped a cop, whose name could not be ascertained. It was learnt that there were six officials in the checkpost. Other five took shelter in civilian population but militants, officials said, surrounded the village and asked people to hand over police officials to them or else they would carry out a search operation.

An official source said that the militants had established checkposts at all the entrance points from Swabi, Mardan, Malakand and Swat. The source said they were at the borders of all these districts.

Officials estimated the strength of militants in Buner at 600-700. “The situation is precarious. The way the developments have been unfolding, action may be taken to secure the strategically located Buner district,” the official said. It was learnt from official sources that Frontier Corps and army were on the stand-by to cope with any dangerous situation in Buner.

46 militants killed in Orakzai operation

46 militants killed in Orakzai operation

By Syed Hassan Mehmood

KALAYA: Forty six militants have been killed and 26 injured in the four-day military operation in the Orakzai Agency, tribal and official sources said on Thursday.

The sources said jet fighters and gunship helicopters pounded the militants’ hideouts in Balozai area of the Kalaya Tehsil on Thursday at 2:00 pm, killing five militants and a civilian. A number of hideouts and bunkers of the militants were destroyed on Shawazar mountains, the sources said.

They said several government and private installations were also damaged during the shelling by the jet fighters and gunship helicopters on Wednesday. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Orakzai chapter commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, told reporters by phone from an undisclosed location that the TTP was not responsible for the killing of civilians. “Until the government stops operations and ensures a halt to the drone attacks in the tribal areas, the TTP will continue attacking the government installations,” he added.

The residents of Dabori, Khadizai and Ghiljo Tehsil have started migration to safer places in tractors, vans and carts. They complained that no camp had been set up in Hangu for the migrating people by the political authorities.

“We have no proper place to accommodate the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Hangu and have requested the provincial government to allot us a place for setting up a camp for the affected people,” Political Agent Orakzai Agency Abdul Baseer said, adding the political authorities had also sought funds from the central government on an emergency basis for the rehabilitation of the affected people in the district.

Meanwhile, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) media cell said the security forces had killed 11 militants in the Orakzai Agency on Thursday after hitting the militants’ hideouts in Chapri, Ferozkhel, Khwajakhizar and Bizoti areas of the Orakzai Agency.

It further said that the security forces in operations on Tuesday and Wednesday killed 27 militants in Ghiljo Tehsil. A big cache of arms and ammunition was seized in a search operation in Darra Adamkhel, Frontier Region (FR), Kohat.