Scenes From A Wreckage

Says retired generals are in control of militants and ISI, at 5:03. Claims they control radical madrassas through “Islamic Defense Council, which also moves madrassa graduates into leadership positions.

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Scenes From A Wreckage

By AMIR MIR – |Magazine| Nov 05, 2007

For almost 10 hours on October 18, the people of Karachi choked the streets, cheering Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a mass catharsis on her return home from exile. As Benazir’s cavalcade threaded through an enraptured throng towards the mausoleum of Mohammed Ali Jinnah where she was to address a public rally, the PPP leader stood atop an especially fortified, bullet-proof truck, waving lustily at her followers and occasionally wiping eyes brimming with tears of joy. At 12.09 am on October 19, the cavalcade had reached the Karsaz Bridge, still 10 km away from the destination. But Benazir was not to be seen—19 minutes earlier she had gone down to use the makeshift washroom built in the lower deck of the truck.

It was then that someone tossed a grenade on the right side of Benazir’s truck, hoping the explosion would break the three rings of security cordon around it. The outer ring was of Pakistani policemen, the other two of the Janisar Force of the PPP. Her personal guards valiantly held their ground. In the ensuing confusion, a suicide bomber tried to sneak under Benazir’s truck from the left to inflict maximum damage. Challenged, he detonated himself. (Subsequently, the truck’s windshield was found riddled with bullets, suggesting a sniper had tried to ensure nobody could escape to safety.) The carnivalesque mood soon turned funereal—human flesh and limbs flew around, people wailed in agony and grief, and the death toll reached a chilling 143.

What saved Benazir was that she wasn’t atop the truck at that fatal moment; the explosion was powerful enough to rip off a door of her truck. Government sources say the assassination plan reveals prior knowledge of the security architecture around Benazir. Not only was the attack three-pronged, those who masterminded it also chose a suicide bomber in order to evade the jamming devices fitted into two vehicles immediately in front and behind Benazir’s truck. The jammers could have prevented any explosion triggered by a remote-controlled device, as had happened during one of the two attempts on Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s life in 2003.

The nature of explosives used is another indicator of intricate planning. Investigators say the suicide bomber (whose head has been recovered, and is supposed to be a 21-year-old who had a 48-hour stubble) had strapped himself with 15-20 kg of an explosive mix of C4 and Trinitrotoluene or TNT. The C4 explosive is rated as the best quality military plastic explosive that detonates with tremendous velocity, and isn’t readily available. The other ingredient—TNT—has the capacity to shatter concrete structures and hillocks. Investigators say the TNT was meant to pierce through the bullet-proof casing of Benazir’s vehicle, with the C4 inflicting damage over a wide area. Fortunately for Benazir, two police jeeps accompanying her bore the brunt of the explosion.

So, who were these people who could access such devastating and rare explosives, and who were aware of the obstacles they would encounter in targeting Benazir? The signature of Al Qaeda, as well as local militant groups affiliated to it, is writ large—the self-destructing agent, the total apathy towards popular sentiment, the appetite for the ‘big’ hit. But did these groups have the assistance, or tacit approval, of jehadi-minded elements in the administration? Benazir herself thought so. On October 19, she disclosed that she had written a confidential letter to Musharraf on October 16, informing him about three senior officials who were planning to assassinate her when she returned home.Her information, she said, had come from a brotherly country (read Afghanistan) who told her about four suicide squads having entered Karachi to kill her. “However, I had made it clear (to Musharraf) that I won’t blame Taliban or Al Qaeda if I am attacked, but I will name the three officials as I know quite well my enemies in the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment,” she told journalists.

Benazir has not yet named the three persons, but PPP insiders disclosed their identity to Outlook. It’s an illustrious list: Brig (retd) Ejaz Hussain Shah, DG, Intelligence Bureau; Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, chief minister of Punjab; and Hassan Waseem Afzal, a former official of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). A fourth, familiar name pops up in the concluding part of the letter—that of former isi chief, Lt Gen Hameed Gul, who’s a vocal supporter of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

PPP insiders believe the quartet’s motive in organising the assassination attempt on Benazir was to check the burgeoning moderate political alliance between her and Musharraf. As such, the Musharraf camp was bitterly divided over his deal with Benazir. One group led by the secretary of the National Security Council, Tariq Aziz Warraich, was in favour of Musharraf sharing power with the PPP. Shah’s group opposed the deal with Benazir, believing it would be at the cost of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid-e-Azam). Ejaz Shah is close to the powerful Chaudhry brothers—Elahi and Shujaat Hussain—whose party the ruling PML-Q is, besides sharing their fundamentalist worldview.

Indeed, it was Shah who had ‘arranged’ the surrender of Sheikh Ahmed Omar Saeed, the killer of American journalist Daniel Pearl, on February 5, 2005, in Lahore. Then, Shah was the home secretary of Punjab. Shah knows Omar’s family well as both of them belong to the Nankana Sahib area of Punjab. The relationship between Shah and Omar was really one of a handler and his agent. In an interview with Daily Times, August 13, 2007, Benazir Bhutto said, “Brig Shah and the isi recruited Omar Sheikh, who killed Danny Pearl. So I would feel very uncomfortable to have the Intelligence Bureau, which has more than 1,00,000 people under it, run by a man who worked so closely with militants and extremists.”

Links with militants apart, Shah was instrumental, say PPP insiders, in splitting PML (Nawaz) and weaning away 20 PPP members in the National Assembly, to form the PML-Q. It’s Shah on whom the PML-Q depends to manipulate the impending general election to its advantage. For the Chaudhry brothers, the general election is a do-or-die battle: a defeat could well spell political oblivion for them.

The third person named in Benazir’s letter, Hassan Waseem Afzal, is currently secretary to the governor of Punjab. He was appointed to this post after he was removed as NAB’s deputy chairman on Benazir’s insistence a few months before her Abu Dhabi meeting with Musharraf in July this year. It was one step Benazir had wanted Musharraf to take as a confidence-building measure with her. Afzal had incurred her wrath because he had made it his personal mission to pursue corruption cases against her in the United Kingdom, Spain and Switzerland. It was on his order that the Interpol issued a red alert notice against her.

The fourth conspirator PPP names is Gul, a retired, dyed-in-the-wool Pakistani general who headed the isi following the jehad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and was responsible for fomenting the Kashmir insurgency in 1989. Gul worked in tandem with the Americans against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, but began to oppose America post-9/11. In 2003, Gul declared, “God will destroy America.”

Government sources, however, say a high-level meeting presided over by Musharraf dismissed Benazir’s accusations as “childish”. They also say her insistence on implicating Musharraf’s close associates in the Karachi carnage could even threaten her equation with the president. (The FIR filed by Benazir in Karachi states as suspects “those whose names were given to Gen Musharraf”.) They claim the suicide attack bore the signature of Al Qaeda, arguing that she has incurred its wrath because of her support for military operation against the Red Mosque fanatics in Islamabad in July and for declaring that she would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to question Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan about his nuclear proliferation activities. Her emergence as an ally of Musharraf, government sources say, explains the fury of militants who had targeted him as well earlier.

But, are Benazir’s claims as ridiculous as government sources are making them out to be? Why, even Musharraf in his book, In the Line of Fire, wrote that militants roped in Pakistani air force personnel in the conspiracy to kill him in 2003. In another abortive attempt the same year, Musharraf implicated personnel of the Special Services Group charged with vip security. What was accepted as true in Musharraf’s case cannot prime facie be falsified in Benazir’s. Nothing is impossible in Pakistan’s cloak-and-dagger politics.

The Three Men Named In Benazir’s Letter

Police to question Pervaiz Elahi, Hamid Gul, Ejaz Hussain Shah

October, 18 2008
KARACHI – Another FIR of the Karsaz blast was registered here on Friday against unidentified culprits with the Bahadurabad Police Station, just a day before the first anniversary of the tragic incident on the directives of the Sindh High Court.

The letter written by Benazir Bhutto has also been cited in the FIR wherein former chief minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former DG FBI Ejaz Hussain Shah and former ISI chief Hamid Gul have been named. The Government of Sindh has got registered this FIR under No 213/2008. In her statement, Benazir Bhutto had expressed her suspicion over three persons for plotting her assassination and they would be included in investigation.

Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza held a meeting on Friday in central police office in connection with registration of new FIR. IG Sindh Sultan Salahuddin, CCPO, Karachi Waseem Ahmad, DIG investigation Karachi, Ghulam Qadir and others attended the meeting.

The meeting also decided to increase the reward money from Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million for those who would provide information in connection with arrest of accused persons.

The Karsaz massacre took place on Shahrah-e-Faisal on October 18 last year on the arrival of martyred PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and claimed more than one hundred lives and left around 500 others badly injured. The first FIR 183/2007 was registered within a week of the tragic incident but the PPP leadership declined to accept its subject and filed a petition for the registration of another one.

The sections, added in the new FIR, included 302/324/427/120-B/34-PPC/Explosive Act 7-ATA 34 and 109. Experts believe the addition of section 109 in the FIR is a major breakthrough that defines that the conspirator, who had hatched the conspiracy, was also involved in the heinous crime.

Town Police Officer, Sohail Zafar Chattha, while talking to The Nation, said that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was the petitioner and, for that matter, was the complainant in the new FIR. He added that a case has been registered against the unidentified persons whom the complainant had named in a letter she had written to the then President of Pakistan they could be involved in her assassination.

Chattha further elaborated that investigation in the light of the previous FIR had been stopped and the case would proceed according to the newly registered FIR.

City Police Chief Waseem Ahmed said Ms Bhutto had contacted police afterwards and referred to a letter she had earlier written to the then president Pervez Musharraf in which she had named the three men as a danger to her life.

According to police sources, the slain PPP leader had mentioned three names in her letter to the former President before her arrival including former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former DG FBI Brig (r) Ejaz Shah and Lt Gen (r) Hameed Gul as prime suspects who could be involved in her assassination attempt.

Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza has reportedly said that former President Pervez Musharraf could also be implicated in the assassination of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and called into the court.

Rashid A Rizvi, President Sindh High Court Bar Association, while talking to The Nation said that there was a High Court judgment on the second FIR in which it had ruled it legal on the application of Ghinwa Bhutto earlier before this incident. He added that addition of section 109 PPC defined the criminal intention of the accused person.

Online adds: Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that FIR on October 18 carnage has been filed according to the context of Benazir Bhutto’s letter, which would also be a part of investigations owing to its importance, and the responsible of the incident will be punished.

He further said that a five-member committee has been established to probe the investigations of October 18 incident headed by DIG investigation Ghulam Qadir, and according to ongoing investigations over Karsaz carnage statements of about 423 people have been recorded.

Taliban Hole Up in Karachi as Pakistan Weeds Out Swat Valley

[SEE: Karachi Powderkeg, Where the Swat Taliban Went]

Taliban Hole Up in Karachi as Pakistan Weeds Out Swat Valley

By Naween A. Mangi and Farhan Sharif

June 19 (Bloomberg) — On June 7, Pakistan’s anti-terrorist police burst into a house in the Sohrab Goth suburb of Karachi. Inside, they said, were 10 suicide-bomber jackets, 60 kilograms of explosives, 10 grenades and Taliban militant Naeemur Rahman.

Fayyaz Khan, senior superintendent in the police’s crime investigation department, who led the raid, said the arrest of Rahman, an aide of Taliban Commander Baitullah Mehsud, is part of a daily battle to root out terrorists from Pakistan’s biggest city and prevent a major attack.

“Terrorists have a network here and whenever they get a chance to carry out an attack, they will grab it,” said Khan, “They want to do something major because when something happens here, it creates much more pressure on the government.”

Even as Pakistan’s military drives the Taliban from bases in the Swat Valley, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) to the north, militants are holing up in Karachi, making it harder to rid the country of Islamic extremists. U.S. officials say the extremists pose a security threat in the nuclear-armed state and aid Muslim insurgents battling NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Karachi, a city of 18 million people, has two faces. One is the commercial capital, where women are seen in the workforce and in public life, entrepreneurs live in million-dollar homes and jeans-clad teenagers hang out in shopping malls and cafes.

The city is home to the country’s stock exchange, central bank and local headquarters for New York-based Citigroup Inc. and London-and Rotterdam-based Unilever. Karachi contributes more than 70 percent of Pakistan’s tax revenue, according to the local government.

‘Welcome Taliban’

The other face is the rundown warren of narrow streets in districts like Sohrab Goth and Baldia Town, where authorities have little control and walls and bridges are daubed with slogans like “Welcome welcome Taliban” and “Long live Taliban.”

“Karachi has more bombs, dynamite and Kalashnikovs than any other city in Pakistan,” said Fateh Muhammad Burfat, head of criminology at Karachi University.

Investors have been drawn to Karachi after Mayor Mustafa Kamal spent 200 billion rupees ($2.5 billion) in the last three years building bridges, underpasses and roads.

“The Taliban overshadow anything good,” said Farrukh Khan, president of the 175-member Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Most investors are taking it as a positive that there’s a consensus in the country to tackle the Taliban head on.”

Stock Gains

The Karachi 100 share index rose 20 percent this year while the currency weakened 2.5 percent. The government projects the economy will grow 2 percent in the year ended June 30, the slowest pace in eight years.

Karachi lures as many as one million job seekers every year, half of whom never return home, city authorities said.

“The problem for Karachi is there is no registration system,” said Burfat. “People are still coming from every corner of the country. Among these, many elements get involved in terrorism.”

The unmapped slums are perfect hiding places for Taliban seeking respite from the fighting, said Arif Hasan, an urban planner and author of “Understanding Karachi.”

“In a city as large as Karachi, anyone can hide,” Hasan said. “Police surveillance is weak and a high level of corruption means any one who has money can easily hide.”

Militants also use the commercial center as a source of money by kidnapping for ransom, robbing banks and trafficking drugs and arms, according to Kamal.

Kidnappings Rise

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, there have been 355 reported kidnappings for ransom in Karachi, compared with 68 in the previous five years, said the Citizens Police Liaison Committee, a volunteer group.

In October 2008, film maker Satish Anand was kidnapped and held for six months until he paid a ransom, police said. A month earlier, Shaukat Afridi, who ran a fleet of oil tankers and supplied NATO forces in Afghanistan, died when his kidnappers blew up the house where he was being held. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted in Karachi and killed in 2002.

Pakistan has suffered more than 25 bombings since the army began its campaign in the Swat Valley seven weeks ago. At least 31 people were killed in political violence in Karachi in the first week of June.

“Hearing gunfire at night everyday has become a habit,” said Ashraf Hussain, Pakistan’s only woman caddy, who travels from the north of the city to the Karachi Golf Club everyday. “I get on the bus every morning fearing how I will get home.”

Meanwhile, Fayyaz Khan and his anti-terrorist team carry out up to three raids a day to try to prevent a major attack.

“It’s a cat and mouse game,” said Khan, 40, who had plastic surgery after a bomb exploded in his hands in 2002. “We have to keep at it. The game is about who is one step ahead.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Naween A. Mangi in Karachi, Pakistan at; Farhan Sharif in Karachi, Pakistan at

We cannot afford to provoke a tribal uprising

[The following explanation of the differences in Pakistani Army and US positions highlights the imperative for the Army to stand-up to Obama and demand that US violations of sovereignty end immediately. Until now, it has been verboten for Pakistan to even express publicly its position, explaining why it seeks to avoid total war in the FATA region.  Daring to air its logical reasoning behind the strategic choice to limit the war is but one small step, albeit an appreciated one.  The next big step must be a public demand that American meddling and war crimes in Waziristan end now.]

“When we do move in, it must only be against Baitullah and his group. We cannot afford to provoke a tribal uprising.”

Mehsud ruthless criminal: Army

MORE than 70 years ago, the British army went to war against tribal forces loyal to a charismatic religious figure in what is now the Pakistani region of Waziristan, reports The Washington Post.
The ensuing guerrilla conflict lasted more than a decade. The British troops, though far more numerous and better armed, never captured the renegade leader and finally withdrew from the region. Today, the Pakistan Army is preparing to launch a major operation against another warrior in Waziristan, Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. Taking a lesson from history and its own recent failures, the Army is attempting to isolate and weaken Mehsud before sending its troops into battle. “We are trying to shape the environment before we move in for the fight,” Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, the chief military spokesman, said in an interview. “We are also trying to minimise the loss of life. Ours is the only institution that can stand up to the militants, but public support is crucial. When we do move in, it must only be against Baitullah and his group. We cannot afford to provoke a tribal uprising.”
So far, the effort has produced mixed results. On Tuesday, a Mehsud loyalist assassinated a key pro-government tribal leader in South Waziristan, and US drone strikes killed 46 people at the funeral of a slain Mehsud commander, muddying the waters of tribal loyalties and antipathies.
As the days pass without the launch of a full-scale operation, experts said Mehsud – who Army officials estimate commands about 10,000 tribal fighters – has had the time to gather support from sympathisers in other areas of Pakistan and abroad.
Sources close to the armed forces said there were concerns that the military was being pushed into the new campaign by Pakistan and US officials too soon after taking on thousands of Taliban fighters in Swat.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivity, said there was also concern in the military that the continuing US drone attacks were doing more harm than good, killing a few important militant figures but stoking anti-American sentiment throughout the tribal region.

“The drone attacks have a short-term positive impact, but their long-term effect is to create public hostility,” one military source said. “People see them as a breach of sovereignty and think the state is leaving its own citizens at their mercy.”
Maj-Gen Abbas said he could not comment on the drone issue, and he would not say how soon the ground operation in Waziristan would begin. However, he said that although the Army was prepared to go after Mehsud and the fighters, “we are dealing with a lot of complexities and constraints. We can only go so far without hurting our long-term interests.”
Abbas acknowledged that the government had decided to withdraw the Army from South Waziristan in January after a brief effort to attack Mehsud, but he said the military was in a far better political position today to go after the militants, because it enjoys strong public support while Mehsud, once seen as a Robin Hood figure by many Pakistanis, has become a ruthless criminal in the public’s eye.
Abbas said Swat was an “ideal territory for guerrilla fighters” because it is mountainous, forested and heavily populated. In contrast, he said, South Waziristan is barren and sparsely populated, with few places for insurgents to hide.
Still, Abbas said that even if Mehsud is captured or killed and his movement crushed, the problems that spawned it will not vanish overnight. “The tribal areas have been neglected for 50 years,” the spokesman said. “We will do our part, but there has to be follow-up by the civilian administration, better governance, more development. This is going to be a long haul.”
“It is now clear that any tribals who side with the Army will be violently suppressed,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of defence studies at Quaid-i-Azam University here. “They may tacitly support the state, but they will not dare actively support it.”
He also noted that many Army officers are from the same ethnic Pashtun group as Mehsud, making them reluctant to take him on.

Locating the threat within

Locating the threat within,

Mosharraf Zaidi

President Asif Ali Zardari is the product of a legitimate election, by a legitimate parliament. He could do a lot worse than he already has, and he will always remain a better president than his predecessor. And yet, somehow, the more that Zardari is supposed to be less like his predecessor, the more he seems more and more like his predecessor. As he approaches a full year in office, it is to the enduring shame and ridicule of the PPP that it presides over one of the most farcical constitutional eras in Pakistani history: a people’s government that refuses to live up to the most basic of its promises to the people — to give back the country to parliament of the people.

The keen appetite that President Zardari shares with Gen Musharraf for retaining absolute power through the mutilation of the constitution is only the tip of the iceberg. The more striking and much more insidious resemblance between this president (legitimate, standing tall and all) and the last one (hardly legitimate enough to walk away in shame) is in their foreign policy doctrine. Both presidents have used the art of charm as the single and only instrument of foreign policy available. While Gen Musharraf had truckloads to dispense with of his own, built up over a career filled with tiny exploits made to look bigger with rhetorical bluster, President Zardari uses the substantial stock of charm gleaned from years of sacrifice by the PPP, and the gold mine of charm that the PPP came across when Husain Haqqani stumbled into, and onto the feet of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

Being a charming president to a country of 172 million is no crime at all. Except of course if all the charm is reserved for everybody outside the country, and none at all is reserved for anybody in it. And let’s be frank, being charming only for foreigners isn’t such a bad thing for a country widely seen to be the most dangerous in the world. Unless of course what you consider charming is in fact just disingenuous pseudo-intellectual drivel. And it is this, most depressing of realities, that makes this current, most legitimate of presidents, seem like a rerun of his predecessor, a most illegitimate one.

Gen Musharraf ran out of party tricks with the Bush administration when it became widely accepted conventional wisdom in Washington DC that though he was telling the Americans everything they wanted to hear, the general wasn’t the kind of kitten they had thought, but rather a different kind of cat deep down inside. By the time he left office, Musharraf’s invisible alter ego, to the Americans at least, was a dude with a turban, a long beard, with a chair deep in the heart of the ISI headquarters, ready to take it to the next level in Kabul, Delhi and anywhere else he had to, to deepen Pakistan’s ‘strategic depth’.

So now, Uncle Sam and Nephew Pak have a democratic government, led by President Zardari, to deal with. And what’s different about Zardari, clearly, is that he isn’t part of the ‘establishment’, that he’s from the ‘progressive and secular PPP’, that he’s the head of the ‘most popular political party in the country’ and that he’s not ‘Punjabi’. Asif Ali Zardari, unlike the Punjabi-ised General Musharraf of Old Delhi and New Londontown, is none of the things that Washington DC has come to loathe in this Islamic Republic.

President Zardari has lived up to the hype thus far, mostly thanks to his man in Washington DC. Ambassador Haqqani makes sure his master in Islamabad speaks to the nervous ticks and muscular spasms that get any kind of airtime at all in DC. Every speech, op-ed and press conference must inspire a new memo, a new telegram, and a new talking point.

For serious followers of politics and policy in Pakistan, President Zardari’s quotes are nothing more than an entertaining sideshow, not the core of Pakistani foreign policy. In true Pakistani tradition, however, the only tempering mechanism for President Zardari’s pronouncements is American gullibility. So while Pakistan’s dysfunction is entirely Pakistan’s fault, American naivete cannot get a pass because Pakistan is a basket case. In the Age of Obama, America has to do better. Anyone that was really interested in debilitating the Punjabi-dominated, Hindu-hating, right-leaning, military-dominated Pakistani establishment would have to be recklessly foolish if it went and helped rebrand the Pakistan army in the wake of eight years of Musharraf and a devastating and humiliating defeat at the hands of the country’s lawyers. Yet that’s exactly what President Zardari has done since the May 8 offensive was launched into Swat. The Swat offensive has helped rehabilitate the image of the military.

Pakistanis should be ecstatic. No country should have to demonise its own military to enjoy democratic freedoms. But the rehabilitation of the military’s image in Pakistan comes with inherent costs. One of them is the credibility of the Haqqani framework for counter-establishment rhetoric that President Zardari uses with such abandon, such as “the existential threat to Pakistan is from within”, and the classic, “India is not the enemy, the Taliban are”.

Not only are these statements technically debatable, they are logically inconsistent with the purported joint mission of the PPP in Pakistan, and its supporters in Washington DC. This mission, to weaken the undemocratic strains of the Pakistani establishment, and strengthening its democratic credentials, is a noble one. However, good intentions alone don’t cut it in ‘the world’s most dangerous country’.

On existential threats, honest brokers know that countries are not insects, or cigarettes. They don’t disappear. All the post-partition rage, confused liberal mumbo-jumbo, and irrational right-wing bluster can’t change the reality of Pakistan’s existence, and its vitality — no matter how many terrorists attack its innocent people. In South Asia’s real politick, there is no such thing as an existential threat to Pakistan.

On the differentiation between internal threats and external ones, Pakistan’s worldview is best demonstrated by what it does, not what it says. It uses the army, rather than the police (even though the enemy keeps trying to engage the police!) to fight internal threats. More tellingly, if Pakistan really believed that the threat (deep and serious as it is) is internal, would every government minister, army general and armchair pundit be blaming India, Afghanistan, and the US as the sources of the terrorists’ funding, weapons and training? Pakistan can keep towing the American line on who its enemies really are in the Washington Post — but it clearly does not believe it can afford to do so at ministry of interior press conferences in Islamabad, much less on Pakistan’s eastern border.

The truth is that neither Gen Musharraf nor President Zardari is incentivised to tell the truth. Why would they tell unpleasant truths when they know that they can tell pleasant lies and get some money out of the bargain? They can milk the US taxpayer for the injection of American assistance into the Pakistani economy (albeit in a manner most inefficient) by continuing to whisper sweet nothings to the three Dicks — Dick Armitage, Dick Boucher and now Dick Holbrooke. When they are in town, Pakistani presidents don’t need to tell the truth.

The truth is that Pakistan — even under heavy moral and tactical compulsion — cannot, and will not, accept Indian dominance in Afghanistan. More urgently, the truth is that in negotiations between India and Pakistan henceforth, the conversation needs to begin with Afghanistan, if Pakistan were to be honest, rather than Kashmir, which is now, a secondary foreign policy issue for Pakistan. Finally, perhaps most urgently, the truth is that Pakistan does not want, and cannot help sustain, an American troop presence in Afghanistan.

None of this is to say that the terrorists are not recognised as a threat to Pakistan. They are. Nor is it to suggest that anybody has a better alternative to a US troop surge in Afghanistan to quell the increasing fortitude of the terrorists there in the present scenario. They do not. Nor is it to suggest that the brave Pakistani soldiers that are taking on the Taliban are not fighting the right war for the right reasons. They are.

But the realities and implications of Pakistan’s lesser-told truths are important. To understand Pakistan’s foreign policy dysfunction, the starting point cannot be a barrel of a gun, or the shining tip of a pen about to sign a $1.5 billion cheque. Pakistan will continue to take the money, its generals will continue to think the way Pakistan is ‘existentially’ wired to think, and Pakistan will continue to confound analysts because the set-piece frameworks in vogue in Washington DC, in London and beyond, simply don’t work. They are spurious, to say the least.

One-liners can’t change the course of the behemoth called Pakistan, nor can money, even $1.5 billion of it. This beast has momentum. To paraphrase the great American poet, Walt Whitman, does Pakistan contradict itself? Very well then, Pakistan contradicts itself. It is large. It contains multitudes.

The writer advises governments, donors and NGOs on public policy. He can be reached through his website

Army Facing Tough Choice After NWA Ambush–Stand-up to Obama, or Fight Total Civil War

[More proof (as if it was needed) that Obama is leading Gen. Kayani and his co-conspirators around by the nose.  Pakistan is doomed, as long as America is charge of its war effort.  The purpose of the Predator attacks is not so much to kill militant leaders as it is to drive them into attacking the Army.  It is more than obvious that the generals intend to continue Musharref’s play-acting in the war on terror, pretending to pursue America’s designated enemies, while killing only those militants who challenge the government.  Using the drone attacks to stir-up the militants and the locals is America’s not so subtle method for taking-away Pakistan’s right to choose its own path.  If the generals try to choose a different path than total civil war throughout the FATA region, then America’s only remaining option to force the generals’ compliance is to send in US Special Forces.]

Army facing tough choice after NWA ambush

Should it go after Baitullah only or punish Gul Bahadur too?

“It was thus obvious that the confrontation between the militants and the military in North Waziristan would escalate because the US is unlikely to give up its policy of using drones to target militants� positions.”

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: The Army high command is required to make a tough choice whether to extend its military operation from South Waziristan to North Waziristan following the provocative attack by the Taliban militants on a military convoy in North Waziristan�s Madakhel area on Sunday despite the existence of a peace accord.

The priority for now is South Waziristan where the military campaign against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) head Baitullah Mehsud is gaining momentum. Opening a new front when the armed forces are fighting on a number of fronts including Swat, Buner, Dir Lower, Bajaur, Mohmand, Darra Adamkhel, Orakzai and South Waziristan would over-stretch the military and mix-up its priorities. But the military cannot ignore the deadly ambush on the 250-member convoy in which a significant number of soldiers were killed and injured. A senior government official said such attacks could demoralise the troops if punitive measures aren�t undertaken.

This wasn�t the first time that the security forces were targeted by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led militants or the peace accord was violated in North Waziristan. There have been quite a few such incidents during the past month or so. There were attacks on military convoys with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including two last Friday on the Miramshah-Mir Ali road in which four soldiers were killed, and the students of Cadet College, Razmak, located in North Waziristan, were kidnapped by Baitullah�s men in the limits of Frontier Region (FR) Bannu, an area that Hafiz Gul Bahadur considers as part of his tribal fiefdom. There have been suspicions that militants loyal to Hafiz Gul Bahadur cooperated with Baitullah�s fighters while kidnapping the Razmak college cadets and their teachers.

But the ambush against the military convoy in Madakhel area on Sunday was both unexpected and provocative. Though the Taliban spokesman Ahmadullah Ahmadi claimed that 60 troops were killed and 15 military vehicles were destroyed in the attack, the Pakistan Army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas conceded the loss of 12 soldiers only. Official sources in Peshawar and Miramshah estimated that the number of soldiers who lost their lives in the ambush was 40 or even more. Among the dead was a colonel, a major and a captain. The sources said the attackers also seized vehicles and arms and ammunition.

The ambush was carried out in a narrow gorge that isn�t much different than the Shaoor Tangi, the famous gorge in South Waziristan where freedom-fighters often ambushed British forces and other invaders in the past. People with knowledge of Madakhel area wondered why adequate measures weren�t taken when the military convoy was passing through that treacherous gorge. It isn�t clear if helicopters were in place to provide air cover to the convoy at a time when it was vulnerable to an ambush.

More intriguing are reports that intercepts of the militants communicating with each other had been heard three days before the ambush in which they talked about starting attacks against the security forces without formally scrapping their peace accord with the government in North Waziristan. If true, it is strange that even then proper security measures weren�t made for military convoys in the dangerous parts of North Waziristan. Also worth recalling is another such incident in June in which an army rescue party sent to help a military convoy under attack itself was ambushed shortly before sunset while returning to Shakai in South Waziristan. It was felt the rescue party shouldn�t have undertaken the return journey at such inopportune time in an area infested with militants. As a consequence, the rescue party suffered avoidable casualties.

It is clear that the peace accord in North Waziristan is finished even if there has been no formal announcement by the militants and the government that it has been scrapped. The Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban Shura has already issued threats to tribal elders and others to stop interacting with government functionaries and avoid holding jirgas to settle disputes. Aware of the consequences, only one tribal elder, Malik Gulabat Khan, dared to attend the jirga with North Waziristan�s political agent on Monday. Others who came to the jirga, convened to discuss Sunday ambush against the military convoy, were clerics. The clerics� loyalties, out of necessity, fear or religious affiliation would be with the militants.

Though Hafiz Gul Bahadur was angry with the military for carrying out operation against his militant allies in FR Bannu, his spokesman Ahmadi mentioned the continued US drone attacks as the reason for the Taliban ambush on the Pakistan Army convoy in Madakhel area on Sunday. It was thus obvious that the confrontation between the militants and the military in North Waziristan would escalate because the US is unlikely to give up its policy of using drones to target militants� positions.

NWA militants scrap peace deal

NWA militants scrap peace deal

Death toll in military convoy attack reaches 30

By Mushtaq Yusufzai & Malik Mumtaz Khan

PESHAWAR/MIRAMSHAH: Previously known as pro-government militants, the Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban in the troubled North Waziristan region on Monday formally scrapped the peace deal with the government in, what they termed, protest against the US drone attacks.

Ahmadullah Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led militants, called The News from Miramshah, headquarters of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), and said their Shura members had decided in a meeting to scrap the peace accord.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the Sunday�s attack on a military convoy in NWA rose to 30, as 10 more seriously wounded soldiers succumbed to their injuries on Monday. The slain troops included a colonel, a captain and a lieutenant.

The Taliban in NWA had signed the first peace accord with the government on September 5, 2006 after months of bloody clashes with security forces in which both the sides had suffered heavy casualties. However, later they scrapped the agreement when their relations with the government turned sour.

Again, with the help of a 40-member peace committee, comprising tribal elders and clerics, the Taliban signed another peace agreement with the government on February 17, 2008, a day before the general elections last year. The latest accord was signed on militants� terms and conditions.

Before signing the agreement, the government had removed all the roadside military checkpoints, released detained militants and compensated them and other tribesmen for their losses they had suffered during the military operation.

However, despite being in peace accord the two sides never enjoyed cordial relations and lack of trust has always been visible. The militants were running the tribal region according to their own will, leaving little space for the government and the law-enforcement agencies.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur has said he had scrapped the peace accord in protest against the frequent US drone attacks in NWA. He claimed that the drones had carried over 50 attacks since signing of the peace accord in NWA in which hundreds of people, including women and children, had lost their lives.

Another reason that reportedly annoyed Gul Bahadur was the recent military operation in Janikhel and Bakakhel villages of the FR Bannu. Gul Bahadur has recently threatened more than once to end the peace agreement but it was the 40-memebr peace committee members who prevented him from taking such a decision.

Tribal sources said the peace committee members also reminded Gul Bahadur and his men that drones did not pound any target in NWA during the past two months and a military operation in the FR Bannu was almost over.

The Taliban commander has also reportedly demanded an end to the military operation against the Baitullah Mehsud-led militants and drone attacks in the adjoining South Waziristan tribal region. The elders, however, have told Gul Bahadur that their peace agreement was restricted to NWA, therefore, it would be difficult for them to put pressure on the government to accept their demands related to South Waziristan.

In the meantime, Gul Bahadur told the tribal elders that all doors for negotiations between him and the government had been closed, warning the peace committee members not to approach him for talks.

He also later issued a pamphlet, asking all tribal elders and Maliks to boycott the government offices and its functions.The pamphlet, a copy of which was made available to The News, forbade the tribesmen from approaching the government and attending its functionaries. It also banned holding of Jirgas and congregations in the tribal region. He had warned he would not even hesitate to send his suicide bombers to attack any meeting convened for peace in the region.

The tribal sources said Gul Bahadur�s decision to scrap the peace deal with the government was in context of his previous association with Baitullah Mehsud.In February last, Baitullah Mehsud, Gul Bahadur and Mulla Nazeer, commander of Ahmadzai Wazir militants in Wana area, had entered into an alliance � �Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahideen� or council of holy warriors � and pledged to end their differences and fight together in future against their enemy.

Sources close to the Taliban said that Gul Bahadur had personally decided to break the peace accord. They said he had called 600 well-armed militants to his village for attacking the military convoy.

Several soldiers went missing after their convoy was ambushed and militants are believed to have kidnapped them. After Gul Bahadur, militants affiliated with Mulla Nazeer have also started attacks on military installations in Wana and Shakai areas of South Waziristan. Though he has been silent so far, military officials believe his men are involved in recent attacks on military installations.