[Pakistan has fully embraced the American solution to “self-defense” against the Taliban militants, local “self-defense forces”, a.k.a., “death squads.” Following the line laid-down by the Western media, readers are urged to compare Pakistan’s situation to that which developed in Iraq with the “awakening movement.” It is easy to see from Iraq’s experience with the paramilitary forces the great dangers that could arise from a failed militia movement, but it is imperative that Pakistani leaders look to earlier successful examples of this American “low-intensity conflict” solution, such as Colombia, to see the far greater dangers that could arise from a successful paramilitary campaign.
Colombia is now entangled in an attempt to “demobilize” some 33,000 militia forces without destroying the state in the process. It is easy to accept rivers of American cash and weaponry to create paramilitary forces, according to American instructions, but it much more difficult, if not impossible, to disband these groups of armed thugs after they have murdered most of the leaders of the opposition. If Colombia’s history is not compelling enough to dissuade Pakistan from embracing the American paramilitary solution, then it should look back even further to the creation of the paramilitary Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, to see the permanent nature of the problems that these criminal groups create.
There is very little difference between the Taliban and the Lashkars, just as there was little difference between the FARC and the AUC in Colombia, all are pieces in the same American puzzle. One justifies the other, therefore the “bad” side (FARC, Taliban) must precede the “good” (AUC Paramilitaries, Lashkars). There are no “coincidences” in geo-politics, so the rising of “bad” militant groups wherever the US corporate state wants to go, cannot be written off as “coincidence.”
If the “911 Truth” crowd would devote a little of their limitless energies to exposing these ongoing convenient “coincidences” of the Empire, then they would arrive at the same destination they seek, only they would get there a lot quicker.
Smell the Big Stink, people–This is it.]
MATANI: Tribal militias allied with the government helped block a Taliban advance in this corner of northwest Pakistan close to the Afghan border, but their success has come at a price: the empowerment of untrained, unaccountable private armies that could yet emerge as a threat of their own.
Tensions are emerging between authorities and the dozens of militias that they helped to create predominantly in and near the northwest tribal regions. Operating from fortress-like compounds with anti-aircraft guns on the roofs, the militiamen have made it clear that the state now owes them for their sacrifices. They show photos on their cell phones of Taliban they killed and point to the scrubland outside, with graves of relatives who died in the fight.
The leader of the largest militia near the town of Matani, a wealthy landowner named Dilawar Khan, warns that he will stop cooperating with police unless he gets more money and weapons from authorities. Speaking to The Associated Press, he adds what could be a veiled threat to join terrorists.
“Time and time again, the Taliban have contacted us, urging us to change sides,” he said.
Another local militia commander is locked in a dispute with local police, who recently raided his compound and accused him of stealing and overstepping his authority.
The experience in the Matani area – 12 miles from Peshawar, shows the advantages of using proxies to counter al Qaeda and the Taliban, but also the pitfalls. In Iraq, similar forces were credited with creating a turning point in the war, when Sunni tribes rose up against al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups. Many of those Iraqi Sunnis, however, now feel they are being marginalised by the Shia leadership.
In Afghanistan, the United States is backing the creation of militias, dubbed local village defence forces, to fight the Taliban. The Afghan government is less keen, having seen the damage that warlords with private armies did to the country in the 1990s.
Pakistan’s own past shows the hazards of proxies. A large part of the insurgency tearing at the heart of Pakistan today is made up of armed groups that the government trained and funded to fight wars in Afghanistan and against Indian forces in Indian-held Kashmir, as well as extremists they long tolerated to keep control in places like the Swat valley.
“Every time the state delegates its authority by parceling it out to non-state actors, it ultimately backfires,” said Ail Dana Haas, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The arming of militias in the medium- to long-term always leads to further lawlessness. The militias will seek to maximise their own power, and they will do so at the cost of the state.”
Pakistani support for militias, known as lashkars, is less widespread and organised than in Iraq.
Most operate in the tribal regions close to Afghanistan, where the raising of private armies has a history going back to British colonial times. The army and political authorities dole out money and arms to tribal leaders so their fighters hold areas retaken by the military. Terrorists have ruthlessly targeted the lashkars this year with suicide bombings aimed at their meetings with authorities.
The northwest region is also where the al Qaeda’s top leaders are thought to be hiding and is increasingly being targeted by US missile strikes from drone aircraft, particularly in North Waziristan.
Six suspected US missiles struck two vehicles in the Shera Tala village of North Waziristan on Monday, killing 18 alleged terrorists, intelligence officials said. The Matani area represents one of the most successful uses of the lashkars.
A year and half ago, the poor, hilly region was under the effective control of terrorists who moved in from the adjacent tribal region of Khyber and enforced their will on the population.
This year, the Taliban were largely pushed back from Matani, and while no one is claiming total victory, attacks are down by three-quarters in Peshawar, police and locals say. The army has also undertaken operations in other parts of the tribal regions against known terrorist strongholds, further squeezing them, while the US has increased drone-fired missile attacks.
“The militants’ backbone is broken,” claimed Peshawar city police chief, Liaqat Ali Khan.
Three tribal militias in Matani backed by the government played a vital role in pushing back the Taliban and continue to ensure the terrorists do not return in significant numbers, said Matani police officer Hidayat Khan.
The tribesmen make good proxies because they know the terrain, have a network of contacts in the area and are motivated to fight terrorists, who in some cases have killed their relatives. Each lashkar is typically made up of an extended family or tribe, strengthening their loyalty.
Dilawar Khan claims to have between 300 and 400 men in his lashkar – and he boasts that he can call up “an entire village” if he wants. His forces have stocks of grenades and rockets, along with automatic weapons. His walled compound, on a hill at the end of a newly paved road, has three Russian-made anti-aircraft guns and a 100-foot-high (30-metre) watchtower that gives him a view across the hills to Khyber.
But he says he is unhappy with the level of support he is receiving from local authorities and pointed out that he lost 17 men to the terrorists since the fight began. He made clear he wants more money and weapons, though would not go into detail about how much he demands – or how much he has already received from authorities. “If we don’t get compensated, we will stop cooperating with the police,” he said. ap