Lashkar e-Jhangvi IS the “Punjabi Taliban”

Punjabi Taliban  Pentagon Press, India (NOT associated with US Pentagon)

Keeping mum about the Punjabi Taliban

The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore

I was surprised a fortnight ago to receive a note from Lahore’s General Post Office saying I had imported a banned book which the Post Office had duly confiscated. The book was Punjabi Taliban by Mujahid Hussain (Pentagon Press, India, 2011) which is available in Pakistan too and advertised by a Karachi bookseller on the internet.

The terrorists are angry at the book. Punjab government has now joined them. The terrorists are scary enough — because the author, who now lives abroad, was once attacked by them. Some years ago, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied that south Punjab was a haven of the Punjabi Taliban. South Punjab contains 13 districts with a population of 27 million: Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Jhang, Khanewal, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, and Vehari.

Ex-editor Shireen Mazari who hails from DG Khan in south Punjab wrote in The News (April 29, 2009) “Why military action is not the answer” about the dominance of jihadi madrassas in DG Khan, significantly pointing to the “foreign funding” they were receiving: “In DG Khan, there are 185 registered madrassas of which 90 are Deobandi (with a total of 324 teachers), 84 are Barelvi (with a total of 212 teachers), six are Ahle Hadith (107 teachers) and five are Fiqh-e-Jafaria (10 teachers)”.

She continued: “Of the Deobandi madrassas, Jamia Ataul-Ulum, with 200 boarders and 20 day-students ranging from 5-25 years, and eight teachers, receives donations from Kuwait. Jamia Darul Rehmania offers education up to class eight and has 350 boarders plus 230 day-students and 28 teachers…The total number of Deobandi madrassa students in the DG Khan district is 11,535. Interestingly, in this category, it is the large madrassas… linked to the JUI… that receive foreign funding… almost solely from Kuwait”.

On 10 December 2009, a PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti from DG Khan challenged the claim made by the law minister that there were no terrorist havens in south Punjab and that Barelvi madrassas outnumbered the violent Deobandi ones. He said south Punjab was the main source of the Taliban-linked terrorists and that DG Khan was in the grip of violence encouraged by the state itself. He said the hills of DG Khan were still the training grounds for jihadis patronised by the state.

Bahawalpur division is dominated by the Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Sipah-e-Sahaba. The other two forces in the territory, the feudals and the state, have developed a modus vivendi with them, the latter frequently acting as a bodyguard threatening anyone trying to investigate their activities. The districts have supplied nearly 5,000 warriors to the Taliban’s war in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Swat.

Leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad Masood Azhar was running a training camp of warriors in Cholistan, receiving financial aid from al Qaeda, also protected by the deep state. Thousands of Jaish militants were living in Bahawalpur where Masood Azhar too secretly resided. He frequently visited the Taliban and al Qaeda leaders on the Afghan border. Malik Ishaq, once in jail for killing dozens of people, belongs to Rahim Yar Khan and is leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He used to rule the territory from jail, even talking from prison to the political leaders of Punjab. The case against him was wrecked after witnesses against him got killed and the living ones resiled.

The mastermind of the Mumbai attack Hamid Amin belonged to Rahim Yar Khan. In Bahawalpur, thousands have gone to join the war in the Tribal Areas from Madrassa Usman-o-Ali established by Masood Azhar.

Former governor Salmaan Taseer’s son was kidnapped from Lahore allegedly by Punjabi Taliban and taken to North Waziristan and is being reportedly kept — right in front of the Haqqani camp — by them and their Uzbek cohorts.

Published in The Express Tribune

Kazakh Drone Overflight Map–(Updated)

[From the comparison below between the screen-shot of the actual UAV, on the left, and the photo on the right of an American Predator-type-B, it seems pretty obvious that it was an American drone.  The USAF says that Predator-B has a range of approx. 1100 naut. miles, putting it within ranges of two airstrips in NW Uzbek., at Muynak and Jasliq (marked on the updated map below).  A landing strip at Bekdash, Turkmenistan could have been the landing site.  The actual video is enclosed below.]

Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle

Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle


This is perhaps what the expression ‘setting the cat among the pigeons’ means.  Just when Israel was putting up that little show, going around theworld crying about the way Iran was targeting its peaceful diplomats around the world, the ayatollahs come up with their own little performance taking everyone’s breath away.


Not that Ahmadinejad didn’t warn us.  As always, everyone was sufficiently intimated of the glad tidings on the nuclear front were on their way.  Yet it was a master stroke. Give the Iranians their due.  If the Israelis are known for their cunning and craft of obfuscation and manipulation, it’s not easy beating the Persians at mind games either.  After all, they invented the game of chess.


Defying years of Western sanctions and the endless talk of war by Israel, the Iranians seem to have gotten another decisive step closer to their goal.And they have all the players and pawns where they want them to be. And for all their bluff and bluster, Israel and its guardian angels can’t do much about it.


As a former Indian envoy to Iran put it, this is like the classic Persian puzzle.  Iran takes one step forward and waits and watches for the reaction of adversaries before taking the next cautious step. Call it the Persian incrementalism or whatever but it seems to have worked so far.


The calibrated ‘diplomatic incidents’ in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok were of course a stroke of brilliance.  They were apparently meant to hit two birds with one stone:  First, pin the blame on Iran, as Netanyahu did within minutes of the Delhi blast calling Tehran ‘the biggest exporter of international terror,’ and create a credible pretext to hit the Islamic republic.


Second, derail the growing Iran-India relationship.  The Israelis and Americans haven’t been too pleased with India’s refusal to stop buying the Iranian oil after recent sanctions.  By the way India isn’t the only one to do so.  China, Japan and South Korea too have refused to toe the Western line.


But Israel has been there and done it all so many times before that these shenanigans do not fool the world anymore.  These attacks purportedly targeting Israeli diplomats are rather too convenient and perfect to be genuine.  Notwithstanding Ahmadinejad’s punch-drunk love of Israel andpreoccupation with its past and future, the Iranians are not stupid.


At a time when they are isolated internationally and the West is looking for an excuse to punish it, why would they stick out their neck and resort to something as suicidal as this? As Dr Trita Parsi, the Iran hand at Johns Hopkins University and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States agues, why would they do something so foolish as this and that too in New Delhi? It’s an insult to the Iranians’ intelligence.


India is, after China, Iran’s biggest trading partner and importer of Iranian oil.  Besides, the two have shared a quiet partnership since Russians left Afghanistan.  It has even survived the Indian vote against Iran in the IAEA.  Incidentally, Thailand is another major trading partner of the Islamic republic.  So why would the Iranians choose the distant tourist paradise to settle scores with the Israelis, hurting their own interests?


Secondly, in both India and Thailand, it’s the Israelis who have been quick to declare that the sticky bombs used in Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi are similar to the ones used in killing four Iranian nuclear scientists over the past two years.  Be that as it may, how does that link them to Tehran? Indeed, having repeatedly used the device to deadly effect against the Iranians, why couldn’t the Israelis have used it again in Indian, Georgian and Thai capitals?


The detention of an Iranian, who blew up his legs while handling the explosives, proves nothing.  It’s hardly a secret the Israelis and Americans have been using the Mujahideen-e-Khalq terrorists against Iran.


The Israeli embassy on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi exists in the sniffing distance of the Prime Minister’s residence. It’s a high security zone with theelite ‘Z’ security force monitoring every inch of the area every minute.  So how come that red bike got so close to the embassy car and got away after sticking that bomb? No wonder Israeli watchers suspect all this is part of a campaign to corner Iran and fortify the case for the war that the world has been waiting with bated breath for some time.


I hate a triumphal I-told-you-so but this is what many of us have feared and warned about all along.  That Israel and its enablers in the US establishment are hell-bent on sparking another Western war to destroy another oil-rich Muslim country.  This is what happened in the case of Iraq.  Remember the comical claims linking Iraq to 9/11 and Niger uranium, not to mention Tony Blair’s 45-minute strike talk?


As the West turns up the heat on Iran by way of economic sanctions, trade blockade, and crippling of its banks, coupled with the rising chatter of coming war, the region has been on the razor’s edge for months now.  All that is needed is a tiny spark to blow it all up.  A minor skirmish here, a misunderstanding there or a perfect false flag in distant lands could prove excuse enough for a full blown conflagration with catastrophic consequences.


That moment seems to have arrived with the explosions in India, Georgia and Thailand.  Israel is desperately looking for a pretext–or a provocation–to punish Iran.  With the arrival of US poll season and Europe being preoccupied with its economic mess, perhaps there cannot be a better time to do so. But it’s easier said than done. Israel cannot do so on its own without the US help. If it was doable, Israel would have done it by now.  Iran is not Iraq.


Unlike Iraq’s Osirak plant which Israel bombed in 1981, Iranian nuclear installations are heavily fortified, many of them underground and spread all across the country, not to mention the forbidding distance. Besides, an Israeli strike might put back the nuclear clock but wouldn’t stop it, especially now when Tehran appears to be a screw-turn away from going full nuclear if it wants.  Iran’s leaders of course insist it is for ‘peaceful’ purposes and that they aren’t interested in the ‘satanic arms.’


Even though a demonstration of the capacity doesn’t mean willingness, would you be terribly surprised if Tehran indeed goes for the nukes? GivenIsrael’s terrorizing of the region over the past six decades and West’s hegemonic wars, it’s actually tempting and makes sense to go for the comforting reassurance that a couple of nukes seem to inspire.


More to the point, what right does Israel–and other world powers–have to lord over their nuclear arsenal while the rest of the world has to submit itself to the IAEA scrutiny? If the international community is indeed serious about a nuke-free world, it has to first address this NPT duplicity. Nuclear weapons are a clear and present danger to the Middle East and the world, no matter who owns them.

Over 3,000 Attend Pro-Assad Rally In Southern Turkey

Yesterday (19th February), in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, a demonstration took place in support of the Syrian regime by about 3000 people, the vast majority of them Alawites, chanting: “We shall shed our blood for you, Assad.”

Afghans protest Quran disposal at U.S. base

Afghans protest Quran disposal at U.S. base

By Musadeq Sadeq, AP

Protesters gather on Tuesday in front of the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – More than 2,000 Afghans rallied Tuesday against the inadvertent burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious materials during trash disposal at an American air base. They demanded to meet the country’s president over the issue and threatened to demonstrate again if their demand was not met.

U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, apologized and ordered an investigation into the incident, which he was “not intentional in any way.”

The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and fueled the arguments of Afghans who believe foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.

Early Tuesday, as word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the sprawlingBagram Air Field, north of Kabul in Parwan province. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage.

“Die, die, foreigners!” the demonstrators shouted. Some fired hunting guns into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base.

Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials took him to a burn pit on the base where 60 to 70 books, including Qurans, were recovered. The books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base, he said.

“Some were all burned. Some were half-burned,” Zahed said, adding that he did not know exactly how many Qurans, the Muslim holy book, had been burned.

Zahed said five Afghans working at the pit told him that the religious books were in the garbage that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported to the pit in a truck late Monday night. When they realized the books were in the trash, the laborers worked to recover them, he said.

“The laborers there showed me how their fingers were burned when they took the books out of the fire,” he said.

Afghan Army Gen. Abdul Jalil Rahimi, the commander of a military coordination office in the province, said he and other officials met with protesters, tribal elders and clerics to try to calm their emotional response. “The protesters were very angry and didn’t want to end their protest,” he said.

One protester, Mohammad Hakim, said if U.S. forces can’t bring peace to Afghanistan, they should go home.

“They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith,” Hakim said. “They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”

Later, however, the protesters ended the rally and said they would send 20 representatives from the group to Kabul to talk with Afghan parliamentarians and demanded a meeting with President Hamid Karzai, Rahimi said.

In a statement, Allen offered his apologies to the president and people of Afghanistan and thanked the local Afghans “who helped us identify the error, and who worked with us to immediately take corrective action.”

“We are thoroughly investigating the incident and are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again,” Allen said. “I assure you, I promise you, this was not intentional in any way.”

The governor’s office in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan called the incident a “shameful move by some stupid individuals.”

Zia Ul Rahman, deputy provincial police chief, said between 2,000 and 2,500 protesters demonstrated at the base.

“The people are very angry. The mood is very negative,” Rahman said while the rally was going on. “Some are firing hunting guns in the air, but there have been no casualties.”

Police said a similar protest on Tuesday just east of Kabul ended peacefully.

In April 2011, Afghans protesting the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor turned deadly when gunmen in the crowd stormed a U.N. compound in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and killed three staffers and four Nepalese guards.

Separately, officials in Helmand province in the south said insurgents beheaded four people Sunday night in Washer district on the charge that they were spies.

“The militants told the local people that they were guilty because they were carrying satellite phones,” provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said that the militant group was not involved in the killings.

Also in the south, a NATO service member died Tuesday as a result of a non-battle related injury. The U.S. led coalition gave no further details about the death. So far this year, 44 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

American Predator-B Video-Taped Over Kazakh Air Space?

[From the comparison below between the screen-shot of the actual UAV, on the left, and the photo on the right of an American Predator-type-B, it seems pretty obvious that it was an American drone.  The actual video is enclosed below.]

In the west border of Kazakhstan noticed an unmanned aerial vehicle

Screenshot of KTK video showing alleged Uzbekistani drone incursion into Kazakhstan
Jaroslav Krasienko

Dash to the west of Kazakhstan. On the eve of the men of the detachment of the boundary, which is stationed near the village of Beineu in Mangistau region, noticed an unmanned aerial vehicle.About Mr. intruded into the airspace of the Republic from Uzbekistan.

UAV crossed the border of our country and went deep into the territory of Kazakhstan. The incident was reported CTC correspondents informed sources in the power structures. The aircraft was located in the Kazakh air space of about fifteen minutes. And it went unnoticed because of the means of defense is too low altitude. Drone, presumably belonging to Uzbekistan, flew near the two border posts, turned around and headed back toward the border and escaped to a neighboring state. In a situation is dealt with by representatives of the Air Defense Forces and the intelligence units of the Ministry of Defense. Will the Uzbek authorities sent a protest note, is still unknown.