Pakistan Prepares for Another Million+ Afghan Refugees Before Presidential Election

Photographer: Shah Marai/AFP via Getty Images Workers install a campaign banner of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah

Pakistan Said to Prep for Afghan Exodus by July on Taliban

BLOOMBERG

A labourer prints posters of presidential election candidates at a printing press in… 

Pakistan is bracing for a worst-case scenario that may unfold as early as July in which about three million refugees from Afghanistan cross the border in a 20-day span, according to a person familiar with government plans.

The scenario may occur if Taliban militants start killing candidates in the run-up to Afghanistan’s presidential elections in April, creating an unstable environment when President Hamid Karzai steps aside officially a few months later, said the person, who asked not to be named because he’s not authorized to speak publicly. The timeline is underpinning Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, the person said.

Pakistan will conduct a military operation to flush out militants in Waziristan and other border areas if negotiations fail, the person said. It will be too difficult to conduct an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters after June because of a possible refugee crisis, the person said.

Sharif began talks last week with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, to end violence that has killed more than 40,000 citizens since 2001. Failure to contain Taliban militants as the U.S. reduces troop levels in Afghanistan risks worsening the world’s biggest protracted refugee situation and derailing Sharif’s efforts to revive South Asia’s second-biggest economy.

 

No Deadline

Sharif, in Ankara to attend a trilateral summit with Karzai and Turkey’s leaders, said the TTP is eager to reach an agreement with the government, The Express Tribune reported, citing his comments to reporters. He said no deadline should be imposed on the talks, according to the report.

There is always a sense of urgency in attaining peace and stability, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said by phone, referring to the talks between the government and the militants. She declined to discuss scenarios that may emerge in Afghanistan after it holds presidential elections, saying that the government prepares for all eventualities.

While there is no specific timeframe for the Sharif-TTP peace talks, they should be concluded “in days and weeks and not in months and years,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, a government-appointed negotiator, said by phone. “Everybody knows that there would be violence,” if the talks failed, he said.

Suicide Bombers

“Pakistan will have a maximum of six to eight months to prepare for the worst-case scenario — they will have to make sure something happens before that,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based security analyst who previously taught at Columbia University in New York, referring to either a military strike or a peace deal. “If there is great turmoil in Afghanistan and civil strife escalates, you will have a new wave of refugees.”

The Pakistani Taliban sees no urgency to reach an agreement with Sharif’s government because the group has been in a state of war for a decade, Maulana Abdul Aziz, a negotiator appointed by the group, said in a Feb. 7 interview. The TTP has as many as 500 female suicide bombers ready to act, he said.

More than 40,000 Pakistanis have been killed in violence since 2001 as militants battle to implement Islamic sharia law in Asia’s fourth-most populous country. The Pakistani Taliban has demanded the withdrawal of troops from tribal areas and the release of prisoners, Dawn newspaper reported on Feb. 10, citing officials it did not identify.

Afghan Refugees

A suspected suicide attack on a police bus today killed at least 11 people and wounded another 50 in the country’s commercial hub of Karachi. Nine people were killed yesterday in a separate attack on a pro-government tribal elder in the country’s northwest who has fought militants in the past.

Pakistan now hosts 1.6 million registered Afghans in refugee villages and host communities, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of 3.8 million Afghans from Pakistan since March 2002, it said.

Pakistan could have half a million refugees from Afghanistan arrive after October or November, Abdul Qadir Baloch, federal minister for states and frontier regions, said by phone from Islamabad. He declined to comment on a timeframe for a military strike if talks fail, saying he’s not directly involved.

“If this process may fail, we might go for an operation,” Baloch said, without giving specifics on timing. “But thereafter again it needs to be followed by talks.”

U.S. Troops

Afghanistan’s security forces are taking a hit as the U.S. withdraws intelligence, reconnaissance and bomb-detection technologies, with army and police units struggling to hold areas after clearing insurgents, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Pakistan is also having difficulty fighting militants, it said.

“The Pakistan military has been engaged in some limited security operations in North Waziristan, although it is unclear when large scale operations will commence,” U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the Pentagon intelligence agency, said in prepared testimony for a Feb. 11 Senate hearing.

As of Feb. 1, the U.S. had 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, the fewest since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. The war has killed more than 2,300 Americans and cost tax payers more than $500 billion since the U.S. invaded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Karzai has refused to sign an agreement that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond this year, prompting the U.S. to look to his successor to seal the accord. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, and retains control of areas along the border with Pakistan.

Taliban Targets

The Taliban sees Afghanistan’s elections as illegitimate and plans to target anyone across the country who tries to cast a ballot, Zabihullah Mujahed, a spokesman for the group, said by phone from an undisclosed location.

“Anyone who is a candidate, who supports a candidate and who votes for a candidate will be our target,” Mujahed said.

Karzai, who took power in 2001 shortly after the U.S. invasion, is restricted by the constitution from serving another five-year term. New elections must be held if a presidential candidate dies before the declaration of election results, according to the constitution.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for gun attacks earlier this month that killed one campaign worker and wounded another in Saripul province. Unidentified gunmen on Feb. 1 shot dead two aides of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, in Western Herat province, according to spokesman Sayed Fazel Sancharaki.

Instability in Afghanistan may prompt people to leave the country, particularly for Pakistan, Islamuddin Jurat, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, said by phone.

“Pakistan is considered by Afghans as the main country to head toward, but I don’t think millions of Afghans will leave country after elections,” Jurat said. “It could be possible in a high emergency situation after coalition troops withdraw that millions of people will leave Afghanistan to Pakistan.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Augustine Anthony in Islamabad at aanthony9@bloomberg.net; Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul, Afghanistan at enajafizada1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

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Classes Cancelled Today At Anbar Technical College–Samarra Branch

Mistake kills 21 ISIL fighters in Samarra

PUK MEDIA

     Mistake kills 21 ISIL fighters in Samarra

 

21 ISIL fighters became victims to their own act while they were trying to plant explosives to an automobile.

Security sources from Samarra in Salahaddin Province informed that the incident occurred due to a technical error while planting the explosives, which resulted in the death of 21 ISIL fighters.

The entire incident is caught on tape and has been published online by ISIL as propaganda for their activities.

The explosion took place yesterday 8 a.m. in Jalam area in Samarra, a place crowding with ISIL gunmen.

PUKmedia

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Issues Its Own “Al-Qaeda” Currency In Anbar

ISIL currency is unacknowledged in Anbar

PUK MEDIA

     ISIL currency is unacknowledged in Anbar

 

Hameed al-Hais an Official in Anbar province, stressed that the recently spread currency launched by the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is unacknowledged in Anbar, adding that anyone who carries the ISIL currency shall be treated as an ISIL member.
The 100-guinea note bore the likeness of former Al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden on one side, and the two World Trade Centre towers attacked by the group on September 11, 2001 on the other.
Al-Hais also called on the residents of Anbar Province to cooperate with the Iraq security forces in their fight against the terrorists of al-Qaida in Anbar.
Reported by Azad Ahmed
PUKmedia

One Day After Ab Azzam Brig. Cell Busted In Sidon, Someone Releases the Following “Fluff” Piece

Al-Qaeda offshoot releases video of Iran embassy attack

the daily star
This snapshot taken from a YouTube video shows Mouin Abu Dahr, one of the two suicide bombers behind the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19, 2013.
This snapshot taken from a YouTube video shows Mouin Abu Dahr, one of the two suicide bombers behind the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Nov. 19, 2013.

BEIRUT: The Qaeda-linked Abdallah Azzam Brigades allegedly released a video Wednesday showing footage of the Nov. 19 double suicide attack against the Iranian embassy in Beirut, for which it has claimed responsibility.

The 18-minute video, entitled “The attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut,” went viral on social media after it was posted, although could not be independently verified.

The video includes recorded warnings from the group’s late leader, Majid al-Majid, who died last month in a Beirut military hospital, as well as from Mouin Abu Dahr, one of two suicide bombers who carried out the attack, which killed 30 people and wounded over 150 others.

The group’s spokesperson, Sirajeddine Zureiqat, also appears in the video threatening the Defense Ministry and Lebanese Army Intelligence.

“I tell [Hezbollah], the [Army] Intelligence and the heroes of the Defense Ministry, enough looking for al-Qaeda and terrorism cells, your oppression of the Sunnis is creating al-Qaeda in the hearts of the Sunni youths and a [reason] to confront you and to face the humiliation suffered by our people,” he says.

The video features excerpts from Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches, and footage of attacks it claims are “led by Iran and its tools against Sunnis in several Arab countries” including Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Iran and Syria.

Majid, who was wanted by Riyadh, Washington and Beirut on terrorism charges, was detained by the Lebanese Army on Dec. 26 but died in custody of kidney failure. In the video, he warns Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from Syria.

“The operations conducted against Hezbollah so far are just the beginning; worse attacks will come if they do not withdraw all their fighters from Syria,” he says. “Let them know they will regret everything they did.”

Abu Dahr, the suicide bomber, says that he chose to take his own life attacking the embassy “to cause more losses for the enemy.”

“I chose suicide bombings rather than armed clashes because… [bombings] can reach places that battles cannot,” he says.

Abu Dahr, who hailed from the southern city of Sidon and had links to a fugitive Islamist preacher, also criticizes Iran and blames the Islamic Republic for the misfortunes of Sunnis throughout the region.

“The criminal country [Iran] is fighting Muslims, collaborating with the US in occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, supporting Huthis in Yemen, supporting the [Syrian] regime in killing our brothers and people in Syria, supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and protecting the border in South Lebanon from the Zionist enemy,” Abu Dahr says.

Abu Dahr also reveals that he fought alongside Salafi Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir against the Lebanese Army in Sidon’s Abra neighborhood in June, 2013, “to protect my neighborhood and my religion.”

“I could never forget what happened in Abra. No one forgets the attacks against his relatives and neighbors,” he says in the video.

Abu Dahr also vows his group will continue attacks against Hezbollah, claiming that the number of “those who are ready to martyr is greater than the party’s members.”

He also calls for the complete withdrawal of Hezbollah from Syria, and the release of Islamist inmates in Roumieh prison.

The video was released following the Army’s announcement that it had arrested a Palestinian leader in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and seized two cars in the Bekaa Valley and Beirut that had been rigged with explosives.

Pak. Terrorists Hit Elite Police Anti-Terrorist Rapid Response Force–12 Officers Martyred

622x350a
Photo By Shakil Adil/AP, Pakistani police officers examine a damaged bus at the site of a bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. A bomb attack killed at least several police officers and wounded dozens others in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Thursday.
 
622x350
Photo By Shakil Adil/AP, Pakistani investigators survey a damaged police bus at the site of bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. A bomb attack killed at least several police officers and wounded dozens others in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Thursday.
622x350b
[Notice the complete absence of a bomb crater, indicating that the explosive was either on the bus, or a RPG or other rocket.]
Photo By Shakil Adil/AP, Pakistani security officials and journalists gather at the site of a bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. A bomb attack killed at least several police officers and wounded dozens others in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Thursday. A van exploded after hitting a bus the officers boarded moments after it had left a training school in what appeared to be a suicide attack, said police officer Rao Anwaar.

Car bomb kills 12 officers in south Pakistan

houston_chronicle102510

By ADIL JAWAD, Associated Press

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A parked car bomb targeting Pakistan’s elite police commando force killed at least 12 officers and wounded 55 people in the southern city of Karachi on Thursday, police said, raising doubts about the success of an ongoing peace process with the Pakistani Taliban.

Hours after the attack, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the bombing, which took place as a bus with the officers was leaving a training complex.

As the bus drove by a parked van, the van exploded, said police officer Rao Anwaar. Karachi police chief Shahid Hayat said the initial investigation suggested there was a remotely-detonated bomb on the van.

Nearly 50 officers on board the bus were from the Rapid Response Force, a special anti-terrorist police squad, Anwaar said. Most of the wounded also were officers on the bus.

Pakistani TV channels showed the blast scene littered with broken glass and pieces of vehicles scattered around.

The wounded were rushed to nearby hospitals, and 12 of them were in critical condition, said Dr. Seemi Jamali at the city’s Jinnah Hospital.

Thursday’s attack took place in the port city of Karachi, which has long been a center of ethnic, political, militant and sectarian violence.

Shahid, the Taliban spokesman, said the militants carried out the bombing to avenge the killing of their associates at the hands of police and paramilitary rangers. He said that until there was a formal ceasefire in place with the government, the Taliban would continue such attacks.

The assault is the latest in a series of attacks at a time when the Pakistani government is trying to strike a peace deal with local Taliban militants fighting in the country’s northwest to end the violence that has killed thousands of security forces personnel, government officials, political workers and civilians in recent years.

Militants killed nine members of an anti-Taliban militia on Wednesday in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, a day after assailants threw hand grenades inside a cinema, killing 13 in the city.

The Pakistani Taliban have been waging a bloody war against the government in a bid to overthrow the authorities and enforce their harsh brand of Islamic Shariah law.

The Pakistani Taliban, formally called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, are separate from the Taliban fighting NATO-forces in neighboring Afghanistan. Although the two groups share similar ideology, the Pakistani Taliban have focused their fight against the Pakistani government.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made negotiating with the militants a centerpiece of his new government elected last May.

After some initial stumbles, the government’s efforts have picked up steam in recent weeks with both sides naming people to represent them in the talks.

Maulana Samiul Haq, who heads the Taliban’s negotiating team, said both the militants and the government have recommended a cease-fire as a confidence-building measure.

The two teams were scheduled to meet again on Thursday.

Critics say the militants have used such peace deals to gain time to strengthen themselves and regroup.

___

Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.

Pakistan’s Shaky Control Over Its Frankenstein Taliban Creation

ISI TALIBAL, OBAMA CARTOONS

Cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Pakistan Taliban eyes Afghan-style takeover

Asia Times
By Tanveer Jafri

Pakistan has increasingly become a target for terrorist violence, particularly sectarian attacks, over the last two decades. As security forces prove no match for the insurgents, the wealthy and intellectual elites are fleeing the country.

The spread of extremism has hurt the country’s international image. This was worsened by a Human Rights Watch report released last month which reported that terrorist groups are operating with complete immunity in certain regions.

It is as if the government and military have either closed their eyes to terrorist activities or they are simply incapable of dealing with them. Concerns are being expressed that the insurgents will soon take over Karachi, as armed groups have done in cities in Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif face the seemingly insurmountable tasks of improving morale among security forces while also combating the spread of terrorism.

Murders and assassinations have become daily occurrences across the country. The heightened intensity of attacks by Sunni militant groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or Pakistani Taliban in recent weeks suggest their main motive is to create complete anarchy. However, these forces could also be planning to replicate the 1992 ouster of Mohammad Najibulla in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban.

Evidence of this can be seen in their targeting of army bases, security checkpoints and defense establishments, as well as their sectarian attacks on Shi’ites.

To commit these violent acts, they are recruiting fidayeens (suicide bombers) in large numbers. For instance, 12 security personnel were killed on January 22 in different attacks, while just two days earlier 22 army personnel were killed in the bombing of on army cantonment in the Bannu area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The TTP took responsibility for these attacks.

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the TTP, claimed that the latter attack was carried out to avenge the killing of senior commander Wali-ur-Rehman last May. He said that Pakistan army was their enemy and that these strikes would continue.

Although Pakistan claims to have killed at least 40 terrorists in assaults on Taliban hideouts in the aftermath of these attacks, the government is still undecided over launching a full-scale operation in the tribal areas that give the TTP shelter.

Expressing the growing desperation of some Pakistanis over this delay, Bilawal Bhutto, son of the late Benazir Bhutto, has said that there is an urgent need to take military action against the terrorists.

Bilawal said that people like Osama bin Laden or other terrorists must not become the international face of Pakistan. Instead, the country must take a stand against insurgents and bring some hope to the population.

Meanwhile, taking another step ahead in talks with the Taliban, the Nawaz Sharif government has constituted a four-member committee to discuss the modalities of the talks. This committee includes two senior journalists, Rahimullah Yousufzai and Irfan Siddiqui, as well as former diplomat Rustam Shah Mohammed and retired Inter-Services Intellgence major Aamir Shah.

This committee will lead the talks with the Taliban, which were started last week, then submit a report to the Interior Ministry of Pakistan. However, one early potential stumbling block is the TTP’s stipulation that the implementation of Islamic sharia law is necessary for peace.

“Sharia law is needed because the government, martial law and democracy have failed to solve the country’s problems,” said Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, the head of the TTP’s three-man committee set up for peace talks with the government. He added, “The Taliban are fighting a war for the implementation of a [Pakistan] constitution which has been violated by the leadership.”

Such pre-conditions raise doubts that the Taliban will take the proposals of the Sharif government seriously. Meanwhile, it is unclear if the Pakistani army will continue to follow the government’s orders if it keeps losing so many personnel in Taliban strikes.

Will the officials and army remain mute spectators to the theatre of violence? Does the Nawaz Sharif government or General Raheel Sharif have any idea about how deeply the extremists have infiltrated their ranks?

It can’t be denied that the Sharif government feels threatened by the Taliban. That is likely why Sharif has started talks with the insurgents. It has been reported that his decision to create a four-member committee for these talks was taken to check growing desperation within the army over terrorism.

It seems the Pakistan Army is in no mood to tolerate more losses of personnel and more attacks on its establishments. However, terrorists are unlikely to fully honor the spirit of dialogue as they have already taken the path of violence.

In these circumstances, the likelihood of a military coup is increasing. What is required is a large, continuous and decisive assault on the Taliban. Otherwise, it won’t take long before Pakistan becomes another Afghanistan.

Tanveer Jafri is a columnist based in India.

CENTCOM Supports Pakistani Army Acting As Enforcer for Saudi Anti-Democracy Agenda

[If CENTCOM is all for it, then you know just how bad the idea really is.  The Pak Army has always served as a Saudi proxy force, whenever the total inadequacy of the Saudi military becomes apparent, as in the Siege of Mecca, as back-up for the Saudi rape of Democracy in Bahrain, etc.  In a natural outplaying of the Saudi underwriting of Pakistan’s “Islamic bomb,” if push comes to shove, Saudi Arabia will be sheltered under the Pak nuclear umbrella.  The Saudi royals hate Iran for daring to counter their nuclear monopoly in the Gulf.  The royals hate “Democracy” even more than they hate Shia Iran, simply because the common folks of Saudi Arabia are more dangerous to their longevity than would be a nuclear Iran.]

Pakistani-Saudi relations play role in fostering regional peace

CENTCOM online

High-level military delegations have been exchanging visits as they iron out security and defence co-oepration deals.

By Yasir Rehman

ISLAMABAD – Close political and defence ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are needed for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan, senior observers on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border say.

The two countries over the past month traded high-level visits setting up a security and defence co-operation agreement that Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is expected to sign during a planned visit to Pakistan February 15-17.

The flurry of high-level meetings started when Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud visited Pakistan January 7-8 and called for collective efforts to eradicate terrorism from South Asia.

Another high-ranking Saudi, Deputy Defence Minister Prince Suleman Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, visited Pakistan for a week starting January 20. He discussed defence co-operation and regional issues with Pakistani political and military leadership, including President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

During those talks, Nawaz Sharif underscored Pakistan’s support for the peace process in Afghanistan and noted that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in the regional interest, a January 21 statement from his office said.

Nawaz Sharif thanked Riyadh for its role in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms.

Gen. Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani army chief of staff, February 4 rounded off the exchanges when he arrived in Saudi Arabia for another defence-related visit.

The army leader, on the first leg of his visit, discussed defence and security co-operation with Crown Prince Salman, who also is Saudi defence minister and first deputy prime minister, in Riyadh.

Before returning home, the general discussed enhanced defence co-operation with Prince Suleman, Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations said in a February 8 statement.

Co-operation could bring peace to region

The two countries share similar views on improving the region.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy very close political, economic and defence relations, Senator and Prof. Khurshid Ahmad, chairman of the Islamabad-based Institute of Policy Studies, said.

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are co-operating with each other in security matters … they have the same position on the Afghan issue and can help Afghans bring stability to their country,” he said.

Haji Deen Mohammad, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council, is aware of the position Pakistan and Saudi Arabia hold in Afghanistan.

Both countries have a role in Afghanistan and together they can bring stability and peace, he said. “Pakistan is our immediate neighbour with whom we have unbreakable relations, and Saudi Arabia is a country that has extreme respect among Afghans.”

The two countries have a major role in bringing peace, Kabul-based political analyst Faiz Mohammad Zaland agreed.

Afghanistan is seeking support from countries like Saudi Arabia to establish a durable peace, he said. “Closeness between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is also important for Afghanistan because both brotherly nations can help Afghans to bridge their differences.”

Islamabad and Riyadh have a history of working together during trying times, senior Islamabad-based Arab reporter Jamal Ismail said, noting that they teamed up to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan (1979-1989).

Together, they can bring all Afghan factions to one table, he said.

“Both nations have a common approach towards the challenges confronted by the Islamic countries and the region,” Ismail said. “Saudi Arabia has genuine concerns about the Iranian nuclear issue and about its support of militant groups including Hizbullah, and Pakistan as the sole nuclear Muslim nation can be a nuclear umbrella for Saudi Arabia.”