May 4, 2012

Pakistan GEO TV program on rise of Taliban

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — David Isby @ 1:18 pm

TV Show Explores Role of Pakistani Seminaries in Formation of Afghan Taliban
From the program titled “Jirga” hosted by well-known journalist Salim Safi who hails from the tribal area. Words within double slanted lines are in English.
Geo News TV
Monday, April 2, 2012 T13:35:05Z

(Unidentified person) 2011…

(Video shows President Hamid Karzai begining a speech with voice over by unidentified commentator giving historical background of Afghanistan and Taliban)

(Unidentified commentator) The international forces were struggling to come up with a suitable solution to the Afghanistan conflict until the end of 2011. As 2012 begins, the Taliban seem to have made a comeback to the political scenario of Afghanistan. The Taliban first emerged and then disappeared. But it seems that they have resurfaced in Afghanistan and the world knows very little about their reality. Is it that the resistance offered by the Taliban during the past 10 years has caused a change in Washington’s //stance//?

(Unknown Anchorperson on American News Channel) After fighting the Taliban for 10 years in Afghanistan, Vice President Joe Biden says that the Taliban is not really their enemy.

(Unidentified Taliban in battle field) Allah-o-Akbar

(Host Saleem Safi over video) They are the ones who gave a //tough time// to the NATO and US forces equipped with sophisticated weapons. The world’s best weapons and //technology// offer little resistance before them. They are the ones who blow up tanks and vehicles like toys. They are the ones who blow themselves up as well as others. Here they are, they are the Afghan Taliban. Who are the Afghan Taliban? What is the motivating factor behind their movement and sacrifices? Have all the fighting Taliban students of madrassas or some other elements also gathered under the Taliban banner? Is it the religion that motivates them to fight or is their fight for the sake of the Pashtun nationhood? Is the actual motive of the fight to gain power, money and control? Who are the Taliban //supporting// and who is //supporting// them? Moreover, what link do the Taliban have with Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban? To disclose the truth about these Taliban cadres, we are taking you on a journey of the place that is being ruled by the Taliban. We are starting our journey from the city that is embroiled in blood and fire today but used to be the //base camp// for the mujahideen during the jihad against the Soviet Union. Perhaps, we cannot understand the phenomenon of the Afghan and the Pakistani Taliban without being aware of the similarities between people living on either side of the Durand Line. The Peshawar University enhances the beauty of this traditional city. Located at the center of the university is the Pakistan Study Center where we met Dr Fakhr-ul-Islam to understand the region and its people and to find answers to our questions in the academic sense.

(Islam) The combination of a number of different //factors// make Pakistan’s neighborhood with Afghanistan distinctly different from its neighborhood with China, India, or Iran. Therefore, a //racial// link exists between us. For example, you name any tribe you can, the forefathers of every tribe of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa had come from Afghanistan. It does not stop here. IT cannot be disputed that the Gardezi tribe of Multan, the Jadoon tribe of Abbottabad, the Afridi, Yousafzai, Mohmand, and Lukman Khel tribes have all come from there.

(Safi) What characteristics make the Pakistan-Afghanistan border different from the other //borders// of Pakistan?

(Islam) First of all, it is a very lengthy border. Second, it has been a subject of dispute over the years, but across the border…

(Safi) How far is it true that the life of the agreement (Durand Line) was 100 years and that it has now expired?

(Islam) We will have to deal with the complexities of international law to answer that. I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough to give an opinion on this issue. Even though the dispute has not surfaced prominently yet, it is, nonetheless, a dispute. But I fear that this dispute might raise its ahead again in the future.

(Safi) In your opinion, how much did the //global powers//, the religious factor, and particularly, the traditions and //culture// of the Pashtun //belt// of Pakistan and Afghanistan contribute to the resistance against the Soviet Union?

(Islam) I think all the three factors played their roles. However, the //superpower// played a //dominant role//.

(Safi) Do you think that the Pashtun ethos and the Pashtun culture of hospitality played a role in the arrival of the Afghan Taliban and the Al-Qa’ida and the emergence of the //Talibanization// in Pakistan’s tribal areas or can it be attributed to some other factors?

(Islam) Undoubtedly, the Pashtuns show hospitality when they receive a guest. Marriages are also solemnized, people become relatives, they get married, and the women of this region are given to them as their wives. So no one can deny the Pashtun culture of hospitality. However, religious and ideological connections also played a major role in fostering hospitality.

(Safi) We have to meet an expert who has observed the situation in detail and can discuss the same correctly to understand the background and the presence of the Taliban Movement. We also have to find out how relevant Dr Islam’s scholastic views about Pashtun culture and the region’s historic background are to the current political situation. We first learnt about Islam’s scholastic views during our visit to the Peshawar University. Rahimullah Yousafazai’s beard has turned white teaching and studying Afghanistan.

(Yousafzai) The Afghan Taliban owe their coming into being to circumstances. No one created them. They came into existence on their own. I am of the view that if some force other than the Taliban emerged, people would have welcomed them as well, even if that force belonged to the communists’ old school of thought.

(Safi) How many Afghan Taliban cadres had links with Pakistan’s religious leaders or graduated from Pakistani madrassas? What role did the Pakistani Taliban or religious leaders play in the movement of the Afghan Taliban?

(Yousafzai) There was a time when Pakistan was home to five million Afghan refugees. The madrassas in Pakistan catered to the needs of their (the Afghan refugees) educational requirements. This was how a large number of the Afghan Taliban received their education from the Pakistani madrassas. As you have noted, many of them write ‘Haqqani’ with their names, which means that they graduated from Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania, Akora Khattak, near Peshawar, but…

(Safi) Did Mullah Muhammad Omar also graduate from there?

(Yousafzai) When I asked Mullah Muhammad Omar how often he had visited Pakistan, he replied rarely. However, he also said that he was shifted to Pakistan by the ICRC, the Red Cross for medical treatment when he suffered injuries while offering resistance against the Russian Army in the battlefield of Sing-e-Sar, his hometown located in the area called Merwan, along the Kandahar-Herat road. So he used to visit Pakistan and also studied here for some time.

(Commercial Break)

(Imran Khan, while addressing a rally) America… Afghanistan (words indistinct)

(Safi) The Taliban Movement is not the only example to refer to while studying Afghanistan’s national freedom movements regarding the contribution by the Pashtun population living on the other side of the border. The level of emotional involvement was the same during the jihad against Russia. The city of Peshawar used to be the //base camp// of the Afghan mujahideen. Here, we are looking for Haji Sharafat, so we went to the Town University to reach the head office of the Hezb-e-Islami, the largest group of mujahideen during the resistance against the Soviet Union. We are meeting Haji Sharafat, the former right-hand man of Golbodin Hekmatyar, and former //commander// of the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, in the building that Golbodin Hekmatyar, the head of the Hezb-e-Islami used to sit in.

(Sharafat) Peshawar played an important role in the Afghan jihad. The arrival of Afghan refugees in Pakistan began when the communists invaded Afghanistan. Most of the refugees came to Peshawar since Peshawar was very close to Nangarhar and Jalalabad. The base camp f or the Afghan jihadist organizations was also Peshawar from day one. As you said, even at that time, the headquarters of jihadist organizations, including the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, the largest jihadist organization, were in Peshawar, while the centers of the Afghan mujahidin were in the areas adjacent to Peshawar. The mujahidin would prepare themselves and move toward Afghanistan from those training centers. The mujahidin enjoyed immense support from the tribal people. The tribal people have also faced problems for providing support and cooperation to the mujahideen since Russia bombarded the tribal areas a number of times. It is obvious that Pakistan and the entire Arab world were standing behind the mujahidin. The mujahidin, to some extent, also enjoyed the support of the United States because this was a huge resistance movement involving a number of stakeholders.

(Safi) Golbodin Hekmatyar has vanished from the scene, but he continues to offer resistance to the United States and its allies. But the United States is holding talks with the Hezb-e-Islami as it held with the Taliban. It is Dr Ghairat Baheer who always leads the delegation of the Hezb-e-Islami during his talks with the United States or the Afghan Government. Dr Ghairat Baheer served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan. We also searched and found Dr Ghairat Baheer.

(Baheer) I have had the experience of living in the prisons of both the United States and Russia. I was lodged in the prison of the Russians or the //communists// for a year. First, let me admit that Pakistan is the second home to all the Afghans. We have never felt like we are an alien country whenever we come to Pakistan. The attitude of the Pakistani people vis-a-vis Afghanistan has been positive by and large. We will never forget the hospitality offered by the Pakistani people. The religious leaders played a very positive role and cooperated a lot. As far as the positions taken by the governments are concerned, they change with time. The governments’ policies, being unstable, experienced ups and downs during that (jihad). Moreover, it is a fact that the party in power hardly represents the people’s aspirations.

(Safi) There are divided opinions over the role that the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, played in Afghanistan. Opinions on the ISI’s roles in all the matters ranging from the beginning of the mujahidin’s resistance against the Soviet Union, the organizing of the resistance, the beginning of the Taliban Movement, the government’s U-turn at the time of the US invasion in Afghanistan to the resulting war on terror have all been riddled with contradictions. So, to get an accurate idea of the ISI’s role, we went to the residence of former ISI officer retired Brigadier Asad Munir. He was appointed the ISI’s in charge in some areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and in other tribal areas immediately after the 9/11 incident and spent many years in that capacity.

(Safi) What was ISI’s //contribution// to the first war in Afghanistan that was against the Soviet Union? What was the reality?

(Munir) It was the ISI’s job to provide money, weapons, and strike a deal with the mujahidin and provide them training and plan their course of action. The ISI was doing this all before the United States arrived and continued to do so until 1989.

(Safi) What role did the religious parties and the madrassas of Pakistan play and how much did they contribute to the jihad?

(Munir) The Jamaat-e-Islami played a very active role in the jihad. With the support of the ISI, the Jamaat-e-Islami had established humanitarian camps and hospitals, among other //facilities// in Peshawar for people and mujahideen fighters who came from outside. At that time, the madrassas did not have to play any role. Most of the madrassas were established after 1984. It was by the early 1990s that the first batch or the first group graduated from the madrassas.

(Safi) What was the ISI’s role in the emergence of the Taliban?

(Munir) The gen erally perceived notion that the Taliban were created by the ISI or Naseerullah Babar is not true. I believe that the ISI did not know what ‘Talib’ means until the Taliban conquered Kandahar in November 1994. The Taliban were perceived to be unknown people supported by the United States. After a few, I think two-three months, when they captured Kandahar, they began supporting them (the Taliban), since the other groups were fighting amongst themselves.

(Safi) Is it true that the ISI and the Pakistani Government supported them after they captured Kandahar?

(Munir) Yes, the ISI supported them from 1995 to 2001.

(Safi) What was the role of Pakistan’s religious parties and madrassas in the rise of the Taliban?

(Munir) Most of the //force// of the Taliban was supplied by the Pakistani madrassas. People went there after Kandahar fell to the Taliban. All our jihadist organizations, madrassas and sectarian organizations went to Afghanistan in 1996 and forged an alliance with the Taliban and fought against the Northern Alliance for five years.

(Safi) How much did the ISI contribute to the downfall of the Taliban government and the rise of the NATO after the 9/11 incident?

(Munir) Our relations with the Taliban ended after the 9/11 incident. After a new policy was implemented, Jalaluddin Haqqani had to vacate the residence in North Waziristan where he had been living since 1974. His madrassas were also sealed. Most of the Taliban leaders went to Balochistan, but three of them were believed to be in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. We launched raids against those three Taliban leaders in different areas whenever we received intelligence information. There was no policy of a double game. We did not support anyone after that.

(Safi) Some Afghan Taliban cadres have not only been surviving, but also giving a very tough time to the NATO and US forces. What role is being played by the Pakistanis, Pakistan’s religious parties, the Pakistani students living in madrassas, and the Pakistani jihadist organizations, to offer resistance to the Afghan Taliban?

(Munir) The Pakistani jihadist organizations provide them a //support system// when they cross the border and take refuge in Pakistan’s areas.

(Commercial Break)

(Safi) We shall have to go into the past to know the roles the religious parties and the seminaries of Pakistan played in the present resistance movement of Afghanistan. These religious seminaries have been imparting religious education for several decades, and they can be rightly termed the biggest NGO movement of the country. The base of relations and the cooperation with the Afghan Mujahidin were developed at the time of war against the Soviet Union when the United States, with the patronage of the Arab world and the Pakistani establishment, persuaded religious parties and religious organizations to support the Afghan Mujahidin.

(Former US President Reagan) Pakistan today stands in the vanguard of nations shouldering a great responsibility for mankind.

(Former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Haq) Pakistan’s continued commitment and objectives of the Islamic Conference are the fundamental postulates of its foreign policy.

(Former US National Security Advisor Berzenski, saying at the Torkham Border in 1980) We are aware of their deep belief in God and are confident that their struggle will succeed. Now that land over there is yours. You’ll go back to it one day because your fight will prevail and you’ll have your homes and your mosques back again, because your cause is right and because God is on your side.

(Safi) Pakistan’s religious leaders, for example Maulana Samiul Haq, used to say that they (Taliban) were his students, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam (JUI) and some other parties also supported them (Taliban). Some people say that the militant organizations of Pakistan were also supporting them.

(Yousafzai) I think there is no truth in these claims. In my view, the Taliban made their decision s on their own, but they (religious leaders) helped the Taliban in a way that they closed their //madrassas// (seminaries), whenever the Taliban needed manpower to launch any new attack or offensive. So, the students of the seminaries, both of Pakistani origin and Afghan origin, went to Afghanistan to support the Afghan Mujahidin. You have seen that they (Taliban) refused to obey the directives of the Pakistani Government on some occasions. So, I think, they were independent in many of their actions.

(Safi) Did the level of closeness (between the Taliban and the Pakistani establishment) reduce or increase after the 9/11 incident?

(Yousafzai) Their (Taliban) compulsions increased after their government was toppled in Afghanistan. Many Taliban leaders took refuge in Pakistan. So, they (Taliban leaders) were under the influence of Pakistan within the territory of Pakistan, but they expressed their own free will, whenever they got the chance to go to Afghanistan or to come closer to the //Durand Line//.

(Safi) Dr Ghairat Baheer, a leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan, acknowledges the impacts various Islamic movements of Pakistan and of other parts of the world have had on the Afghan groups fighting against the former //Soviet Union//.

(Baheer in Pashto) The role and influence of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Ikhwanul Muslimeen were more than those of the students and teachers of the seminaries during their resistance against the former Soviet Union. However, there is no doubt that the teachers and students of Maulana Samiul Haq’s seminary among others played a key role in the formation of the Taliban movement and its government (in Afghanistan).

(Haji Sharaft, another leader of the Hezb-e-Islami, in Pashto) The Pakistani religious parties undoubtedly helped the Afghan Mujahidin in the war and offered every kind of help to the Afghan Mujahideen.

(Safi, showing a photograph of Maulana Haqqani) This person played a key role in the war against the former Soviet Union, and he is still a thorn in the flesh of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan. Maulana Haqqani was the right-hand man of Taliban leader Mullah Omar and the minister for borders in the Afghan Government of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is said that the network of Maulana Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani is still playing a key role in the middle and eastern Afghanistan, apart from Kabul. Sirajuddin Haqqani writes Haqqani with his name, because he has studied at Madrassah Haqqania, situated in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province of Pakistan. It is said that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and several other top Taliban leaders studied at the same seminary (Madrassa Haqqania). The name of the seminary is atop the list of the seminaries that provided manpower to the Afghan Taliban. More than 3,500 students are studying in the seminary at present. Therefore, we went to Darul Uloom Haqqania to find out the truth. Students at the Darul Uloom Haqqania were busy playing different games after Asr (pre-sunset prayers) there and it was here that we met Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of the seminary.

(Haq) It is baseless to say that Pakistan or the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played any role against the former Soviet Union. I also reject the notion that the United States played a role in the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. The Haqqani network enjoys a favorable reputation at present. Sirajuddin Haqqani is an Afghan, and he has no connection with Pakistan, except that he was a student of Darul Uloom Haqqania. He also served as a teacher at the seminary. He was a brilliant student. He went to Afghanistan to counter the former Soviet Union in the wake of the threat both for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He went to the Paktia province of Afghanistan.

(Safi) Did Taliban leader Mullah Omar also study at Darul Uloom Haqqania?

(Haq) He studied here for a few years, but did not complete his studies. He got involved in jihadi activities. He was with the group of Maulana Younis Khalis.

(Safi) Will you please tell me the names of other top Taliban leaders who studied at Darul Uloom Haqqania?

(Haq) Out of the 14 cabinet ministers of the Taliban government, as many as nine or ten studied at Darul Uloom Haqqania. They were Maulana Ahmed Jan and Maulana Abdul Qadeer among others.

(Safi) Did Darul Uloom Haqqania or the other seminaries of Pakistan play any role in the emergence of the Taliban movement or the formation of the Taliban government in Afghanistan?

(Haq) There was a basic role of ours…

(Safi) Is there any truth in the reports that the students from Pakistani seminaries fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan?

(Haq) The Afghan students of the seminaries went to Afghanistan. I have a letter by Taliban leader Mullah Omar, wherein he requested me that the Afghan students not be admitted in the Pakistani seminaries. So, the Pakistani students did not go there during that time.

(Commercial Break)

(Safi) Most of Pakistan’s religious and political personalities do not disclose the nature of their relations with the Afghan Taliban, but to know the facts, I visited the Karak City of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province. It is believed that the Pakistani Taliban are quite active in Darra (pass) Adamkhel area, situated on the Peshawar-Karak Road. The tunnel near the pass has made the journey to the southern districts of the province easy, but the militants have attacked the tunnel many times. Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz, former member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan, warmly welcomed me in his town. Aziz, to what extent did the Pakistani religious scholars, seminaries, and their students play their role in the formation and the strengthening of the Taliban government in Afghanistan?

(Aziz) People supported Mullah Omar when he took over as the leader of the Taliban movement. As far as the process of consultations with the Taliban is concerned, the Pakistani religious scholars and students joined them, and they (Pakistanis) were so close to the Afghan Taliban that it was difficult to distinguish them from the Afghans. Mullah Omar had the habit of consulting the Pakistani religious scholars in the hour of need. He would contact my father at any difficult time.

(Safi) Who were the other personalities other than your father?

(Aziz) I myself visited Afghanistan once or twice. The religious scholars from Karachi to Khyber once visited Afghanistan and a delegation of nearly 45 religious scholars led by Maulana Samiul Haq visited Afghanistan.

(Safi) Did the students of the Pakistani seminaries also contribute to the jihad in Afghanistan practically?

(Aziz) Yes, they took part in the jihad. Jihad is obligatory for Muslims like prayers and fasting. The former Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and the Afghan Mujahidin fought against the superpower. I believe that the United States is now an aggressor in Afghanistan, as the country has attacked the defenseless people of Afghanistan. The United States is an oppressor and the Muslims are fighting against the country.

(Safi) Have you taken part in a practical war?

(Aziz) I was a boy during the war against the former Soviet Union, but I participated in the war on different fronts. Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and Abdurab Rasool Sayaf were my commanders. I, with the help of the people of Karak, established camps and collected financial aid for the Afghan Mujahidin, when the United States attacked Afghanistan. We helped people in the Khost and Charasyab areas of Afghanistan.

(Safi) You are talking about the post 9/11 scenario.

(Aziz) Yes, I am talking about the circumstances that developed after the 9/11 incident. I provided financial aid, medicines, and blankets to the people of Afghanistan. We also delivered financial aid to Mullah Zaeef in Islamabad. These were my services.

(Description of Source: Karachi Geo News TV in Urdu — 24-hour satellite news TV channel owned by Pakistan’s Jang publishing group. Known for providing quick and detailed reports of events. Geo’s focus on reports from India is seen as part of its policy of promoting people-to-people contact and friendly relations with India.)

May 1, 2012

Editorial on KSA-Pakistan relations

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David Isby @ 11:50 am

Editorial: “New Depth of Strategic Relations With KSA”
Pakistan Observer Online
Thursday, April 12, 2012 T10:45:56Z

FOR understandable reasons, Pakistan has enjoyed very cordial relations with brotherly country Saudi Arabia ever since its inception in 1947 and credit goes to the successive governments in Pakistan and House of Saud in the Kingdom for bringing the two states closer in different fields. Both countries have always been cooperating in political, economic, commercial, security and religious matters. Frequent visits by leaders of the two countries reflect the warmth, trust and depth of their bilateral relations.

The latest visit by Deputy Foreign Minister of KSA Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has further highlighted the warmth of relations between the two countries. The distinguished visitor had in depth talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during which entire gamut of relations came under discussion. The two sides have agreed to strengthen their economic ties and act in unison in the face of regional and international challenges. As attempts are underway to find a way out of Afghan imbroglio, both Islamabad and Riyadh have also agreed to work closely on the issue with a view to promoting peace and stability in war-torn country. The visit of the Saudi Deputy FM assumes significance as it came immediately after visit to Islamabad by Saudi Information Minister and visit to Riyadh by Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. We believe that relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia provide a model for other nations to emulate as they had throughout friction-free ties and shared each other’s joy and grief. Pakistan is especially thankful to the Kingdom for providing it meaningful assistance whenever the country was in dire straits financially. Saudi Arabia has also provided much-needed political and diplomatic support to Pakistan at regional and international forums on issues of interest to Islamabad especially Kashmir. We, however, believe that there is much scope for increasing economic cooperation through joint ventures and creating special economic zones for Saudi investors.

(Description of Source: Islamabad Pakistan Observer Online in English — Website of the pro-military daily with readership of 5,000. Anti-India, supportive of Saudi policies, strong supporter of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. Chief Editor Zahid Malik is the author of books on nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan; URL: http://www.pakobserver.net)

September 20, 2011

NATO-India coop to upset Rawalpindi Cantt

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: — David Isby @ 10:17 am

NATO Seeks India’s Cooperation in Afghanistan, Naval Counter-Piracy Missions
Report by Sujan Dutta: “Nato Collaborate Prod to Delhi”
The Telegraph Online
Friday, September 2, 2011 T11:27:52Z
Journal Code: 672 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 903
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

(Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention)

Lately in Brussels and Mons: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) has urged New Delhi to turn its non-alignment policy on its head and start a strategic dialogue with it building on co-operation in Afghanistan and in naval counter-piracy missions in the Indian Ocean.

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited New Delhi earlier this year and the deputy secretary general has also briefed Indian foreign ministry officials in talks that have so far been kept low-key. But the 28-nation military alliance would now like India to come out of the closet, as it were.

“It is going to be India’s decision. But it is important to have a dialogue on how India’s concept of its own security and international security fits in with Nato’s concepts,” the US ambassador to Nato, Ivo H. Daalder, told a group of Indian journalists (including The Telegraph) this week at Nato’s political headquarters in Brussels and at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (Shape), the military headquarters in Mons.

“We do that (co-operate with India) already in Afghanistan and in counter-piracy missions and it is now important to strengthen the relationship between India and Nato. Nato has relations with other countries that go farther — Australia, for instance, is now the 10th largest contributor to operations in Afghanistan,” said Daalder.

India was a leader of the Non Aligned Movement, the group of countries that distanced itself from the two military alliances in the Cold War — Nato, led by the US, and the Warsaw Pact, led by the former Soviet Union. The Warsaw Pact dismantled with the demise of the Cold War but Nato expanded itself to include former Soviet Bloc countries and re-invented itself as the largest military alliance that is now engaged in operations in eastern Europe (Kosovo), Libya, the Mediterranean and in Afghanistan.

It has the largest military presence in Afghanistan, where India had substantial strategic and commercial interests, with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Nato has announced that ISAF will hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

A senior Nato official admitted that despite the tactical co-operation in Afghanistan and in maritime patrols, the Nato-India relationship is “virtually non-existent”. But, he said, Nato officials have been trying to explain to Indian counterparts how co-operation in understanding security concepts — such as ballistic missile defence — could be mutually beneficial.

Accepting that a formal Nato-India relationship would still surprise policy wonks in New Delhi, the official wondered if India “can explain how non-alignment is relevant in 2011”. The official said that there was particular interest in India’s missile defence mechanism.

Nato has been setting up missile defence establishment in southern and eastern Europe primarily as a deterrent to Iran but this, say Nato officials, makes Russia nervous. Nato and Russia have a 10-year dialogue with Russia also maintaining a mission in Shape’s Military Cooperation Division though it is not a member of Nato. A Shape official said this was chiefly to address Russian concerns.

The official said the nature and threats to Nato countries and to India from missile “may be different but there may be similarities in the responses and in access to technology.”

India and the US have shared notes on BMD (ballistic missile defence) separately, just as India has military-to-military relations with other Nato countries but without getting into one with the alliance itself. New Delhi has in fact scaled down its military exercises that give the impression of an alliance-in-the making.

Not since Exercise Malabar in the Bay of Bengal with the US and five other countries who are either members of or strategic partners of Nato has India got into a multinational military drill. Beijing had raised the issue with New Delhi after there was s peculation on whether India and Nato were crafting an “Asian Nato” as a response to China’s growing military stature.

At Nato headquarters in Brussels, senior officials were keen to emphasise that India has not spoken out or acted against the alliance’s interests. Even the Nato air strikes in Libya were enabled by India abstaining from a vote in the US Security Council in February. Nato is now in sight of ending the operations in Libya in which US, British and French air forces bombed Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in “Operation Unified Protector”. Six months since the UNSC resolution, anti-Gaddafi rebels have now all but overrun the Libyan capital in Tripoli and the former dictator has gone into hiding.

(The journalists’ visit for two days of briefings was sponsored by the US government)

(Description of Source: Kolkata The Telegraph online in English — Website of Kolkata’s highest circulation English daily, owned by ABP Group, with a flagship publication Anandabazar Patrika in Bengali. Known for in-depth coverage of east and northeast India issues, and India-Bangladesh relations. Maintains an impartial editorial policy. Circulation 457,100; URL: www.telegraphindia.com)

NWFP governor on insurgency

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: , — David Isby @ 10:14 am

Governor Commends Pakistan Army for Improving Law, Order Situation in FATA
Report by staff reporter: “Law & order situation better in FATA: Kausar”
Pakistan Observer Online
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 T08:03:17Z
Journal Code: 1092 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 503
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor, Barrister Masood Kausar has said, the law and order situation in FATA is far better new as compared to 3 to 4 years back and the government has achieved its targets to a great extent in this respect.

The achievements, he added, have become possible as a result of great sacrifices of the officers and jawans of Pakistan Army as well as the tribal people themselves and whose cooperation to the security forces have also proved of great contribution in this connection.

He further pointed out that the remaining handful of terrorists who are already in the run, where found soft corners; commit their ugly actions of killing innocent citizens and the suicide at Ghundai (Jamrud) in Khyber Agency was the one such example.

He was talking while enquiring after the health of the injured of the suicide bomb blast of jamia mosque of Ghundai (Jamrud) area of Khyber Agency at Khyber Teaching Hospital, Peshawar on Monday. The Political Agent of Khyber Agency, Mr. Mutahir Zeb as well as the management and respective medical specialists of the hospital were also present on this occasion.

The state of cruel mind set of terrorists, the Governor said, could be judged from the fact that they had taken innocent lives through such a barbaric incident in a mosque on Friday and that too during the holy month of Ramzan Mubarak. The Government, he remarked, is already engaged in the fight against terrorists and the sacrifices of the tribes as well, along the officers and men of the Pak Army deserve of great tributes.

Appreciating the services of the management and the medical staff of the hospital in looking after the injured of the bomb blast, the Governor further pointed out that despite the existing rush and pressure of the work, they have been doing their best with utmost devotion and their contribution is no doubt appreciable. He also eulogized the courage and selfless contribution of the residents of the Ghundai area of Khyber Agency for rescuing as well as shifting the injured to hospital without any loss of time.

Barrister Masood Kausar went to each and every patient; enquired after their health and provided them special cash assistance of Rs.35, 000 which also include Rs.10, 000 on his own behalf to each.

(Description of Source: Islamabad Pakistan Observer Online in English — Website of the pro-military daily with readership of 5,000. Anti-India, supportive of Saudi policies, strong supporter of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. Chief Editor Zahid Malik is the author of books on nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan; URL: http://www.pakobserver.net)

Pakistani brigadier on counter-insurgency

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: , — David Isby @ 10:13 am

Pakistan: Army Commander — Militants Lost Support Due to ‘Nefarious Designs’
Report by Abdullah Madani: “Militants have lost public support: Brig Nadeem”
Pakistan Observer Online
Monday, August 22, 2011 T05:41:05Z
Journal Code: 1092 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 464
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

Lower Dir–The military commander of sector North Brigadier Nadeem Mirza has said that militants in the region had lost public support due to their inhuman and nefarious designs against the country and its people. He was talking to a French journalist at his office in Balambat the other Today. Commandant Dir Scouts Colonel Kamran Ahmad, Major Younus and other officers were also present on the occasion. Brigadier Nadeem Mirza said that militants who had fled the region had regrouped in the Kunar province of Afghanistan from where different groups of militants had been carrying out physical and mortar attacks on Pakistan soil.

He said Maulana Fazlullah of Swat, Maulana Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur, Hafizullah of Dir and others were now operating from the Kunar area of Afghanistan. “There are some 600 to 700 militants belonging to different areas of Pakistan, left the area when military operations started in Swat, Dir and Bajaur,” the commander said, adding that now these groups had been organized in Afghanistan where they had been provided with arms and cash by anti-Pakistani agencies.

“We have been witnessing a physical attack each week while mortar attacks on every second Today in Dir Upper, Dir Lower and Bajaur agency from across the border,” Mr Nadeem said. The militants, according to official sources crossed over the Pak Afghan border in April, June, July and August this year wherein they attacked security check posts in Maskini Darra, Shaltalo, Nusrat Darra and Mamond.

The sector commander said the authorities had raised the matter of this cross border terrorism during border flag meetings with Nato and Afghan National Army (ANA) times and again but to no avail. He said troops of Frontier Corps were deployed on all border areas to prevent militants’ insurgency from Afghanistan but added that it was not possible to make secure every inch of the so much long border. “There are 54 villages, half the population of which lives in Afghanistan and the other half in Pakistan,” Nadeem Mirza said, adding that militants were still getting information from inside these areas.

(Description of Source: Islamabad Pakistan Observer Online in English — Website of the pro-military daily with readership of 5,000. Anti-India, supportive of Saudi policies, strong supporter of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. Chief Editor Zahid Malik is the author of books on nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan; URL: http://www.pakobserver.net)

Pakistan – article on TTP in the Tirah

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: , , — David Isby @ 10:12 am

Pakistan: TTP Militants Quit Parts of Tirah Valley After Talks With Banned Group
Report by staff correspondent: TTP quits parts of Tirah valley after talks with LI
The News Online
Monday, September 5, 2011 T15:52:09Z
Journal Code: 1091 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 476
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

BARA: The militants of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Tariq Afridi left parts of Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency following successful talks held between the two groups few days ago, local sources said.

The sources said that on the special directives of TTP Chief Hakimullah Mehsud, a militant commander of TTP from Orakzai Agency, Hafiz Saeed, intervened and held talks with the two groups after the militants of LI besieged Zeg hilltop which had been occupied by Tariq group in Mehrban Killay in Tirah valley a week back.

The sources said that the LI offered conditional safe passage to the TTP militants, which was accepted by Tariq Afridi group. “We asked the militants of TTP that they would be allowed safe passage only when they promise that they would stop their operation in our area and would not use it again. So they accepted our condition and we gave them safe exit from Mehrban Killay, Dwatoy and Nakai areas of Tirah valley in Khyber Agency last week,” said a commander of LI seeking anonymity.

The sources said that some four weeks back the militants led by Tariq Afridi opened fire on vehicle of Khitab Gul group in Mehrban Killay in which six militants were killed. Following the incident, Khitab Gul group and Kukikhel tribesmen attacked the positions of TTP militants in Mehrab Killay and killed three associates of Tariq Afridi and demolished their headquarters and three houses.

A week later 12 militants belonging to Tariq group were killed in a remote-controlled bomb assault and rocket fire on their vehicles in Tor Darra and Takhokas area of Tirah valley. The sources added that Arif Khan, senior commander of Tariq group and a would-be suicide bomber, were among the dead. However, independent reports did not confirm the incident.

The infuriated Tariq Afridi held LI responsible for the assault and took over some three positions from it after an attack including Zeg and Serai hilltops in Mehrban Killay and Dwatoy areas populated by Kukikhel Afridi tribe in Tirah valley. However, LI has been denying its involvement in the killing of 12 TTP militants.

(Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English — Website of a widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Usually offers leading news and analysis on issues related to war against terrorism. Circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/)

Recent Pakistani article on Baluchistan situation

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: , — David Isby @ 10:08 am

Pakistan Article Says Peace in Balochistan Can be Restored Through Dialogues
Article by Khalid Khokhar: “Balochistan: a hotpot of conspiracies”
The News Online
Friday, August 26, 2011 T08:14:26Z
Journal Code: 1091 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 1,443
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

Amongst all four unified provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan being the

largest province is endowed with some of the world’s richest reserves of natural energy (gas, oil, coal); minerals (gold, copper), having strategic mountainous borders adjoining Iran and Afghanistan on the west and a coast stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea in the south. Unfortunately, the peace of this most beautiful and once calm province turned into a hotpot of conspiracies, militancy and arson hatched by foreign vested interests. Some of the key players that emerged in the region are: (a) Apart from countering Chinese influence, the United States is showing immense interest in Balochistan about the activities of the Taliban council in Balochistan, known as the “Quetta Shura” — an effective sleeping cell of al-Qaeda group.

The most recent statement of US Ambassador Cameron Munter that Balochistan is very significant for the United States, is probably due their belief that senior al-Qaeda leaders Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri are hiding on Balochistan soil. (b) Three tribal Sardars (Marri, Bugti and Mengal) in complicity of nationalist insurgent groups including Lashkar-e-Balochistan (LeB), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and Balochistan Republican Army (BRA), & Taliban council, are attacking on FC posts, gas pipelines, bridges, railway tracks and killed innocent citizens in Balochistan. (c) Indian meddling in Balochistan’s internal affairs with the intention to extent their zone of influence in the Central Republics. To capture the market, India wanted to stop Pakistan from becoming a hub of economic activity. (d) And last but not the least, human rights organizations are accomplishing the aims of foreign vested interests via highlighting the so-called miseries of Balochis, like disappearances, political victimization, displacement due to military operations, etc.

Even a cursory browsing at internet regarding Balochistan would provide sufficient background knowledge about Balochistan imbroglio. Nonetheless, an introspective study on Balochistan affairs would apprise that the conflict in Balochistan is essentially about three issues. First, Balochs have grievances against the federal government, which relate to exploitation of natural resources, in particular gas, without adequate compensation and unfairly low share in the award of National Finance Commission. Second, the Baloch people also fear that the mega projects, in particular the Gwadar port city, would invite an influx of population from other provinces reducing the ethnic Baloch to a minority at some stage. They also complain about injustice in the grant of employment and fear that the benefits of the mega projects would go to outsiders. Third, building of cantonments in the three most sensitive areas of Balochistan: Sui, with its gas-producing installations; Gwadar, with its port; and Kohlu, the “capital” of the Marri tribe.

Apart from the direct foreign vested interests in the region, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) once known for its objective reporting, is inadvertently falling into the labyrinth of others agenda, without realizing the negative fallouts on the law and order situation of Balochistan. The HRCP’s head Zohra Yusuf, President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani and Secretary General IA Rehman, have accused Pakistan Army and its coordinating departments responsible for extra-judicial killings, bullet ridden corpses and missing persons’ cases in Balochistan. According to the report, FC personnel had literally taken over the whole province and did not listen or talk to the inhabitants of the area under their control. The report exhorted people of Balochistan to raise their voice against the law enforcing agencies for the sake of their rights.

Asma Jahangir alleged that during the one-year period, only in Khuzdar more than 33 bodies were found, which could not be recognized, while the number of missing persons is more than 140. Howev er, the official figure of missing persons is placed at 46, who are being traced. The HRCP’s reports about Balochistan is as an attempt to destabilise and malign Pakistan. The BLA (Marri), BRA (Bugti) and BLF led by Dr Allah Nazar, are the leading elements involved in militant activities as these organisations are playing in the hands of foreign elements. The militants are not visible and launched attacks on vehicles, installations and crowds from their hideouts.

ISPR Director-General Maj Gen Athar Abbas called for probing the funding of these organisations as this could be traced back to those forces, which want to destabilise Pakistan. In the past, many attempts were made to belittle the image of Army by preparing a video that show men impersonated in Army uniform, beating a person to death who is wearing Balochi dress.

Balochistan government has termed the HRCP report as a pack of lies. Although the situation is alarming all over the world, there is nothing to worry about Balochistan as the allegations by human rights organizations are untrue and biased. Rejecting the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, Inspector General of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan, Major General Obaidullah Khan said that the report tried to malign the law enforcement agencies by not projecting their good deeds. The people of Balochistan have complete confidence in the credibility of the law enforcing force which functions in accordance with the law and orders of the government.

According to military statistics, 800 innocent people had lost their lives while more than 1,300 civilians and law enforcers were injured in rocket and mines attacks during the last 18 months but, these incidents had not been mentioned in the report. The FC is not involved in any extra-constitutional or extra-judicial activities. To project the law enforcement forces in a bad light is in the interest of such human rights organizations. The civil society and media must understand that the situation in Balochistan in its true perspective and project sincere efforts of the institutions concerned in a positive way to improve the situation. The role of the Pakistan armed forces has been commendable in protecting the country from both external and internal threats. The decision by the COAS Gen. Kayani that no new cantonment would be established in Balochistan against the wishes of its people is much appreciated.

On the aspect of participation in national defence to the people as well as help in overcoming the unemployment problem, at least 4,000 Baloch youths have already joined the army and 5,000 more would be recruited this year. The qualifications, selection criterion and age limits have been relaxed to accommodate large number of youth from Balochistan. As per the government policy, thousands of contractual and daily wages employees have been regularized. Pakistan Army is opening army medical college, institute of technology in Gwadar and military college in Sui would also provide modern education facilities to Baloch youth and remove their sense of alienation.

The PPP-led government’s decision to address the grievances with the more focus on negotiation with armed militants, is a step towards right direction. The decision of the government to withdraw cases against annoyed Baloch leaders will go a long way in building confidence amongst all the stockholders. Once, the much needed reforms are implemented in true letter and spirit then, it becomes easy to settle the political and provincial autonomy disputes through a policy of reconciliation and mutual accommodation. The meaningful dialogue process with all the stakeholders will bring perpetual peace in the province.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has reiterated his offer of dialogue to exiled Baloch nationalist leaders. In this connection, several local mediators (philanthropists, scholars, politicians, teachers, etc.) renowned for their highest sense of honour and integrity, are being requested to persuade Baloch leadership to demonstrate its commitment to move toward s a “meaningful dialogue” with the district administration for addressing present and all the pending issues. These mediators will seek to heal relations between opposing sides by uncovering all pertinent facts, and will help create a process of listening/healing psychological wounds that may afflict the victims of injustice. If nothing else, it can help the nation address past grievances and move forward with unity, resolve and confidence.

(Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English — Website of a widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Usually offers leading news and analysis on issues related to war against terrorism. Circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/)

Musharraf’s 9/11 anniversary article

Filed under: Pakistan — Tags: — David Isby @ 10:06 am

Pakistan ex Ruler Musharraf Defends His Move To Support War on Terror After 9/11
Article by Pervez Musharraf: “I Stand by my Decision”
The News Online
Sunday, September 11, 2011 T10:09:32Z
Journal Code: 1091 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 1,763
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

It was a day that changed the world. Pakistan was deeply affected by the event that took place 10 years ago today. Many in Pakistan believe that we might have been better off if we had not complied with the United Nations resolutions. I am afraid these critics have little or no knowledge of history and on ground facts as they existed then. It may be instructive to revisit the events and the rationale behind our decision to comply with UN resolutions passed in the wake of that most traumatic event.

On another fateful day, nearly two years earlier, my military secretary had whispered into my ear that the pilot of my flight wanted me in the cockpit; that information had led to the hijacking crisis. On this day too, he came up to me during an important meeting with the Karachi corps commander and whispered that an aircraft had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. As we watched in horror the second plane crashing into the second tower, I knew that the world as we knew it would change and I mentally braced myself for what I knew would be a make-or-break period in our history.

Smoke from the burning aircraft fuel and the dust and debris from the largest building in the world made the scene look like a nuclear explosion. A multitude of thoughts raced through my mind. The world’s most powerful country had been attacked on its own soil, with its own aircraft used as missiles. This was a great tragedy and a great blow to the ego of the superpower. America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear. If the perpetrator turned out to be Al-Qaeda, then that wounded bear would come charging straight at us.

Sure enough, the next morning the call came. My friend Gen Colin Powell was absolutely candid: “You are either with us or against us.” This was a blatant ultimatum. But forewarned is forearmed, and I was ready for this important call. Contrary to some published reports, that conversation did not go into specifics. I told him that we were with the United States against terrorism, having suffered from it for years, and would fight along with his country against it. I had time to think through exactly what might happen next. It was also communicated to me that “if Pakistan was against the United States then it should be prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age.”

I would also like to clear the notion that we accepted all the demands put forward by the US. We did not.

I analysed the situation and took stock of the potential realities. I made a dispassionate analysis of our options, weighing the pros and cons. My complete focus was on ensuring that Pakistan was not at the wrong end of a long and bloody reprisal, and to try and steer it through that most turbulent period with as little damage as possible. I also wanted to do the right thing.

What options did the US have to attack Afghanistan? It wasn’t possible from the north, through Russia and the Central Asian Republics. Nor from the west, through Iran. The only viable direction was from the east, through Pakistan. If we did not agree, India was ready to afford all support.

A US-India nexus would obviously have to trample Pakistan to reach Afghanistan. Our airspace and land would have been violated. Should we then have pitched our forces, especially the Pakistan Air Force, against the combined might of the US and Indian forces? India would have been delighted with such a response from us. This would surely have been a foolhardy, rash and most unwise decision. Our strategic interests – our nuclear capability and the Kashmir cause – would have been irreparably compromised. Indeed, we might have put our very territorial integrity at risk.

The economic consequences of confronting the United States and the entire West would also have been devastating. Pakistan’s major exports and imports and investments are linked to the United States and the European Union. Our textiles – 60 percent of our export earnings – go to the West. Any sanction on these would have crippled our industry and choked our economy.

China, our great friend, also has serious apprehensions about Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The upsurge of religious extremism emboldening the East Turkestan Islamic Movement in China is due to events in Afghanistan and the tribal agencies of Pakistan. China would certainly not be too happy if Pakistan sided with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Even the Islamic Ummah had no sympathy for the Taliban regime. Turkey and Iran were certainly against the Taliban. The UAE and Saudi Arabia – the only two countries other than Pakistan that had recognised the Taliban regime – had become so disenchanted with the Taliban that they had closed their missions in Kabul.

This is how I analysed the losses and harms we would suffer if we took an anti-US stand. At the same time, I was obviously not unmindful of the socio-economic and military gains that would accrue to my country from an alliance with the West.

On Sept 13, 2001, the US ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlain, brought me a set of seven demands. These demands had also been communicated to our foreign office.

1. Stop Al-Qaeda operatives at your borders, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and end all logistical support for Bin Laden.

2. Provide the United States with blanket overflight and landing rights to conduct all necessary military and intelligence operations.

3. Provide territorial access to the United States and allied military intelligence as needed and other personnel to conduct all necessary operations against the perpetrators of terrorism and those that harbour them, including the use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases and strategic locations on borders.

4. Provide the United States immediately with intelligence, immigration information and databases and internal security information to help prevent and respond to terrorist acts perpetrated against the United States, and its friends and allies.

5. Continue to publicly condemn the terrorist acts of Sept 11 and any other terrorist acts against the United States and its friends and allies and curb all domestic expressions of support (for terrorism) against the United States, its friends and its allies.

6. Cut off all shipments of fuel to the Taliban and any other items and recruits, including volunteers en route to Afghanistan, who can be used in a military offensive capacity or to abet a terrorist threat.

7. Should the evidence strongly implicate Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and should Afghanistan and the Taliban continue to harbour him and his network, Pakistan will break diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, end support for the Taliban and assist the United States in the aforementioned ways to destroy Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network.

Some of these demands, such as “curb all domestic expressions of support (for terrorism) against the United States, its friends, and its allies,” were ludicrous. How could my government suppress public debate when I had been trying to encourage freedom of expression?

I also thought that asking us to break off diplomatic relations with Afghanistan was neither realistic nor in our interest. The United States too would need us to have access to Afghanistan, at least till the Taliban fell. Also, such decisions are the internal affair of a country and cannot be dictated by anyone. We had no problem with curbing terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. In fact, we had been itching to do so even before the United States became its victim.

Thus, we had problems only with demands two and three. How could we allow the United States “blanket overflight and landing rights” without jeopardising our strategic assets? I offered only a narrow flight corridor that was far from all sensitive areas. Neither could we give the United States “use of Pakistan’s naval ports, air bases, and strategic locations on borders.” We refused to give any naval port or fighter-aircraft bases. We allowed the United States only two bases – Shamsi in Balochistan and Jacobabad in Sindh – and only for logistics and aircraft recovery. No attack could be launched from there. We gave no “blanket permission” for anything.

The rest of the demands we could live with.

I took it to the cabinet. I met with a cross-section of society. Between Sept 18 and Oct 3, I met intellectuals, top editors, leading columnists, academics, tribal chiefs, students and labour union leaders. I also met with a delegation from China and discussed the decision with them. Then I went to army garrisons all over the country and talked to the soldiers. I thus developed a broad consensus on my decision.

I am happy that the US government accepted our counter-proposal without any fuss. I am shocked at the aspersion being cast on me: that I readily accepted all preconditions of the United States during the telephone call from Colin Powell.

I have laid down the rationale of my decision in all its details. Even with the benefit of hindsight, I do not regret it. It was the correct decision and very much in the interest of Pakistan.

As head of state, I faced many challenges and had to take many difficult decisions. This was easily the most difficult one. I am convinced that it was the right decision and I am confident the majority of my countrymen also think so. I can say, hand on heart, that in all matters I always kept the interest of Pakistan above all else. My motto is, has been, and, Inshallah, always will be “Pakistan First.”

The writer is a former chief of the army staff and president of Pakistan.

(Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English — Website of a widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Usually offers leading news and analysis on issues related to war against terrorism. Circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/)

November 12, 2010

Article on Conflicts in the FATA

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David Isby @ 4:06 pm

Pakistan: Article Highlights Growing Rivalry Among Militant Groups in FATA
Article by Kamila Hyat: “Seeing a war without blinkers”
The News Online
Thursday, November 11, 2010 T09:10:30Z
Journal Code: 1091 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 1,181

Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

(Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention)

The blast at a mosque in Darra Adam Khel, where the toll has now climbed to over 90, is the most deadly terrorist strike carried out in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province in months.

The absurd claims by the Tehrik-e-Taliban that ‘foreign hands’ were involved make very little sense. The accounts emerging that the blast, rather than an act of terrorism of the kind seen at shrines, bazaars or Ahmadi places of worship, may have been the result of rivalry between two groups of Afridi sub-clans active in the area is somewhat more logical.

Certainly, it gives reason to think carefully about the nature of the ‘war’ being fought and the question of who is fighting who, and why. It is no longer easy to identify the warring parties – and the conflict in the north appears to be taking on far more complex dimensions than was the case when Operation Rah-e-Rast first began and the Pakistan military took on militants in Swat, and was indeed able quite effectively, to defeat them by the time the summer of 2009 ended.

In Darra we are told the suicide bombing at the mosque may have been carried out by the men of Tariq Afridi – a militant commander affiliated with the Taliban and Hakimullah Mehsud, targeting a rival, Momin Afridi, who had raised a ‘lashkar’ against him. As we have seen in Bajaur, South Waziristan and elsewhere, the ‘lashkars’ raised with government support have been targeted again and again by militants.

Their presence has sometimes led to citizens being caught up in violence of various kinds; child soldiers have been used – and while the original intentions may have been good, the morality of using ordinary people against highly trained Taliban militias must be questioned. Fighting these forces is the responsibility of state, and not the people.

Clashes between rival groups in Darra Adam Khel have occurred before.

Feuds and rivalries are of course well established as a tradition – but while guns, then klashnikovs and rocket-launchers were used in the past, today it seems young suicide bombers may have become the ‘weapon’ of choice. Indeed, even outside KP, suicide bombers have been used to target rivals with 22 people killed in the Punjab town of Bhakkar in December 2008 after a businessman ‘hired’ a bomber to target a PML-N legislator with whom he had a dispute over a business deal.

While that case seems to have been unique, the fractures and rifts between the militants in the north mean the war there is growing more chaotic by the day. Clashes between rivals in Khyber Agency have led to violence in Peshawar.

In South Waziristan, since 2007, there have been clashes pitching the TTP against the group of mainly Bhittani tribesmen led by Turkistan Bhittani group, who fell out at the time with former ally Baitullah Mehsud.

There is a complicating factor. Groups such as Bhittani’s have been used by the military against the Taliban, and are regarded as ‘pro-government’. It is unclear if a break with authorities claimed by Bhittani in September this year after tribesmen were asked not to display arms in the Tank district has been patched over.

The Bhittanis had at the time surrendered weapons in protest. There are of course also other groups linked to the establishment, perhaps most notably the Haqqani network based in North Waziristan, which has made offers of acting as mediators in talks with other militant forces.

The pattern of the divide that exists also means that groups such as the TTP direct their efforts primarily against Pakistani state representatives, while the Haqqanis and outfits such as those led by Mullah Omar target US soldiers in Afghanistan or Afghan forces – a goal that leads at least some elements at home to see them as indispensable allies.

The bombing in Darra is a warning that things could be falling apart further; more internal rivalries between militants will mean greater anarchy and more difficulty in conducting any kind o f mission against them. Already, the links that have evolved between the Taliban and primarily sectarian groups that were set-up during the 1980s and 1990s in Punjab have led to new targets being struck.

Some of the militants are known to oppose this sectarianism and see it as a factor dividing Muslims, rather than keeping them united against ‘infidels’. The theology that underpins militancy is complex and in many cases ties in with a direct battle for power and influence.

The situation is rapidly tumbling out of control. It is now almost impossible to say who is killing who and why. The refusal to allow independent journalists or monitors access to areas of conflict – except through trips carefully stage-managed by the military – means it is extremely difficult to distinguish facts from fiction.

We are that told scores of civilians die each month in drone attacks; we do not know if this is true. Journalists based in tribal areas as stringers for agencies or newspapers quite readily admit they are affiliated with one group or the other, sometimes on the basis of tribal identity, and submit only selected items of news. They can hardly be blamed for this given the risks they face if they abandon such protection. The murders of Hayatullah Khan, who went missing in 2006 from North Waziristan, or of Musa Khankhel, killed in February 2009 in Swat have never been solved.

For obvious reasons, others do all they can to avoid landing up in graves.

The lack of credible information means that much can be manipulated. Cover-ups are also much easier. But we need far more transparency in the war in the north. The blinkered glimpse we are permitted means much goes undisclosed. Even now many doubts exist; grave human rights abuses have been reported but not investigated by authorities.

The creation of more and more factions of militant groups and private ‘militias’ has led to violence expanding across the country. It is thought in some cases that even agencies may have lost track of quite what is going on and this can only mean more ordinary people will continue to die as a result of a battle in which they have no role except as victims whose blood stains the ground each time another bombing takes place.

(Description of Source: Islamabad The News Online in English — Website of a widely read, influential English daily, member of the Jang publishing group. Neutral editorial policy, good coverage of domestic and international issues. Usually offers leading news and analysis on issues related to war against terrorism. Circulation estimated at 55,000; URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/)

November 11, 2010

Pakistan – Parachinar Agreement (dated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David Isby @ 1:30 pm

Pakistan: Tribal Elders Appreciate Statement of Parachinar Reforms Committee
Online report: Tribal elders appreciate PRC statement
Pakistan Observer Online
Monday, October 18, 2010 T11:55:32Z
Journal Code: 1092 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Transcribed Text
Word Count: 425

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(Text disseminated as received without OSC editorial intervention)

Kurram Agency–Turi Bangash tribal elders appreciated the PRC admitting taliban involvement in Kurram clashes. According to details a grand jirga (loya jirga) held on Sunday in the headquarter of FATA Kurram Agency in which more than hundred elders of six tribes participated. Speaking on the occasion the tribal elders appreciated yesterday statements in media by Parachinar Reforms Committee (PRC), Mailk Sawab Khan, Attuallah Khilji & Mullah Chaman etc admitting the taliban involvement in Parachinar clashes by appreciating the current ongoing negotiations between the tribal elders and Haqani group taliban for peace in Kurram. Tribal elders of Turi & Bangash tribes told that this is the verification of our four years long principle stand that taliban militants are behind Parachinar clashes and blood shed with addition to four years continuos crippling siege and economic blockage. While the Mailk Sawab Khan, Attuallah Khilji etc of PRC were continuously telling lie for four years that there are no taliban involvement in Parachinar Kurram for which their previous press conferences and statements are proof, But now they admitted the taliban presence and involvement. Loya Jirga elders cleared that the clashes and bloodshed we witnessed for last four years is due to hypocretic behaviour of Mailk Sawab Khan, Attuallah Khilji etc of PRC, that if they admitted the facts on time then the peace will be attained earlier. In the end of Loya Jirga a combine resolution was passed saying that only solution of the Kurram crisis is to re-settled the 30years ago thousands of IDPs of Turi & Bangsh tribes on their own land at Sadda Kurram even according to revenue record which were forcefully occupied by so called jiahdis and today’s taliban in the era of Zia dictator, with addition to opening the main road by ending the siege.

(Description of Source: Islamabad Pakistan Observer Online in English — Website of the pro-military daily with readership of 5,000. Anti-India, supportive of Saudi policies, strong supporter of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program. Chief Editor Zahid Malik is the author of books on nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan; URL: http://www.pakobserver.net)

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