Foreign Espionage Network in Pakistan

January 31, 2011

By Sajjad Shaukat

On January 27, an American employee of the US Consulate in Lahore, identified as David Raymond, shot dead two Pakistani youths, while a third was crushed by the driver of a Parado jeep, who was called by him for help, at Chowk Qartaba. Persons, sitting in the jeep were also carrying weapons. Police arrested David near Old Anarkali, Food Street after a chase and registered a case against him on two counts, while a case was also registered against unidentified people.

On one side, the United States has called for the immediate release of the American citizen working with US consulate in Lahore, claiming that Pakistani authorities have detained the diplomat unlawfully and in violation of international law. On the other side, investigators and experts are of the opinion that the under-investigation American involved in the murder of civilians in Lahore was in Pakistan on a visit visa and not on a diplomatic assignment-does not qualify for immunity from prosecution.

Sources suggest that David Raymond including his companions were agents of the American CIA and were on an anti-Pakistan mission. In fact, he is part of the illegal activities of the Blackwater whose employees of entered Pakistan in the guise of diplomats.

However, with the help of Indian secret agency RAW and Israeli Mossad, Blackwater has rapidly established its network in Pakistan. It has recruited Pakistani nationals who are vulnerable and can work on payroll giving them high financial incentives to work for them. Further, some reports suggest that this notorious firm has been recruiting smugglers, employees of the security companies, experts of the psychological warfare, scholars and journalists in order to fulfill anti-Pakistan designs of America including that of India and Israel.

It is of particular attention that a few days ago, Pakistani security officials foiled an attempt by the Indian intelligence to enact a fake encounter for implicating Pakistan in incidents of cross border terrorism. The plan was unearthed when a suspect, working for the Indian RAW was apprehended at Sialkot border area, while attempting to cross over to India through the border security fence; an impregnable barbed wire obstacle. Entrance points on the fence are locked and controlled by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF). The suspect has confessed to work as an Indian spy who was tasked to recruit agents from Pakistan to work for Indian intelligence.

Well-informed sources indicate that the suspect whose name has been withheld for security reasons disclosed that his Indian handlers, Mr. Sharma and Mr. Amjad, had asked him to recruit a Pakistani national by offering a large monetary reward, preferably carrying a weapon and send him across the border through the border barbed wire fence after liaison with the BSF troops. Mr. Sharma had assured him that all the details of border crossing would be finalized by him and duly taken care off at his end. The suspect also disclosed that the Indian Intelligence had planned a fake encounter to kill the border crosser and exploit the episode as proof of subversive elements launched by Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI crossing over from Pakistan to commit acts of terrorism in India. He also pointed out that he had held a few meetings with his Indian handlers in Islamabad as well.

Nevertheless, both the above mentioned events prove the involvement of Americans and Indians-under cover intelligence officers stationed in their Islamabad embassies and consulates, and are continuously engaged in espionage activities in grave violation of their diplomatic status.

It is mentionable that in the last three years, Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence agencies have caught a number of foreign spies along with sophisticated weapons, working against the integration of the country. In this respect, a number of times, arms and guns were also captured from Americans traveling in vehicles in various cities of Pakistan, camouflaged with dark mirrors.

Although Pakistan’s security forces have successfully coped with the Taliban militants in the Malakand Division and South Waziristan, yet situation has deteriorated in the country where subversive events like suicide attacks, targeted killings, attacks on buildings, oil pipelines, sectarian violence etc. have intensified due to the presence of external spies.

Notably, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have openly been revealing that RAW, Mossad and other foreign agencies are involved in supporting separatism in Balochistan and acts of terrorism in other cities of Pakistan.

In this respect, on April 23, 2009 in the in-camera sitting of the Senate, Federal Minister to the Interior, Rehman Malik had displayed documentary evidence of Indian use of Afghanistan to create unrest in Balochistan. It is believed that the main aim of in-camera session was also to show the engagement of American CIA and other external agencies as part of a conspiracy against Pakistan because at that stage, Islamabad did not want to publicly point out America.

In this regard, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit without naming CIA had revealed, “The evidence of foreign powers’ involvement in the destabilisation of Pakistan will be shared with relevant countries.”

While in the recent past, Governor of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Awais Ghani had disclosed that some world powers were trying to divide Pakistan, adding that if he were not a governor, he would have exposed them.

During the Malakand and Waziristan military operations, ISPR spokesman, Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas has repeatedly indicated foreign hands in helping the insurgents in order to destabilize Pakistan.

It is notable that Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World; hence the US, India, Israel and some western powers are determined to weaken it. Notably, despite American cooperation with Islamabad, its main aim along with India and Israel remains to de-nuclearise our country whose geo-strategic location with the Gwadar port entailing close ties with China irks the eyes of these countries, hence, they are in collusion to destabilise Pakistan. For this purpose, a well-established network of Indian army, RAW, Mossad and CIA which was set up in Afghanistan against Pakistan in order to support insurgency in the Khyber Pakhtookhwa and separatism in Balochistan have been extended. Now, it has been expanded in whole of Pakistan as recent suicide attacks, bomb blasts and targeted killings in Karachi and Lahore have so proved it.

CIA, RAW and Mossad are collectively working inside Pakistan. In this context, these secret agencies have been spending huge money to train and equip the militants who have been entering Pakistan on daily basis and have been conducting suicide attacks in our country, and assaults on our security forces including targeted killings-inciting sectarian violence.

Besides, these foreign agencies have purchased the services of some Indian Muslims and Pakistanis. Those who did not come up to their terms have been neutralized or murdered. In this regard, in the past few years, some politicians, intellectuals, journalists and religious leaders have been killed by the agents of these external agencies, while some are on their hit-list. Their purpose is to create perennial unrest in Pakistan, while main aim remains to disintegrate the country.

Nonetheless, the incident in Lahore, arrest of an American, David Raymond, and the suspect from Sialkot border-working for Indian spy agency, without any doubt confirms the presence of a well-organized foreign espionage network, based in Pakistan and the same is run by CIA, RAW and Mossad including their undercover agents. While conducting acts of terrorism to weaken Pakistan remains their top priority.

Sajjad Shaukat is a regular writer for Opinion Maker. He writes on international affairs and is author of the book : US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power : Dangerous Shift in International Relations.


Death of the ‘Imam’

January 25, 2011

By Shemrez Nauman Afzal
ZoneAsia-Pk

Amir Sultan Tarar AKA Colonel Imam

Brigadier Retired Amir Sultan Tarar is suspected to have died in Taliban captivity, presumably because of cardiac arrest, but suspicions and conspiracy theories indicate that his captors, the Taliban, may have murdered him because of non-payment of ransom by his family. However, the official quarters including Military sources as well as the Frontier Corps are finding it hard to verify the reports saying they have no confirmed information in this regard.

“We have been told that his dead body has been seen near Danday Darpa Khel area in North Waziristan Agency, but the news could not be confirmed nor could we get any picture of the dead body of Colonel Imam”, a senior Army official told this scribe when contacted. Similar remarks were offered by the FC sources.

Read Complete Article Here: Death of the ‘Imam’


Counter-terrorism: ‘South Waziristan purged of militants’

December 8, 2010

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reiterated on Tuesday that South Waziristan has been completely cleared of militants, while the army spokesperson denied reports of a rocket attack in the region.

In a statement, Major General Athar Abbas said that an operation is being carried out against militants in the area of Shawal in which helicopters are being used to destroy the whereabouts of militants.

On the other hand, media reports say that militants fired four rockets in the area of Ladha while Kayani and Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman were in the region for a visit.
Kayani, while on his visit to South Waziristan, said that rehabilitation and reconstruction is currently under way.

He further said that a double road is being constructed in Tank, Jandola, Makeen, and Wana, and voiced hope that the expansion of the road would usher in Afghan transit trade.
The army chief also added that work is under way on various projects worth approximately Rs14 billion.

The army, he added, is focusing on four sectors, which include construction of infrastructure, education, roads, provision of electricity and clean drinking water projects.

Meanwhile, the air chief marshal inaugurated a school in Ladha and the army chief laid the foundation stone of a model health centre, which is to be financially supported by the government.


Indian cellular network’s penetration into FATA ringing alarm bells

November 1, 2010

By: Farzana Shah

PESHAWAR - The Indian cellular network in Afghanistan has started penetrating into Pakistani tribal areas with the sale of SIM cards of Indian and Afghan cellular companies in FATA is adding to the security fears of the country.

According to sources, the SIM cards of cellular network, owned and operated by India, are being sold in North Waziristan Agency, South Waziristan, Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency, Mohmand Agency and Orakzai Agency.

These areas of Pakistan mostly bordering Afghanistan are the most militancy infested ones.

The Indian cellular communication network in collaboration with Afghanistan is said to have started functioning in Pakistani tribal areas. The law enforcement agencies in their report have cautioned the Government about risks this new development brings to the security of Pakistan.

“The Indian-Afghan mobile phone network has a vast range penetration in Pakistani tribal territory. “This network penetration can be a threat to security as it can be used by militants for terror activities a,” a security official told on the condition of anonymity.

It is worth mentioning here that tracing calls made from these SIM cards will be a difficult task for Pakistan owing to the fact it is being operated and controlled by India in Afghanistan.

Considering the apprehension of the law enforcement agencies, the Government has announced to ban use of Indian, Afghan SIM cards in FATA.

A letter sent by the centre to FATA and Governor secretariats and interior department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa directed the ban on those SIM cards and also asked for action against dealers selling them.

The political agents of aforementioned tribal agencies have been directed to take measures for disbanding foreign mobile network and launching crackdown against sellers of SIM cards.

They have also been asked to send the report in this regard to the centre through FATA secretariat.


The War On Terror. What is it really all about?

October 21, 2010

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts for Sabbah Report

Does anyone remember the “cakewalk war” that would last six weeks, cost $50-$60 billion, and be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues?

Does anyone remember that White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was fired by Dubya because Lindsey estimated that the Iraq war could cost as much as $200 billion?

Lindsey was fired for over-estimating the cost of a war that, according to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, has cost 15 times more than Lindsey estimated. And the US still has 50,000 troops in Iraq.

Does anyone remember that just prior to the US invasion of Iraq, the US government declared victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Does anyone remember that the reason Dubya gave for invading Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, weapons that the US government knew did not exist?

Are Americans aware that the same neoconservarives who made these fantastic mistakes, or told these fabulous lies, are still in control of the government in Washington?

The “war on terror” is now in its tenth year. What is it really all about?

The bottom line answer is that the “war on terror” is about creating real terrorists. The US government desperately needs real terrorists in order to justify its expansion of its wars against Muslim countries and to keep the American people sufficiently fearful that they continue to accept the police state that provides “security from terrorists,” but not from the government that has discarded civil liberties.

The US government creates terrorists by invading Muslim countries, wrecking infrastructure and killing vast numbers of civilians. The US also creates terrorists by installing puppet governments to rule over Muslims and by using the puppet governments to murder and persecute citizens as is occurring on a vast scale in Pakistan today.

Neoconservatives used 9/11 to launch their plan for US world hegemony. Their plan fit with the interests of America’s ruling oligarchies. Wars are good for the profits of the military/security complex, about which President Eisenhower warned us in vain a half century ago. American hegemony is good for the oil industry’s control over resources and resource flows. The transformation of the Middle East into a vast American puppet state serves well the Israel Lobby’s Zionist aspirations for Israeli territorial expansion.

Most Americans cannot see what is happening because of their conditioning. Most Americans believe that their government is the best on earth, that it is morally motivated to help others and to do good, that it rushes aid to countries where there is famine and natural catastrophes. Most believe that their presidents tell the truth, except about their sexual affairs.

The persistence of these delusions is extraordinary in the face of daily headlines that report US government bullying of, and interference with, virtually every country on earth. The US policy is to buy off, overthrow, or make war on leaders of other countries who represent their peoples’ interests instead of American interests. A recent victim was the president of Honduras who had the wild idea that the Honduran government should serve the Honduran people.

The American government was able to have the Honduran president discarded, because the Honduran military is trained and supplied by the US military. It is the same case in Pakistan, where the US government has the Pakistani government making war on its own people by invading tribal areas that the Americans consider to be friendly to the Taliban, al Qaeda, “militants” and “terrorists.”

Earlier this year a deputy US Treasury secretary ordered Pakistan to raise taxes so that the Pakistani government could more effectively make war on its own citizens for the Americans. On October 14 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered Pakistan to again raise taxes or the US would withhold flood aid. Clinton pressured America’s European puppet states to do the same, expressing in the same breath that the US government was worried by British cuts in the military budget. God forbid that the hard-pressed British, still reeling from American financial fraud, don’t allocate enough money to fight America’s wars.

On Washington’s orders, the Pakistani government launched a military offensive against Pakistani citizens in the Swat Valley that killed large numbers of Pakistanis and drove millions of civilians from their homes. Last July the US instructed Pakistan to send its troops against the Pakistani residents of North Waziristan. On July 6 Jason Ditz reported on antiwar.com that “at America’s behest, Pakistan has launched offensives against [the Pakistani provinces of] Swat Valley, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Orakzai,and Khyber.”

A week later Israel’s US Senator Carl Levin (D,MI) called for escalating the Obama Administration’s policies of US airstrikes against Pakistan’s tribal areas. On September 30, the Pakistani newspaper, The Frontier Post, wrote that the American air strikes “are, plain and simple, a naked aggression against Pakistan.”

The US claims that its forces in Afghanistan have the right to cross into Pakistan in pursuit of “militants.” Recently US helicopter gunships killed three Pakistani soldiers who they mistook for Taliban. Pakistan closed the main US supply route to Afghanistan until the Americans apologized.

Pakistan warned Washington against future attacks. However, US military officials, under pressure from Obama to show progress in the endless Afghan war, responded to Pakistan’s warning by calling for expanding the Afghan war into Pakistan. On October 5 the Canadian journalist Eric Margolis wrote that “the US edges closer to invading Pakistan.”

In his book, Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward reports that America’s puppet president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, believes that terrorist bombing attacks inside Pakistan for which the Taliban are blamed are in fact CIA operations designed to destabilize Pakistan and allow Washington to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

To keep Pakistan in line, the US government changed its position that the “Times Square Bombing” was the work of a “lone wolf.” Attorney General Eric Holder switched the blame to the “Pakistani Taliban,” and Secretary of State Clinton threatened Pakistan with “very serious consequences” for the unsuccessful Times Square bombing, which likely was a false flag operation aimed at Pakistan.

To further heighten tensions, on September 1 the eight members of a high-ranking Pakistani military delegation in route to a meeting in Tampa, Florida, with US Central Command, were rudely treated and detained as terrorist suspects at Washington DC’s Dulles Airport.

For decades the US government has enabled repeated Israeli military aggression against Lebanon and now appears to be getting into gear for another Israeli assault on the former American protectorate of Lebanon. On October 14 the US government expressed its “outrage” that the Lebanese government had permitted a visit by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is the focus of Washington’s intense demonization efforts. Israel’s representatives in the US Congress threatened to stop US military aid to Lebanon, forgetting that US Rep. Howard Berman (D,CA) has had aid to Lebanon blocked since last August to punish Lebanon for a border clash with Israel.

Perhaps the most telling headline of all is the October 14 report, “Somalia’s New American Primer Minister.” An American has been installed as the Prime Minister of Somalia, an American puppet government in Mogadishu backed up by thousands of Ugandan troops paid by Washington.

This barely scratches the surface of Washington’s benevolence toward other countries and respect for their rights, borders, and lives of their citizens.

Meanwhile, to silence Wikileaks and to prevent any more revelations of American war crimes, the “freedom and democracy” government in DC has closed down Wikileaks’ donations by placing the organization on its “watch list” and by having the Australian puppet government blacklist Wikileaks.

Wikileaks is now akin to a terrorist organization. The American government’s practice of silencing critics will spread across the Internet.

Remember, “they hate” us because we have “freedom and democracy”, First Amendment rights, habeas corpus, respect for human rights, and show justice and mercy to all.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds . He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com


Indo-US-Israel-Afghan collaborative game against Pakistan

September 1, 2010

Brig Asif Haroon Raja

9/11 dramatically converted Pakistan from an international outcast under a military dictator aligned with extremist Taliban regime in Kabul to become a key strategic partner of America’s war on terror. This change in status brought about by USA did not come about out of the blue but under a well conceived design. While Afghanistan was already on the hit list of USA since 1997, 9/11 gave a ready made excuse to forcibly occupy it and bring a regime change of its liking and to then work upon the laid down regional objectives.

In its pursuit to denuclearize and secularize Pakistan, the US in concert with Israel, India and Britain worked out several contingency plans which ranged from coercion combined with inducement to destabilization, balkanization and fragmentation. Gen Musharraf was successfully coerced to ditch friendly Mullah Omar led Taliban regime in Kabul, to help US in militarily occupying Afghanistan, and to become a frontline state to fight US war on terror. Pakistan had to accept anti-Pakistan and pro-India Northern Alliance regime under Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

When Pakistan expressed its reluctance to send regular troops into South Waziristan (SW) to oust foreign terrorists since it had never done so in the past, Washington threatened that US forces would barge into FATA in case Pakistan failed to abide by its orders. Pakistan was induced to do Washington’s bidding by rescheduling Pakistan’s foreign debts and offering five-year package of $10.5 billion. By 2009, only 30% of this amount trickled into Pakistan’s kitty which barely met the expenses incurred on services rendered; the rest shifted back to US treasury. As against this puny amount the US spent $60 billion annually in Afghanistan.

Once the Army moved into SW, it was trapped and it was ensured that it got involved deeper and deeper in fighting futile war on terror. Nek Muhammad belonging to Ahmadzai Wazirs was killed by a US drone soon after he met Commander 11 Corps Lt Gen Safdar and inked Shakai peace accord in July 2005. Maulvi Nazir took over from Nek. Since Nazir reused to play American game, Abdullah Mehsud was released from Gitmo Prison and launched to accelerate militancy. His cousin Baitullah Mehsud too picked up the path of militancy but both operated separately so as to enlarge their areas of influence in FATA and beyond.

Army was pressed to shift from Wazir belt to Mehsud belt within SW. Abdullah was responsible for abducting and killing Chinese engineers working in Gomal Zam Dam project. It was RAW-CIA guided move to spoil Pak-China relations. Abdullah was killed in Zhob in July 2007 by Pak security forces. After his death Baitullah took up the mantle. The Army which had inked peace accord with Baitullah in early 2006 was pushed into North Waziristan (NW) to confront Hafiz Gul Bahadur led Othmanzai Wazir militants. Another peace deal was signed in NW in September 2006.

It was in this timeframe that Pakistani Taliban (PT) mysteriously surfaced in NW in late 2006 where Mir Ali and Miran Shah became their strong points. PT were later on duly trained, equipped, funded and protected by CIA, FBI, RAW, RAAM and Mossad foreign agencies based in Afghanistan and pitched against Pak Army to lock the two in deadly combat for a prolonged period. To prevent the Army from defeating militants, the army units operating in FATA were kept dependent upon doctored intelligence provided by CIA, FBI and satellite communication till as late as 2007. Bleeding and weakening of Army was considered essential for the success of the gory plan since without its destruction none of the envisaged objectives could be achieved. PT also helped USA in defaming Islam and Afghan Taliban.

Ranks of PT swelled after botched Lal Masjid operation in July 2007 triggering recruitment of fighters and suicide bombers in large numbers. Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Baitullah broke peace accords with security forces in July and August 2007 respectively. Mohmand Agency also came in the grip of militancy. Secular forces in Pakistan egged on by the west were responsible for instigating Gen Musharraf to launch a needless bloody operation. Revenge of killings of women and children receiving education in Jamia Hafsa became the rallying point. The Army was dubbed as a rental army on the payroll of US. Based on this analogy, killing of a soldier became a just cause. Reverses of Army at certain places in FATA further galvanized their spirits.

Taking advantage of hurt sentiments of the people of the area, RAW with the assistance of RAAM took upon itself to recruit fresh crop of fighters and to provide training, funds, equipment and reinforcement to PT from Afghan soil. Notwithstanding factor of revenge, chief causes of motivation of militants were regular handsome monthly salaries, perks and authority. Taste of adventure and heroism and easy availability of women to marry were other reasons to get lured. These were too intoxicating pleasures for the uneducated, unemployed youth belonging to poor families to go to any lengths.

Foreign agencies kept fueling their grievances and eulogizing their dare devilry. They pumped them that their cause to get rid of corrupt rulers and to introduce Sharia was genuine. Pak Army was projected as a mercenary army of the US. In the same breath it was ridiculed by USA for not doing enough and pressed to do more. It was also accused of being in cahoots with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Drone attacks which started hitting targets in FATA from January 2006 onwards remained confined to anti-US elements only or those refusing to tow US agenda. Purpose of drones was to fuel terrorism and not to curb terrorism.

Unheard of Baitullah who took over the reigns of Taliban in July 2007 surprisingly managed to establish Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) in December that year with its tentacles in all the seven agencies of FATA and in Darra Adamkhel (DAK). The TTP took a leaf out of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, whom they considered as their mentors and tried to emulate them by fighting evildoers to purge the society of immorality and dispensing speedy justice to victims. Bandits of the area who had made the life of peaceful residents miserable were nailed and many hanged to death. In order to become the dominant force in FATA, Taliban started to gun down pro-government Maliks and Mullahs in two Waziristans, the two pillars of Pakhtunwali. Police, Frontier Constabulary, Khasadars were targeted. Government officials were kidnapped and harassed to force them to abandon their offices. Other than CIA and FBI outposts, Blackwater was also moved into FATA to lend a helping hand in the killing spree. All this was done to weaken Jirga system and administrative machinery run by political agent.

RAW with easy money procured from illicit drug smuggling then started to equip TTP on a crash program. Bajaur, Swat and SW were converted into major strongholds where massive weapons, ammunition, explosives, suicide jackets, medical stores and other war munitions were stored in hundreds of caves, man-made tunnels, roofs and walls of houses and other secretive places throughout 2008.

CIA and RAW also helped TTP in getting aligned with several banned extremist groups so as to develop its capacity to engage Pak Army in a prolonged guerilla war, launch suicide attacks and group attacks against a specific defended or undefended target within cities. Idea was to enable TTP to strike targets within cities and also to show to the world that non-state actors had become strong all over the country. Its ability was however not built to hit targets outside Pakistan. Pak Army on the other and was denied requisite funds and counter terrorism equipment on the plea of Indian imaginary fears that equipment will be used against India.

CIA helped Baitullah getting aligned with Fazlullah led militants in Swat and making it part of TTP in February 2008. TTP also made inroads in southern Punjab wherefrom Punjabi youths were recruited. Unknown Fazlullah became popular in Swat and Malakand Division because of his preaching on FM radio which could not be jammed because of Israeli made transmitters. His motivational thrusts revolved around anti-Islamic lifestyle of the elite class, their insensitivity towards the poor, growing immorality and lack of justice.

The Taliban spread their influence to Bajaur which became restive after a drone attack on Damadola village in January 2006 and another strike on a madrassa in October 2006 killing 80 young students. Within a year’s time, Bajaur, attached with Kunar province of Afghanistan in north, turned into a formidable stronghold of Taliban under Maulvi Faqir where the Frontier Corps (FC) had to launch several operations. 100,000 locals got displaced as a result of Frontier Corps (FC) operation launched on 10 January 2008. FC operation under Maj Gen Tariq conducted in July 2008 ended on a victorious note in February 2009. It transpired that Bajaur militants were heavily funded and provided with all sorts of armaments and reinforcement by foreign agencies from Kunar. Uzbeks, Tajiks, Afghans and RAW agents used to assist Taliban in fighting security forces. Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh personally coordinated Bajaur insurgency.

Simultaneous to heating up of Bajaur, Swat under Tehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) of Maulana Sufi, led by his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah became turbulent. After a military operation in November 2007, another operation was launched in August 2008 which ended in Swat Treaty in February 2009 according to which Nizam-e-Adal was to be enforced in Malakand Division and in return the militants would cease militancy.

Mohmand Agency heated up and turned into another formidable front for security forces in 2007. Divided into two as upper and lower Mohmand, it shares border with Nangahar province of Afghanistan to the west, Khyber Agency to the south, Bajaur to the north and Malakand, Charsada, Peshawar to the east. Until 2007, Mohmand was the most peaceful Agency in tribal belt and known for its moderation. Banned militant groups played a role in activating militancy in this region. Consequent to Lal Masjid operation in July 2007, over 200 militants took over a huge mosque in Ghazi Abad village near Ghilanai and renamed it as Lal Masjid. An unknown figure Umar Khalid gained prominence. He had received military training from Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and had participated in Kashmir Jihad and had also taken part in Taliban last ditch battle against US invasion in 2001. All those who were pro-government were gradually put to death on the plea that they were infidels, hypocrites and American spies. This way, authority of tribal elders was gradually enfeebled.

Three militant groups including Lashkar-e-Islam cropped up from nowhere in Khyber Agency to create law and order problem in Landikotal, Tirah, Jamrud and to threaten Peshawar. Capital city was attacked by terrorists and kidnappers under a planned program. Kurram Agency was rocked by foreign instigated Shia-Sunni conflict resulting in tens of hundreds of deaths. An operation had to be launched to quell the sectarian unrest. RAAM was heavily involved in fuelling turbulence.

Besides FATA, Balochistan was also made turbulent in 2005 by cultivating rebellious Baloch Sardars of Bugti, Marri and Mengal tribes and nationalist Baloch political leaders. Baloch rebels were trained, funded, and equipped on a massive scale to fix security forces in interior Balochistan. Gradually the flames of terrorism were brought to the capital city Quetta. After the death of Akbar Bugti, RAW planted the seeds of separatism among Baloch nationalists and rebellious elements. Balochistan became a priority target for USA-UK-India because of commercial and strategic interests. Exiled Baloch leaders were sheltered in Kandahar and in London and mandated to work for independence of Balochistan.

Another peace accord was signed with Hafiz Gul Bahadur in NW in September 2008 which is still intact. Peace agreement with Maulvi Nazir in SW is also holding on. Peace accords signed between militants and security forces or any sort of parleys taking place out of security and humanitarian compulsions are deeply resented by USA since it go against their plans. They wanted Pak Army and the militants to continue fighting till death. It was this hidden urge which prompted every US official to keep pressing Pakistan to do more and more. Peace deals gave an excuse to USA, India and Afghanistan to shout aloud that Pak Army was either soft towards the militants or didn’t have heart to fight them or was in cahoots with them. This charge-sheet has not been withdrawn till to-date.

Once India felt confident that the bastion of Swat fortified with huge efforts would be able to pin down a corps size force irreversibly, it advised the US to press Pakistan to start an operation in Swat in April 2009. It was also sure that Pakistan will not be able to cope up with the burden of 2.5 million displaced persons since by then its economy had slumped and was at the mercy of IMF and the new democratic rulers duly washed by NRO were also in the grip of Washington. When reverse happened, all hopes were pinned on SW becoming the final killing ground for systematic destruction of Pak Army.

When Pak Army turned the tables on TTP, it disconcerted the plot makers beyond measure. They could not imagine in their wildest dreams that Pak Army would break the back of TTP and that too in very short time. Their wish to steal nukes shattered. Instead of defaming the Army and lowering its morale, its image up surged and morale went sky high. The Frontier Corps and other paramilitary forces including police performed brilliantly. The PAF lent full support by way of targeting sanctuaries of militants.

Orakzai Agency tucked in depth and well away from Afghan border but linked with Kohat and Peshawar had remained peaceful till as late as mid 2008. A deadly suicide attack on a Jirga that had assembled to form a lashkar to confront Taliban made this region turbulent as well. Waliur Rahman holds sway over militant group which coordinates its activities with Taliban in DAK. After loss of main base of TTP in SW in November-December 2009, Orakzai was prepared as an alternative base. This region has also been sufficiently neutralized.

Extremists bottled up in specific areas first slipped into settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then to major cities of Punjab and Karachi thus spreading terrorism all over. Militant groups banned by Musharraf in 2001/2, had become sleeping cells in major cities. These groups had come under the wings of TTP and got activated once runaway Taliban sought shelter in cities. Latter having got weakened do not command effective control over the militant groups from Punjab but remain in collusion. RAW exploiting the fluid situation created new groups like Asian Tigers under Osman Punjabi. Main groups are Lashkar-Zil headed by Ilyas Kashmiri, Jaish Muhammad under Maulana Masood Azhar, Harkatul Jihadul Islami under Qari Saifullah and Lashkar Jhangvi under Akram Lahori.

Baitullah and his Shura and Mehsud belt as a whole were spared till such time he started behaving independently and giving anti-US statements in March-April 2009. When he claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in New York in April 2009 and failed to unleash his horde of suicide bombers during operation Rah-e-Rast in Swat, he was declared a liability and a security risk and marked as a target. A warning shot was fired on him by a drone in June, but he had a narrow escape. He was eventually gunned down on 5 August and his death sparked leadership crisis in TTP. Hakimullah took over the reigns of TTP and accelerated suicide bombings and group attacks on military and civilian targets in major urban centres in Punjab so as to break the momentum of operations launched in forward areas and thus release pressure. He too apparently fell from America’s grace when he was found to be associated with Jordanian suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents at Khost base. Although his death was widely reported in western media, however, after few months he was re-incarnated. His rebirth was timed with Faisal Shehzad’s Time Square botched attempt.

TTP and other militant groups in Pakistan are of no concern to USA and India. What concern the duo are remnants of Al-Qaeda, Haqqani network and Gul Bahadur led militants in NW, Maulvi Nazir in SW and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Punjab. Let is being projected as a global threat and blamed for current nonviolent unrest in India-Held Kashmir. The US instead of extending support to Pak Army to fight its battle with TTP and Fazlullah led militants in Swat-Shangla; it has been lending support to TTP. Hundreds of US, Indian and Israeli origin weapons recovered from Swat and SW during recent operations is a clinching proof of their involvement. It implies that the US didn’t want Pak Army to defeat terrorism in Pakistan but to preferably get defeated or as a minimum get pinned down irretrievably. India instead of tackling existential threat posed by Naxalites to Indian Union, it is myopically wasting all its energies in supporting terrorists in Pakistan, foolishly hoping that downfall of Pakistan would end all its worries.

While there has never been any doubt of Indian involvement in Pakistan’s domestic affairs, WikiLeaks has confirmed clandestine role of CIA in destabilizing Pakistan. It is now established that CIA has all along based its assessment on Afghanistan and Pakistan on the inputs provided by Afghan intelligence which gets fed by RAW. WikiLeaks has given an insight to Indo-US-Israeli-Afghan collaborative game of maligning Pakistan through an orchestrated vilification campaign with evil intentions.

Ironically, the US has different sets of laws and standards for itself. While it gets outraged on finding any sort of linkage of Pakistan with Afghan Taliban, it is striving hard to negotiate with them. It has been ignoring peace accords inked by British soldiers with Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. It is also ignoring India’s cross border terrorism against Pakistan and massive human rights abuses of Israel and India against Gazans and Kashmiris. Washington also refuses to admit its blunders and failures on the political and military fronts and has never found faults in its Generals operating in Afghanistan nor has it ever pressed them to do more. It continues to remain under the spell of Israel and India, bent upon rolling the honor and prestige of US military in dust in Afghanistan.

Much hyped strategic dialogue with America is already proving to be a big hoax when seen in context with the renewal of pressure tactics and use of aggressive language by US leaders. Extreme pressure was applied on Pakistan to launch another operation in North Waziristan well knowing that Pak Army was outstretched and didn’t have the means to stretch any further and that too without fully consolidating gains in Swat and South Waziristan. In the wake of devastating floods and engagement of 60,000 additional troops in relief operations, opening of a new front for the time being has become impossible.

As long as perceptions and threat perceptions of the US and Pakistan are at variance, mistrust and misunderstanding will not fade away and US officials would keep blowing hot and cold. Hawkish attitude towards Pakistan and visible tilt towards India will not help in bridging the trust deficit and in toning down anti-US sentiments. India and Israel will continue to sprinkle fuel on the differences and clashing interests to keep the US fearful and antagonistic towards Pakistan. Notwithstanding wicked designs of the duo, the US should strive to win hearts and minds of Pakistanis by doubling its flood relief efforts altruistically to mitigate the sufferings of flood affectees without extracting its pound of flesh. In the wake of colossal losses suffered by Pakistan in war on terror and now in floods, the US instead of extending loans or rescheduling debts, it should demonstrate its sincerity of purpose and help Pakistan in getting rid of its external debt. This step will go a long way in reversing perceptions from negative to positive and in forging mutually sustaining lasting friendship.


Drone strikes kill 24 in North, South Waziristan

July 26, 2010

By Irfan Burki, Malik Mumtaz & Mushtaq Yusufzai

WANA/MIRAMSHAH/PESHAWAR: Twenty-four people, majority of them local tribal militants, were killed and some others were injured in three different missile attacks by the US spy planes in South Waziristan and North Waziristan on Sunday.

The first attack took place in Shaktoi area of South Waziristan where the drone fired two missiles and hit a double-cabin pickup carrying militants. Taliban sources said 14 militants were killed and two others were injured in the attack.

They belonged to the Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). According to Taliban sources, these militants along with several other Mehsud insurgents had returned recently to their native South Waziristan and were planning to fight the Pakistani security forces there.

Many Mehsud Taliban fled their strongholds in South Waziristan and mostly shifted to the adjoining North Waziristan and Orakzai tribal regions when the government launched a military operation against Hakimullah Mehsud and his militants on October 17, 2009.

The sources among the militants said 14 insurgents died on the spot and two others sustained serious injuries. The two injured were shifted to a hospital in Mir Ali, the second biggest town of neighbouring North Waziristan. They were reported to have suffered multiple injuries.

It was the first attack by US spy planes in the Mehsud-inhabited areas of South Waziristan, particularly in Shaktoi after the January 15 missile strikes on a house after the US and Pakistani officials started making claims that Hakimullah Mehsud had been killed.

The second drone attack on Sunday occurred in Landikhel village of Srarogha Tehsil in South Waziristan. Tribal sources said four people, suspected to be militants belonging to the TTP, were killed and five others sustained injuries.

They said the drone fired two missiles on a house where some militants were having dinner. Moreover, six people were killed and four others injured in the third drone attack in the adjoining North Waziristan tribal region.

Official and tribal sources said the drone fired two missiles and struck a house in Tolkhel village, seven kilometres north of Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan. Villagers in Tolkhel said four spy planes were seen flying over the village for quite sometime on Sunday.

They said rescue work was started after two hours as the spy planes were still flying over the area. There was no word on the identity of those slain in the drone strikes.


Congressional gridlock reaches to Pakistan’s tribes

July 16, 2010

By David Ignatius
Thursday, July 15, 2010

I am embarrassed when I think back to a conversation last October in Wana, South Waziristan — deep in the tribal areas — with Maj. Gen. Khalid Rabbani, the commander of Pakistani forces there. He was about to launch an offensive against Taliban fighters, but he worried that the “clear and hold” phase of the campaign would fail if Pakistan couldn’t also “build” through economic development.

Be patient, I told him. Congress is working on a bill that will take a first step toward bringing more jobs to the region.

Nine months later, Congress is still caught in partisan gridlock over the plan to create Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA. The House passed the bill in June 2009, but the Senate hasn’t voted on its version because Republicans oppose the labor-protection standards that were included in the House measure. The GOP objects that the bill would set a precedent for similar pro-labor rules in future trade legislation.

It’s incredible — sickening is a better word, actually — that a parochial business-labor dispute is blocking a measure that is so obviously in America’s national security interest. Lawmakers seem to have forgotten that this plan would undercut al-Qaeda in its haven, at a time when U.S. soldiers are dying across the border in Afghanistan and when Americans everywhere are threatened by terrorists based in the FATA.

The Obama administration has argued for the bill, but not very effectively. More than a year ago, Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, wrote to Congress: “We need ROZs now — economic opportunities must be expanded to quickly follow up military operations.”

Yet the administration hasn’t been able to broker a compromise — even though Democrats have strong majorities in both houses. That’s a sorry performance — and another illustration of how the Obama administration’s agenda has been hijacked by partisan feuding.

“This is a national security imperative, and we should be focused on it like a laser beam,” argues Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chief sponsor of the House measure. The bill would allow duty-free exports to the United States of some textiles and other products produced in or near the FATA. It isn’t a “miracle cure” for the tribal areas, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

A Senate bill (without the House’s strong labor protections) is sponsored by Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Every time a compromise seems near, she says, business or labor groups object because they don’t want to concede on the labor issue. The stalemate might be broken by White House intervention, but the administration so far hasn’t been willing to spend enough of its scarce political capital.

“It’s frustrating,” says Cantwell. “Somehow, the issue doesn’t rise to the level of importance it deserves.”

Powerful senators, prodded by the lobbyists, haven’t been willing to budge. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, opposes Senate action unless the House promises to drop its labor provisions from any final bill; he argues that the House language is more restrictive than past trade agreements and could set a new precedent. On the pro-labor side, Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, has opposed any deal that doesn’t include the strong House standards.

Van Hollen argues that the Senate should pass the milder Cantwell bill and then take the issue to conference, where the two chambers can negotiate a compromise. He says the House side is “willing to make adjustments.” But Grassley doesn’t want to throw the issue to a House-Senate conference, so the impasse continues.

While Congress dithers, al-Qaeda and its allies continue to plan deadly attacks from their haven in the FATA. The most savage bombings in recent months have been against Pakistani targets. The Pakistani public, which has been hearing promises from Washington for three years about the FATA opportunity zones, is doubtless wondering why the great superpower can’t get its act together. Pakistan’s leading business groups, which would be most affected by the labor standards, have already blessed the deal.

Recall the Pakistani general in Waziristan: He warned me that his military campaign would falter if, in a year, there wasn’t more economic opportunity in the FATA. There are still a few months left to reach a compromise on a measure that would provide a modest boost for the good guys. But for now, this legislative debacle offers one more sign of our dysfunctional political system.

davidignatius@washpost.com


Dreams of India to turn Pakistan a compliant state dashed

April 29, 2010

By Asif Haroon Raja

India has kept USA and western world netted to its frequency since 1991. In the aftermath of 9/11 when the US and its western allies declared war against the Muslims, India got very close to the west and like Israel was made a strategic partner. Its grievances and allegations against Pakistan were listened to sympathetically, its counsels heard attentively and information shared taken as gospel truth.

Although Pakistan too was made an ally and a frontline state to take the major brunt of terrorism, its complaints against India were contemptuously brushed aside and it was snubbed for leveling false allegations. Pakistan was compulsively made a tactical partner to serve short term interests of USA. Discriminatory behavior of USA and other western countries kept Indian leaders in exhilarating and festive mood. Each allegation cooked up by Indo-US-Israeli spin doctors resulting in Pakistan bashing by US officials’ thrilled India the most.

RAW was given a free hand to carryout subversive activities and every successful move made to joggle Pakistan was lauded by the master coordinator. The band of six with champagne glasses in their hands would dance with joy from sunset till dawn. Pains of Pakistan became the delight of the sadistic gang. At the close of each month, head of RAW in Kabul would proudly highlight achievements made in the roundtable conference attended by CIA, Mossad, MI-6, BMD, RAAM and US-NATO senior military officials. They would laugh their heart out how Pakistani leadership had been duped and how they were able to put the strings of the trap around Pakistan’s neck effortlessly. India was profusely rewarded without having contributed anything towards curbing terrorism. Rewards were in recognition of its strenuous efforts to soak Pakistan in blood.

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Forces kill 13 terrorists in Orakzai Agency

April 28, 2010

PESHAWAR: The security forces on Tuesday killed 13 Taliban during a fresh offensive in Orakzai Agency and also destroyed several hideouts in the process. According to official sources, security forces arrested 26 Taliban, including three important commanders in the Tribal Areas and Lower Dir district. In Lower Orakzai Agency, the security forces, backed by helicopter gunships and artillery, killed eight terrorists after a battle over a checkpoint in the Beezot area. The forces also arrested five extremists from the Mashti area. Airstrikes killed five more in the Kasha area of Orakzai, AP reported. The military escalated an offensive in Orakzai Agency in mid-March after militants fled there to avoid a separate offensive in South Waziristan. staff report/ap


Pakistan has made progress against terrorists: India

March 30, 2010

Indian Defence Ministry report says meaningful dialogue only possible in ‘environment free of terror’

Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the security situation in Pakistan, the Indian Defence Ministry on Monday conceded that Islamabad “did make progress in containing extremist elements in Swat and South Waziristan”.

According to the ministry’s annual report for 2009-10, there is a need for meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan, but it is only possible “in an environment free of terror threats”. “The increasing incidents of terrorism within Pakistan targeting, inter alia, the security establishment and senior military personnel, and the rising tide of extremism underscored the serious threat to the country and to the region. However, the continued infiltrations across the Line of Control (LoC) and the existence of terrorist camps across the India-Pak border demonstrate the continuing ambivalence of Pakistan in its actions against terrorist organisations,” the report claimed.

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332 terror hits claimed 5,704 lives since 9/11

March 18, 2010

By Sabir Shah

LAHORE: The extent to which Pakistan has borne the brunt of the US-led War against Terror can be gauged from the fact that during the last 102 months since the 9/11 episode, the country has averagely been rocked by terrorists every 10th day during this period, which has witnessed 332 terrorism-related incidents inflicting 5,704 deaths till date.

While 58 terrorism-related incidents have jolted Peshawar (Charsadda and Darra Adamkhel included) since September 11, 2001, the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been hit 46 times by terrorists in these last eight and a half years.

A research conducted by The News, using statistics and chronology recorded by the US Department of State, archives of Pakistani newspapers and websites carrying

information about global terrorism, has revealed that while the port city of Karachi has been struck 37 times by terrorists during this period under review, Lahore has confronted such happenings on 21 occasions, the same number as the Swat valley.

While Quetta has so far seen blood pouring down its drains 18 times, Dera Ismail Khan has been attacked 16 times by the terrorists during this still ongoing war. The Pakistan Army personnel and installations of country’s armed forces, outside the war zones of Swat, South and North Waziristan etc, have been targeted at least 22 times during this time period under review.

Meanwhile, not fewer than 105 terrorism incidents have taken place since in the war-ridden Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency, Orakzai Agency, Lower and Upper Dir, Mohmand Agency, South Waziristan and North Waziristan agencies etc.

The NWFP cities mainly hit include Hangu, Kohat, Shangla, Buner, Bannu, Mansehra, Buner, Haripur, Nowshehra, Lakki Marwat and Parachanar etc. Terror has also whacked the calm of Dera Bugti four times.

The residents of Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Hub, Sargodha and Faisalabad found themselves strapped in the grip of fear on two occasions each.

Horror also haunted Multan, Mian Channu, Taxilla, Pishin, Panjgur, Gujranwala, Wah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Kalat, Kamra, Bhakkar, Chakwal, Mianwali, Hassan Abdal and Muzaffarabad etc, at least once each.

During this fright-studded period, high-ranking al-Qaeda officials like Abu Zubaida and Ramzi Binalshibh were arrested by Pakistani officials on March 23, 2002, and September 14, 2002, respectively.

Similarly, on March 1, 2003, Wall Street Journal newsman Daniel Pearl’s killer Khalid Shaikh Muhammed was arrested during CIA-led raids on a suburb of Rawalpindi.

At the time of his capture, Khalid was the third highest ranking official in al-Qaeda and was believed to have supervised the planning for the September 11 attacks on the US.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was also linked the USS Cole bombing, an attempt to blow up a civilian airliner with a shoe bomb and the terrorist attack at a synagogue in Tunisia.

Claiming that it has lost around $35 billion since joining the still-continuing War on Terror, Pakistan witnessed only two terror-related incidents in 2001, 14 in 2002, just 8 in 2003, 18 in 2004, 11 in 2005, 16 in 2006, 56 in 2007, 72 in 2008, 130 in 2009 and 29 in the first two-and-a-half months of 2010 till the fling of this report.

The year 2009 of course remained the bloodiest of all with 130 incidents claiming around 1,800 lives, followed by 2008 which saw 1,565 people falling prey to 72 such attacks.

Terror in Pakistan claimed the lives of eminent personalities like the two-time Premier Benazir Bhutto (December 27, 2007), banned Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sihaba chief Maulana Azam Tariq (October 6, 2003), former Interior Minister Lt Gen (R) Moinuddin Haider’s elder brother Ehteshamuddin Haider (December 21, 2000), noted religious scholar Ghulam Murtaza Malik (May 7, 2002), eminent Deobandi scholar and head of Islamic religious school Jamia Binoria, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai (May 30, 2004), leading Shia scholar and Chief of Tehrik-e-Jafaria Pakistan, Allama Hassan Turabi (July 14, 2006), Chief of Peshawar City Police Malik Saad (January 27, 2007), former Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam MNA and Wafaqul Madaris Vice Chairman Maulana Hassan Jan (September 15, 2007), Pakistan Army’s top medic Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig (February 25, 2008), former head of Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group Maj Gen (R) Ameer Faisal Alvi (November 19, 2008), Awami National Party Provincial law-maker Alam Zeb Khan (February 11, 2009), leading Sunni Barelwi cleric Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi (June 12, 2009), Punjab-born Balochistan Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan (October 25, 2009), Balochistan’s Deputy Inspector General Nizam Shahid Durrani (November 19, 2009), ANP politician Shamsher Ali Khan (December 1, 2009), former NWFP Education Minister Ghani-ur-Rehman (January 3, 2010), Peshawar’s District Police Officer Iqbal Marwat (February 12, 2010) and Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat’s key leaders Mufti Saeed Jalalpuri (March 11, 2010) and Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem (March 14, 2010).

During this particular period, former President Pervez Musharraf survived three life attempts.

While Musharraf saw death close to him twice in December 2003, he also managed to survive the July 6, 2006, attack aimed at his life.

Then Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat also narrowly escaped on June 10, 2004, when gunmen opened fire at his convoy in Karachi.

On July 30, 2004, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the Prime Minister-elect Shaukat Aziz, while he was campaigning for a by-election in Attock District.

On August 2, 2004, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf also managed to deceive death.

On April 28, 2006, the then Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, survived an assassination bid at Charsadda.

On July 17, 2007, another suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue of the district bar council convention in Islamabad, just be-fore the arrival of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto also escaped unhurt on October 18, 2007, when her convoy was attacked in Karachi upon her return from a long exile, but could not ride her luck the second time she was fatally targeted on December 27, 2007.

On October 30, 2007, a suicide bomber struck a police checkpoint in the high security zone of Rawalpindi, less than a kilometre from President Musharraf’s Camp Office.

The blast also splattered the checkpost outside the residence of then Chief of the General Staff General Tariq Majid.

On November 9, 2007, a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the house of the then Federal Political Affairs Minister Amir Muqam in Peshawar. The minister escaped unhurt though.

On December 21, 2007, a suicide bomber again unsuccessfully targeted former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao.

On June 9, 2008, controversial Swat cleric and chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi Maulana Sufi Muhammad survived a remote-controlled bomb.

On October 2, 2008, a suicide attacker targeted the Charsadda house of ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, who survived the attack.

On October 6, 2008, a suicide attacker targeted a gathering at PML-N legislator Rashid Akbar Nawani’s house in Bhakkar. Nawani luckily survived the attack.

On November 11, 2008, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a packed Qayyum Stadium in Peshawar, minutes after the NWFP Governor Owais Ghani had left the venue and just moments prior to the departure of Senior Provincial Minister Bashir Bilour.

On March 3, 2009, a convoy carrying Sri Lankan cricketers and officials in two buses was fired upon near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Six members of the Sri Lankan cricket team were injured.

On March 11, 2009, senior minister of the NWFP Bashir Bilour survived yet another assassination attempt in Peshawar.

On June 11, 2009, the NWFP Prisons Minister, Mian Nisar Gul Kakakhel, was

seriously injured when his convoy was ambushed by suspected militants in Darra Adam Khel.

On September 2, 2009, sitting Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi was injured in a brazen attack in Islamabad.

On February 9, 2010, renowned politician Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was attacked by militants in Rawalpindi, though Sheikh Rashid managed to live on by ducking the bullets.


Taliban Increasingly Unpopular in Pakistan

March 18, 2010

Four percent say Taliban’s presence is positive influence

by Julie Ray and Rajesh Srinivasan

This article is the first of a two-part series that looks at Pakistanis’ and Afghans’ views of the Taliban’s influence and their respective countries’ efforts to combat terrorism.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Taliban’s presence on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is largely unwelcome, but increasingly so in Pakistan, where Gallup surveys show they have lost much of the little appeal they had. Four percent of Pakistanis in a November-December 2009 poll, conducted prior to Pakistan’s current push to rout the Taliban within its borders, said the Taliban’s presence in some areas of the country has a positive influence, down from 15% in June.

Gallup most recently polled Pakistanis in the particularly deadly period after the army’s anti-Taliban operations in the South Waziristan tribal area started in October. Retributive militant attacks across Pakistan reportedly have claimed more than 600 Pakistanis’ lives since then, which the public’s increasingly negative view of the Taliban may reflect.

The Taliban lost support in every region of Pakistan. But nowhere are they more unpopular than in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), ground zero for a full-scale military offensive against the Taliban last May. In November-December 2009, 1% of NWFP residents said the Taliban have a positive influence, down from 11% in June. The percentage saying the Taliban’s influence is positive in Baluchistan, which abuts South Waziristan, dropped from 26% to 5%.

On the other side of the border, Afghans agree with Pakistanis that the Taliban have a negative influence. However, Afghans’ views have remained relatively unchanged despite the Taliban’s threats and violence before the presidential election in August. In both surveys in 2009, roughly 8 in 10 Afghans said the Taliban has a negative influence.

Majorities of Afghans in every region of the country see the Taliban as a negative influence, with their opinions changing little throughout 2009. Residents in the South, which included people in Kandahar, where U.S. and coalition forces are expected to challenge the Taliban this summer, continued to be more likely than others to say the Taliban have a positive influence. But even so, the majority said the Taliban have a negative influence.

Bottom Line

Gallup’s surveys show few Afghans and even fewer Pakistanis view the Taliban’s presence as a positive influence, which suggests there may be popular support for government efforts to dislodge the Taliban. Public support will be an important factor in the coming months if Pakistan continues its anti-Taliban operations and as the U.S. and coalition forces begin their offensive in Kandahar.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact worldpollpartners@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews in Pakistan with 1,147 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in Nov. 14 to Dec. 7, 2009, and 1,133 adults, conducted May 1 to June 30, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.7 percentage points.

FATA/FANA were excluded. The excluded area represents less than 5% of the population. Please note improved sample coverage and change in data collection agency beginning June 2009 measurement. The survey included Azad Jammu and Kashmir, but sample sizes were too small to report results. Maximum margin of error by region in both survey waves ranged from ±6 percentage points in Punjab to ±11 percentage points in Baluchistan.

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Sept. 20 to Oct. 12, 2009, and 1,000 adults in June 4-16, 2009, in Afghanistan. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Seventeen provinces were randomly chosen from 34 provinces and the sample was adjusted to reflect the population in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, and rural and urban population. Sample sizes and margins of error for each region were the same in both survey administrations.

North Afghanistan: Results based on interviews with 290 adults from the provinces of Balkh, Kunduz, Sar E Pol, Takhar, Badakhstan, and Samangan. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points.

Central Afghanistan: Results based on interviews with 250 adults from the provinces of Bamiyan, Kabul, Parwan. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

South Afghanistan: Results based on interviews with 230 adults from the provinces of Ghazni, Kandahar, Zabul, and Paktika. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

West Afghanistan: Results based on interviews with 130 adults from the provinces of Badghis and Herat. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±11 percentage points.

East Afghanistan: Results based on interviews with 100 adults from the provinces of Nurestan and Nangarhar. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±13 percentage points.

The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


Three Heroines of Pakistan

March 17, 2010

by Imran H. Khan

Pakistan has been blessed with many amazing women whose stories have been largely untold. Shahla Haeri wrote about some of them involved in the social sphere in her book “No Shame for the Sun“. OPEN’s chapters have also held conferences and forums highlighting the role of Pakistani American women in the US. In the recent years three Pakistani women have defied all odds and achieved remarkable success in achieving some of the highest goals typically associated with men. These achievements are specially significant taking into account their economic and geographic origins.

Maria Toor: Pakistani Woman Squash champion from South Waziristan

Maria is the Pakistan Woman Squash champion and Seventy Second in the World. What is remarkable is that she comes from WANA South Waziristan, the home of Pakistani Taleban. Her parents are from a poor background and she did not even pick up a squash racket till the age of twelve. Her meteoric rise in squash is amazing as she has achieved this with little to no resources. In listening to her in the attached video you can get a sense of her passion for the game and the hurdles she had to overcome in order to get there. The other thing that struck me was her confidence in achieving pretty much what she put her mind to, including appearing in a Hollywood movie. With little to no education she has still found the time to learn English and appears comfortable in front of the camera.

Maria_Toor.JPG
Saira Amin: First female Sword of Honor Winner and Fighter Pilot from Peshawer

Saira not only graduated from one of the most rigorous air force academies in 2006, but also won the most coveted Sword of Honor. To achieve this you need to be the most outstanding cadet in all of the three areas of flying, academics and general military training. She belonged to only the second group of females to be inducted into the PAF. She had to outclass all her male colleagues in physically grueling training that included para jumping.

She has established that in a extremely male dominated domain of jet fighter pilots of one of the most demanding of air forces, a female can not only participate but even dominate.

The video below shows female fighter pilots converting into flying fighters of PAF.

Naseem_Akhter.JPG
Naseem Akhter: Fastest Woman in South Asia from Korangi.

Naseem Akhter caught the fancy of all of Pakistan when she beat Pramila Priyadarshan, the Sri Lankan favorite to win the gold medal in South Asian games in 2010. She hails from a poor family from Korangi area of Karachi. Her dedication to achieve her goal was captured in her statement that she gave after the event.

“I had forgotten the world for six months and trained really very, very hard under my coach Maqsood Ahmed to achieve this. It is a great moment for me to have brought glory to the country in my event.”

To grasp the real significance of her story you have to watch the video below and see and hear the pride of her family.

Maria_Toor_Family.JPG

What really struck me in the photo below is that she was wearing loose clothes and yet was only a second and half behind the fastest woman on the planet, Florence Griffith-Joyner. I can only wonder that with some training and more streamlined clothes what she can possibly achieve.

The theme that runs common in all the three stories is that none of these ladies let any excuse come between them and their goals. They managed the challenges with a supportive family structure. They exhibit all the same qualities that are needed to be a successful entrepreneur. They had to raise money, market their talents, fight the naysayers and excel in what they did with single minded focus.

To all these women, “Afreen” .


Army in Pakistan not interested in politics: Holbrooke

March 15, 2010

US envoy says Pakistan’s political scenario much better compared to previous year, despite complications

LAHORE: US special envoy Richard Holbrooke has said the Pakistan Army is no longer interested in Pakistan’s complicated politics, reported a private TV channel on Sunday.

“Al Qaeda is under great pressure after losing key members of its leadership,” said Holbrooke, and described the arrest of Mullah Baradar – al Qaeda’s military leader in Afghanistan – as a significant development. He said al Qaeda’s top 10 to 12 key leaders had been eliminated over the last year.

The envoy said Pakistan had moved around 100,000 of its troops from it’s the eastern borders to the western borders.

In an interview with CNN, Holbrooke said the loss of frontline leadership had put al Qaeda under tremendous pressure.

Holbrooke acknowledged the role of the Pakistan Army in the ongoing battle against the Taliban, and said Pakistan had taken effective action against the Taliban in Swat and South Waziristan.

The envoy also said the US was working in close coordination with the political leadership of Pakistan and its army in the war on terror. He said the improvement in Pak-US cooperative relations was a “very big step forward”, and praised Islamabad’s successes against local and Afghan Taliban.

“In the last 13 months, since this administration took over [in the US], there has been a significant improvement across the board in the relationship between our government and the government of Pakistan,” he told CNN’s GPS programme, which was aired on Sunday.

The American diplomat believes distinction between Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, if it ever existed, is eroding. “It has allowed Pakistan to take a much more forward-leaning position … there was above all a backlash from the excesses of the Taliban in Swat, South Waziristan, and their attacks in places like Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Karachi have all contributed to an evolution.”

Citing the top American officials’ meetings with the Pakistani leadership, he said, “We feel clearly that we are working more closely together with them. And I think that is a very big step forward.”

Questioned if Pakistan would launch an operation against the Afghan Taliban suspected to be hiding in North Waziristan, Holbrooke said it was up to the Pakistanis to decide on the basis of their assessment of the situation. He said while Pakistan’s political scenario was going through complications, the overall situation was much better now compared to the previous year. daily times monitor/app


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