Tag Archives: Swat

The Alleged Stunning Indiscretion of a News Anchor

One of our friends recently wrote: “Two highly recommended books for those who wish to understand Pakistan: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and The Castle by Frank Kafka”.

This is not a cynical view of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country that is a conundrum wrapped within a puzzle inside an enigma. As the previous proxy state militia broke into different factions and is now fighting the state, the lines between friends and foes are blurred. ISI that used to formant proxy militias to further its causes in Kashmir and Afghanistan is now itself being attacked by its very own Frankenstein.

The previous masters of the Taliban are now either their prisoners or being killed by them. A case of Khalid Khwaja and Colonel Imam is a sad reflection of the evil of the religious extremism that is consuming itself due to the utter chaos that it represents.

Mr. Khwaja’s life was remarkable in itself for all the intrigues that were associated with him. Not many people have accused General Zia-ul-Haq for not fully implementing the Islamic Sharia in Pakistan. He was one of the accusers, and after promptly being dismissed by the General, Mr. Khwaja went on to play significant roles in assembling alliances against the PPP government of Ms. Benazir Bhutto. Taking on the causes of Jihadis, he managed to appear in the news on and off, even volunteering to take on the case of five Americans who were apprehended in Pakistan while allegedly looking to train for Jihad.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, North-West Frontier Province, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror

Pakistan is in pieces

[There is plenty here to stimulate a robust debate; Not that surprising, considering who the author is. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this article.]

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 6 April 2010             By Robert Fisk

I tried, in Pakistan, to define the sorrow which so constantly afflicts this country. The massive loss of life, the poverty, the corruption, the internal and external threats to its survival, the existentialism of Islam and the power of the army; perhaps Pakistan’s story can only be told in a novel. It requires, I suspect, a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky.

Pakistan ambushes you. The midday heat is also beginning to ambush all who live in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. Canyons of fumes grey out the vast ramparts of the Bala Hisar fort.

“Headquarters Frontier Force” is written on the ancient gateway. I notice the old British cannon on the heights – and the spanking new anti-aircraft gun beside it, barrels deflected to point at us, at all who enter this vast metropolis of pain. There are troops at every intersection, bullets draped in belts over their shoulders, machine guns on tripods erected behind piles of sandbags, the sights of AK-47s brushing impersonally across rickshaws, and rubbish trucks and buses with men clinging to the sides. There are beards that reach to the waist. The soldiers have beards, too, sometimes just as long.

I am sitting in a modest downstairs apartment in the old British cantonment. A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.” Continue reading

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Filed under Army, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Judiciary, Pakistan, Partition

Taliban sympathisers and the Swat flogging video

Posted by Raza Rumi

Zubair Torwali has reported from the field and debunked the perverse myths on the flogging video. This is followed by the brave and daring Samar Minallah’s account of the flogging saga and what more proof do Taliban sympathisers want. PTH is carrying these two pieces in solidarity with these two individuals who believe in a progressive and peaceful Pakistan and condemn militancy at great personal risk.

Swat has witnessed many harsh and cruel days. For about two years, it presented a view of Afghanistan during the heyday of the Afghan Taliban. The man who ignited the situation against the state of Pakistan — Sufi Mohammad — was spared (seemingly by design) for about three years. The MMA was then the ruling government in the province. In 2008, a half-hearted operation was launched under the name of Rah-e-Haq but it was evident then that the action being taken against the insurgents was not serious. However, soon the situation became very grave and serious when the hanging of slit-throated and beheaded bodies became a routine, and the Grain Chowk in Mingora became notorious as the ‘Khooni Chowk’. Upon intense pressure from the people of Swat and the media, the government decided to try and settle the issue peacefully. A long deliberation and negotiations were carried out at the start of 2009 to reach a settlement. In the wake of this endeavour, a peace deal was signed with the Taliban in February 2009. Emboldened by the very apparent capitulation on the part of the government, the militants expanded their writ to the nearby districts of Buner and Dir. The people’s reaction to the peace deal was mixed. Some thought it would bring permanent peace to the Valley but there were many who were cynical and thought that the peace deal was carried out on the terms put forward by the militants. They were of the opinion that since the Taliban were non-state actors, they would not comply with the truce. Their apprehensions proved true and the Taliban extended their ‘rule’ beyond Swat. Continue reading

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Filed under North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, Women

Pakistan’s Silent Surge

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi talked with The Newsweek about operation against the Taliban, drone strikes and their effectiveness, as well as the new round of strategic dialogue with the United States. The interview is a pleasant read, and Mr. Qureshi comes across as diplomatic yet candidly clear in his message. His assertion that Pakistan only started winning the war when Pakistani took ownership of the war is quite possibly the single most important determinant why the tables finally turned in this conflict. He uses the term the Silent Surge to describe Pakistan’s Army drive to root out the militants from FATA area. We can all agree that Pakistan’s silent surge is working; though it took thousands of civilian and military lives before Pakistan finally started getting an upper hand in the war against the militants.

 It was less than a year ago when Swat was run over by the Taliban. They were rampaging through our northern areas and Pakistan seemed paralyzed. Yet this was also the first instance when Pakistan rose to defend itself as nation against its own elements that wanted to rule over it in the name of Islam. For the first time, Pakistanis refused to yield to the religious blackmailing that had gone really out of hand. For as much as Pakistan is responsible for its own mess, Pakistan looked inwards, and steeled itself that  it will no longer be defined by the extreme religion that Pakistan was becoming synonymous with. For our resolve and sacrifices by our soldiers and the civilians, we should be thankful and feel proud as a nation.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, Democracy, FATA, India, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Taliban, USA, War On Terror

Pakistan’s War of Choice

NYT, March 24, 2010
 
By MICHAEL E. O’HANLON
 
Peshawar, Pakistan: WHAT are Americans to make of all the good news coming out of Pakistan in recent weeks?
 
First, the Afghan Taliban’s military chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested in a raid in February. Around the same time, several of the Taliban’s “shadow governors” who operate out of Pakistan were captured by Pakistani forces. Last week, the C.I.A. director, Leon Panetta, announced that thanks in large part to increased cooperation from Pakistan, drone strikes along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are “seriously disrupting Al Qaeda,” and one killed the terrorist suspected of planning an attack on an American base in December that caused the deaths of seven Americans. Meanwhile, Pakistan has mounted major operations against its own extremists in places ranging from the Swat Valley in the north of the country to Bajaur on the Afghan border to South Waziristan further south. Yes, extremists continue to do great damage, as at Lahore on March 14 when about 40 civilians were killed in bombings. But after traveling across the country in recent days as a guest of the Pakistani military, I was convinced that Pakistan has become much more committed to battling extremists over the last couple of years, as the country felt its own security directly threatened. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Pakistan, Taliban, War On Terror

The Year of the Drone, by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann

We are reproducing an important paper on the drone attacks in Pakistan. This report analyzes the numbers behind the drone attack casualties. This paper further discusses the drone policy implications for the US, Pakistan as well as for the Taliban. I encourage you to visit the New America website for full report with various graphs, further statistics and footnotes that give important details behind the information given in this paper (AZW)

 

Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper

The Year of the Drone

An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann

February 24, 2010

For full report please go to http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_year_of_the_drone

Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to the present have killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, of whom around 550 to 850 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.

The bomber, a Jordanian doctor linked to al Qaeda, detonated his explosives on December 30, 2009, at an American base in Khost in eastern Afghanistan, killing himself and seven CIA officers and contractors who were operating at the heart of the covert program overseeing U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s volatile north-western tribal regions. The suicide attack was a double cross: Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the bomber, had earlier provided information to the CIA that was used in targeting some of those drone attacks.

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the current number three in al Qaeda, praised the suicide attack, saying it was “to avenge our good martyrs” and listing several militant leaders felled by drone strikes.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, baluchistan, FATA, Islamabad, North-West Frontier Province, Obama, Pakistan, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA

Pakistan: democratic governance is the only way forward

by Raza Rumi
Given the average shelf life of any civilian government, it is almost miraculous that the incumbent government has survived and there are signs that its removal is not immediate. The longevity of civilian order has less to do with the inherent strengths of its style of governance or delivery of public goods that it had promised in its manifesto. The survival of this government is an outcome of the lack of options for the establishment as well as its international allies, notably the Western powers. Leaving the conspiracy theories and the excessive over-reliance of the analysts on the American factor, we can safely argue that the military establishment of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies has found themselves in a unique situation since the assumption of the presidency by Asif Ali Zardari.

The truth is that Pakistan People’s Party, an anathema to the civil-military bureaucracy, has assumed the most important and powerful offices that a civilian government can aspire for. Two years ago, when the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, state, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Zardari