Archive for the ‘FATA’ Category

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, March 31, 2008

March 30, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

During last few days I have missed you a lot. I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. Some interesting developments have been taking place in Pakistan nowadays.

The most interesting event is the announcement of prime minister Gilani about the revoking of Frontier Crime Regulation.

The tribal areas are being governed through Frontier Crime Regulation.

The prime minister announcement has created legal vacuum in the tribal areas.

It is interesting to note that Taliban militants have welcomed the announcement as they think now the tribal areas will be handed over to them. A political observer in his comment stated that the authors of the prime minister’s speech to the National Assembly on Saturday probably had no understanding of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the laws that govern it. Why else would Yusuf Raza Gilani announce the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulation without actually knowing what the 1901 British law is going to be replaced with and more importantly: what would be its implications?

Little wonder then that at least two of the PPP’s allies, both from the NWFP  the Awami National Party and the JUI (F) — came out with reservations.

The ANP acknowledged that while its leadership had been consulted about  “generalities”, it had not been consulted on the specifics of FCR, which, according to the ANP’s provincial president, Afrasiab Khattak, is the “most investigated and non-implemented law”.

The ANP, he said, would like to retain the FCR with some amendments, something that the JUI (F) and a vast majority of the tribesmen would also like to see.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman told Dawn he too was not consulted and warned that any such move would entail grave implications for Pakistan.

The FCR presently in vogue in the seven federally administered tribal regions and six Frontier Regions basically explains relationship between the state and the tribes on the one hand through an indirect form of governance; and on the other lays down procedure for dealing with inter-tribal matters.

But the British-era law has been coming in under a lot of criticism from human rights activists, the civil society as well as a section of the tribal people.

The very draconian nature of some sections of the law, chiefly the Frontier Crimes Regulation 40, a preventive law pertaining to good conduct that has been grossly misused by the political administration to keep people under detention for longer periods of time than the stipulated three years for peace-keeping it provides for on non-acceptance of sureties by the accused.

The other most controversial sections of the law pertain to collective responsibility and territorial responsibility.Section 21 (Collective Responsibility) empowers the administration to direct the confiscation of all or any member of a tribe and all or any property belonging to them or anyone of them, if the tribe, or any section or member of such a tribe, are found acting in a hostile manner towards the government or towards people in the country.

Section 22 (territorial responsibility) empowers the administration to impose a fine on an entire village if there appear to be good reasons to believe that the inhabitants of the village have connived with, or abetted in the commission of an offence or failed to render assistance in their power to discover the offender or to effect their arrest.

Article 246 and 247 of the Constitution deals with the tribal areas — both the federally administered as well as the provincially administered tribal areas. The Constitution also states that the parliament cannot legislate for the tribal regions unless the president so directs.

The irony is that legislators from Fata can take part in legislation for the whole country but not for their own regions. The power to repeal or introduce any regulation in the tribal regions thus rests with the president.Analysts warn that any move to repeal or introduce any regulation in the tribal regions would require delicate handling.

What happened in the provincially administered Malakand region following the Supreme Court’s verdict in 1995 that had declared PATA regulation as ultra vires of the Constitution is now for all to see.That decision created a legal vacuum in Malakand and led to an armed rebellion by Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi calling for the enforcement of shariah to replace the defunct PATA regulation  “a problem that continues to haunt the government in Swat.”

Analysts point out to Fata’s special status, its accession to Pakistan and the treaties that Pakistan inherited from the British Empire as a dominion state, an issue also highlighted by Maulana Fazlur Rehman in his speech to the National Assembly on Saturday.

Even if any decision has to be taken, argue these analysts, the tribal people would have to be involved and consulted while introducing any law to govern their way of life. Opinion is divided over the FCR and system of administration in Fata, but most analysts agree that FCR should be retained with some amendments, particularly by making it appealable before a special bench of the High Court.

It requires very delicate handling. Changes in the FCR are the need of the hour. But let’s not create a Malakand-like situation in Fata where the state authority has already been challenged by different militant groups.

Any drastic decision is a sure recipe for disaster, cautioned one senior government official with previous experience in the tribal region.

Dear Sir, situation in tribal areas is still tense as terrorists and security forces have been exchanging fire regularly. The areas are in the grip of terror and fear.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan


Muhammad Reports from Pakistan, March 5, 2008

March 5, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope that you and your team will be alright. Situation is Pakistan is critical as usual. Now the terrorists have increased their activities. The coming few days are very crucial.

Indications show the terrorists may make a life attempt on President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf has also decided to postpone his foreign visit due to uncertain situation.

Formation of new government is also in the final stage.

Suicide attack in Lahore, which is being considered the heart of Pakistan, has increased terror and fear among the people. Situation in the tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is also very critical as these areas are directly being controlled by the terrorists. Terrorists sitting here have been planning more terrorist attacks in the world. They are also keeping eyes on the United States.

Like most of the tribesmen the US must show hurry in taking action against the terrorists living in the border areas.

A newspaper of Pakistan commented the suicide attack in Lahore. Once more, terrorists have struck right in the heart of a major city. This time, the target is the Naval War College, located at a prime spot along Lahore’s Mall Road.

The strike seems to have been particularly well planned, with initial reports stating one vehicle crashed through the gates of the college while another followed it in. With the entire area — that includes the lush green GOR colony, housing residences of superior court judges and senior bureaucrats and the prestigious Aitchison College for boys — cordoned off, and streets all around affected, ascertaining facts is hard in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

However, several blasts were heard, leading to speculation that the suicide bombing also triggered gas pipe or CNG cylinder explosions.

Six people have been reported dead, at least ten others injured and vehicles parked around the building damaged.

But in many ways, the finer details, the precise chain of events are less relevant than the fact that the terrorists have struck once more. Already, the year 2008 has seen at least 13 major terrorist attacks. The killers, it seems, are able to strike anywhere, at any time.

They have quite evidently succeeded in their main purpose — creating a sense of panic and challenging the writ of the state. The fear running through Lahore in the aftermath of the bombing is proof of this. The city has never known the sense of dread that now lurks everywhere. For the moment, it is these terrorists who hold the upper hand in the battle being fought out across the territory.

But this is not a state of affairs that can be permitted to continue.

The consequences are simply too horrendous to contemplate. It is clear the extremists believed to be behind these attacks have made symbols of state — the army, the police, the navy — their principle targets. They have in other words declared open war on the very institutions that stand for the safety and security of Pakistan itself.

By reaching into Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other cities, the terrorists have shown how far they can reach out from the northern areas of the country that seem to be their main base. The question is how this rapidly accelerating war can be won. It seems that the stepped-up military action against extremists in FATA and other areas has not damaged their ability to strike in other parts of the country.

Also, those waging this most unholy of wars are obviously unwilling to grant any kind of honeymoon period to the new government. The destruction that suicide bombers are able to unleash represents a weapon that is extremely difficult to counter.

Strategy against such an enemy is not easy to devise. But at this time, it is vital all political forces, all military experts and all institutions that can offer help and support put together their heads and devise a plan to save the country and its citizens — before it is too late to win the war against crazed men ready at any cost to claim lives and wreak havoc on fellow citizens.Dear Sir, your continued cooperation with me and people of tribal areas has been bringing some positive change.

We are grateful for your kindness and love.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Muhammad Reports from Pakistan Just Before Elections

February 17, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,

Dear Sir,

I have felt a lot of happiness after seeing update Peace and Freedom blog. Thanks God you are alright.

Pakistan is going to election tomorrow, but situation in tribal areas and other parts of the country is still tense.

A Pakistan man rides his bicycle decorated with electoral posters ...
 Pakistan man rides his bicycle decorated with electoral posters in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008. Pakistani’s will go to the polls in parliamentary elections on Monday Feb. 18.
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

I want to present thank and gratitude to you for your kindness with the people of tribal areas. It is due to your positive approach that now government of Pakistan has changed its attitude about terrorists to some extents. The people of tribal areas fully recognize your role in war against terrorism.

The time is not far away when the terrorists will be flush out of the tribal areas. You will be invited to Bajaur Agency, tribal areas for presenting you “Award from the Poor”. A lot of thanks.

Situation in Pakistan is still fluid. Pakistani media has been expressing apprehension about the elections. Daily Times, owner of which is the federal minister, in its editorial stated that shadows keep falling on the elections even in the last hours before the polling begins.

Pakistan's Election Commission staff sit in a van as they ...
 Pakistan’s Election Commission staff sit in a van as they carry election material for the upcoming parliamentary elections, in Peshawar February 17, 2008. Pakistan’s parliamentary elections will be held on February 18.

The attorney general is allegedly caught on tape telling someone that the government is going to rig the elections.

Ten terrorists linked to the Taliban are caught in Karachi ready to blow up several polling stations with massive amounts of explosive material.

A thousand people, all Afghans, are arrested in Peshawar and accused of “trouble-making”. Eighty thousand troops are deployed to protect the polling stations, one-third of which have been declared dangerous.

This is going to be a very different election from past ones. It is happening mostly on TV. It is mired in rumours of dhaandli or rigging whose evidence keeps popping up here and there.

The political parties, scared of being short-changed, are threatening rejection of polls and violent agitation, but with a clear subtext that it might hurt their interests.

Every party is claiming exaggerated gains at the polls since any modest assessment might make the voters turn away. The incumbent PMLQ began by claiming 150 seats in the National Assembly together with its allies, to come down to 110 on the eve of polls, till some unnamed PMLQ leaders are being quoted in the press as ready to accept the PPP and the PMLN government after the polls.

The real threat to the 2008 elections remains a low voters’ turnout.

The PPP has a sympathy wave welling up for it. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that it will sweep in rural Sindh, thus sharing the province with urban MQM. It is estimated to win 35-40 out of 61 National Assembly seats in Sindh. One analyst says it will also win 40-50 out of the 148 seats in Punjab, 10-15 of NWFP’s 35, 3 of Balochistan’s 19, to make up a total of 100-108. This is possible because the PPP is the only national party with votes in all the four provinces. With this kind of total it will certainly be the front-runner for putting together the government at the centre.

Significantly, the party’s mood is suitably conciliatory and it threatens no one, not even President Pervez Musharraf.

The PMLN is the comeback party in Punjab. If the PMLQ suffers it will do so because of the ability of the PMLN to bounce back, although to write off the incumbent PMLQ would be unwise since it is fielding some very strong candidates despite defections and its own policy to undercut some of its candidates — after giving them tickets — through independents.

The 53 seats in South Punjab are under threat from the PMLN which is also set to win handsomely in Lahore and Faisalabad, the second and third largest cities in the country. One feels that Mr Nawaz Sharif is reconciled to letting the PPP rule in Islamabad and handle President Musharraf while he gets Punjab on the basis of all the tools he will have handy in the National Assembly to play the kingmaker.

The rise of the ANP in the NWFP is bound to fill the vacuum left behind by a bickering MMA.

Out of all the parties, it is the ANP which is campaigning bravely after being fatally targeted twice by the terrorists. If the voters come out the party is sure to increase its presence in the provincial assembly as well as have enough numbers in the National Assembly to form meaningful alliances.

The PPP doesn’t have a good past record with the ANP, but the new orientation in both parties is to disembarrass themselves of their old identity markers and seek reconciliation.

Just as the PPP began making overtures to the MQM in Sindh right after the arrival of Ms Bhutto from exile, the big party is bound to ride together with the ANP and allow it to form the government in the NWFP.

The PPP was in the process of discussing power-sharing with the PMLN on Friday. Mr Nawaz Sharif has stiffened his rhetoric on the presumed basis of negotiations, but this could be mere electoral pyrotechnics to win votes.

He wants President Musharraf ousted and he wants the dismissed judges restored. (His wife has promised a gathering that her party would replace President Musharraf with Dr AQ Khan.)

No doubt the parties will have to develop the requisite measure of flexibility after the elections to work in double harness at the centre and in Punjab. There is evidence that they don’t want to revert to the cloak-and-dagger days of the 1988 assemblies when Punjab spies called Midnight Jackals had tried to topple the PPP at the centre.

At no time in the past have local and foreign observers been forced to keep their fingers crossed as now. There are far too many elements for comfort today who would wish to see the elections go wrong. Nor is the world too reassured of Pakistan’s real intentions after it returns to democracy.

It is ironic to note that women in the tribal areas have been barred from casting their votes. A report said that about 424,332 of the 1,524,284 registered women voters from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and frontier regions will be deprived of their right to vote following direct threats from local Taliban.

Local Taliban had also distributed pamphlets some weeks ago in the FR and Bajuar, Kurram and Mohmand agencies warning the tribesmen of bombing or “severe punishment” if they did not keep their women away from poling stations.

On Thursday, Lashkar-e-Islami chief Mangal Bagh said women would not be allowed to vote in two constituencies of Khyber Agency – NA-45 in Jamrud subdivision and NA-46 in Bara subdivision. Women’s participation in voting was against the tribal traditions, he said, and the families and tribes whose women would vote would be punished “in line with tribal traditions”.

Dear Sir, please remember that you are the hero of millions of tribesmen as you have done a lot for them. You have played a very positive role in liberating them from terrorists.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas Pakistan

What Next Pakistan? 

Al Qaeda Threat to Pakistan’s Survival

February 7, 2008

By  Sridhar Krishnaswami
India Abroad
February 6, 2008

Al Qaeda and Taliban elements which have moved beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas are threatening the country’s survival, a top United States intelligence official has said in an unusually strong warning, asserting that only the army had the ‘strength’ to check the menace.

“I think the most significant thing in the recent situation is the threat has moved into Pakistan proper to threaten the very existence of the (state). Pakistan has now recognised that this is an existential threat to their very survival,” director of national intelligence Admiral Michael McConnell said.

He said the Pakistani leadership was taking steps to be more aggressive in getting control of the situation, with regard to not only Al Qaeda, but also the militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

His comments came after senior law makers, cutting across party lines, expressed serious concern at the terror threat coming out of Pakistan, especially in the FATA of the north.

“The militancy emanating from the tribal areas has grown so strong that it has spread to the settled areas of Pakistan, in the North-West Frontier province, but also reaching into the heart of Pakistan’s cities, including Islamabad. The most egregious example of this, of course, is Benazir Bhutto,” remarked senior Republican Senator Orin Hatch.

“At what point do you believe it would be better to pronounce the current Pakistani government a complete failure in advancing security for us or even their own people? And what Pakistani institutions could successfully stand against these threats?”  he asked McConnell.

“The only institution that has the strength to do what you just described is the Pakistani army,” the official said. He, however, added that the force was not adequately trained to carry out anti-insurgency operations.

“So that discussion is taking place in Pakistan now. And there will be changes in time to be more aggressive in addressing this threat,” McConnell said.

He said it was a ‘very critical time’ for the Pakistan government as the country was going through a transition to democracy. “It is a key point in Pakistani history. For the first time in their history, their legislature finished a term, and the elections are happening later this month on the 18th”.

“I’ve spoken to my counterparts in Pakistan and General Kayani, who’s chief of the army staff. I think they would agree in broad outline with your analysis,” said Gen Michael Hayden, head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks at the ... 
Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks at the test-firing of a medium-range Shaheen-1 (Haft-IV) ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in Pakistan January 25, 2008. Kayani dismissed on Friday fears that the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic militants as the military test fired a nuclear-capable missile.

Pakistani military operations in FATA have had ‘limited effect’ on Al Qaeda, the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency Gen Michael Maples said.

“However, Pakistan recognises the threat and realises the need to develop more effective counterinsurgency capabilities to complement their conventional military,” he added.

Reiterating the state department’s view that the US was not getting enough information on top militant leadership, Admiral McConnell said, “If we had the locating information, particularly of the leadership, we would be able to carry out actions to neutralise the leadership. So that specific information we seek. We do not have it”.

In his opening statement, Senator John Rockefeller pointed out the fact that after six and a half years since September 11, 2001, the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remains at large.

“That is a source of embarrassment and concern to all of you,” he said. “Al Qaeda has used this border safe haven to reconstitute itself and launch offensive operations that threaten to undo the stability of Afghanistan and undermine, if not overthrow, the Pakistan government,” Rockefeller remarked.

Another Democrat Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana asked the intelligence community if it would strike the balance between the United States getting involved and the risk of ‘destabilising an already fairly tenuous regime’ in Pakistan.

“How do we strike that balance? And when do we conclude that, if the Pakistanis simply can’t do it by themselves, that we have to do more and essentially say, ‘Look, if you can’t do it, we’re going to have to do more, and we’re going to do what we need to do here, because we can’t afford to have a repetition of the Afghan situation’? Bayh asked.

“I think there’s more commonality of view between us and our partners that this is a threat to both of us. In the tribal area, Pakistanis were concerned about it, but the threat emanating from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas was more a threat outside of Pakistan than it was to Pakistan, per se,” Gen Hayden of the CIA said.

Maples said Al Qaeda has expanded its support to the Afghan insurgency and presents an increased threat to Pakistan, while it continues to plan, support and direct transnational attacks. It has extended its operational reach through partnerships with compatible regional terrorist groups, including a continued effort to expand into Africa.

“Al Qaeda maintains its desire to possess weapons of mass destruction,” Maples said.

Pakistan: Families Terrorized in Tribal Areas

July 27, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom,

Dear Sir,

Please accept my good wishes for you and your team at the Peace and Freedom.

The story that US Congress is likely to pass a bill linking aid with elimination of terrorism and Talibanisation has given me some sort of satisfaction. I think this is the best way of putting more pressure on Pakistan to show sincerity in war on terrorism.

Situation in our areas is still tense. My whole family is in a state of terror. Constant fear and terror have been affecting my children. My little son Kamran, who is below 10, is ill and my elder Daughter Sania is also not feeling well. He is suffering from fever. The health condition of my wife is also not satisfactory. The reason is constant fear and terror.

Today the militants targetted a vehicle of security personnel with remote control. Three personnel were injured in the blast. The bomb disposal squad defused a remote control bomb in the sole degree college for girls. The college situates near my house. Taliban and terrorists have been threatening the girls not attend the schools or college otherwise they will be killed. My little daughter is now refusing to go to school.

At the moment my daughter in 7th class.

Dear Sir, the officials have been receiving funds from the United States on the name of tribal areas. They have also been committing loot and plunder in the local funds which are being collected through taxes, but doing nothing to provide security to the people. I think the Peace and Freedom can do a lot by evolving a system for the tribal areas. We have the resources, but our leaders and officials are corrupt and this is the reason the situation has been deteriorating with each passing. Pakistani government has been losing the confidence of the tribal people.

Sitution in other parts of the country is also critical as according to report, a bomb blast killed 15 people in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. The forces have been conducting operation in Waziristan tribal region.

Thank you very much. Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Pakistan: Tribal Areas Allow Taliban to Regroup

July 27, 2007

Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
July 27, 2007

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, provided new details of the battle against terrorists in Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan.

In prepared testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Gen. Clapper said the terrorists are using the area to regroup.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has lost some 500 troops fighting terrorists in the region and also tried to use a political agreement with tribal leaders in the region but it “has not been successful,” Gen. Clapper said.

Recent events in Pakistan are likely to spur Gen. Musharraf to take much more aggressive action in addressing the problem, he said.

The new steps include increasing funding of counterterrorist operations in the region, providing 25 U.S. helicopters and air-assault training to Pakistani troops, supplying night-vision equipment and giving $110 million in economic aid to the tribal region.

On the recent confrontation at Pakistan’s Red Mosque, Gen. Clapper said, “The behavior of the extremists who had been holed up in the mosque highlighted the threat, and extremists based in the border areas have taken both the stepped up Pakistani army presence in the FATA and along the border as well as the storming of the mosque as a pretext for resuming terrorist attacks on the Pakistani security forces.”

Also, Pakistani religious leaders are stepping up opposition to extremists, and in one recent meeting declared that suicide bombing violated Islamic law, he said.

Recent internal disputes among tribal leaders recently erupted into conflict between pro-Taliban tribesmen and pro-al Qaeda fighters, he said.

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