Archive for the ‘Kashmir’ Category

Pakistan’s Zardari Says Militants Could Start Regional War

December 2, 2008

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to India not to punish his country for last week’s attacks in Mumbai, saying militants have the power to precipitate a war in the region, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Zardari, whose wife, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by Islamist militants last year, warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Zardari in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated (the) 9/11 (attacks on the United States) or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq,” said Zardari.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the ... 
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the National Security Conference to discuss ongoing tension between India and Pakistan flared after the last week’s Mumbai attacks, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan has proposed a joint investigation of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai after India blamed elements in Pakistan for the bloodshed.(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

More from Reuters:


From the Financial Times (UK) 
Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, made an urgent appeal to India yesterday not to punish his country for the terror unleashed on Mumbai last week, as Indian officials blamed a Pakistani militant group for the three-day rampage.

As the government in New Delhi faced mounting domestic pressure to respond forcefully to the attacks, Mr Zardari urged Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, to resist striking out at his government should investigations show that Pakistani militant groups were responsible.

His appeal came as tensions rose between the two countries. A day after the security forces finally regained control of Mumbai, Indian officials blamed Lashkar-i-tayyaba, a prominent militant group linked to previous attacks against India. Its name translates as Army of the Pure.

Speaking exclusively to the Financial Times, Pakistan’s president warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-i-tayyaba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Mr Zardari, whose country is battling al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its border with Afghanistan.

But Indian officials last night stepped up the pressure on Pakistan. The ruling Congress party’s general secretary M Veerappa Moily told the FT: “All the terrorists involved in the Mumbai blasts are related to Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-tayyaba. We are seriously concerned and the government won’t let such acts go lightly.”

New Delhi was yesterday facing intense domestic criticism over its response to the attacks which claimed at least 172 lives.

India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan ... 
India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday.(AFP/Raveendran)

Shivraj Patil, the home minister, resigned as criticism intensified over the response of the security forces to the attack on India’s financial capital.

“The Congress government has no moral authority to survive,” said Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, blaming its weakness for collapsed intelligence gathering and a poor security response to the terror strike.

The Mumbai attacks ended on Saturday when commandos killed the last gunmen holed up at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Some of the most stinging criticism of the response of the emergency services came from business. “The police were woefully inadequate in terms of equipment and in terms of being prepared,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group that owns the Taj Mahal hotel. He said fire engines had taken three hours to arrive when the hotel caught alight.

Additional reporting by James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai

Pakistan’s Government, Military At Odds?

December 2, 2008

A rift has opened up between the Pakistani government and army in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Dawn newspaper reported there had been “clear differences in perception” when army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardar Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in a Friday, June ... 
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

The most visible evidence of the gulf occurred when Mr Zardari promised India the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate would visit India to help with the investigation into the attack.

By Isambard Wilkinson in Islamabad
The Telegraph (UK)

Less than 24-hours later the decision was revoked and the government announced that a more junior ISI officer would fly to India. It is now doubtful whether any official will go.

Gen Kiyani had previously pledged to weed out pro-jihadi elements and reform the agency but the u-turn revived the question of whether the ISI has really been brought to heel.

General Kiyani

It was similar to an incident in August when Mr Gilani announced on the eve of a trip to Washington last month that the ISI had been brought under the control of the interior minister. He retracted the statement at 3am that night.

According to US and Indian intelligence officials, Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit formed by the ISI in the 1990s to fight in Indian-held Kashmir, is the main suspect for carrying out the attacks.

One military official said: “Yes, there is a trust deficit on many issues and both are not showing their cards to each other.”

The distrust between the army and the government dates back to before the Bombay attacks, as the two sides have disagreed over how to conduct the “war on terror’ and reform the ISI.

Pakistan has spent half of its existence under military rule and the latest dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, resigned as president in September after spending eight years in power.

Gen Kiyani has since announced the military’s withdrawal from politics but it remains a strong influence on all major decisions ranging from foreign policy to the economy.

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Mumbai Terrorism: U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group

November 28, 2008

American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Friday there was mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the deadly attacks in Mumbai.

From the New York Times
By Mark Mazzetti

The American officials cautioned that they had reached no hard conclusions about who was responsible for the operation, nor on how it had been planned and carried out. Nevertheless, they said that evidence gathered over the past two days has pointed to a role for Lashkar-e-Taiba, or possibly another Pakistani group focused on Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad.

The American officials insisted on anonymity in describing their current thinking and declined to discuss the intelligence information that they said pointed to Kashmiri militants.

Lashkar-e-Taiba on Thursday denied any responsibility for the terrorist strikes. The group is thought by American intelligence agencies to have received some training and logistical support in the past from Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, but American officials said Friday that there was no evidence that the Pakistani government had any role in the Mumbai attacks.

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Mumbai: Specter of State Sponsored Terrorism Raised by Diplomat

November 28, 2008

John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, raised the specter of state sponsored terrorism in the Mumbai terror attacks.

Bolton, speaking on the Fox News Channel Friday said envious nations may have acted to stop India’s rise as a global economic power by striking Mumbai with terrorism.

He said the terrorists may have targeted Americans and Britons to strike feat into the U.S. and U.K. business community.

Mumbai is the financial center of India with aspirations of becoming a world economic center like London, Hong Kong or New York.

Bolton said it is well within the rhelm of possibility that Pakistan’s security services were behind the Mumbai attacks but that it would take considerable time to determine the exact cause and source of the terror crimes.

The Inter-Services Intelligence or ISS is a Pakisan military security branch.  Bolton said the ISS would have the capability and perhaps the motivation to sponsor terrorism like that in Mumbai.

John R. Bolton
Above: John Bolton

Pakistan’s terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, or possibly another Pakistani group focused on Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad could have supplies the “hit men” for the ISS, another U.S. source told us.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Muhammad Reports from Tribal Areas, Pakistan, February 6, 2008

February 6, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I want to express my gratitude and thank to your goodself for your kind cooperation during the hour of trial. Tribesmen will never forget your cooperation.

Now the government has started action against militants, but there are still some officials within the government of President Musharraf who have been supporting terrorists. The United States should exert more pressure on the government to accelerate operation against the terrorists, who have been killing the innocent tribesmen. Taking advantage of the chaos in the areas the terrorists have been finding the time for planning more terrorist attacks the world over.

According to a report from Waziristan tribal region, eight Pakistani troops including a senior general were killed on Wednesday when a military helicopter crashed in an insurgency-hit tribal region bordering Afghanistan, the army said. The chopper came down near the village of Tanai in the mountainous tribal district of South Waziristan after a “technical malfunction,” chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said.

The crash killed Major General Javed Sultan, the commanding officer of the Kohat garrison near the Afghan border, two brigadiers, two pilots and three other personnel, the spokesman said. South Waziristan has been wracked by fierce fighting between Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants and government forces in recent weeks, although the violence has tailed off in recent days. The rugged region is also the hideout of an Al-Qaeda-linked militant commander, Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused by Pakistani and US officials of masterminding the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto. Military spokesman Abbas however ruled out any “hostile activity.” Several Pakistani army choppers have crashed in the country’s mountainous northwest in recent years.

A helicopter escorting President Pervez Musharraf to Pakistani Kashmir in October last year crashed and burst into flames, killing four troops. Musharraf’s own helicopter was not affected. Six Pakistani soldiers were killed when another Mi-17 crashed days after the catastrophic October 2005 Pakistan earthquake. The helicopter reportedly came down between the towns of Jandola and Wana. Maj Gen Sultan was a senior officer in charge of fighting Islamist Taleban militants near the Afghan border.

The helicopter reportedly came down between the towns of Jandola and Wana.

Other copter crash victims included Brig Saeed Khan, Brig Afzal Cheema, Lt Col Umar Farooq, Captain Haroon, Capt Shahzad, Capt Naveed and Naik Amir. At least one person was killed and two others seriously injured when a bomb exploded in a scrape godown in Shah Qas Jamrud in Khyber Agency on Wednesday.

According to tehsildar, Khalid Khan Kundi, one person named Baz Muhammad s/o Dal Gul was killed and two others were seriously injured when a bomb exploded in a scrape godown. The injured were rushed to the local hospital. Political administration is investigating the incident.

Another reports said that militants resurfaced in the Frontier Region of Darra Adamkhel on Tuesday and warned local tribesmen of dire consequences if they did not stop cooperating with the government and security forces.

Handbills and pamphlets purportedly distributed in the Darra bazaar by the Islami Taliban and Tehrik-i-Taliban warned local people against cooperating with the army and paramilitary personnel.

The tribal Khasadar force should not escort security personnel during their movement in the area, warned a pamphlet. “If anyone is found violating the Taliban directive they will be considered as agents of the government and will be treated as traitors,” the pamphlet said.Local people who are in government service or in law-enforcement agencies have been asked to quit their jobs and warned that they would be put to death if they did not do so.“The local Taliban would soon reintroduce Islamic system and the people should avoid indulging in un-Islamic activities, like listening to music, using dish antenna, gambling and kidnapping for ransom.”Meanwhile, Kohat’s District Coordination Officer, Kamran Zeb has convened a jirga of the six clans of Darra Adamkhel — Bostikhel, Akhorwal, Sheraki, Zarghunkhel, Tor Chappar and Jawaki — at his office on Wednesday to discuss ways of achieving the objective of the military operation.

The government launched a military operation in Darra Adamkhel on Jan 24 to flush out militant groups from the area. The forces have claimed killing over 70 militants and destroying torture cells, terrorist training camps and a headquarters of the militants during the operation.

Dear Sir, I want to convey the feelings of tribesmen living on Pak-Afghan border. They want your role in tribal areas.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan

Islamist Militants Target: Pakistan

December 28, 2007

Losing in the West, the jihadis hit Pakistan, with its nuclear prize.

In Pakistan there are two fault lines. One is dictatorship versus democracy. And one is moderation versus extremism.” Thus did Benazir Bhutto describe the politics of her country during an August visit to The Wall Street Journal’s offices in New York. She was assassinated yesterday for standing courageously, perhaps fatalistically, on the right side of both lines.

We will learn more in coming days about the circumstances of Bhutto’s death, apparently a combined shooting and suicide bombing at a political rally in Rawalpindi in which more than 20 others were also murdered. But there’s little question the attack, which had every hallmark of an al Qaeda or Taliban operation, is an event with ramifications for the broader war on terror.

With the jihadists losing in Iraq and having a hard time hitting the West, their strategy seems to be to make vulnerable Pakistan their principal target, and its nuclear arsenal their principal prize.

In this effort, murdering Bhutto was an essential step. Hers is the highest profile scalp the jihadists can claim since their assassination of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat in 1981. She also uniquely combined broad public support with an anti-Islamist, pro-Western outlook and all the symbolism that came with being the most prominent female leader in the Muslim world. Her death throws into disarray the complex and fragile efforts to re-establish a functional, legitimate government following next month’s parliamentary elections, which seemed set to hand her a third term as prime minister.

This is exactly the kind of uncertainty in which jihadists would thrive. No doubt, too, there are some in the Pakistani military who will want to use Bhutto’s killing as an excuse to cancel the elections and reconsolidate their own diminished grip on power. In the immediate wake of the assassination, members of Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party have accused President Pervez Musharraf of being complicit in it. But whatever Mr. Musharraf’s personal views of Bhutto–with whom he had an on-again, off-again political relationship–his own position has only been weakened by her death. It would be weakened beyond repair if he sought to capitalize on it by preventing the democratic process from taking its course.

That goes even if the immediate beneficiary of Bhutto’s death is her onetime archrival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Sharif, an Islamist politician with close ties to Saudi Arabia and a reputation for incompetence and corruption, said yesterday he would boycott next month’s election even as he is seeking to assert himself as the man around whom all opponents of Mr. Musharraf can rally. We have no brief for Mr. Sharif, except to say that his claim to that position would be strengthened if the military indefinitely postpones or usurps the election.

Beyond the elections, Mr. Musharraf needs to move aggressively to confront the jihadists, and not the lawyers and civil-rights activists he has been jailing in recent months. Hundreds of Pakistanis have been murdered in recent months in terrorist acts perpetrated by fellow Muslims, and many of these perpetrators have, in different ways and at different times, been connected to the Pakistani government itself: as beneficiaries of the terrorist war Pakistan has supported over the years in Kashmir, or as beneficiaries of the support Pakistan gave to the Taliban until 9/11, or as beneficiaries of the ill-conceived “truce” Mr. Musharraf signed last year with Taliban- and al Qaeda-connected tribal chiefs in the Waziristan province. Worst of all has been the look-the-other-way approach successive Pakistani governments have taken to the radical, Saudi-funded madrassas throughout the country.

That will require a more radical reshaping of Pakistan’s politics than Mr. Musharraf has so far been able, or willing, to undertake. But if Bhutto’s assassination has any silver lining, it may be to show that there is no real alternative.

During her meeting with us last summer, Bhutto warned that while the jihadist movement would never have the popular support to win an election in its own right, they had sufficient means at their disposal to “unleash against the population, to rig an election, to kill the army and therefore to make it possible to take over the state.” Today those words seem grimly prophetic.

And while she was in many ways a flawed figure, her answer to that challenge–a real fight against terrorism that would give jihadists no rest; and a real democracy that would give them no fake grievance–looks to be the only formula by which Pakistan may yet be saved.