Archive for the ‘Tribal Areas’ Category

Pakistan’s Police Losing Terrorism Fight

December 4, 2008

If India’s reaction to the revelation that Pakistan was involved in the Mumbai terrorism didn’t get your attention; this headline might.  Pakistan is roiling from the impact of a widespread terror insurgency, combined with total financial bankruptcy of the nation and internal disputes and rivalries added to decades of unrest with India.  Pakistan’s Army is pinned down in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan; trying to wrestle control and influence from the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  And last weekend, in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, rival groups went on a riotous rampage…..

*******

Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.

They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They were too poor to pay for a personal ad, so the editor of The Daily Moon, Rasheed Iqbal, published a news story instead. He has run dozens like it.

“They just want to get the word out to the Taliban that they are not with the police anymore so they won’t kill them,” said Iqbal. “They know that no one can protect them, and especially not their fellow policemen.”

Pakistani police officers launch an operation against criminals ... 
Pakistani police officers launch an operation against criminals in Karachi’s troubled area of Lyari, Pakistan, on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Criminals and police exchanged fire during the action that killed one person and injured three, local police said.(AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Outgunned and out-financed, police in volatile northwestern Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against insurgents, dozens of interviews by The Associated Press show. They are dying in large numbers, and many survivors are leaving the force.

Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Writer

The number of terrorist attacks against police has gone up from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 last year, according to National Police Bureau. The death toll for policemen in that time has increased from nine to 575. In the northwestern area alone, 127 policemen have died so far this year in suicide bombings and assassinations, and another 260 have been wounded.

The crisis means the police cannot do the nuts-and-bolts work needed to stave off an insurgency fueled by the Taliban and al-Qaida. While the military can pound mountain hideouts, analysts and local officials say it is the police who should hunt down insurgents, win over the people, and restore order.

A Pakistani police officers seen outside the heavily guarded ...
A Pakistani police officers seen outside the heavily guarded Badaber police station at outskirt of Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday Nov 4, 2008. Police officers left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.(AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

“The only way to save Pakistan is to think of extremism and insurgency in North West Frontier Province as a law enforcement issue,” said Hassan Abbas, a South Asia expert at Harvard University’s Belfer Center Project for Science. “Rather than buying more F-16s, Pakistan should invest in modernizing its police.”

In the Swat Valley, militants have turned a once-idyllic mountain getaway into a nightmare of bombings and beheadings despite a six-month military operation to root them out. About 300 policemen have fled the force already.

On a recent evening in Mardan, Akhtar Ali Shah had just slipped out of his deputy police inspector’s uniform to head home. In an escort vehicle, a half-dozen of his guards had inched outside the giant white gates of the police station for a routine security check.

The bomb exploded minutes later. Through a cloud of dust and dirt, Shah saw five of his six guards lying dead near the blood-smeared gate. The head of the suicide bomber rested nearby.

“We are the ones who are getting killed by the terrorists that we are facing,” Shah said later.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_police_under_fire

Advertisements

U.S. Message to Pakistan: Battle Terror, Not India

December 4, 2008

U.S. officials said Wednesday that they are pressing Pakistan to change the primary mission of its intelligence services from preparing for war with India to actively helping the fight against Islamic extremists, some of whom have been linked to last week’s attacks in Mumbai.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with ... 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee before their meeting in New Delhi December 3, 2008.(B Mathur/Reuters)

That is the message Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael G. Mullen are delivering to President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad this week, the officials said. Adm. Mullen was in Pakistan on Wednesday and Miss Rice was expected there Thursday.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and parts of its military have been accused of being too close to militant groups that have staged numerous attacks in both Pakistan and neighboring India.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The chief of the United States military, admiral Mike Mullen, ... 
Chairman of the United States Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen Wednesday asked Pakistan to “investigate aggressively” any possible links that groups based in Pakistan have to the Mumbai attacks.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jason Kempin)

“The ISI has been geared up for years to fight its neighbor next door,” a senior U.S. official said in reference to India. “It’s supportive of the Taliban in Afghanistan; it’s skeptical of the war on terror and thinks it’s a war against Islam. That has to change.”

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 170 and wounded hundreds, “the situation has changed dramatically, and Pakistan has to follow every lead” to get to the bottom of the plot, he said.

“Otherwise, the Indians might decide that Pakistan cannot be counted on to be a partner in the war on terror,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was discussing sensitive private exchanges with the nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian security forces are holding the only Mumbai attacker to be captured alive, and officials there say he has admitted to being a Pakistani and a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group thought by some to have ties to current and former ISI members.

The U.S. official said the real war is with militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Some Pakistani officials have suggested that they may need to move troops from that border to the Indian border if tensions rise further. But the U.S. official said there are “no signs that India will move additional forces” to the border.

To make sure the Indians give Pakistan no excuse to transfer troops, Miss Rice visited New Delhi on Wednesday. She said that any response by India “needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention and also by not creating other unintended consequences or difficulties.”

Related:

Mumbai Terrorists: The Facts We Know

 Banned Pakistani Militant Leaders Believed Orchestrated Mumbai

NATO Tells Pakistan “We Need Your Army In Tribal Areas”

December 2, 2008

Pakistan must continue military operations against militants in its tribal regions despite rising tensions with India following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Nato officials said on Monday.

“We hope Pakistan’s efforts (against the insurgents) are not diminished as a result of what happened” in Mumbai, Nato spokesman James Appathurai told reporters.

He made the comments as reports indicated that both Pakistan and India might send troops to their common border.

Nato which is fighting a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is concerned that a redeployment of Pakistani troops in the east of the country could mean reduced Pakistani military action against militants in the frontier region with Afghanistan.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the alliance’s 26 foreign ministers in Brussels, Mr Appathurai said the new Pakistani government had shown it was determined to fight insurgents in the northern part of the country.

“This government is embracing responsibility for fighting extremism,” the spokesman said, adding: “It is Nato’s assessment that these operations are robust.”

“Nato believes that the success of Pakistan in increasing pressure on the militants over the last few months has been very valuable,” he said.

Mr Appathurai repeated that Nato soldiers were not deployed within Pakistan. “The Nato mandate ends at the border. We are not participating in any ground or air operations in Pakistan,” he said.

The alliance has deployed over 50,000 troops in Afghanistan and has said that stabilising the country is Nato’s key priority.

The war is, however, increasingly unpopular with European public opinion and in Canada.

Mr Appathurai said Nato was convinced that there was no military solution in Afghanistan and that issues of governance, development and reconstruction were part of the alliance’s “comprehensive approach” towards the country.

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is expected to visit Pakistan later this monthin a bid to reinforce political contacts with the new government. Military contacts between Nato and Pakistan are improving.

The Nato spokesman said that Mr Scheffer had been heartened by his recent meeting with President Hamid Karzai in which the Afghan leader said that his relations with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari were “good and trusting”.

Fighting extremism was a “shared challenge” for Afghanistan and Pakistan and both countries were part of the solution, the spokesman said.

By Shadaba Islam
Dawn Newspaper

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.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/3540
095/Mumbai-attacks-Rift-between-Pakistan-army-and-governme
nt-Bombay-India.html

Pakistan: Taliban Ground Attacks Continue on NATO, U.S. Supplies

December 1, 2008

Militants in northwestern Pakistan attacked trucks ferrying supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Monday, killing two people and destroying a dozen vehicles, witnesses and police said.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 40 others at a military checkpoint in the region’s Swat Valley, police said.

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

A Pakistani examines burnt trucks caused by insurgents' attack ... 
A Pakistani examines burnt trucks caused by insurgents’ attack at the Fasial terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. Insurgents attacked the terminal used by trucks ferrying supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Monday, destroying three and wounding one person, police and a witness said.(AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

The spasm of violence comes amid a spike in tensions between Pakistan and rival India over last week’s terror attacks in Mumbai, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistani militants.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks and vowed to crack down on the perpetrators if New Delhi provides evidence. But there are fears that tensions could nevertheless boil over between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The attack on the U.S.-led coalition trucks took place at a terminal in Peshawar, which sits along the supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The city has seen an upsurge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

Several gunmen fired rockets and automatic weapons at the Faisal terminal, killing a driver and a clerk and destroying 12 trucks, said police officer Ahsanullah Khan.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081201/ap_on_re_as/as_
pakistan;_ylt=AhPtU2i3Cs8RFrbrYw48Z2qs0NUE

Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure

November 30, 2008

The Pakistan government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani today acutely feels the heat of terrorists as well as international pressure from a tradional friend, the U.S., and a traditional enemy, India.

This television frame grab shows Pakistani President Asif Ali ... 
President Zardari of Pakistan (AFP)

In the tribal areas of Pakistan, the U.S. wants the assistance of Pakistan’s army in controlling the Taliban and al-Qaeda that surge into Afghanistan to kill U.S. and NATO troops.  Pakistan wants to keep the U.S. out of the tribal areas so the U.S. hammers terrorists from unmanned drones with missiles when the intelligence says results will be favorable.  But the people of Pakistan have protested these air assaults from the U.S. upon Pakistan and the government has expressed extreme displeasure at almost losing control of Pakistan’s sovereignity in the northwest tribal areas.

An unmanned Predator drone. A militant Taliban group warned ... 
The U.S. has been using unmanned Predator drones like this one, armed with missiles, to attack militant Taliban terror groups inside Pakistan. The government of pakistan has condemned the missile strikes in its territory.(AFP/USAF/File)

Now, because of tensions from the terrorism in Mumbai, India, Pakistan is saying it will withdraw troops from the tribal areas to move to the border with India; a nation that seems to already be blaming Pakistan for the bloodshed in Mumbai.

India even says the only terrorist to survive the Mumbai attack, Ajmal Qasab, is a Pakistani trained by the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

Troops from Pakistan's army secure an area in the troubled ...
Troops from Pakistan’s army secure an area in the troubled Kabal Khas district on the outskirts of Swat valley November 26, 2008.  The U.S. wants the Pakistani troops facing Afghanistan and not India.
.
Finally, in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, at least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed this weekend.
.
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ... 
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire after rioters set ablaze several shops at a timber market in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi. At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed in Karachi, officials said Sunday.(AFP/Asif Hassan)

Last week’s terror violence in Mumbai and india’s subsequent investigation and likely blame, which will likely be supported by the U.S., putes extreme pressure on a Pakistani government the Times of India rightly calls “dodgy” due to its own undermining terrorist influences and actors. 

 By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Obama’s strong-willed national security team

November 30, 2008
With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2008
Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he’ll get his wish, and then some.

Obama’s new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other — and with the president-elect — on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

Clinton, Gates, Jones

Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP
THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal.

Their collaboration isn’t likely to be as contentious as the first-term Bush administration battles between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Clinton, Gates and Jones have worked smoothly, with the only visible clashes coming between Clinton and Gates’ deputies over Iraq.

But Obama will have some clear choices among their views, which differ in nuance in some cases and more starkly in others. Obama appears to be determined to keep them in line; advisors say he believes the Pentagon has become too strong in the Bush years, and he wants to reassert White House control.

Some American supporters of Israel have already been buzzing over the potential for conflict between Clinton and Jones on Arab-Israeli issues.

Jones, an admired former Marine commandant and supreme allied commander of NATO, was appointed last November as a Bush administration envoy charged with trying to improve the often dysfunctional Palestinian security forces. As part of that assignment, he drafted a report that caused a stir in Israel by criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-security30-2008nov30,0,7160819.story

US Fears Pakistani Role in India Attacks; FBI To Assist

November 29, 2008

U.S. officials are worried about a possible surge in violence between India and Pakistan after the attacks in Mumbai. To ease tensions, intelligence officials are searching for clues that might identify the attackers even as Indian officials claim “elements in Pakistan” were involved.

FBI agents were preparing to fly to India. The State Department warned U.S. citizens still in the city that their lives remain at risk.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said some “signatures of the attack” were consistent with the work of Pakistani militant groups known as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that have fought Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir and also are reported to be linked to al-Qaida.

Indian firefighters attempt to put out a fire at the historic ...
Indian firefighters attempt to put out a fire at the historic Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Special forces have stormed a Mumbai Jewish centre and battled to free guests at two hotels, as India blamed Pakistan for an audacious Islamist militant attack that left at least 130 people dead.(AFP/Indranil Mukherjee)

By MATTHEW LEE and PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer

But the official emphasized it was premature to pinpoint who was responsible for the attacks. A second official, specializing in counterintelligence, also cautioned against rushing to judgment on the origins of the gunmen.

The U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi on Saturday raised the death toll among Americans from five to six. Five have been identified; embassy officials gave no details on the identity of the sixth.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. U.S. officials are concerned about a flare-up in animosity similar to one that occurred after Pakistani militants attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001, the officials said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice twice has called India’s foreign minister, along with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, since the crisis began.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081129/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_india_shooting;_
ylt=AuqkEsV_Y_BSJktIdU_XViys0NUE

Changing The Game: Taliban Warns U.S. To Halt Anti-Terror Raids Into Pakistan

November 20, 2008

A militant Taliban group warned Thursday of reprisals in Pakistan if there was another US drone attack, as the government condemned the latest missile strike in its territory.

An unmanned Predator drone. A militant Taliban group warned ... 
An unmanned Predator drone. A militant Taliban group warned on Thursday of reprisals in Pakistan if there was another US drone attack, as the government condemned the latest missile strike in its territory.(AFP/USAF/File)

Top Pakistani Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur warned he would mount revenge attacks if the US carried out further strikes in tribal territory after missiles fired from a drone Wednesday killed six people, including a major Al-Qaeda operative.

Bahadur’s group has been accused by the United States of launching attacks across the border in Afghanistan, but it abstains from violence in Pakistani territory under an understanding with military authorities.

“We will start revenge attacks across other districts if the US drone attacks do not stop after November 20,” Taliban spokesman Ahmadullah Ahmadi said in a statement.

Speaking in parliament, Pakistani premier Yousuf Raza Gilani denounced the latest drone attack, which occurred at Bannu district in northwest Pakistan.

“These attacks are adding to our problems. They are intolerable and we do not support them,” Gilani told the national assembly.

The foreign ministry also summoned Anne Patterson, the American ambassador to Islamabad, to lodge a strong protest over the strikes that have fuelled public anger, foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said in the capital.

Sadiq said the US diplomat was told that “continued drone attacks undermined public support for government counterterrorism efforts and stressed that these attacks must be stopped”.

“It was underscored to the US ambassador that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.

Related:
U.S. Strikes At Militants Deep Into Pakistan, Accepts Protests

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081120/ts_afp/pakistanafgh
anistanunrestus;_ylt=Al7GYqgW3rp4Mw9lFryEpg6s0NUE

U.S. Strikes At Militants Deep Into Pakistan, Accepts Protests

November 20, 2008

Pakistan protested to the U.S. ambassador Thursday over a deep cross-border missile strike, and a militant group threatened to target foreigners unless the attacks stop.

Pakistani intelligence officials say the U.S. has staged some 20 missile strikes on Pakistani territory since August, almost all of them aimed at the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. But for the first time Wednesday, the missiles targeted militants beyond the tribal areas, deeper inside Pakistan. Six suspected insurgents were killed.

By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer

The strikes have strained relations between the allies, who are fighting al-Qaida and Taliban militants blamed for attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan as well as within Pakistan. Al-Qaida leaders Osama bin-Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding along the border.

Pakistan, which called the attack a “great provocation,” said the U.S. strikes undermine public support for fighting insurgents.

The Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson to protest the strike, the second time she has been called in since August.

“It was underscored to the U.S. ambassador that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” a ministry statement said. The foreign secretary stressed the attacks must be stopped, it added.

The U.S. rarely confirms or denies involvement in strikes inside Pakistan, which are believed to be carried out mainly by unmanned CIA drones flown from Afghanistan.

Also Thursday, militant leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur warned his men would launch suicide attacks on foreigners and government targets around the country unless the raids stop.

“The Pakistani government is clearly involved in these attacks by American spy planes so we will target government interests as well as foreigners,” Bahadur’s spokesman, Ahmedullah Ahmedi, told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

He claimed the group — which is based in the Waziristan tribal area — had “well-trained volunteers.” An Interior Ministry spokesman said the government was not aware of the threat and declined comment.

Just days ago, NATO and U.S. officers on the Afghan side of the border reported improving cooperation with their Pakistani counterparts in fighting insurgents hiding on, or very near, the poorly demarcated border.

And Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sought to placate Pakistani lawmakers by telling them he expected the raids to stop when President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

“I think these things are happening because of this transition period,” he said. “I am sure when the government of Sen. Obama is formed, attacks like these will be controlled.”

Obama has not directly commented on the raids. But his comments on Pakistan before the election were more hawkish than his Republican rival, suggesting Gilani‘s hopes may be misplaced.

Gilani also denied speculation that the Pakistan government — which relies heavily on U.S. aid — may have agreed to the missile strikes privately while publicly condemning them.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081120/ap_on_re_as/as_
pakistan;_ylt=AuaNK4UyN20r8JHDqzaMbg6s0NUE