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What Is India News Service
Thursday, December 14, 2006



 

 

 

   Taliban Is a Virtual Mini State in Pak

  Finally, Western media has woken up to the dangers of the peace pact between Pakistan and the local Taliban in the North West Frontier Province and the New York Times (NYT) reported about a resurgent Taliban supporting Indian concern for this development.
 

 

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Finally, Western media has woken up to the dangers of the peace pact between Pakistan and the local Taliban in the North West Frontier Province and the New York Times (NYT) reported about a resurgent Taliban supporting Indian concern for this development. While the US Government had expressed concern over this deal and a reported deal that British authorities were working out with the Afghani Taliban along the lines of the Pakistani pact but had always praised Islamabad for its commitment to fighting terrorism.

As predicted in previous analysis cited earlier, the NYT study cities diplomatic and intelligence officials from several nations to conclude that the Pakistani Taliban are using the space granted by the Pakistan Army to "consolidate their hold in Northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters" and has "virtually" become a "mini-state."

This freedom of operation has encouraged the Taliban to flout the deal where they agreed to stop cross-border help for the Afghani Taliban and instead are acting as a "magnet for an influx of foreign fighters" and routinely challenge government authority in the area to wrest control from local tribes. Citing "several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials," the report then says that they use this position of power to spread "their influence to neighboring areas."

As a result, American soldiers in a US base say that they "routinely see Taliban fighters cross the mountain at night." Officials also bemoan that "more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused "American spies" have been killed" through a barbaric beheading process to spread their "reign of terror." Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf calls this a creeping "Talibanization" but apart from giving a lot of lip service to this problem, he has not done anything about it.

The fortunate side effect of this reign of terror is that the support for the Taliban from local population so visible after their ouster from Afghanistan in 2002 is waning and is creating "new tensions and added to the region's volatility." Western diplomats in Islamabad wring their hands in desperation citing lessons of the 90s where Taliban took "ungoverned spaces" and with this deal, the entire tribal belt is ungoverned and therefore perfect for the Taliban.

After the peace deal on September 5 that strangely coincided with the vacation of American forces from Afghanistan to NATO troops, attacks have increased with greater accuracy pointing to better training and uninhibited cross border operations. Pakistani intelligence officials were quoted estimating the Taliban numbers to be as high as 2,000 (much higher than official estimate of 500). The group includes Afghan, Uzbek, and other Central Asian terrorists led by 80 to 90 seasoned Arab terrorists that may include Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Western sources say that 2007 is bound to be "quite bloody" as this "web of alliances among these groups in a remote, mountainous area" grows "beyond state authority" and the effects will be "disastrous" for "efforts to combat terrorism" and will be felt in Europe and the United States. A severely cold winter, usually called the "breeding season" for the Taliban, will grow because the Pakistan Army has no control over these areas and the Taliban can operate with impunity.

With the advent of suicide bombings showing up in their tactics, unknown in Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2001, there is increased suspicion that this force is being led by the al Qaeda. Afghan officials say that they have "uncovered alarming signs of large-scale indoctrination and preparation of suicide bombers in the tribal areas" which for the first time was confirmed by Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao. Their source was a captured Afghan suicide bomber who revealed a school of 500 to 600 students being "prepared to fight jihad" as "suicide bombers." The bomber also revealed that former head of Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Hamid Gul as the financer and supporter of the project. While Pakistan has always maintained a shadow force capable of unleashing terror on Afghanistan and this became a major issue that US President George Bush had to intervene over dinner to get Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and Musharraf to talk. After publicly swearing that there is no such force, Pakistan now claims to have stopped this practice after being confronted with incontrovertible evidence.

Funding for this new force is mainly from religious supporters in the tribal areas, the Persian Gulf, {opium trade [Insert Increased Heroin Flows from Afghanistan]}, smuggling, kidnapping, and extortion. The training facilities "are still operating in Waziristan, both north and south, and other parts of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and Baluchistan" say foreign diplomats and accused the "Pakistani passivity" in breaking up the terror networks and some reports say that sleeper Taliban sells "had infiltrated into every Afghan city."

Apparently, Pakistani, Afghan, American, and NATO officials are at a loss at what can be done "to bring the region under control." Pakistan's answer was the September accord in North Waziristan which even government officials privately admit that "they have made a serious mistake in allowing the militants so much leeway." Former FATA Secretary Brig. Mahmood Shah was quoted saying that the deal was "not good" as it had "too many concessions" with no "binding" clauses and is now "working against the government interest."

"Benefiting from the truce with the Pakistani military," which has "taken down checkpoints, released detainees, returned confiscated weapons and vehicles and issued an amnesty," the Taliban has "increased their activities." Shah says that since the truce, the terrorists have "imposed a new elite in Waziristan " by killing "More than 200 tribal chiefs" with impunity.

Publicly, Pakistan continues to defend this treaty and says it will adopt similar measures in other areas such as Baloachistan. However, the truth is that while there is a running civil war in Baloachistan, Pakistan does not even "pretend" to control Southern Waziristan as its authority does not run beyond its "compounds" (Pakistan signed a similar deal with the South in 2004). With the deal in place, the fundamental influence is now spreading "on private radio stations, widening network of religious schools and distribution of CDs and DVDs." Pakistani newspapers have reported "incidents of music and barber shops being closed, television sets burned and girls' schools threatened." At the same time, since the militants are "more powerful than the military and the local tribal police," the government turns a blind eye to killings, providing sanctuary to criminals and fugitives, kidnappings, robberies, and rape. Even though the "overriding" factor for local support for the Taliban is "fear," they enjoy sympathy because they are men "from their own tribe" who have been alienated from the government by harsh and "failed government military campaigns" viewed as "dictated by the United States."

This increased Taliban activity has prompted Karzai to summarize that "the whole region will run into hell" if Afghanistan is not "fixed" to "be peaceful" and blames the failure to make this happen on Pakistan and specially asked NATO to recognize this nuance. Karzai repeated his accusation that elements of the Pakistani government of continuing to support Islamic militants and he says that the fight in Afghanistan is "the symptoms of terrorism" and not "the roots of it" which he says is in Pakistan. This vindicates the long standing Indian argument that "the epicenter of terrorism is in Pakistan." Taliban militants have increasingly targeted government officials and since September have killed one provincial governor, narrowly missed another, and killed several district-level police, intelligence and administrative chiefs. Reacting angrily at these attacks aimed at weakening the government, Karzai says that "The problem is not Taliban" but "The problem is with Pakistan."

Despite sustained Pakistani denials of sponsoring terrorism targeted at Afghanistan and India, evidence is mounting. The International Crisis Group, like the NYT report, blames Musharraf's 2004 South Waziristan and September 2006 accord with North Waziristan. The group says that these accords were created after Musharraf's government tried "brute force" and "appeasement" tactics failed and "emboldened the pro-Taliban militants." The accords are an act of supplication facilitating "the growth of militancy and attacks in Afghanistan by giving pro-Taliban elements a free hand to recruit, train and arm." US State Department spokesperson agreed saying that "safe havens and areas where these extremists can operate" is "a real concern" for the US government. But the question is what it is doing about it.

The US views Pakistan as a frontline anti-terror ally and has publicly praised it for deploying 90,000 troops on the Afghan border. Bush says the personal militant attacks on Musharraf and his continued operations against the al Qaeda is proof of his good intention.

 

 

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