Out of the Dark Ages

6/29/2008
Pakistan may be a poor nation in a variety of respects but in terms of casual barbarism among some elements it has a richness and diversity that mark it out as a regional leader. Alleged robbers are immolated by a baying mob. Members of 'peace jirgas' are murdered by the dozen and where the writ of the Taliban runs there is the increasingly regular spectacle of public murder. (We will not aggrandise these acts by using the word 'execution' as it implies a due process of law.) The writ of the Taliban appears to run widely in these troubled times and such control that the government has across vast swathes of the Northwest Frontier and the Tribal Areas is diminishing by the day. Pakistan is slowly but surely getting smaller, being eaten away by the acid of advancing Talibanisation. So as these words are written, news has come in that the much-awaited operation against the Taliban who seemed to have encircled Peshawar and were indeed making forays into its various neighbourhoods, going about telling shopkeepers not to sell immoral products (video and audio CDs to boot), has finally begun. A foreign news wire report also quoted Baitullah Mehsud announcing the suspension of peace talks with the government, an expected development really given Saturday's developments.

As for the grisly drama seen in Bajaur on Friday, reports suggest that as many as 5,000 people may have gathered about 10 kilometres to the west of Khar to watch the public murder of two Afghan nationals who had been found guilty of spying for the Americans. They were found guilty by a local jirga working as a Sharia court and we must assume that it is unlikely that either man had the benefit of representation by a defence lawyer. It is said they confessed their 'crime' but we do not know by what means their confession was extracted, though we may assume that violence played a part in their admission of guilt. Once the men had been murdered to the obvious satisfaction of the onlookers their severed heads were paraded for all to see, prompting an enthusiastic outbreak of aerial firing which left a couple more dead and several seriously wounded.

There is unlikely to be any written record publicly available by which we may evaluate the actions of the court; but there is however a record of the outcome of its proceedings as those doing the murdering were sufficiently engaged with the twenty-first century to be able to record the butchery with a digital camera. The images thus captured will doubtless find their way into the media outlets approved and run by those who created them. Still pictures of the killings were published by every Pakistani newspaper and many foreign newspapers were carrying both story and imagery in their online editions by the morning of 28th June -- though with less explicit pictures than those in the Pakistani press. This will of course serve to consolidate the view in other minds that this is a nation of barbarians -- a view that is increasingly difficult to gainsay.

It is said that America is the only nation on earth to have gone from barbarism to decadence without passing through civilisation along the way. Pakistan has rearranged the order of things by moving from the civilisation we enjoyed millennia ago to a historically brief period of decadence and now, as we move through the Dark Ages, a steady gallop in the direction of barbarism - with civilisation a half-remembered dream. This is also precisely why the military operation launched against the carriers of this dreaded scourge, of this obscurantism who perpetrate gruesome deeds as seen in Bajaur, needs to succeed because -- and one doesn't want to sound too alarmist here but the facts speak for themselves -- the survival of our very way of life is at stake.
THE NEWS EDITORIAL.

Pentagon: Taliban 'resilient' in Afghanistan

Pentagon: Taliban 'resilient' in Afghanistan
Story Highlights
NEW: Taliban have regrouped and formed a "resilient insurgency," report says

Monthly death toll of U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan reaches 7-year high

40 troops have been killed in Taliban attacks in June

Gates hopes Pakistani crackdown will curb Taliban violence

From Mike Mount
CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly seven years after their defeat by U.S. forces, the Taliban have regrouped and have formed a "resilient insurgency," according to a new Pentagon report on security in Afghanistan.

On the same day the number of U.S. and allied troops killed in Afghanistan in June has reached 40, the highest monthly toll of the 7-year-old war.

"The Report Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," the first progress report to Congress, says that although there has been some progress in battling the Taliban, setbacks are expected.

Although NATO and Afghan force operations kept the insurgency down in 2007 by killing or capturing key leaders and clearing out Taliban safe havens, the report predicted that the Taliban would be back in 2008.

"The Taliban is likely to maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008," the report said.

The report looks at the progress through April, before the rise in violence seen over recent weeks.

On June 14, a suicide bomb at an Afghan prison in Kandahar freed hundreds of Taliban prisoners. There also have been numerous attacks on the restive Afghanistan-Pakistan border in recent weeks.

There are 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. About 14,000 serve as part of the larger NATO force, and 18,000 are separate, involved in training and on counterterrorism operations.

The report's authors highlight the eastern border town of Khost as an example of success by coalition forces. Once considered to be an ungovernable insurgent stronghold, the city has been turned around by security and reconstruction efforts, they say. But the report seems a bit outdated.

"It actually was not bad until a few months ago," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said this week. "This is a fairly recent phenomenon of seeing the numbers come across the border. After all, Khost was an example of a successful counterinsurgency."

The report's predictions for 2008 seem to be holding true. It describes a two-front insurgency, with the Taliban ruling in the south and a partnership of insurgent groups -- including al Qaeda -- in the east.

The confederation is made up of both Afghan and Pakistani-based groups with the shared goals of expelling outside military forces and the "imposition of a religiously conservative Pashtun-led government," it said.

The Pentagon report also says the progress of the Afghan army and national police is slow because of a lack of trainers and corruption.

Counter-narcotics also suffered a setback: Opium production increased "substantially" in 2007, the report says.

"Counter-narcotics efforts have resulted in gains over the past six years [but] the battle against drug traffickers is ongoing, and will be for some time," it says.

According to a 2007 U.N. survey, about a quarter of the earnings from opium go to farmers. The rest goes to district officials who collect taxes on the crop, to drug traffickers and to the insurgents and warlords who control the trade.

Taliban militants have increased their attacks this year. The top U.S. commander in southeastern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, said Tuesday that attacks on his troops were up 40 percent in the first five months of 2008.

The latest casualty came when a coalition service member on a reconnaissance patrol in western Afghanistan was killed Thursday, the U.S.-led coalition said Friday.

The incident took place in the Gulistan District of Farah province. Five coalition and two Afghan soldiers were wounded.

Three U.S.-led troops southwest of Kabul in Wardak province were also killed Thursday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that one of the reasons for the increase was that more people are "coming across the border from the frontier area [of Pakistan]."

Gates said he hoped a newly announced Pakistani effort to clamp down on Islamic militants in the country's northwestern tribal districts would improve the situation in Afghanistan.

"The ability of the Taliban and other insurgents to cross that border and not being under any pressure from the Pakistani side of the border is clearly a concern," Gates said.

One of the weapons of choice for militants in Afghanistan is the roadside bomb.

Pentagon figures detailing the number of roadside bombs detonated and found in Afghanistan illustrate the level of insurgent activity.

In 2007, 876 roadside bombs blew up, and 439 were found. This year, 431 have blown up, with 354 found.

The war in Afghanistan began after the al Qaeda terror network, harbored by the country's ruling Taliban regime, attacked New York and Washington on September 11.

A U.S.-led invasion quickly toppled the Taliban regime.

Since then, the coalition and NATO-led troops have been battling a Taliban insurgency.
CNN.COM

Peshawar may fall to militants





Islamabad, June 25 (IANS) Even as Pakistan negotiates peace deals with militants operating along the border with Afghanistan, there is a very real danger of these elements taking over the North West Frontier Province capital of Peshawar, a media report said Wednesday.

With militants 'knocking at the gates' of Peshawar, 'even the more circumspect government and police officials now grudgingly concede that (it) could fall in a few months', Dawn newspaper said.

'Peshawar is in a state of siege and if Peshawar falls, the rest of the districts in the NWFP would fall like ninepins,' it quoted a government official as saying.

It's not that Peshawar lacks security forces. It is home to the headquarters of the Pakistan Army's 11th Corps, the paramilitary Frontier Corps, the Frontier Constabulary and the police.

Even so, 'the might of the militant groups operating around Peshawar from one to the other end is all too visible and alarming to ignore', Dawn noted.

Police stations in rural Peshawar have long given up patrolling at night after a patrol was blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade. The charred bodies of the victims were retrieved and buried without even allowing their families to see their faces for one last time.

So grim is the situation that a committee that includes NWFP Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, and 11 Corps commander Lt. Gen. Masood Aslam met May 31 to discuss the possible options for defending Peshawar but failed to come to any conclusions.

Rehman A. Malik, the prime minister's adviser on interior, was in Peshawar June 19 to discuss the situation but this too did not yield any results.

'The military, the paramilitary, the constabulary and the police are unable or unwilling to muster enough force to defend the city,' Dawn noted.

'In some ways, this apparent apathy for Peshawar reflects the federal government's lack of urgency to handle the situation in tribal regions and cope with the possible fallout of the peace agreements it is pursuing with tribal militants,' it added.

President Pervez Musharraf, whose dramatic volte face on the Taliban and alliance with the US global war on terror post- the 9/11 terror attacks had 'largely contributed to the mess in the tribal regions, has now taken a back seat', the newspaper said.

The only person constitutionally mandated to look after the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that form a part of the NWFP, the president has since the Feb. 18 general elections 'more or less lost all interest in the borderlands', the newspaper maintained.

'The prevailing situation resembles that of a bus-load of drivers, with no one really at the steering wheel and the bus lurching from one side to the other.

'What can be more ironical that those who are supposed to be in the driver's seat are pretending to be passengers?' the newspaper wondered.

Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan






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June 24, 2008
Leadership Void Seen in Pakistan
By CARLOTTA GALL
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is in a leaderless drift four months after elections, according to Western diplomats and military officials, Pakistani politicians and Afghan officials who are increasingly worried that no one is really in charge.

The sense of drift is the subject of almost every columnist in the English-language press in Pakistan, and anxiety over the lack of leadership and the weakness of the civilian government now infuses conversations with analysts, diplomats and Pakistani government officials.

The problem is most acute, they say, when it comes to dealing with militants in the tribal areas that have become home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Although the political parties and the military all seek a breather from the suicide bombings and nascent insurgency that have roiled Pakistan in recent years, there are fundamental disagreements over the problem of militancy that they have not begun to address, Pakistani politicians and Western diplomats say.

The confusion is allowing the militants to consolidate their sanctuaries while spreading their tentacles all along the border area, military officials and diplomats warn. It has also complicated policy for the Bush administration, which leaned heavily on one man, President Pervez Musharraf, to streamline its antiterrorism efforts in Pakistan.

If anyone is in charge of security policy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani politicians and Western diplomats say, that remains the military and the country’s premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, which operate with little real oversight.

While the newly elected civilian government has been criticized for dealing with the militants, it is the military that is brokering cease-fires and prisoner exchanges with minimum consultation with the government, politicians from the government coalition, diplomats and analysts said.

Politicians in both the provincial and central governments complain they are excluded from the negotiations and did not even know of a secret deal struck in February, before the elections.

“You see a lack of a coordinated strategy between the federal level and provincial level, and that includes the ISI and the military, who are clear players,” said one Western diplomat with knowledge of the tribal regions, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “You see it even on principles of negotiation and combined strategy.”

One newspaper, the weekly Friday Times, satirized the situation with a front-page cartoon showing the country’s main political players riding in a plane, all issuing different instructions.

Since coming to power in February, the fragile coalition government, run by Benazir Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, has been engrossed in internal wrangling over removing President Musharraf.

The coalition is barely functioning after half its ministers left the cabinet in May in a dispute over whether to reinstate 60 high court judges dismissed by Mr. Musharraf last year.

For now it is just accepting the military’s decisions regarding the militants, said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general who is now a political analyst. He characterized the country as suffering from “institutional paralysis and a dysfunctional government, signs of which are showing already.”

The American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan K. McNeill, also described the government as “dysfunctional” just before leaving his post earlier this month.

“I have a feeling that no one is in charge and that is why the militants are taking advantage,” Mr. Masood said. “It is a very dangerous situation because what is happening is the Afghan government is getting desperate.”

The frustration is such that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan threatened this month to send troops into Pakistan to pursue Pakistani militant leaders.

That Pakistan’s government appears broken is not surprising, analysts say. Pakistan’s civilian institutions were atrophied by eight years of military rule, and the country’s major political parties were left rudderless by the absence of their leaders, who lived in exile much of that time. The assassination of Ms. Bhutto in December left her party in even deeper disarray.

The military remains the country’s strongest institution, having ruled Pakistan for about half of the country’s 61 years of independence. But it is proving to be an increasingly fickle and prickly partner for Washington. United States and NATO officials are still struggling to decipher the intentions of the army’s new chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Last fall, at the time of his appointment, American officials spoke approvingly of General Kayani, who seemed well aware of the threat the militants posed to Pakistan, and of the dangers of peace deals that have allowed the militants to tighten their grip in the tribal areas.

But despite at least $12 billion in aid to Pakistan from Washington for the fight against the militants since 2001, General Kayani has recently shown a reluctance to use the military for counterinsurgency operations, suggesting that the task be left to the much weaker tribal force, the Frontier Corps. He has encouraged the civilian government to take the lead.

Part of the confusion stems from the shift in power from military rule, after President Musharraf stepped down as head of the army in December, to the new civilian government, one Western military official said. “Kayani is being careful not to get too far out in front and is trying to determine who is in charge,” he said. “We all are.”

The uneasy balance between civilian and military authority was demonstrated this month when the finance minister, Naveed Qamar, revealed details of the defense budget to Parliament for the first time in 40 years. While Mr. Qamar called it a “historic moment,” the document was a mere two pages.

Parliament, tied up with budget negotiations until next month, has not discussed security or militancy. “We do understand this is the biggest issue, and after the budget session it will have to be addressed,” said Farah Ispahani, a Pakistan Peoples Party legislator.

Meanwhile, the military under General Kayani has quietly pursued its own policies, politicians from the government coalition, diplomats and analysts say. The military and ISI negotiated a little-known truce with the tribes and militants of North Waziristan just days before the Feb. 18 elections, a senior government official in Peshawar confirmed.

The deal was so secretive that few in the government know its contents even today. “The civilian government is in the back seat, or not even in the back seat,” said the Western diplomat, who did not want to be identified because of the critical nature of the remarks. The military also began negotiations with the most powerful of the Taliban commanders, Baitullah Mehsud, in January, just weeks after the government accused him of masterminding Ms. Bhutto’s assassination.

An official agreement with the Mehsud tribe has not been completed, but the military has already pulled back from some positions, put in place a cease-fire and exchanged prisoners with the militants.

Western officials are suspicious of the deal. Mr. Mehsud is accused of dispatching scores of suicide bombers in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but the agreement initially included no prohibition on cross-border attacks.

Only after strong pressure from the United States and other allies did the military insert such a clause this month, according to a senior official close to the negotiations. In the meantime, cross-border attacks increased by 50 percent in May, NATO officials in Afghanistan say.

The provincial government in the North-West Frontier Province has also expressed its reservations about the deal. Officials from the Awami National Party, a Pashtun nationalist party that leads the government in the province and which is also part of the national coalition, complained that they have not been included in the military’s decisions.

“Our main demand is that we should be included in negotiations,” said Wajid Ali Khan, a party official. “We don’t know with whom they are talking.”

Moreover, the central government’s point man for counterterrorism, the acting interior minister, Rehman Malik, has appeared to have an uneven grasp of developments.

This month he announced in Parliament that the peace deal with militants in the Swat Valley, just outside the tribal areas, had been scrapped. But he retracted the statement the next day, after the provincial government insisted the deal was still on.

Officials of the Awami National Party have complained that his comments undermined their negotiating position. Afrasiab Khattak, a senior official of the party, and other party officials are confident they can make the peace deals in their province work. But few believe that the deals brokered by the military in the tribal regions will last more than a few months, including military officials themselves, senior government officials in Peshawar say.

More fighting and violence is almost certainly on the horizon. What the plan will be then, no one seems to know.

U.S. Funding to Pakistan Plagued With Problems, GAO Report Says






U.S. Funding to Pakistan Plagued With Problems, GAO Report Says

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 25, 2008; A09



The Bush administration has paid Pakistan more than $2 billion without adequate proof that the Pakistani government used the funds for their intended purpose of supporting U.S. counterterrorism efforts, congressional auditors reported yesterday. Their report concluded that more than a third of U.S. funds provided Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud.

The Pentagon paid about $20 million for army road construction and $15 million to build bunkers in Pakistan, but there is no evidence that the roads or bunkers were ever constructed, the Government Accountability Office reported. Islamabad also billed Washington $200 million for an air defense radar system that may not have met a U.S. condition: that reimbursement cover combat or logistical costs supporting U.S. military operations against terrorism beyond what a country would spend on its own needs.

"It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers' wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "How hard would it have been to confirm that a road we paid $15 million for was ever built? It is appalling that the Defense Department did not send any embassy officials working in Pakistan to verify these enormous costs." Washington should "stop pouring money into a black hole," Harkin said.

Pakistan is the largest recipient of Coalition Support Funds as part of a counterterrorism effort the Bush administration launched in 2001 after the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington. Pakistan has received more than $5.5 billion of the nearly $7 billion distributed to 27 countries over the past six years.

"Apparently, the Bush administration cares so little about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that it is barely paying attention to how the Pakistani military is carrying out the fight," Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. "It's dangerous to treat the battle against al-Qaeda so casually, and it's unfair to American taxpayers to be so careless with billions of their dollars."

In a response included in the report, the Defense Department said the GAO failed to adequately acknowledge Pakistan's "significant contribution" to fighting terrorism or the "flexibility" required in "contingency environments." Like other recipients of U.S. funds, Pakistan is a sovereign country that may not meet U.S. accounting standards, said the comments submitted by Assistant Secretary of Defense James J. Shinn. The Pentagon has also consistently adhered to the law in overseeing U.S. military aid, the response said. The Defense Department had no further comment yesterday.

But the congressional agency faulted Pentagon oversight between 2004 and 2007, noting that new rules instituted in 2003 did not improve practices. "For a large number of claims, Defense did not obtain sufficient documentation from Pakistan to verify that claimed costs were incremental, actually incurred or correctly calculated," the report concluded.

In one example, the report cited monthly payments averaging $19,000 per vehicle for 20 passenger vehicles used by the Pakistani navy that appeared to contain "duplicative charges," the GAO said. The Pentagon often did not document its basis for evaluating claims and did not check Pakistan's currency conversions, which could have led to overbilling, the report said.

Defense Department representatives at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan did little to verify Pakistan's billing for a 32-month period between 2004 and mid-2006, with fewer than 3 percent of Islamabad's claims disallowed or deferred by the Pentagon. In September 2006, Pentagon representatives in the Pakistani capital began to question the accounting on 15 to 20 spreadsheets submitted monthly by Pakistan's Defense Ministry -- without receipts -- to the U.S. Embassy.

Among the problems the Pentagon uncovered was the poor readiness of Pakistani helicopters, despite U.S. reimbursement for maintenance, so payment was deferred, the report notes. In February of this year, the Pentagon disallowed or deferred reimbursement for 22 percent of the claims Pakistan had made in a three-month period in 2007. But the report warned that adequate oversight is not assured because the Pentagon has yet to develop guidelines to judge Pakistan's claims.

The report was the subject of a heated hearing yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs. "The more I learn about U.S. Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan, the more I am troubled: first, in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse of a huge amount of U.S. taxpayer funds; second, about the program's failure to achieve vital U.S. security objectives; and third, about the program's incompatibility with a long-term strategic partnership between the U.S. and Pakistan," said the subcommittee chairman, John F. Tierney (D-Mass.).

Tierney said the United States must reevaluate the program and reallocate funding to enhance Pakistan's counterinsurgency capabilities and extend the government's control over restive tribal areas along the Afghan border.

The Pakistani Embassy said yesterday that Washington and Islamabad are working to clarify accounting procedures, noting that the United States this week cleared a payment of $373 million to Pakistan for claims from 2007. Ambassador Husain Haqqani said the payment "signals that while criticism relating to past accounting practices continues, so does the realization that this is a critical contribution to help Pakistan in the war against terrorism."
© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Our wars in our Tribal Areas

The war in Khyber Agency now parallels the war in Kurram Agency. The first is three years old and the second is two years old in its latest phase. The Khyber war has unfolded right under the nose of the administration in Peshawar; and the Kurram war has proved too much for Islamabad as it spreads to adjacent Aurakzai and Mohmand agencies, coming down to the settled districts of the NWFP like Hangu and Kohat. There is also the greater war between the Taliban and the state of Pakistan over “lost territory”, and then there is the war with Afghanistan where the Tribal Areas of Pakistan provide up to 40 percent of the “cross-border” warriors. Finally, there is the war within the warriors of which the latest example is the sectarian bloodshed in the Khyber Agency.

Two factions that came on the scene in Khyber around 2005 on the basis of their propaganda on their FM radios are now killing each other freely. So far more than 200 warriors from both sides have been done to death with automatic fire and mortars and rockets. The latest battle has killed nearly 30 in one day’s battle, if the figures claimed by both sides are to be accepted. After Bara, the killings spread to Jamrud, where the murders of innocent people are now going to be avenged. The battle has also spread to the most inaccessible but picturesque Tirah and, going by the images being shown on TV, both sides are squared off with equal strength of weaponry and manpower.

The war in Kurram Agency forms a parallel. It is also close-by because one can reach Kurram from Tirah after a few hours’ journey. While the war in Khyber is between two versions of Sunni Islam — Deobandi versus Barelvi — the war in Kurram is between the Shia and the Sunni, the two major sects of Islam. The Kurram war, mostly centred on the headquarters of the agency Parachinar with a majority Shia population, is of longer gestation. In history it was known as the Turi-Mangal tribal war as both tribes embrace different sects. But after the jihad against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, it became an indirectly state-supported mayhem because jihad was Deobandi-dominated.

Hundreds have been claimed in these two internal wars. As in other areas affected by retaliatory attacks from the NATO-ISAF forces, uninvolved populations are moving out of the affected areas and then wandering from pillar to post in search of shelter. Everywhere they go, the Taliban tighten the noose around their necks by enforcing a brand of Islam that the people have not known before. Meanwhile, the state of Pakistan is nowhere to be seen. The people of Parachinar have made heart-rending appeals to the state to come and save their lives but to no effect. The state is clearly in retreat in the face of all this.

When the Barelvi-Deobandi war started in the Khyber Agency in 2005, its repercussions went as far south as Multan and Karachi where the Deobandi madrassas organised wall-chalkings about a war that no one could figure out. Mufti Munir Shakir was fulminating against his Barelvi rival Pir Saifur Rehman. Both were exiled from Khyber but both left behind their followers. The Deobandi Mufti Shakir has now been replaced by warlord Mangal Bagh who is given to raiding Peshawar to fill his coffers and is clearly putting himself up for adoption by Al Qaeda without whose imprimatur no one can enter the business of terrorism in the Tribal Areas. On the other hand, Pir Saifur Rehman has been succeeded by other leaders, including Maulana Mustamin, who have vowed to fight to the end.

The federal government listened to the distant thunder of war on the FM radios and kept quiet, and there are many interpretations placed on this benign neglect, including the involvement of the intelligence agencies in secretly prosecuting the war against Afghanistan’s Karzai government. The MMA government in Peshawar kept out of the mess on two grounds. The first was overt and it was based on the argument that the Tribal Areas were in the charge of the federal government. That indirectly meant that the governor and the corps commander in Peshawar were effectively responsible for control and management in Khyber. The other less overt reason for the Deobandi-dominated MMA’s indifference was the natural Deobandi ascendancy of Lashkar-e Islam of Mangal Bagh, further empowered by the “alliance” between Deobandi Islam and Arab-dominated Al Qaeda.

Those who are busy counting the errors of President Pervez Musharraf these days should include the chaos of the Tribal Areas and its two epochal wars in Khyber and Kurram in their list. But the danger is that these are precisely the issues that will be ignored by his critics. And that will be the source of further trouble for the country. *
Daily Times - Site Edition Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pakistan troops 'aid Taliban'




Pakistan troops 'aid Taliban'New classified US documents reveal that mass infiltration of Frontier Corps by Afghan insurgents is helping latest offensive
Peter Beaumont and Mark Townsend The Observer, Sunday June 22, 2008 Article historyThe Pakistani Frontier Corps has been heavily infiltrated and influenced by Taliban militants, sometimes joining in attacks on coalition forces, according to classified US 'after-action' reports compiled following clashes on the border.

According to those familiar with the material, regarded as deeply sensitive by the Pentagon in view of America's fragile relationship with Pakistan, there are 'box loads' of such reports at US bases along the length of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Details of the level of infiltration emerged yesterday on a day when five more US-led soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan. Four of the soldiers died in a bomb and gunfire attack outside the southern city of Kandahar.

Nato officials have reported a dramatic increase in cross-border incidents compared with the same period last year. The US documents describe the direct involvement of Frontier Corps troops in attacks on the Afghan National Army and coalition forces, and also detail attacks launched so close to Frontier Corps outposts that Pakistani co-operation with the Taliban is assumed.

'The reality,' said a source familiar with the situation on the ground, 'is that there are units so opposed to what the coalition is doing and so friendly to the other side that when the opportunity comes up they will fire on Afghan and coalition troops. And this is not random. It can be exceptionally well co-ordinated.'

Another source - who has seen the reporting - described an attack last year where two Frontier Corps outposts appear to have been directly involved in firing on Afghan forces before a militant attack.

Frontier Corps personnel have in the past been implicated in the past in murdering US and Afghan officers. In the most high-profile case, a Frontier Corps member 'assassinated' Major Larry J Bauguess during a border mediation meeting. In another incident, an Afghan officer was killed. Since then the problem appears to have worsened as the Taliban renew their insurgency on the Afghan side of the border.

'The United States and Nato have substantial information on this problem,' said an American official. 'It's taking place at a variety of places along the border with the Frontier Corps giving direct and indirect assistance. I'm not saying it is everyone. There are some parts that have been quite helpful... but if you have seen the after-action reports of their involvement in attacks along the Afghan border you would appreciate the problem.'

James Appathurai, a Nato spokesman, said: 'The real concern is that the extremists in Pakistan are getting safe havens to rest, recuperate and retool in Pakistan and come across the border. The concerns have been conveyed to the Pakistan authorities.'

Seth Jones, author of the Rand report, which found evidence of collaboration, said the issue had been troubling the US even before the invasion of Afghanistan: 'If you go back a decade to the Clinton administration when the US targeted militant camps, members of the Pakistani intelligence services were killed along with militants.'

The allegation that senior Pakistani officials continue to offer lukewarm assistance to the coalition while offering help to the Taliban is also reiterated in Descent into Chaos, a new book by the veteran Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid.

Relations between the US and Pakistan were strained this month when 11 members of the Frontier Corps were killed when the US allegedly bombed their outpost near the border town of Gora Prai during a gun battle with militants on the border. Pakistani sources have questioned why the troops were hiding in a bunker in the midst of the battle and why they were 'unaware' of an hour-long firefight going on so close by.

The issue of the Taliban's ability to cross and recross the border with Pakistan into that country's Federally Administered Tribal Areas is becoming one of the most contentious issues of the war, with many - including Afghan President Hamid Karzai - insisting that his country is involved in a 'regional conflict' and threatening to send troops across the border.

The death of the five soldiers yesterday came as the Taliban stepped up their offensive. It happened a day after two other US-led soldiers died in separate incidents, including a suicide bombing.

BENAZIR BHUTTO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


BENAZIR BHUTTO !!!!!!!!!
Mwaqar
A tribute to "a women of tremendous courage and a symbol of freedom in tumultuous times."
Today we are celebrating Benazir Bhutto’s birthday, born in 1953 and murdered in 2007 by fanatics supported by cronies of Mush regime and Remnant of cruel dictator Zia era. Benazir Bhutto, Her name, which translates to the “One without equal” signifies and trails her uniqueness. She had gone to university at the age of 16 and had emerged from Harvard University with startling distinctions, having earned a Cum laude degree in Comparative Government. Benazir was a true leader. A woman of heart, a woman of mind, a person driven by the courage and passion of heart to maintain democracy as a way of life on this globe and to defeat those determined to take the liberties of democracy away and to keep those liberties from those who have never known such freedoms of thought and the dreams associated with democracy. To millions of her supporters she was a brave daughter of a brave father who died while fighting for democracy and self-rule. To them she was a woman of unflinching determination who returned to Pakistan to reclaim what rightfully belongs to the people of Pakistan. Benazir was, by all accounts, a devoted patriot, a loyal friend and a loving mother. Benazir Bhutto was a woman of immense personal courage and bravery. Knowing the threats to her life she risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in Pakistan. She would be remembered for her long struggle for return of democracy in Pakistan. Forced reluctantly in to politics by her circumstances, she proved better than what her father could have ever hoped for. She led the persecuted family in the aftermath of her father's assassination, Spent five precious years of her youth in the jail. She saw two younger brothers killed. To the end she looked after an old heart-broken mother. She traveled vast distances battling for her country, party, and family. In between she even found time to raise a family and check the home work of her kids,drop her son at the moque for Friday prayer in Dubai. She persuaded Musharraf to give up military position. From the Sindhi haris to the Western politicians she could hold forth before anyone. She had become the most seasoned and wise leaders of not just the country but the world beyond as well. She had become the symbol of promise that this wretched land of ours holds. But she was not to be forgiven one small discretion of standing up to respond to her enthusiastic supporters from the safety of her transport. But then as Ali, the cousin of the Prophet and husband of Ummay Abeeha has said, "I found my creator in my broken resolve" and "Death is a man's greatest lifeguard". It is amazing that even under such trying circumstances, she stayed strong and fought for what she believed in. It takes a tremendous amount of inner strength to spread your message and fight for what you believe in when you know that you are in danger. I think that Ms. Bhutto showed us the definition of a leader. It is so hard to believe that this amazing woman's life has ended. Her death came too sudden and unexpected. Today is her birthday, a birth day of a legend, who promised her father in his death cell that she will continue his mission .Its getting hard for me to write this on her birthday. My heart ‘wept’ in shock the moment I saw the newsflash of Benazir Bhutto’s violent death. Who could have thought that her departure would come so soon? I always thought that nothing would happen to her. She will remain safe. No harm will be inflicted on her. Even the day and the time when the news came that she is injured, it did not cross my mind that any fatal harm could be done to her. We always saw her hail and hearty, fighting and surviving. For eleven long years she fought for her honor. She fought for her lost respect. For eleven long years she was the subject of a malicious campaign. Not a day would pass by when a "cock and bull" story would not adorn the front page of a newspaper. Today she is no longer with us, but her absence will always be missed forever. History will remember her as a great leader and as the only Muslim woman leader, who stood the tests of time, who never betrayed the trust of the people and who accepted every challenge that life threw at her. What is the difference between a politician and a leader? A politician asks for sacrifices, a leader gives one. She gave the ultimate sacrifice for her nation. One does not need power to be a leader. A leader needs followers, and she had plenty of them, even when out of power. How many prime ministers, presidents and generals can claim that? Power does not make leaders. History and followers do. She was brave and courageous then her male counterparts and coward opponents, determined to succeed and deliver the agenda of moderation and reform, she had the drive to put Pakistan onto the right track. Far bolder than any male leader, she told the Afghan president hours before her tragic assassination on December 27 that "life and death is in the hands of Allah, and that is why I have the courage to stare in the eyes of death without any fear",just like her great and brave father Z A BHUTTO, who refused to bow his head in front of dictator Zia. Her sophistication and diplomacy established a large network of friends and admirers around the world. At the World Political Forum in Italy in 2003, when she walked into the conference hall, almost forty world leaders stood up and applauded her, was not that an honor for Pakistan and Muslim World? She would stop a conversation or an activity just by walking into a room. She lectured regularly at universities globally where she would dazzle a large audience, In the preceding decade of political struggle, Ms. Bhutto was arrested on numerous occasions; in all she spent nearly 6 years either in prison or under detention for her dedicated leadership of the then opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, while her one political opponent couldn’t stay in jail for a year and ran to Saudi Arabia by making a deal with General Mush. Throughout the years in opposition, she pledged to transform Pakistani society by focusing attention on programs for health, social welfare and education for the underprivileged. Benazir was God’s gift to Pakistan. A brave woman who knew no fear and wanted for her country and its children things that all civilized world cherishes; food, clothing ,housing ,education and a future. She saw the evil of religious extremism for what it is; a self defeating disease and was not afraid to define it and fight it. Despite the controversies, which may never be resolved, her accomplishments as a woman in a Moslem society are remarkable. To many Pakistanis, she was a leader who spoke for them, their needs and their hopes. If you asked an ordinary person what they achieved when Benazir Bhutto was in power, they would say at least she gave us a voice and she talked about us and our problems. That was her real achievement."
Benazir was a person of great character and she never forgot her traditions, although she spent most of her life in West during her education years but she had arranged marriage.
The arranged marriage of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari was not expected. Benazir when asked "Why would someone as independent as you accept marriage to someone you hardly knew? She said, Actually, I had reconciled myself to a life without marriage or children for the sake of my career ... So keeping in mind that many people in Pakistan looked to me, I decided to make a personal sacrifice in what I thought would be, more or less, a loveless marriage, a marriage of convenience. The surprising part is that we are very close and that it's been a very good match ... I'd love to arrange my own children's marriages. I say that because I've been so happy." She also inherited the legacy of by far the most pro-people tradition in the otherwise elite-oriented political process of the country. Before coming back to Pakistan, she, herself, observed that there were two most important battles going on in the country. One, between dictatorship and democracy, the other, between moderation and extremism. Benazir was a woman of extraordinary power. Her critics often dismissed her credentials by saying that she was a privileged woman who did not reflect the true status of Pakistani women, Yet they seemed to miss the point in their critique - precisely because of her privilege and status she could have led a life of luxury and seclusion but instead chose to embrace many of the shackles of tradition. She married a landlord , had three children and acquired the Islamic garb of modesty. Since entering politics, she never let her /dupatta/ (or head covering) slip down for more than a few seconds in public and played by most of the rules . As the first Muslim woman to become a head of state, Benazir Bhutto will remain an icon for generations to come. The fact that even a privileged woman could reach her level in a society where traditional tribal elders are still debating whether or not it is permissible to beat your wife, makes her story particularly inspirational. Her acquiescence in benign traditions was matched with her astonishing ability to move masses in a male-dominated society. What she managed to accomplish as a Muslim woman by breaking the taboo of female leadership was her least appreciated and most lasting legacy. Talking about Benazir’s political history would require a long article to include her successes, failures, disappointments and official triumphs. But she was a charismatic unique character coming from Kurdish-Farsi roots with a vision that believed in the Pakistani community regardless of its different ethnicities. She believed strongly that the country had so much potential to progress and advance so that its citizens would achieve success strongly. Benazir was only 25 years old when her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi in April 1979. She was 32 when her younger brother Shahnawaz was mysteriously killed in France in 1985. She was 43 when her other brother Murtaza was killed by the police in 1996. Murtaza's killing was a great tragedy for her. Benazir spent more than nine years in exile without her husband. She raised her children as a single parent. She used to teach them the Holy Quran regularly with English translation. She tried her best to ensure the children did not feel the absence of their father. When her husband was released on medical grounds, he was sent to the United States for treatment. Once again Benazir was alone with her children in Dubai. She did not allow her husband and three children to accompany her to Pakistan when she returned on Oct 18 2007,the last 30 years of her life were full of struggle and trouble, but she proved to be a woman of strong nerve. She was a caring wife, loving mother and a courageous leader. Her agenda for better Pakistan was to seek reconciliation, peace, ending militancy, eradicating poverty, building institutions of civil rule and democracy, spreading education and providing hope to the people of Pakistan for a better future.
Benazir’s platform had been leftist, including food for the hungry, health care, jobs, slum clearance and a monthly minimum wage. She has been opposed by Islamic fundamentalists who have been suspicious of the PPP because of its alleged leftist. According to Western media and intelligence agencies reports Hamid Gul, Nawaz Sharif, and Osama bin Laden conspired to assassinate Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Husein Haqqani, a Pakistani journalist who claims to have been involved in the plot, will later say that ISI Director Hamid Gul contacted Osama bin Laden, who was then known to provide financial support to Afghan mujaheddin, to pay for a coup/assassination of Bhutto. Gul also brings Nawaz Sharif, then the governor of Punjab province and a rival of Bhutto, into the plot. Bin Laden agrees to provide $10 million on the condition that Sharif transforms Pakistan into a strict Islamic state, which Sharif accepts but he puts all the money in his pocket. Benazir was not assassinated at this time, but bin Laden allegedly helps Sharif replace Bhutto one year later . In October 1990, Nawaz Sharif is running for election to replace Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of Pakistan. According to a senior Pakistani intelligence source, bin Laden passes a considerable amount of money to Sharif and his party, since Sharif promises to introduce a hard-line Islamic government. Bin Laden has been supporting Sharif for several years. There is said to be a photograph of Sharif chatting with bin Laden. Sharif wins the election and while he does not introduce a hard-line Islamic government, his rule is more amenable to bin Laden’s interests than Bhutto’s had been. Sharif will stay in power until 1993, then will take over from Bhutto again in 1996 and rule for three more years. Former ISI official Khalid Khawaja, a self-proclaimed close friend of bin Laden, will later claim that Sharif and bin Laden had a relationship going back to when they first met face to face in the late 1980s. This tells us that there were people who wanted to kill her long time ago. Independent Investigators appointed by the UN must find out who are the real murderers of Benazir .Chaudry Pervaiz Elahi; Chaudry Shujhat; and the son of Zia Ul Haq, all haters and sworn enemies of the Bhutto family and of Benazir in particular ,and former officials of ISI must be investigated. She never believed in violence and revenge, in her own words , ‘’democracy is the best revenge’’. She was innocent. Before her tragic death, she wrote Reconciliation, Islam, Democracy and the West, which is one of the greatest books I ever read., according to Arianna Huffington ,’’This is a courageous and powerful answer to hatred and intolerance, written by an extraordinary women .’’She believed in democracy, freedom and openness -- not as slogans, but as a way of life, she remained the most potent Pakistani voice for liberalism, tolerance and change. Her place in history will be written with golden words and she would be remembered and honored by generations to come. Benazir Bhutto was a symbol of Democracy in Pakistan. Her killing is the Killing of Democracy in Pakistan. She was a great daughter of a great Father. The most popular leader and Chairperson of the Peoples Party fell victim to the murderous and cowardly act of terrorism. One can cite many examples of the courage and determination of the fallen leader and the domestic and international media is not lacking in enumerating her qualities of courage and intelligence, democratic credentials, popularity, charisma, farsightedness and bravery in the face of adversity, love for her people and country, her abhorrence of and determination to root out terrorism and her rightful understanding that terrorist supporters still exit in the Establishment and political circles of the country. Benazir had also fought for women's health, social and discrimination issues. She had plans to set up police stations of women, banks and also courts. She always spoke against abortion. She was one among the forefront to form the council of women world leaders. As a politician, wife and mother, Benazir fulfilled her responsibilities to the fullest. Thus being an icon to many women. Especially Muslim women. Benazir was against violence on woman. Benazir's zest for life, her charisma was so good that she became a role model to many. From getting the best of education and being a great leader. Benazir has done it all. She fought for democracy until death. Her intelligence and charm has an everlasting print in everybody's mind. Her proudest accomplishment, as Benazir Bhutto said, is her success as a woman in a man's world. "My greatest contribution lies in that my success as a woman in a Muslim society, where tradition and tribal taboos held sway, has emancipated other women," she said. "My success helped other women make choices that were not available to them before, not only in Pakistan but all over the Muslim world." One of the most disgusting aspects about the murder of Benazir is that Ms. Benazir Bhutto was callously murdered by people who were SCARED of her return to power. Fact remains, that she was perhaps amongst the very few Pakistani Women and indeed from Asia who could have changed the political scenario. Benazir Bhutto’s brutal and gruesome slaughter equates a decline in the quality of the democracy prevailing in our world today. To have watched, helplessly or conveniently, while such a stunningly charming, charismatic, cerebral and flamboyant political giant is slain reduces the world’s claim to civilization and to humane ideals. Today as we are celebrating her birthday; she lies buried next to her father, her life cut short at a time when she seemed the only symbol of hope for leading Pakistan to a semblance of democratic normalcy, the tsunami of chaos and unanswered questions, comments and commentaries, flooded all airwaves and social gatherings globally. Her assassination, the fear of an uncertain future not just of her party but Pakistan is an ongoing topic of discussion. Needless to say, its impact is being felt the world over, and what happens in Pakistan will have repercussions on the international community as well. There are many who remember her as a warm, generous and extremely lovable woman; a fantastic mother, wife and friend. Those who love her also say that as a politician Benazir tried her best in spite of the many roadblocks put in her path, loved her country, its people and wanted to lead it towards a democratic path once again. Hers was a life that was meant for something special...for something more. Hers was a life that was meant to change the world. And change the world she did. She felt the hand of destiny upon her and she never wavered from following its direction. Benazir Bhutto made extraordinary choices of bravery and self-sacrifice. When her father was about to be hanged, he told her that she did not have to stay in Pakistan, that she could leave and live in safety and comfort elsewhere. She promised him that she would stay and take up his fight for democracy. She never swayed or faltered, not from her promise, nor in her commitment. In 2007 - some 28 years since she first made that promise - she once again made an extraordinary choice. She left a life of comfort and safety to return to Pakistan - knowing the risk, knowing the peril - to continue her fight and her struggle to fulfill that promise. And fulfill it she did. In life and in death, Benazir Bhutto lit a flame, a flame of hope, of courage, of commitment - a flame for the birth, realization, and hope of peace and democracy. The flame she lit is a flame we must commit ourselves to carry, to embrace, to raise high, and to never let be extinguished. We must all become keepers of the flame. In this way, she lives. Benazir lives. Her promise lives and will see fulfillment each day we carry, raise, and keep the flame. A flame that will live, and will burn, and will inspire people the world over for the duration of time. Her life here on this earth may have ended but her spirit lives on. And her cause goes on. It goes on within all of us who embrace her courage and her spirit - and who believe in the hope and vision that were the mission of her life. What makes a martyr is not the who or the how of the person's murder, but the why. Joan of Arc was martyred because she fought for and spoke for her beliefs - and because she was willing to pay the ultimate price for continue fighting for, and standing for, and speaking for what she believed in regardless of anything else.
Patrick Henry who famously said "Give me liberty or give me death," was willing to die - to lay down his life for his vision, hopes, beliefs, and convictions - and his commitment to such was stronger in his heart than the fear of death. Socrates made people think. Most people fear the truth, as if it were death. Socrates did not, believing in the immortality of the soul. He went to his death not afraid, but eager to go and enjoy the fortunes of the blessed,drank poison like wine but did not bow his head. And so was Benazir Bhutto martyred - for standing up, speaking out, and struggling and fighting for her beliefs, for her vision, and for her hopes for her country, and for the rights, opportunities and freedoms of its people. Her commitment, dedication, and belief in her cause and her vision called her to make the ultimate sacrifice, to pay the ultimate price. It was a sacrifice and a price that, throughout her life, she seemed to know in all her prescience and wisdom that she would one day have to pay. And she marched on. Ever onward. With spirit and strength; with faith in God; with conviction and commitment to her beliefs and her vision and her cause; with hope; and always with courage ,undaunted, unblinking, undying courage. What she gave to the world, to humanity, to time itself - courage, faith, spirit, bravery, love, kindness, self-sacrifice, optimism, and hope - will live forever. Her life was a light in an oft-darkened world. She was the embodiment of courage, beauty, and strength. She never failed to put her country and her people above and before herself. Her light has gone out of this world, but will shine forever in the hearts of those who loved her. Her memory is enshrined forever in the fabric of time. And I know and believe that her courage and spirit will live forever in the hearts of those whose lives she touched; in the warm, immortal wind; and in the dusty earth of the land she loved. Hers truly was and forever will be in every way , a heart, a spirit, and a life without comparison.
She had longed to walk once again upon the dusty roads of her homeland. Now she walks there forever. Now she walks with God. Now she is free. As the "Daughter of Destiny" that she was, it was fated before her time on this earth even began that she would be a martyr for her country, her people, and for freedom and democracy. She died as she lived , embracing those who loved her with her beautiful smile and a heart full of love for Pakistan and its people. The idea and vision of a democratic Pakistan was the cause, the struggle, and the dream for which Benazir Bhutto so courageously gave her life. And it is an idea, a cause, and a dream that must not die with her - it is an idea, a cause, and a dream that must live and breathe and come to fruition. It is a struggle and a fight that she began - and it is a struggle and a fight that we must finish. when a reporter from the Times suggested that her life was the stuff of Greek tragedy, she laughed. "Well, I hope not so tragic," she said. "Don't all Greek dramas end in tragedy?" Benazir’s Bhutto's assassination was a blow to people all over Pakistan, and the world, who hold life sacred and believe in the basics precepts of democracy. It is also a blow to women worldwide who took strength from seeing such a courageous, articulate and charismatic woman playing a leadership role in a powerful Muslim country. Inside Pakistan, even her most bitter critics wept at the news of her death, understanding that it is indeed a dark day when assassination becomes a tool for eliminating opposing viewpoints.
She gave her life serving the cause and hope of democracy, equality, justice, freedom, and humanity. She was one of the greatest leaders and advocates for democracy and human rights that our world has ever known. She was a mother. She was a wife. She was a daughter and a sister. She was a friend. She was a remarkably special person. She was, is, and forever will be, every ones inspiration. Benazir Bhutto lives. Her spirit lives forever in the hearts of those who loved her; in those to whom she gave hope; in those who were touched by her unbreakable, beautiful and special spirit; in those who were inspired by her courage, her bravery, and her largeness of soul. Those of us whose lives and hearts were forever touched and changed by hers - those of us who loved her - will forever carry her extraordinary spirit in our hearts. Hers was an extraordinary, epic life of tragedy, triumph, love, bravery, and sacrifice. She died as she lived - and as she will forever be remembered - a woman of great faith in God and of tremendous courage. Forever brave. Forever beautiful. Forever BENAZIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Benazir, They killed you, you knew they were going to kill you, the same people who killed your father, the same group of generals, politicians, mullahs and bourgeois, who did not want to see you as a liberal, educated leader, but you fought for us , you fought for democracy and freedom. You are our HERO and will always be... YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AND WILL BE ALIVE LIKE THEY NEVER WANTED YOU TO BE. May God give the people of Pakistan to fight the tyrants. Benazir ! our hearts will cry for you on every beat until alive. She lives on. And her courage lives on. As is the legacy of a martyr. Benazir Bhutto for past 30 years has been a part of our life, I dare say that for most of us she will remain a part of our lives as long as we live. The Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto & Mohtarma BB shall always respectfully be remembered by all democratic masses of Pakistan in particular & those of the world in general. We are very unfortunate people of this Country that we lost Zulfiqar Bhutto and now Benazir. She was the last hope for the unity and prosperous Pakistan.
You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea." Long Live Bhuttoism.

BB, we miss you. We love you, we salute you for your courage. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Qissa Khwani massacre






In a century-old province, the major milestone of its history vis-à-vis the Qissa Khwani tragedy of April 23, 1930, in spite of its paramount importance is still shrouded in mystery as regards its real basis. The only historic incident on the sub-continent which can match it in gravity is the Jalianwala Bagh firing. Now the vested interests of certain quarters have been successful in distorting our history and replacing it with the personal activities and gatherings of the khans, nawabs and sardars. The result of this practice is the sheer ignorance of the fact that the Qissa Khwani massacre was in fact an all-out struggle launched for the restoration of human rights and civil liberties and freedom of expression of the inhabitants of the NWFP. No doubt the slogans against the Salt act and Sarda act were also used to associate it with the general uprising in the country in that movement, but had it been simply defiance of the Salt act, hundreds of people who laid down their lives in Qissa Khwani would have done so in Landhi where Gandhi himself was leading a long march.


The strange side of the story is that while the Jalianwala Bagh incident has earned international fame to such as extent that the Queen of Britain had to go to India in the recent years and pay tributes to those who died due to the firing ordered by General Dyre on a large gathering considered defiant to the freshly-introduced Rowlette Bill. The tragic part of the freedom struggle is the fact that even the people who now belong to Qissa Khwani have been kept ignorant of the great battle for human rights and freedom of press no less important than the Jalianwala Bagh incident.

The record of the Peshawar Archives still provides testimony to the fact that the Qissa Khwani massacre occurred because there were discriminatory and tyrant laws promulgated only in the NWFP and not anywhere else in the British-ruled India. Hundreds of men, women and children came out to sacrifice their lives for a movement launched in the name of human rights and civil liberties at least equal to those existing elsewhere in the dominion’s provinces. This historic milestone reminds us of the state terrorism to which the non-violent people of the NWFP were subjected.

The discriminatory and despotic laws enforced in the NWFP in the early twentieth century were the Frontier Crimes Regulation, the Frontier Security Regulation, the Frontier Murderous Outrage Regulation (also called the Ghazi Act) and the Safety Regulation etc.

The people of the Frontier protested against the trampling down of the human rights under the feet of the authorities, but all in vain. They made correspondence with the national leaders in the country. In December 1929, when the Congress passed the resolution of complete independence in Lahore on the bank of the Ravi, the demand to withdraw the autocratic regulations in the NWFP was also made. The great Mufti of the NWFP, Maulana Abdur Rahim Popalzai, was elected to represent the NWFP in this mammoth rally. He always stood for the down-trodden and the most down-trodden at that time happened to be the Muslims. He advocated the transfer of power and prosperity to the common man instead of merely changing the rulers from the English to the indigenous feudal lords and capitalists. Interestingly, this fact is on record in the very first work published by Omer Farooq Khan of Hazara, a disciple of the Maulana, in January 1970, that Maulana Abdur Rahim Popalzai for the first time propounded the modern concept of decentralisation and deregulation within the framework of centralisation.

Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai alias Imam-e-Hurriat, while addressing the mammoth rally in Lahore at Lajypat Roy Nagar on December 27, 1929, directed the attention of his audience towards the discriminatory and tyrannical laws promulgated only in the NWFP. He said that these laws were meant to suppress and weaken the poor and oppressed people. He also remarked that for the establishment of a complete democratic society in the country, the foremost obligation of all the people was to abolish the laws of oppression in the NWFP like FCR. This can be verified by consulting the Abstract of Intelligence vol xxxvi 1930, para number 168 etc.

Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai and his associates had organised the first ever revolutionary political party of the NWFP by the name of the Jamiat-i-Naujawanan-i-Sarhad for their cause. A number of party organs used to be published and secretly distributed in the era of the twenties. Later on, the same organisation remained active by different names like the Naujawan Baharat Sabha, Socialist Workers League, and Congress Socialist Party of the Frontier etc whenever there was a need to change the name. The newspapers used as organs of the party included the Naujawanan-i-Sarhad, Chingari and Naujawan Sarfarosh. In the early 1930s, copies of the newspaper Naujawan Sarfarosh were confiscated by the local authorities. As a protest to this action, different political workers, including those of the Naujawan Baharat Sabha and Congress Committee, held public meetings and the issue of the freedom of the press was highlighted.

The leaders of the National Caliber constituted a committee to investigate the discriminatory laws in the NWFP. The committee included Dr Syed Mahmood, Lala Dooni Chand and Maulana Abdul Qadir Qasuri, the grandfather of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Moeen Qureshi. The committee was stopped at Attock and not allowed to enter the NWFP on April 21, 1930.

In response to this act, a large protest gathering was announced in Shahi Bagh on the same evening. In this public meeting, Maulana Abdur Rahim Popalzai, who was the Mufti-e-Sarhad, moved a resolution of strong protest and condemnation. This protest resolution became the central theme of the speeches by all the speakers who included Pir Shahinshah of Kohat, Maulana Khan Mir Hilali, Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznawi, Lala Para Khan of DI Khan and Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. In this public meeting, the programme of picketing at liquor shops and holding demonstrations in Peshawar was agreed upon.

The next day secret meetings were held at the residences of Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai and Agha Syed Lal Badshah Bukhari, the leaders of the twelve-member war council. The names of the members had been published in the daily Tribune, Lahore, dated April 26, 1930, and later quoted by the IG police, Ice monger, in his report which can be consulted at the Peshawar Archives in TRC bundle No 64 at serial No 1775.

In the late hours of the night, most of the leaders of the war council were arrested. The arrest of Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai by a special DSP was narrated in the Bang-e-Haram dated May 28, 1958, by Kakaji Sanober Hussain Mohmand who was an eyewitness in the house of Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai. He wrote that at the time of the Maulana’s arrest, the DSP remarked, "If we do not arrest you now, you are going to bring a revolution in the morning."

The last two members of the war council who were arrested in the morning near the Clock Tower provoked an already agitated mob. They burst the tyres of the police van and two members, Allah Bakhsh Barqi and Ghulam Rabbani Sethi, were set free. They persuaded the SHO to let them offer court arrest in the police station, Kabuli. The mob followed the two members of the war council. When they entered the police station to offer themselves for arrest, the mob became unruly and raised the slogans of "long live revolution". Some participants pelted stones at the police. In the meantime, the deputy commissioner entered the city from the cantonment side and some four armoured cars with infantry followed. The cars drove with such a speed that half a dozen people were crushed under them. It became difficult now to control the mob and some one hit the deputy commissioner with a brick. He was wounded and fell unconscious. A water-carrier, named Abdur Rehman, alias Mani, hit an English motorcyclist and killed him. Mani was later arrested and tired for murder. The English troops had put advancing the Gorhwali Rifles platoons ahead of them. When ordered to fire on the mob, they plainly refused to fire at the innocent people. They were disarmed and later court martialled.

The troops continued hunting the Peshawarites indiscriminately for six hours. Jean Sharp has described in his work on non-violent movements that the youth came forward and offered themselves for sacrifice one after the other and the troops did not hesitate to open fire at them.

When the news of the killing of hundreds of the Peshawarites was heard by the prisoners of the Central Jail, they began to revolt. They broke their cells and came out and the jail authorities had to run away for their lives. In the meantime, Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai and Agha Lal Badshah addressed the violent prisoners and cooled them down by saying that even if they committed some violent act in a single jail it would be of no benefit to the movement because they were not under a proper discipline and command and violence and anarchy by no means could be translated into a desired revolution. Later on, the troops took over the jail as well and the leaders of the war council were taken to the Bala Hisar fort for trial. Within a week’s time they were awarded punishments and sent to the Gujrat special jail. On the way to Gujrat, every two leaders were chained in a single handcuff. The maximum punishment was awarded to the Imam-i-Hurriat, Allama Abdur Rahim Popalzai, and his associate, Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi. Both of them were sentenced to nine years of rigorous imprisonment in three different cases. This was presumably because Maulana Popalzai was a radical leader of the movement and he had while addressing a large gathering at the Shahi Bagh on April 15, 1930, remarked that he planned to overthrow the English rulers. Rahim Bakhsh Ghaznavi had openly said in the same meeting that he was a rebel. Agha Lal Badshah Bukhari was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The same three years imprisonment was awarded to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who had on his way to Peshawar near the Nahqi police station refused to furnish a security under section 40 of the FCR.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s political party was established a couple of days before the Qissa Khwani incident on April 19, 20, 21, 1930. Earlier, he was mostly engaged in reforming the Pukhtoons and took an active part in the Khilafat and Congress activities, but both of these parties were all-India based organisations and not purely NWFP based.

It is painful to recall that while the Chicago Martyrs Day is celebrated throughout the world as they rendered sacrifices for their wages and hours of work, the Qissa Khwani martyrs day, a milestone of human rights, civil liberties and freedom of expression by an entire province, has been constantly underestimated. More pitiable is the fact that history has been distorted to the benefit of the feudal lords. At detailed documentary work or a series of books still awaits publication.

The triumph of peace in Pakistan's NWFP





When Amir Haider Khan Hoti became Chief Minister of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) this month, he proved the point which Khan Abul Ghaffar Khan made before partition that a Muslim could be secular, without violating the tenets of Islam.

Hoti is the fourth generation scion of the Indian National Congress. He pledged 'peace', a message in line with Abdul Ghaffar Khan's faith in non-violence. It was a tribute to the relentless efforts by Asfandyar Wali Khan. He heads the ANP which has formed the state government.

Despite America's pressure, Hoti has brokered peace with the Taliban, clerics and terrorists, operating on the northern border of the state. He has released maulana Sufe Mohammad, Supreme leader of the banned Tehreek Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammad (TNSM), after six years in prison. In return, the maulana has signed a peace agreement with the government. The agreement says that attacks on brother "Muslims are anti Islamic". The Maulana has also given an undertaking that his people would not indulge in violence against the army, the police and all other security forces. This agreement has begun to work and it is a great victory for a conciliatory approach which Khan Abdul Ghaffar had preached and practised.

At the oath-taking ceremony Hoti recalled a colonial demarcation, the arbitrary Durand Line drawn by the British in 1893. This line has kept the Pushtu-speaking population divided. It is living in two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, Ghaffar's followers, the Khudai Khidmatgars-they were also called Red Shirts-said soon after independence that Pakhtoonistan could be amalgamated into a confederation with Afghanistan. Referendum was held and the NWFP joined Pakistan. However, a British historian, Rittenburg, collected the eye-witnesses accounts which proved that almost every single person cast at least 50 votes each.

I recall the scene at the Congress Working Committee when the party accepted a formula for partition. Ghaffar Khan said with tears in his eyes: "Ham to tabhaa ho gaye (we are ruined). Before long we shall become aliens in Hindustan. The end of our long fight will be to pass under the domination of Pakistan."

Ghaffar Khan at this stage sought a third option-an independent State of Pakhtoonistan-in the plebiscite which, under the Mountbatten scheme, gave only two choices: whether to remain in India or join Pakistan. Gandhi did try to intervene on behalf of Ghaffar Khan but nothing came out of it.

Ghaffar Khan took the oath of allegiance to Pakistan. But its government's repression of the Khudai Khidmatgars did not change. Many years later, in the name of Islam, General Ayub, then Pakistan's martial Law Administrator, tried to make up with Afghanistan, which sympathised with the Pathans who wanted a unit within Pakistan to be called "Pakhtoonistan."

Ghaffar Khan and his son, Wali Khan, who inspired the movement, told me that what they wanted was autonomy, not independence. Pakistan had found in Ghaffar Khan's past connections with the Indian National Congress a ready-made brush to tarnish the movement and alleged that New Delhi was at the back of it. It is true that India sympathised with the movement more articulately whenever its relations with Pakistan would worsen. But the help was minimal. Had New Delhi really helped the Pathans, Abdul Ghaffar Khan would not have repeatedly said in public: "You (Indians) left us to the jackals; you promised to help us but you have betrayed us."

In New Delhi in 1969 he said that "India was never serious about Pakhtoonistan (an autonomous State for the Pakhtoons in Pakistan) but used the slogan only as a stick to beat Pakistan with." Afghanistan, while expressing sympathy, did not do much to help Pakhtoonistan's cause. Kabul ran the risk of losing its own Pakhtoon areas if the movement succeeded in Pakistan. Still Pakistan's overtures were bound to fail because Afghanistan would do nothing to embarrass its neighbour in the north-besides giving economic aid Russia gave all the arms and provided training to Afghan armed forces.

Ayub's efforts to win friends to influence India also had the effect of raising doubts about his reliability in the US, Pakistan's closest ally. Nothing came out of that exercise. My thoughts often go back to the time when I visited Charsada, Abdul Ghaffar Khan's village, at the invitation of his son, Wali Khan. It was a modest sitting room, with austere furnishing to which Wali Khan led me. I also met begum sahiba.I recall Wali Khan telling me that the manner in which Pakistan was interfering in the affairs of Afghanistan would one day boomerang and bring the fight right within Pakistan. What he said some 35 years ago has come true.

A historian, Mukulika Banerjee, recalls how on August 21, 1947, a week after gaining independence, "Governor Ambrose Dundas dismissed Dr. Khan Sahib's ministry, on orders from Governor General Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Ghaffar (Bacha) Khan took the formal oath of allegiance to Pakistan and vowed he would not seek to hurt the new state. He sought to lobby Jinnah to grant a significant level of autonomy to the Pastoons, but was persistently rebuffed."

Bannerjee also says that on June 1948, the Khudai Khidmatgar movement was banned by the Muslim League provincial government and its leaders imprisoned, branded as "friends of Gandhi and Nehru and traitors to Pakistan."

The Khudai Khidmatgars watched the development with disbelief when the Muslim League, regarded by most of them as the tools of the British, thrived. Thanks to the independence movement in which the Khudai Khidmatgars had given their blood and undergone repressions, but when the time of reward came they were pushed back to the prison. Their cryptic remark was "the stick that used to beat us now has a flag on it."

Hoti knows that the opponents of his policy of peace and pluralism will paint his ancestor as traitors. But he should remember that Dr Khan Sahib, despite a campaign of vilification against him, became Pakistan's Communications Minister in 1954 and the Chief Minister of West Pakistan, then a single unit, in 1955. Peace, conciliation and non-violence were the message of Khan Abdul Ghaffar. Hoti has followed the same policy because the NWFP made all the sacrifices for independence.

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Rehmat Shah Afridi...A winner !!!



Rehmat Shah Afridi...A winner
M Waqar
May 24 was indeed a beautiful warm beach day in New York, there was a nice smell in the air and I had feeling that I am going to hear some good news, and I WAS RIGHT, the greatest news for me was the release of Rehmat Shah Afridi, the great son of puktoonistan who refused to bow his head in front of cowards, corrupt, hypocrites of PML(N), BUT DID NOT SELL HIS SOUL, no one can bring nine years of his senseless stay in prison but he proved that he is a man of principles and a professional journalist. I extend my greetings to Mr. Afridi, his family, FP staff. The more shocking news was as Mr. Afridi mentioned after his release that why Nawaz corrupt regime send him to prison, today we can tell that Nawaz Sharif and his brother is not only interested in making money through illegal sources but they can also do anything illegal to get their political opponents in trouble, he is not a real professional politician but is a typical greedy businessman. Today Rehmat Shah Afridi is being released from prison and is enjoying a hero's welcome and we can see real horrible face and mentality of NAWAZ SHARIFF. Champions of human rights and media/press freedom should be ashamed of themselves that that it took so long to recognize the wrong that was being done to Mr. Afridi, who was imprisoned because his work was harming the interests of the powerful and corrupt. In advance and educated societies journalists are considered fourth estate of Govt.
BOB Woodward, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post newspaper, is best known for his work in uncovering the government scandal that became known as Watergate and resulted in President Richard Nixon's resignation, President of the most powerful and rich country in the world resigned because a journalist disclosed his illegal and unconstitutional work, but this is America where president is not above the law and journalist BOB did not end up in jail because of his journalistic duty, Bob Woodward has won nearly every American journalism award, As important as Watergate was in political history, it was perhaps equally so in journalism history, if he was in Pakistan, that would be a different story, Bob would be still in prison because Pakistani bourgeois and elite don't like honesty and truth and we can see a classic example of Rehmat Shah Afridi of frontier post who spend nine years in prison because of his journalistic duties. Journalism is more than just a profession, good journalism is a duty. Good Journalism is to report the truth as you see .You are not a journalist because you work for a big company, or because you've got a press card in you pocket, You're a journalist if you provide people with the information they need to know, to be free and self-governing. Otherwise, you may be just another shark in a suit. The right to information, together with freedom of expression and criticism, is one of the fundamental liberties of every human being, straightforward and honest journalist's follows these rules, 1.To seek out the truth, in the interests of the public's right to know, whatever the consequences to him- or herself. 2 To defend freedom of information, freedom of commentary and criticism, and the independence and dignity of the journalistic profession. Persecution of journalists for publishing critical materials is inadmissible. Harassment of journalists in Pakistan is not something new, journalists are being constantly arrested, secretly imprisoned, beaten and tortured by police, and prevented from reporting about sensitive issues or accessing regions of conflict. Rehmat Shah Afridi of frontier post was in prison because he did not desist from calling a spade a spade. When he launched The frontier Post from Peshawar I was student at Islamia College, those were the days of Zia's cruel dictatorship, you were not a good Muslim if you were against Zia's regime. Frontier post impressed me by publishing news and articles about Zia's regime and FP was the only paper those days who was looking straight into eyes of a cruel dictator. Mr. Afridi made Frontier Post voice of Pakhtuns and never hesitated to publish facts even during cruel dictator Zia regime, he was punished for his pen which he was using for his people against tyrant rulers. Any journalist who does not work for the official media, bourgeois, and elite; is considered to be an "enemy or criminal" and that happens in third world countries. Third-world regimes are known to be intolerant of gutsy journalists and publishers. Mr. Afridi was imprisoned because of his peaceful expression of his beliefs during Nawaz Sharif era of corruption. He published a story detailing how members of the ruling party, including Prime Minister Sharif himself, had through illegal and bizarre use of power and influence obtained massive loans from some public-sector banks, leading to the banks' failure. He was tried and convicted solely for his journalistic work. He was in jail on cooked-up charges of possessing narcotics. Nawaz government sentenced Mr Afridi just because he was the real critic of that regime and was a big hurdle for the enemies of the nation and the country. The only sin of Mr. Rehmat Shah Afridi is that he was prisoner of conscience; he criticized the government for its illegal acts; he raised voice against cruelty; corruption; he spoke against unfair justice; and he disclosed those who looted the country. Rehmat Shah Afridi was exposing the corrupt practices of Nawaz regime and educating people of Pakhtunistan through his newspaper, in this case he was a true journalist. Bourgeois, Imperialists and their puppets are enemies of Pakhtun nation, today Pakhtun nation is victim and target of those elements who don't want to see Pakhtuns educated and advanced, who don't want to see books in pukhtoon kids hands, those anti pukhtoon elements don't want pukhtoon girls to go to the school and become educated mothers of tomorrow. He has not established his newspaper "The Frontier Post" to make money but rather he wished to serve the Pukhtoons particularly and the countrymen generally through his paper. Charges against him were politically motivated. He was sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges following the publication in the Maidan of reports of corruption of government ministers, alleged links between the Anti-Narcotics Force [ANF] and military intelligence and the ANF and drug smugglers. Mr. Nawaz Shariff who as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for two terms i.e. from 6 November 1990 to 18 July 1993 and 17 February 1997 to 12 October 1999 was responsible for gross human rights violations. During the first term of Shariff, even human rights defenders were oppressed. On 1 April 1993, three staff members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, including its director, I.A. Rehman, were detained by police and documents were confiscated from the HRCP's office. Nawaz Sharif had a history of terrorizing professional journalists. The press faced intense repression during Shariff's second term .In June 1997, Humayun Fur, Peshawar bureau chief of the daily Mashriq, was detained under charges of "anti-state" activities and sentenced to five years in jail by a military court on 9 September 1997.On 8 May 1999, Najam Sethi, editor of the Friday Times, was arrested in Lahore and held without charge for nearly a month by Inter-Services Intelligence. The government finally charged Mr Sethi on 1 June 1999 with sedition, promoting communal enmity, condemning the creation of Pakistan and advocating the abolition of its sovereignty, and violating the Prevention of Anti-National Activities Act. Two other journalists M.A.K Lodhi of The News International and Hussain Haqqani, an opposition leader and columnist for The Friday Times and daily Jang were also arrested. Rehmat Shah Afridi, editor of The Frontier Post, was arrested in April 1999.Extra judicial killings were rampant during the regime of Nawaz Sharif. In 1993, custodial torture and custodial deaths were reported throughout the country, particularly in Sindh province where about 40 cases of deaths in custody and encounter killings of suspected criminals or political detainees were reported during January- June 1993. In this atmosphere of fear and hypocrisy, REHMAT SHAH AFRIDI did not hesitate to challenge Nawaz regime, he disclosed regime's illegal practices, that was his duty as an honest journalist, he did not sell himself like so many others in his profession, committed no sin except propagation of "Amr-e-Bil Maaroof" and "Nahi-e-Anil Munker" to expose the corrupt practices of the people at the helm and reform society, ruler from General Zia to Nawaz Sharif tried their best to offer high public office, elevated positions and huge material benefits, but this great son of pukhtoonistan did not sell his soul. In his own words, Mr. Afridi said,''...Journalists are shouldered with the responsibility of exposing corruption and corrupt practices, guiding the nation on the right path and steering the ship to shore. It can never be expected of me to term night as day and black as white.'' If Mr. Afridi was a criminal then Nawaz sharif and his family should be put in prison too for their crimes of stealing money from the nation and Pakistan was declared a failed state because of their corrupt practices, Nawaz Sharif's only agenda was to make money. In order to achieve this goal, he formed/changed laws and policies for his personal benefit and expanded his business empire by misusing his authority as Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif is in love with judges but the nation has not forgotten when supreme court was attacked during his Govt. Sharif ordered his thugs to attack the Supreme Court in order to prevent the Chief Justice from giving a ruling against him. There is no difference between a military dictator and Nawaz Sharif of PML (N). The 'Loha Chors' of Lahore should not forget that they crushed media, press and physically assaulted Supreme Court while being in power. Mr. Afridi is a brave man. He considered the field of journalism as mission, a mission against the oppressors and the corrupt. In one of his interviews, Mr. Afridi said that his exposing of how Nawaz was burning the funds of Osama bin Laden for personal political ends made him clash with Nawaz. No one can deny that. Mr. Afridi needs to be recognized. What was his crime? Was he involved in suicide attacks and killing innocent people? Its interesting that Nawaz Sharif forgot that he was punished for life in prison and leading to possible death penalty but he was flown to Saudi Arabia, there were no legal complications then ?Nawaz Sharif wants to be a god father of Punjabi mafia, elite and bourgeois, he knows how to blackmail but people like Rehamt Shah Afridi can't be bought, where were those judges who wants their jobs back when Z A BHUTTO was facing a trial, where those judges when prosecution could not provide solid evidence against Mr. Afridi but they send him to jail? I salute to Frontier Post staff who continued their chief's mission and never hesitate to publish facts. The Frontier Post is a unique institution and voice of Pukhtoons. It's a courageous newspaper. Mr. Afridi becomes the victim because of his newspaper's independent policies and corruption stories of influential people. His release is a historic moment and victory for all oppressed people, Mr. Afridi is a hero in the world of journalism, while his enemies must be scared and feeling guilty today.

Fears that Peshawar may slip into militant hands .

Fears that Peshawar may slip into militant hands.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar could slip into the hands of militants within a few months if the government does not take adequate measures to arrest the growing trend of militancy, a media report said on Wednesday.

Militant groups have been gaining strength for the past several months in a number of towns and villages around Peshawar, The News said.

Two groups, led respectively by Mangal Bagh and Haji Namdar, have established their ascendancy in the tribal Khyber Agency and a similar number hold sway in the Mohmand Agency.

"The Mangal Bagh-led Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) has never attacked security forces but clashed with rival groups on three different occasions in the past that left several people dead," The News said.

The LI has also threatened action against all those running brothels, selling liquor and heroin, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes.

"Many living in the areas close to the LI stronghold have abandoned their trades to save their skin," the newspaper said.

Threats were also issued on a number of occasions to the owners of CD and video shops, Internet cafes and snooker clubs in a number of towns and villages to the north of Peshawar.

A large number of such shops were bombed when the owners ignored the warnings.

"The law-enforcing agencies were also attacked on a number of occasions. The situation reached such a level that one of the capital's police officers had to request the government to deploy the Frontier Corps (meant for guarding the border) to assist the police in combating militants," The News said.

As far as attacks on the security forces are concerned, the record of Matani town is the worst, with at least 18 personnel having been killed in ambushes and attacks on security posts in the town in the last two years.

Among those killed were a deputy inspector general of police, an inspector and a sub-inspector.

"A number of criminals had also taken advantage of the situation. A number of gangs, posing as militants, were busy kidnapping people for ransom. Several rivals have also exploited the situation to take revenge against their enemies by attacking their properties with bombs," the newspaper said.