Pakistan vows to retake tribal region in 2 months

Pakistan vows to retake tribal region in 2 months

The Associated Press
Friday, September 26, 2008
KHAR, Pakistan: Pakistan will bring stability to a restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan within two months, a top general said during an assessment of a major ongoing offensive there against al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan told reporters on an army-organized trip to the northwestern Bajur region that troops had killed more than 1,000 militants and wounded 2,000 others since the offensive began in early August.

Some 63 troops have died and 212 were wounded, he said.

"My timeframe for Bajur is anything from between one-and-a-half to two months to bring about stability, said Khan of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Still, he also showed reporters photos of militant tunnel systems and trenches, suggesting the insurgents are well dug in the region that is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders.

Military officials paraded 10 blindfolded and handcuffed men said to be Taliban fighters arrested during the operation before the reporters who joined the trip.

Pakistan's top military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that the militants had established a virtual mini-state in Bajur as well as a "mega-sanctuary" for insurgents attacking foreign and government troops in Afghanistan.

He said militants control the main road leading into the tribal area, have converted schools into Islamic courts and have imposed taxes on timber and marble, the region's two main industries.

The Pakistani offensive has used ground forces backed by helicopter gunships and other air support. A suspension was announced at the end of August in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but within days the fighting resumed.

The militants are led by 10 commanders stationed in various parts of the tribal region, Khan said. Faqir Mohammed, a top Pakistani Taliban leader, is among those coordinating attacks and is believed to have been injured, Khan said.

Abbas said Afghan militants, led by a commander named Ziaur Rehman, have joined the fight. He added that the operation has so far produced no trace of bin Laden or al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.

Suicide bombers coming from Punjab: Owais

September 23, 2008 Tuesday Ramazan 22, 1429
Suicide bombers coming from Punjab: Owais
By Nasir Jamal
LAHORE, Sept 22: NWFP Governor Owais Ghani warned Punjab on Monday that militancy was gaining strength in its backyard.
“Militants in the tribal areas of the NWFP have established firm networking (with jihadi groups) in southern Punjab and most fresh recruits for suicide attacks are coming from there. Militant leaders and commanders are also coming from Punjab. The militants’ field commander in Swat too is from Punjab,” Mr Ghani told a briefing arranged for senior journalists on insurgency in tribal areas.

The words of caution from the governor came soon after a number of people were detained in Punjab apparently in connection with the Marriott bombing.

Mr Ghani also warned against treating the insurgency in the tribal areas as a problem of the NWFP. “It will be ill-advised to think that the militancy will remain confined to the NWFP. Militants’ activities have already shifted to the settled areas and Punjab and they have established strong links with south Punjab. It’s a national issue, a question of survival for (entire) Pakistan.”Later talking to Dawn, the governor said he had discussed the matter with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He expressed the hope that the Punjab government would effectively handle the situation.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is also said to be aware of the issue of recruitments of suicide bombers from his constituency. “He (prime minister) knows about it,” Mr Ghani said.

He said: “The militants are on the run. But the (military) operation will have to continue for another four to five months before the militancy could be contained.”

He said the issue of militancy could not be resolved without restoration of ‘political peace’ and tranquillity in Afghanistan. “However, we are trying to contain it and lower its intensity.”

In reply to a question, he said there was a political consensus in the NWFP on the counter-insurgency operations. “There is complete harmony between the Governor’s House and the ANP-PPP coalition government. The JUI-Fazl is also supporting the operation,” he said.

Local Taliban Brutality and Barbarianism


A. Z. Hilali
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) created Taliban in 1994 and recruited radical Muslims from all around the globe and trained thousands of Muslims in religious schools of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, the CIA deliberately promoted fundamentalism and extremism to protect the United States economic and commercial interests and the militants proved effective bodyguards driving against the burglars who attacked and looted the convoys. According to Selig Harrison, the CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic militant groups from all over the world to come to Pakistan and Afghanistan for their vested interests and provided million dollars for building up fierce and fanatical force to protect its sphere of influence to control trade route from Pakistan to Central Asia. The Taliban were not just recruits from traditional madrassas (Muslim theological schools) but were on the payroll of the CIA and soon became notorious for Pakistan because of their actions, practices and treatments. Religiously, they spread the conservative Wahhabi version of Islam based on Deobandi school of thought. It is interesting to note that most of the Taliban are illiterate, inexperienced and semiliterate and close to ultra-conservative Wahhabism (Deobandi) who follow a Salafist egalitarian model that was widely practiced among themselves, and regard Shia as non-Muslim. They hold interpretation that a Muslim's primary obligation and loyalty is only of religion. Thus, the Deobandis oppose any kind of social caste system within Islam and believe that they have a sacred right and obligation to wage jihad to protect Muslims in the world. So, the Taliban introduced an extremely harsh and rigid version of Islam in Afghanistan. They treated people inhumanly and their behaviour with women was against the will of Pashtunwali beliefs and novel values of Islam. The Taliban forced women to wear the burqa because according to their philosophy the face of a woman is a source of corruption and provocation. They prohibted women working outside the home and also banned performing duty in all field of life including education institutions and hospitals. Moreover, women were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperone, which led to illnesses remaining untreated. Taliban restricted women to visit the public places and also banned bright and multi-coloured clothes as they viewed as sexually and socially attractive. They also prohibted internet, movies, and television and banned popular music as well as kite-flying. Moreover, men are required to have beards and girls were forbidden to go to school. However, the philosophy and ideology of Taliban has come under attack when the tragic incident of 9/11 changed the fashion of World politics. The US hawkish elements carry out their crusade against the nations and Afghanistan was invaded and Taliban regime was replaced by the Northern Alliance. In this background, the US has initiated offensive strategy to eliminate Taliban and Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan. The Islamabad supported the US-led war on terror and sent more than 90,000 military troops along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border to contain the Taliban and al-Qadea terrorists' network. Pakistan also deployed its Frontier Corps and other paramilitary forces to target insurgents. In this regard, the efficiency of Pakistan is undoubtly remarkable because Pakistan military has captured more than seven hundred al-Qaeda operatives within its borders and handed over to the US as compare to Afghanistan poor performance who made no significant contribution to curb and control Taliban activities inside the country. On the other hand, Pakistan's military has proven effective in its mission in the tribal areas when nearly a thousand soldiers including officers have been killed in the fight against militancy. Moreover, this is the result of Pakistan's military cooperation with the US that presently the country is almost in a state of constant warfare and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has become as serious threat to the state and society. In the contemporary time, the US wrong strategies and policies have made worst situation in Pakistan, particularly in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) including Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The US blind and incorrect covert military operations in the tribal areas have given sympathies to Taliban in the masses and anti-Americanism has increased tremendously in all-over Pakistan. In fact, as long as the US policy makers depend on Pakistan military, secret services and its leadership they were near to achieve their objectives but the day the US administration started consultations with India, Northern Alliance and Hamid Karzi (US Puppet Regime) the situation deteriorated for the United States and awful to Pakistan. According to political observers the US is directly responsible for Pakistan's political instability and disarray. So, this was not the result of Pakistan's planning but the US unflinching policies when the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives have spread in different parts of Pakistan and strengthen their positions. Although before that the frontier region (NWFP) was heaven on earth but the American attacks and bombing converted the region into hell and today all strategically important areas of Pakistan have turned into a battle ground and the writ of Islamabad has become a great question mark. It is interesting to note that the alliance of CIA, RAW and KHAD have started offensive psychological warfare against Pakistan and continuously working on the agenda to destabilize or Balkanize of Pakistan. They have recruited hundreds of people and volunteers from different countries (India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe) including social evils, subversive elements, frustrated youth and professional criminals to damage Pakistan state, society and system. There are rumours that some countries such as Iran and Russia are also providing material and financial assistance to some groups of Taliban to give a tough time to Americans and also to protect their vested interests in the region. So, the secret alliance of three agencies have introduced new terrorists groups whose are functioning as a "Local Taliban" everywhere, in every place of Pakistan especially in the NWFP and their attitude and treatment is extremely violent, rigid and inhuman. They are religiously hardcore and their version of Islam is different than the actual Islam. They also introduced the toughest and brutal version of religion as compare to normal Islamic values and have no room for women activities and education. Their prime objectives are to target army, common citizens and public property to create chronic fear and frustration against Pakistan through the violent anarchy. In this regard, RAW and KHAD both are working under the umbrella of CIA and actively involved to provide training with advisers and material support to create stirring sense of terror, panic, insecurity and uncertainty. In this regard, India has supplied high-altitude warfare equipments to so-called militants. Even they have given defence advisors, anti-air and tank missiles, technical assistance against the Pakistan army and paramilitary forces. There are reports that India, Afghansitan and Iran are leading the anti-Pakistan military campaign on the ground and the US is providing information and logistic support. Military sources indicated that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are being used as bases to launch anti-Pakistan operations by India and Afghanistan. In fact, India has launched a forceful diplomatic campaign against the ISI and Pakistan military and two brigade of the Indian army has been dispatched under the pretext to provide security to the Indian Consulates and Indian construction companies working on a large scale in Afghanistan. The first two brigades will be from the same mountain division. It is clear that it is the Indian plan to deploy 15,000 soldiers in Afghanistan with the support of Hamed Karzai. In this context, the evil designs of foreign forces, agencies, and agents have frustrated ISI and left no options to use all means to protect the security and survival of Pakistan. This institution has rendered an extraordinary service for the defence, survival and security of Pakistan. This is the reason that it is a "thorn in the eye" for those who are anti-Pakistan and are working against the security of country. The ISI has kept a strict watch over all those countries that have made military, political, or espionage plans against Pakistan; and on all the intelligence agencies of the world, be it the CIA, RAW and Khad. It has proved that Indian RAW has established special branch of its intelligence service specifically to target Pakistan. In reality, the RAW has a long history of involvement in Pakistan and working to promote dissatisfaction against Pakistan. According to the intelligence sources RAW is directly involved in sabotage activities in NWFP and supporting local Taliban movement financially to promote destructive activities in the frontier region. The reports have appeared that as many as 8,000 RAW and KHAD trained militants have entered in frontier region and they are actively working in different parts of area against the Pakistan military. Moreover, they have around 40 terrorist training camps near Pak-Afghan border in which militants are getting specialized training to handle explosives, engineer bomb blasts and use sophisticated weapons. According to reports some militants are from Pakistan and many are of different ethnic origin including Afghan and Indian Hindus and white Europeans and they are without circumcision (the fore skin of the male organ) but have beard to impress local people. Thus, RAW is supplying weapons through the Afghanistan to the local militant terrorists and providing shelter and training to the militant guerrillas for their malevolence objectives. So, RAW and KHAD has an extensive network of militants including dissident elements from various sectarian groups of NWFP. Moreover, Indian diplomats, RAW and the CIA officials have significantly enter in the Afghan ministry of tribal affairs and have close understanding to conduct covert activities inside tribal areas of Pakistan. Indian agents are instrumental in arranging meetings of tribal elders and Afghans with dual nationalities with Indian consulate officials in Jalalabad and assisting them in spotting and recruiting suitable tribal elders from Jalalabad and Pakistan's North and South Waziristan agencies for covert activities. The government of Pakistan has solid evidence that Indian and Afghan agents are carrying out clandestine activities in tribal areas of Pakistan and creating disturbing situation for the US and NATO troops, so they should attack Pakistan. So, the local Taliban are fighting against Pakistan military with modern and sophisticated weapons made by India, Russia and the United States. They are indiscriminatory killing or slaughtering innocent civilians, military personnel and cadets through brutal actions. They have evil plan to create an unprecedented disturbance and made it ungovernable situation for Pakistan. Further, they have created anarchy and fear through the violent actions, and are busy in attacking the infrastructure of military, communication and have targeted nuclear arsenals. It is not difficult to understand that the foreign actors have evil designs against Pakistan if they are supporting anti-state elements and hired criminals for the disturbance of state system. They are involved in subversive activities under the banner of jihad and attacking the security forces, bombing military camps, patrols and vehicles. Importantly, militants have recently geared up a guerrilla-style war against Pakistan military by adopting hit-and-run tactics. Ambushes, remote-controlled bomb explosions and long-range rocket attacks on military checkpoints and government installations have become a routine matter. So, this is a common practice to attack convoy of the military and paramilitary forces. It has also confirmed that the local Taliban are battling not only against the Pakistan military even they are also involved in kidnapping or killing businessmen and traders and foreigners including Chinese engineers to defame the country. The sources also confirmed that local Taliban are fighting on the indication of their masters (India, Afghanistan, America, Iran and Russia) and within a limited time they have converted the areas of Swat, Bajaur, Darra Adamkhel, North and South Waziristan into bloodbath where the blood of human beings is cheaper than the water. The insurgency of local Taliban has spread radically from rural area to urban centres of the NWFP and also expanded their grip to many major cities of Pakistan (Islamabad, Peshawar, Mardan, Bunnu, Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi etc) and using the instrument of suicide bombers to paralize the functioning life of the country. Sometime they target the governemnt building, security checkpoints and police stations by the explosion and inflict heavy casualties. Moreover, they have created exicited turmoil in the NWFP owing to constant unrest and their brutal activities have suceesfully developed innumerable psychological discorders among the common people. Moreover, they are also involved in the burning of girls' schools in the volatile tribal region including Swat and Dir region and reports are received that local Taliban are involved in this unholy game. It has also confirmed that they have burnt several CDs and video shops in various towns of the NWFP and justified their actions by saying that Islam has no concept of entertainment rather it preaches to prepare for jihad every time. Ironically, local Taliban have challenged the writ of Islamabad and have virtually ceased to exist in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and other parts of NWFP. They have established their own courts in seven tribal agencies and twenty four (24) districts of the NWFP and their so-called Qazis (judges) awarding the verdicts including stoning to death sentence without formal legal procedure. In fact, local Taliban have established a parallel government in Pakistan's tribal areas and are administering their own brand of justice to the people. They have also taken the law into their own hands by providing speedy and severe justice without appropriate procedure and court system in the name of cleansing society of social evils. Moreover, they have been trying to force people to live according to their "puritanic interpretation" of Islamic law and tradition. Nevertheless, the activities of local Taliban are no longer confined to the NWFP and along the Pak-Afghan border. They have created a grave situation for Pakistan and have smashed all important and popular cultural centers in NWFP, and created a severe halt in civil life. The foreign sponsored militants have wilfully caused mass killings, serious suffering and inhuman treatment with unarmed civilian population, destruction of social and physical structure in strategically valuable parts of NWFP. The brutal actions of local Taliban have resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people, the destruction of hundreds of homes and villages, and the dislocation of thousands of people. So, the brutalities of proxy militants have created human, economic and environmental catastrophes for the people of NWFP. Nonetheless, the misery and tragedies desire collective response from the people of frontier region because only Pakistan military cannot handle the critical situation and could not alone ensure sustainable peace, harmony stability and security.
Saved from:
Dated: Thursday, September 18, 2008, Ramadan 17, 1429 A.H.

Pakistan's tribal areas need vast reform

Pakistan's tribal areas need vast reform
By Ziad Haydar
Commentary by
Friday, September 19, 2008

With a revived Taliban and Al-Qaeda operating out of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the region has assumed center stage in the US-led "war on terror." To secure these areas, Pakistan's civilian government seeks to negotiate with tribesmen to end combat, withdraw the army and only use it as a last resort, while promoting economic development.

Yet this strategy will fail unless Pakistan fully addresses FATA's regressive and shrinking governance system. Political and legal reforms are essential to extend the state's writ, uphold constitutional rights and prevent increasing public support for the Taliban while securing the region in the long-term.

Located along Pakistan's northwestern border with Afghanistan, FATA consists of seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions with more than 3 million people. Exercising limited control over this fiercely independent region, the British Empire used force and financial inducements to keep strategically important roads and passes open while neglecting the remaining areas - a status quo preserved after Pakistan's independence.

Militancy in FATA is attributable to a host of factors including its history as a staging ground for the Soviet resistance, fallout from the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan's maneuvering in Afghanistan, and its sizeable impoverished and illiterate population. Yet the area's flawed governance has also bolstered the Taliban today in three ways:

First, the full writ of the state has never extended across FATA. Inaccessible areas where the state has no presence have existed since the British era, providing haven for criminals and militants.

Second, where a system of administration exists, the Taliban and the army are dismantling it. Since 2004, the Taliban have reportedly killed more than 300 maliks, or tribal leaders. Many maliks now turn to the Taliban, not the central government's agents, for their marching orders. The Taliban now fill the cumulative political vacuum.

Third, where the system is intact, its key features fuel anti-state sentiment. In a 2008 British government-sponsored survey, 73 percent in the region said the state jirga, or assembly, did not provide speedy justice. Because the century-old British frontier regulations were outdated, locals justified turning to Taliban religious courts for harsh yet swift justice.

Fortunately, there is widespread recognition of the need for reforms in FATA among all the major Pakistani political parties, as reflected in their 2008 election manifestos. Yet recognition does not necessarily translate into action.

Five factors are often cited for the failure of reform initiatives: the deteriorating security situation; bureaucratic elements with vested political and financial interests; the central government's fear of losing control of a strategic area; broader political instability in Pakistan; and the tribal people's rejection of change and suspicion of the government.

The Cabinet Committee on Frontier Crimes Regulations Reforms is now holding consultations with its chairman, the federal law minister, promising to submit recommendations to the Cabinet soon.

Key political reforms include extending the Political Parties Act to FATA to bolster moderate political forces with a related petition pending in the Supreme Court. Phasing out the maliki system, the state should establish agency councils that are more accountable and representative than the appointed councils that expired last year. A FATA-wide council should also be created with a clear mandate to provide a forum to articulate interests, debate reforms and vote on issues such as FATA's ultimate status in the federation - something FATA's people should decide.

On legal reforms, appellate court jurisdiction, currently barred in the region, should be extended. Reforms of the British regulations must be pursued including overhauling certain penalties, giving the parties a role in jirga selection, expediting the judicial process, and accommodating requests for Islamic law-based rulings.

These are questions of domestic and international import. For FATA's plight has exacted a tragic toll on Pakistan and elicited a stark warning from the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, that the next terrorist attack on America will likely emerge from these badlands. Part of the answer to these questions is FATA's antiquated and ineffective governance - a glaring example of how a local ill can affect global security.

No amount of anti-terrorism operations or development aid alone can cure this ill. The onus is on Islamabad to take the region into the mainstream of Pakistani life, in conjunction with its people. For one of the Taliban's greatest strengths in FATA today is the government's weakness. That is why the federal government must heed the warning of one of its own senior coalition party members, Afrasiab Khattak, from the North West Frontier Province's ruling Awami National Party: "The question of dismantling militant sanctuaries in FATA and taking short- and long-term measures to open up the areas and integrate it with the rest of the country needs urgent attention if we are to avoid impending catastrophe."

Pakistan’s Dangerous Double Game

Sponsored ByPakistan’s Dangerous Double Game
Unsure of Islamabad's loyalties, U.S. forces open up a more aggressive, controversial strategy in the tribal areas.

Ron Moreau and Mark Hosenball
Updated: 3:24 PM ET Sep 13, 2008
Mullah Nasrullah, a Taliban commander, made what has become a routine trek from his guerrilla base in Afghanistan across the jagged peaks into Pakistan last month. His destination: the headquarters of his patron and supplier, the powerful insurgent leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. A genial young man in his late 20s or early 30s with a bushy black beard, Haqqani leads the bloody Taliban insurgency in eastern Afghanistan, where American casualties are highest. Interviewed by NEWSWEEK on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Nasrullah refused to specify the reason for his meeting with Haqqani, though it's likely he was looking for more suicide bombers, explosive vests, weapons and money to use against U.S. and NATO forces.

Once inside Pakistan, Nasrullah says, he traveled between insurgent camps. He rode in a new four-wheel-drive vehicle with a towering radio antenna fixed to the front bumper, followed by four pickup trucks filled with militants. Yet their convoy sailed through Pakistani military checkpoints. Whenever they neared one, the jihadists would hail someone named "Col. Niazi" on the radio, who would arrange their safe passage. Nasrullah believes this was a Pakistani Army officer and possibly an operative in the military's premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. "He seems to feel invulnerable," Nasrullah says of his patron, Haqqani. "The ISI protects him."

Washington seems to agree. Combating Haqqani fighters has become one of the top priorities for American commanders in Afghanistan. But U.S. officials who would speak only on condition of anonymity when discussing sensitive matters say they have evidence that some elements of Pakistan's ISI are protecting or even helping the Haqqani network. That's helping to drive a far more aggressive U.S. strategy in the tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, where the Haqqanis and other Taliban groups have established a network of safe havens and training camps for their own and Al Qaeda fighters. And it's raising tensions between America and Pakistan, supposed allies in the war against terror, to levels not seen since September 11.

Senior Pakistani officers say now is not the time to move against Haqqani. They have limited forces, and are concentrating on militants like Baitullah Mehsud, another powerful Taliban leader who is the source of most of the suicide bombers deep inside Pakistan, and who may have been behind the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Because of their mistrust of the United States and neighboring India, the Pakistani military and the ISI may also see the Haqqani network and other Taliban forces as potential assets to gain influence inside Afghanistan. As long as they're not attacking Pakistani targets, say several Pakistan experts, the Haqqanis are not a priority.

According to the Americans, however, Pakistani inaction has allowed the Haqqanis to grow from one insurgent group among many into perhaps the most deadly threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This July, top U.S. military and CIA officers confronted their Pakistani counterparts with evidence of the ISI links to Haqqani. One consequence: over the summer President George W. Bush approved new, more relaxed rules of engagement along the border. The Pentagon once required "90 percent" confidence that a "high-value target" was present before approving Predator strikes in Pakistan territory. Now U.S. officials on the ground need to have only 50 to 60 percent confidence to shoot at compounds suspected of sheltering foreign fighters, according to knowledgeable U.S. sources who would speak of sensitive matters only anonymously. The CIA declined to comment.

The new rules also allow "hot pursuit" incursions by U.S. Special Operations troops into Pakistan, a move that Bush had long avoided so as not to offend his close ally President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month. On Sept. 3, in the first known raid in Pakistani territory, two dozen U.S. Navy SEALs were airlifted into a cluster of huts near the village of Angor Adda, located about one mile from the Afghan border. Last week Pakistani Army chief Ashfaq Kayani furiously denied the existence of "any agreement or understanding with the Coalition Forces" allowing them to cross the border, and he said he would not permit such actions.

Relations between Pakistan and the United States took a sharp downward turn after the July meeting between Kayani and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which one Pakistani military official described as "extremely testy." Perhaps seeking to placate the Americans, Kayani ordered a new offensive in early August in the Bajaur tribal area in northwestern Pakistan. Afterward, Kayani asked for another meeting with Mullen and other senior U.S. commanders, according to the Pakistani military source, who asked for anonymity in order to speak freely. In late August, the Pentagon responded by inviting Kayani to huddle on a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf with Mullen and a team that included incoming CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus; Gen. David McKiernan, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Adm. Eric Olson, chief of the Special Operations Command.

At that meeting, pressed to deal with Haqqani's growing power as well as that of other militants, Kayani told the Americans that he didn't have the military capability to take on several, sizable insurgent strongholds at once. He asked Washington to provide more modern and highpowered military equipment, notably attack helicopters. But the U.S. commanders were apparently not prepared to give the Pakistani Army chief what he wanted. According to a Pakistani diplomat who asked for anonymity in order to discuss sensitive matters, the Americans told Kayani the United States now reserved the right to strike, even on the ground, against significant Qaeda and Taliban targets inside Pakistan without getting prior approval. Less than one week after the aircraft carrier meeting, the U.S. military launched the Sept. 3 operation, killing what U.S. officials say were two dozen Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Kayani and his high command were embarrassed by the operation and became enraged, Pakistani officials say. The Pakistanis insist that the dead were almost all civilians, including women and children. "The attack was carried out with bad and faulty intelligence," says the senior military source. "It crossed an acceptable threshold and had a negative impact inside the military and on Pakistani public opinion." Despite protests, at least four more Predator attacks were carried out shortly afterward in North Waziristan against areas controlled by the Haqqani network. One attack on Sept. 8 hit a madrassa complex where Haqqani family members lived and where Qaeda and Taliban fighters frequently sheltered while moving back and forth across the border.

At least one U.S. official, who would discuss American dealings with Islamabad only on condition of anonymity, suggests that there may be some political theater at work in the Pakistani reaction. He says that the U.S. and Pakistani military have reached a "more than tacit" understanding about the new U.S. tactics, in which the Pakistani side has agreed to allow "hot pursuit" operations by American troops, provided that Pakistani authorities are allowed to maintain complete "deniability." That means the Pakistanis will be permitted to publicly criticize the United States for any such operations and assert, without fear of contradiction from Washington, that U.S. forces were acting without Pakistani approval.

Still, U.S. officials acknowledge that if they're not careful, these new aggressive U.S. tactics could backfire. If large numbers of innocents are being killed, U.S. attacks could motivate even more Afghans and Pakistani tribals to join the insurgency on both sides of the frontier. That would widen the war further and undermine the already shaky Pakistani government. It could also create more Islamist sympathizers inside the Pakistani Army and ISI.

Washington is willing to take that risk, in part because Haqqani has become the most active, aggressive and powerful Taliban commander along the border. The son of Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, an aging, ailing former Afghan mujahedin commander who became legendary leading the fight against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, Siraj is increasingly admired by many jihadists for his smarts and discretion. "He is always friendly, polite and simple, is a good listener, answers directly and has a computerlike memory," says Nasrullah. "He is wise beyond his years."

Under Siraj's leadership, the Haqqani network has come a long way since 2004, when its men were waging small-unit, small-arms, hit-and-run attacks on U.S. bases just a mile or two across the border. Qaeda military experts, ideologues and senior leaders now operate out of Haqqani bases in the tribal areas, and the network has become the primary pipeline for foreign fighters looking to join the jihad in Afghanistan. According to senior Taliban sources who did not want to be identified for security reasons, Siraj also enjoys a steady stream of funding from the Gulf, where three of his brothers are based. "We weren't strong like they are today," says Malem Jan, 42, a veteran Haqqani fighter who led guerrilla strikes across the border until he defected in early 2005 because he thought the Americans were "invulnerable." "If I'd known Siraj would get so strong, I would have never defected."

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, who leads the 19,000 U.S. soldiers operating on the frontier, estimates that his forces are facing some 7,000 to 10,000 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan—a higher number than previously disclosed by any U.S. commander. Most of them operate under Haqqani's control, including the insurgents who launched a multiple suicide-bomber attack on a major U.S. military base, Camp Salerno, in Khowst province, last month. Schloesser says the attack was striking because all the suicide bombers were Arabs and Chechens; normally foreigners act as trainers and organizers, not cannon fodder. He says combat incidents have risen by 20 to 30 percent this year compared with last—one reason Bush recently announced that he plans to send an additional 4,000 or so troops to Afghanistan.

Haqqani has also claimed responsibility for the January attack on Kabul's premier hotel, the Serena, that killed seven and nearly missed the Norwegian foreign minister, and the abortive April assault on the country's National Day parade that targeted Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who escaped unharmed. Afghan and U.S. intelligence have fingered Haqqani as the mastermind of the bloody suicide car bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul last July that killed two Indian officials and more than 40 others. U.S. officials say they intercepted communications between an ISI officer and the Haqqani operatives who were planning the embassy attack. Pakistani officials strenuously deny the charge.

U.S. counterterrorism officials, who asked for anonymity discussing official assessments, say they do not believe that the top levels of the Pakistani military or ISI have sanctioned aid to the Haqqanis; they think local and perhaps retired operatives are to blame. Nevertheless, the insurgents certainly believe that they have powerful connections. One jihadist, a 25-year-old named Shah Muhammad who fights for Haqqani, says he recently got caught in a roundup of militants by the Pakistani Army in North Waziristan. After checking the identity papers and the loyalties of the fighters, the soldiers released the Afghans who could prove they were linked to Haqqani and arrested those tribal militants linked to Baitullah Mehsud.

Today, Haqqani has become the ISI's "darling," says a former Taliban cabinet minister who is still an active supporter of the insurgency and who would speak only on condition of anonymity for security reasons. According to Jan, the Haqqani defector, the clan frequently received visitors he believed to be ISI operatives in the family's North Waziristan camps back in 2004. Jan says a young Pakistani Army officer named Salim, who he believed worked out of the ISI office inside the 11th Army Corps's main base at Miran Shah, located near the Haqqani madrassa complex, used to meet regularly with Siraj. Jan also claims he believes the Pakistanis used to tip off Siraj whenever a U.S. missile strike was imminent. Soon after suddenly huddling with a visitor, whom Jan associated with the ISI, Siraj would immediately change his position and order his men to move from the Miran Shah area to the mountains.

While top Pakistani officers reject out of hand any accusation that the ISI or any Pakistani intelligence agency is aiding the Taliban, Pakistani Army Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the armed forces' spokesman, does not rule out that the ISI is maintaining contacts with the Haqqanis. "Do you think any intelligence agency in the world would like to sever its last contact with any organization it has an interest in?" he asked rhetorically. "It would like to maintain at least one last channel through which it can access and get feedback on the on the-ground realities." Indeed, Afghan Taliban sources say that at the behest of the ISI, Haqqani may now be trying to persuade his ally Mehsud to cease his attacks against Pakistan and to focus on Afghanistan instead.

Whatever ties they may have to the ISI, the Taliban don't feel entirely secure, says the former cabinet minister. He claims the ISI knows the location of Taliban safe havens, training and military facilities, and the precise addresses in towns and villages along the border where commanders and their families live. "I wouldn't be surprised if the ISI arrested us all in one day," he says. "We are like sheep which the Pakistanis could round up whenever they want." He adds that many insurgents still don't have a strong enough foothold inside Afghanistan to spend the winter months there. But more and more are planning to do so, worried about their position within Pakistan.

Recognizing that trend, Schloesser plans to keep his troops operating deep inside Taliban territory this winter. "I plan on having a winter campaign that will take advantage of the mobility that I have to seek out any [insurgent] safe havens in Afghanistan, any facilitation areas, any places they go to for rest and recreation in Afghanistan," Schloesser says. "We're going to give them those options: either flee, get killed or captured, or reconcile." But if they escape across the border—and Islamabad doesn't step up—a new kind of war could well begin.

Russia and the World in the 21st Century

"Russia in Global Affairs"

Sergei Lavrov is Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister. This article was written on the basis of his June 20, 2008 speech at the international symposium “Russia in the 21st Century,” organized in Moscow by the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in partnership with the British think tank Policy Network, and the Alfred Herrhausen Society, within the framework of the latter’s project “Foresight – Forging Common Futures in a Multi-Polar World.”


In modern international relations it is difficult to find a more fundamental issue than the definition of the current stage in global development. This is important for any country in order to correlate a development strategy and a foreign policy with the vision of the world we live in. It seems that a consensus is already being formed on this score, albeit at the level of the expert community both in Russia and abroad. This is largely a consequence of debates, on which Russia insisted. Moreover, this emerging consensus largely reproduces the analysis which Russia offered as a starting position for discussion in Vladimir Putin’s speech in Munich in February 2007.

It is already obvious that individual problems of world politics cannot be solved without understanding the “big issues” of global development and without reaching a common vision of them in the international community.

I will try to outline some of these issues, which are directly related to the building of Russia’s foreign-policy strategy.


There is already no doubt that the end of the Cold War marked the end of a longer stage in global development, which lasted for 400 to 500 years and when the world was dominated by European civilization. This domination was consistently led by the historical West.

As regards the content of the new stage in humankind’s development, there are two basic approaches to it among countries. The first one holds that the world must gradually become a Greater West through the adoption of Western values. It is a kind of “the end of history.” The other approach – advocated by Russia – holds that competition is becoming truly global and acquiring a civilizational dimension; that is, the subject of competition now includes values and development models.

The new stage is sometimes defined as “post-American.” But, of course, this is not “a world after the United States,” the more so without the U.S. It is a world where – due to the growth of other global centers of power and influence – the relative importance of the U.S. role has been decreasing, as it has already happened in recent decades in the global economy and trade. Leadership is another matter, above all a matter of reaching agreement among partners and a matter of ability to be the first – but among equals.

Various terms have been proposed to define the content of the emerging world order, among them multi-polar, polycentric and nonpolar. The latter characteristic is given, in particular, by Richard Haass. It is difficult not to agree with him that power and influence are now becoming diffused. But even the former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department admits that ensuring the governability of global development in the new conditions requires establishing a core group of leading nations. That is, in any case the matter at hand is the need for collective leadership, which Russia has been consistently advocating. Of course, the diversity of the world requires that such collective leadership be truly representative both geographically and civilizationally.

We do not share the apprehensions that the ongoing reconfiguration in the world will inevitably bring about “chaos and anarchy.” It is a natural process of forming a new international architecture – both political and financial-economic – that would meet the new realities.

One such reality is the return of Russia to global politics, the global economy and finance as an active, full-fledged actor. This refers to our place on the world energy and grain markets; to our leadership in the field of nuclear energy and space exploration; to our capabilities in the sphere of land, air and sea transit; and to the role of the ruble as one of the most reliable world currencies.
Unfortunately, the Cold War experience has distorted the consciousness of several generations of people, above all political elites, making them think that any global policy must be ideologized. And now, when Russia is guided in international affairs by understandable, pragmatic interests, void of any ideological motives whatsoever, not everyone is able to adequately take it. Some people say we have some “grievances,” “hidden agendas,” “neo-imperial aspirations” and all that stuff. This situation will hardly change soon, as the matter at issue is psychological factors – after all, at least two generations of political leaders were brought up in a certain ideological system of coordinates, and sometimes they are simply unable to think in categories beyond those frameworks. Other factors include quite specific, understandably interested motives pertaining to privileges that the existing global financial-economic architecture gives to individual countries.


Russia views itself as part of a European civilization with common Christian roots. The experience of this region offers material that can be used to simulate forthcoming global processes. Thus, even a superficial analysis suggests the conclusion that the overcoming of the Cold War has not solved the problem of ways for social development. Rather, it has only helped to avoid extreme approaches and come closer to its solution on a more realistic basis – especially considering that ideological considerations very often distorted the effect of market forces, as well as the idea of democracy.
The rigid Anglo-Saxon model of socio-economic development has again started to fail, as it did in the 1920s. This time, the failure is due to the isolation of the U.S. financial system from the real sector of economy. On the other hand, there is the socially oriented Western European model, which was a product of European society’s development throughout the 20th century, including the tragedies of the two world wars, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union’s experience. The Soviet Union played no small role in this process, as it not only served as the “Soviet threat” that consolidated the West, but also motivated Western Europe to “socialize” its economic development.

Therefore, by proclaiming the goal of creating a socially oriented economy, the new Russia appeals to our common European heritage. This is yet more evidence of Russia’s compatibility with the rest of Europe.

The end of the Cold War coincided in time with attempts to unify European development according to the Anglo-Saxon model. However, there is an impression that Europe will hardly give up its development model which meets its views of life and which has a more solid financial and economic foundation. Rebalancing is possible and, apparently, inevitable on both sides of the Atlantic. This brings to mind Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policy, which marked a time of convergence in America’s development.

Probably, a synthesis of various models – as a process, rather than a final result – will be a key trend in global development in the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the multiformity of the contemporary world, which reflects its more fundamental characteristic – cultural and civilizational diversity, will remain. One can also assume that in order to make the global “rules of the game” more effective in these conditions, they must be freed from ideology.

A different, unifying approach would lead to interventionism – a strategy that is hardly realistic, since its effectiveness can be achieved only in a transition toward global imperial construction. Movement in that direction would increase tensions in global and regional politics and would exacerbate unsolved global problems – as seen from the current aggravation of the global food crisis.
These factors speak in favor of pluralism on a wide range of social development parameters as a non-alternative and, most importantly, non-confrontational way for the international community’s existence at the present stage.

Whatever the circumstances of what is called the valorization of natural resources, this trend is creating conditions for moving toward equalization of development levels in the contemporary world. The task is to create modalities and mechanisms for the effective use of redistributed global financial resources for the purpose of universal development. Thus, sovereign wealth funds already participate in refinancing the U.S. banking system.


International experts, including American ones, write about a “world turned upside down” and criticize the “weak dollar” policy. What is remarkable is the analysis of Henry Kissinger, who writes that “the International Monetary Fund as presently constituted is an anachronism” and who even points to the need of restoring moral aspects in economic and financial activities.

One cannot but agree with Kissinger’s statement about the emergence of a gap between the economic and political orders in the world. But we must clarify something in this regard. First, there is no reasonable alternative to a global political architecture relying on the United Nations and the rule of international law. Let us not forget that the UN was created even before the beginning of the Cold War for use in a multipolar international system. In other words, its potential can be fully tapped only now.

Second, the global financial-economic architecture was largely created by the West to suit its own needs. And now that we are watching the generally recognized shift of financial-economic power and influence toward new fast-growing economies, such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, the inadequacy of this system to the new realities becomes obvious. In reality, a financial-economic basis is needed that would conform to the polycentricity of the contemporary world. Otherwise, the governability of global development cannot be restored.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke about this in detail in Berlin and at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. The reform of international institutions will be among the subjects to be discussed at the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido, Japan. So the urgency of the matter evokes no doubt among our G8 partners, either. Russia is ready to participate constructively in this joint work.


I think that as soon as these big issues are duly grasped, it will be easier to solve all the other issues, including the range of problems in relations within the Euro-Atlantic region.

Fyodor Tyutchev [a 19th-century Russian poet] wrote that “by the very fact of its existence Russia negates the future of the West.” We can refute Tyutchev only by acting together – building a common future for the whole Euro-Atlantic region and for the whole world, in which security and prosperity will be truly indivisible.

New things scare people. At the same time, they are inevitable. And there is only one rational response to this challenge – accept this reality. When they scare us with the threat of “anarchy” in the contemporary world (which is very Russian-like, but done, as a rule, from the outside), they forget that any system can be self-regulatory. This requires effective, adequate institutions, which should be created.

I would like to make it clear: Russia, as no other country, understands the painfulness of the current changes. No one can get away from them. Moreover, as experience shows, adaptation at the level of foreign policy can only result from serious changes within the states themselves. Therefore Russia has quite realistic expectations regarding when changes should be awaited in the foreign policy philosophy of its international partners.

In contemporary conditions, it is hardly appropriate to speak in terms of “challenges” thrown down by some states to others. This only results in too much focus in foreign-policy strategies on virtual dangers. The interdependence brought about by globalization motivates no one to “throw down challenges” to whomever. And Russia is the last one to need this: we have enough problems of our own, which we are well aware of; at the same time, we understand the interests of our partners. What is dangerous is a lack of cooperation and holding aloof from the problems of one’s partner – which makes collective actions to address common tasks impossible.

Each country and each nation have had enough national catastrophes and tragedies in their history. The longer the history, the more positive and negative events it comprises. I fully agree with Vladislav Inozemtsev who maintains that the Soviet Union and the United States, even when they confronted each other, remained remarkably alike. Often our actions, taken in the name of the assertion of opposite ideals, were remarkably similar in the means involved and their practical consequences.

There has always existed an interrelation between Russia and the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville predicted a common future for our countries way back in the 19th century. This interrelation also showed itself in the fact that after 1917 the U.S. gradually and even unwillingly replaced Russia in the European balance. It is another matter that there is currently no longer any need for Europe to have external balancers, be it Russia or the U.S. We understand this very well – and this is why we come out for equal relations in a tripartite format involving Russia, the European Union and the U.S.

In the 20th century, this interrelation was corroborated by convergence events that were not only limited to the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt and allied relations within the anti-Hitler coalition. Thus, the election of John F. Kennedy as U.S. president can be attributed, among other things, to America’s reaction to the Soviet Union’s rise – not only technological and military-technical, but also spiritual, at the level of an entirely new attitude to the world, which stemmed from Khrushchev’s Thaw and the completion of the postwar reconstruction. Kennedy made a bold attempt to overcome the logic of militarization of foreign-policy thinking, of whose danger his predecessor had warned. Unfortunately, later the pendulum of foreign-policy philosophy swung toward politics based on instincts and ideological prejudice. Now everyone is wondering when this pendulum will swing back, which will show what kind of America the world will have to deal with.

Russian-U.S. relations would benefit greatly from the establishment of an atmosphere of mutual trust and mutual respect, which characterized the relationship between the presidents of the two countries over the last eight years but which not always showed itself at the lower levels. Paradoxically, there was more mutual trust and respect between the two states during the Cold War. Perhaps, it was because there was less lecturing then about what a state should be and how it should behave. There was awareness of the need – and the desire – to address issues that were truly significant for our two countries and the whole world.

We understand that America is facing difficult tasks. On the positive side, we see that the understanding is beginning to prevail that these are problems, above all, of America itself, including its ability to accept “a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints.” Intellectual rigidity will only restrain America’s inherent ability to adapt to changing realities. History “happens” to all countries and peoples, and this refers to Russia much more than to any other country. But this factor teaches tolerance, without which neither empires nor simply normal equal relations between states can survive.
It is gratifying that in the course of the current U.S. presidential campaign voices are growing louder in favor of preserving and developing the disarmament and arms control process. Such cooperation alone would be enough to ensure stability for our bilateral relations, until there is mutual readiness for their substantial modernization in accordance with the requirements of the times.


The issue of the destiny of the diverse European civilization now presents itself in a new way. At the political level, there is a need for equal interaction among its three independent, yet related, component parts. The confrontational paradigm of intra-European relations of the Cold War era is giving way to a cooperation paradigm. This means tolerance of dissent, and pluralism of views and positions. Democracy is always historical and national by nature.

The proposals put forward by President Medvedev in Berlin are based on a sober analysis of the situation. The European architecture, established back in the Cold War years, prevents overcoming the negative dynamics set by inertia approaches of the past and by contradictions accumulating in European affairs. There remains only one thing to do, and that is to look further than what we have; that is, to try and create something that would unite the entire Euro-Atlantic region at the level of principles, by which we should be guided in our relations. After that, we will be able to move on. But without this clarity it will be difficult to create a critical mass of confidence that is required for building positive, forward-looking relations in our region. The importance of principles follows, for example, from the fact that at the annual OSCE ministerial meetings we have for years been unable to achieve any accord on reiteration by all states-parties of their adherence to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. What more proof is required to prove the ailment of all Euro-Atlantic politics?

There is a need for a positive process, including convening a pan-European summit, in order to fill the political vacuum emerging in the Euro-Atlantic region, and to make up a positive agenda, which we lack so badly now. Over time, we could determine which elements of European architecture are promising and which are not, what stands in our way, and what we can take with us into the future. Why not insure ourselves, especially when much is still unclear? That would not be a means of pressure on any existing structure or organization. The matter at issue would be the creation of a new atmosphere of confidence in our region, which could help to take a new look at the relevance of the arms control process, as well. Let us develop it on a modern universal basis, rather than along bloc lines. Otherwise, the legacy that we have inherited from the previous epoch will only create a feeling that a war in Europe is still possible.

We all should think and look around – this is the meaning of the pause that we suggest. But this means that all projects should be frozen where they are now, be it Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, the implementation of plans to deploy elements of a U.S. global missile defense system in Eastern Europe, or NATO’s eastward expansion – because any desire to complete – at any cost and by a specific date – the implementation of what causes strong rejection among partners and what threatens to ruin established relations, will cause a reaction. This vicious circle must be broken.

What is the alternative? A further accumulation of “electricity” in the atmosphere of Euro-Atlantic relations? Do we really need to continue making blunders? Will it be good for all of us if we watch from the outside how, for example, the European Union proves its post-modernity, or NATO, its efficiency in Afghanistan? Likewise, we would not want our partners to remain aloof from the implementation of the project for Russia’s modernization.

Finally, we all should step over ourselves and stop the unnecessary talk about “veto power” outside the UN Security Council, about “spheres of influence” and the like. We can very well do without all that, as there are more important things where we undoubtedly have common interests. We must build confidence and develop skills for joint work in truly significant strategic matters. Then many things will look different. Let life decide and put everything in its place. What really depends on us and what demands political decisions is that we must stop sliding into the past, into an absurdity that we all will be ashamed of. And history will not forgive us, either. Is it not in our common interest to have “a coherent Europe,” all parts of which are united by “workable relations”?


Everyone has their own problems; everyone has something to do. The U.S. electorate is about to make a choice. The European Union is in the process of adaptation. In EU countries, processes of ethno-religious self-determination are ripening – both among the indigenous population and recent immigrants. “Rich” regions aspire to their independent existence in order not to pay for the development of “poor” regions within one and the same state. This is a serious test for the EU’s commitment to the ideas of tolerance and solidarity.

Psychologically, it is easy to understand those who wish to leave everything the way it is, in order to die in the Europe or the America in which they were born. But the rapid changes do not allow such a luxury. They presuppose, among other things, civilizational compatibility, and tolerance not only in word but also in deed. And this will be hard to achieve in conditions when militant secularism acts from positions that differ little from an official religion.

No less importantly, the time has come to address global problems which the world had no time to address during the Cold War. There were other, ideological priorities then. If not now, then when will we fight global poverty, hunger and diseases? The international community has not achieved much progress yet.

We see nothing in our approach that would be contrary to the principles of rationality, intrinsic in Europeans’ attitude to the world. Acting differently means piling up problems upon problems and making the future of Europe and the entire Euro-Atlantic region hostage to hasty decisions. That would be a huge waste of time, resulting in a multitude of lost opportunities for joint action. We are not hurrying anyone; we only urge all nations to think together about what is awaiting us. But a breakthrough into our common future requires new, innovative approaches. The future belongs to them.

© 2004 "Russia in Global Affairs".

Envoy offers grim review of risks facing Afghanistan

GENEVA: Ex- EU envoy presses West to step up effort

One of the most experienced Western envoys in Afghanistan delivered a depressing review Sunday of the situation there, calling it the worst since 2001 and urging concerted American and foreign action even before a new U. S. administration takes office to avoid " a very hot winter for all of us."

Francesc Vendrell, who has just stepped down as European Union envoy in Afghanistan and has eight years of experience in the country, in particular criticized the growing number of civilian deaths in attacks by U. S. and international forces. These have created " a great deal of antipathy," and helped widen the growing distance between the Afghan government and its citizens, he said at a meeting of foreign and security policy experts organized by the London- based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The U. S. military is currently engaged in an inquiry into an incident in Shindand District in western Afghanistan in which, villagers assert, about 90 people were killed in a missile attack on Aug. 22. American officers have given a far lower toll, saying 7 civilians were killed.

Vendrell warned that the situation was particularly dangerous among the Pashtun tribes that live mainly in southern Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. However, he noted that the insurgency led by the Taliban had spread not only to the east, but close to Kabul, and in pockets to the hitherto relatively peaceful north and west of the country.

While only a minority of Pashtun actively support the Taliban, he added, most Pashtun " are sitting on the fence to see who is going to be the winner."

With inflation raising prices of food and fuel, deteriorating security and the failure to engage either the Taliban or regional powers such as Pakistan, Iran and India in searching for solutions, Vendrell said, Afghanistan could be facing " a very cold winter" that threatens to become " a very hot winter for all of us."

Bluntly, Vendrell traced what he called a long series of foreign mistakes in Afghanistan, and recommended action to ensure that the local Afghan authorities and foreign agencies followed up any military successes against the Taliban with concrete assistance to local citizens, to convince them that Westerners and the Kabul government can deliver security and some minimal well- being.

Vendrell, a Spanish diplomat who played a leading role in the conference in Bonn that set up the post- Taliban government, said the " first great mistake" in 2001 was to hold that conference after the United States had triumphed over the Taliban government that sheltered the Qaeda terrorists blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks. By the time the Bonn talks took place, he said, Northern Alliance warlords and their allies controlled some two- thirds of Afghanistan, making their control a " fait accompli."

In addition, too much faith was placed in President Hamid Karzai and too little was done to ensure that his government had a monopoly of force, strong police and other institutions, in part because of what Vendrell called " Secretary Rumsfeld' s abhorrence for nation building," referring to Donald Rumsfeld, the chief of the Pentagon at the time.

Vendrell' s audience included dozens of security and foreign policy experts, many of whom advise European governments, a smattering of U. S. military officers and some cabinet ministers, including the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari. The note of alarm sounded about Afghanistan, and Pakistan, was echoed in off- the- record conversations at the conference, an annual review of global strategy by the nongovernmental International Institute for Strategic Studies.

It was a mistake by the United Nations to limit the mandate of foreign soldiers to Kabul, and for the world to get distracted by the war in Iraq, Vendrell said.

Alluding to Karzai without naming him, Vendrell added: " We thought we had found a miracle man; miracle men do not exist."

" Too much responsibility without power was invested in this person," he said.

Another person " we should not have taken at his word" was the former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, Vendrell said, citing what he called Pakistan' s history of supporting extremists in Afghanistan, its quarrels over the so- called Durand Line separating the two countries and the failure of the Pakistani military and politicians to formulate clearly how they would like events to unfold in Afghanistan.

Despite his depressing review, Vendrell said it was no time to abandon Afghanistan, but indeed to redouble efforts there, both militarily and in building up civilian institutions, ensuring elections are held next year and, for the United States in particular, developing clear policies and standards to govern the detention of hundreds of Afghans it holds without trial. Such detentions create a " bad precedent" for the future Afghan authorities, he said.

" This is not the time to leave. We are not destined to fail, but we are far from succeeding," he said. " We must continue to remember the sad experience of Sept. 11, when we had walked away from Afghanistan for 13 years."


Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (the tribal lands) have been a training ground for insurgents and a focal point for terrorism fears, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. President Pervez Musharraf finds himself squeezed between U.S. demands to control militants in the tribal lands and opposition from his own army against fighting the region's predominant ethnic Pashtuns, who have strongly resisted Pakistani rule just as they fought British control during colonial times.
Meanwhile, tensions between Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Musharraf grow. Karzai insists Pakistan increase security and stop incursions by Taliban insurgents into his country, even though the Afghan leader refuses to recognize the disputed common border, which divides tribes of the Pashtun ethnic group on either side of the frontier. As the tribal lands continue to serve as a training base for terrorists and the Taliban, deploying Pakistani troops into the region has harmed efforts to integrate the tribal areas into Pakistan. Bill Roggio, a U.S. veteran who has written from Iraq and Afghanistan, says the uncertainty over how to handle the tribal lands “makes the problems in Iraq look like a picnic.”
The Pakistani Tribal Areas

The semi-autonomous tribal lands consist of seven parts called “agencies”: Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, and North and South Waziristan. There are also six smaller zones known as frontier regions in the transitional area between the tribal lands and the North-West Frontier Province to the east. The harsh, mountainous territory of the tribal lands runs along the Afghanistan border, drawn during colonial times by British diplomat Sir Henry Mortimer Durand as a means to divide and weaken the eleven major Pashtun tribes and turn Afghanistan into a buffer zone between the British and Russian empires. To the south of the tribal lands lies the large province of Balochistan. It is also divided by the border known as the Durand Line, which has never been recognized by Afghanistan and is a fluid boundary across which the Taliban make incursions from Pakistan. “There’s no border security, there’s no border guards, there’s no border control,” says Amin Tarzi, a regional analyst for U.S.- financed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The tribal lands joined Pakistan rather than India after the former gained independence in 1947, but Islamabad historically has had minimal control over the fiercely independent Pashtuns.
Governance of the Tribal Agencies
Although Pakistan’s constitution gives the president executive authority over the region, the appointed governor of the North West Frontier Province in Peshawar controls the tribal lands by managing the bureaus that deliver services such as health care and education in the tribal areas. The tribal lands have representatives in the national assembly, but not in the assembly of the North West Frontier Province.
However, the real power in the tribal agencies has historically rested with each of their political agents, who represent the federal government and maintain control through the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulations. These laws “have been used as a whip to control the border tribes” for more than a century, write Barnett R. Rubin and Abubakar Siddique in a report on Afghan-Pakistani relations for the United States Institute of Peace. The regulations allow the political agent to impose collective punishment for crimes committed by an individual and to deliver prison sentences without due process or right of appeal. The tribal lands are also rife with corruption, given that selected tribal leaders known as maliks are given economic incentives doled out by political agents in exchange for their loyalty.
Individual tribesmen have limited rights, and in a region where political agents collect and distribute revenue with little oversight, development indicators show the literacy rate is a bleak 17 percent and there are more than eight thousand people per doctor, compared to roughly 1,500 people per doctor in the country overall. Rubin and Siddique report there are only 102 high schools in all of the tribal lands, while as many as three hundred madrassas, or Muslim schools, operate there. The rising number of these religious schools reflects the growing power of Islamic extremists in the tribal lands.
Extremists in the Tribal Lands
Yes. “The [tribal area] has become a melting pot for jihadis from all over the world,” says Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, adding that the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, al-Qaeda, Chechens, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are among the militants who train and take refuge in the tribal region. Furthermore, since the beginning of the Afghanistan war, members of the Taliban have advanced into leadership roles in some parts of the tribal lands, particularly the agencies of North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. The Pakistani government appears to take a harder stand on al-Qaeda to please the United States and a more permissive posture with the Taliban, who in turn work with other militant groups.
The rise of the Taliban has upset the political balance in the tribal areas, where there have been cases of tribal leaders getting killed for questioning the Taliban’s growing power or working too closely with Islamabad. However, the Taliban’s religious extremism is not a new element in the tribal lands. Longtime foreign correspondent and Pakistan-based author Kathy Gannon explains “extreme tribal views are not new,” and predate the international counterterrorism operation in the region by decades.
The Pakistani Government in the Tribal Lands
For the area’s tribesmen, being citizens of Pakistan is secondary to their Pashtun identity, and they regard foreigners, including Pakistani forces, with suspicion. Historically, Islamabad has exercised limited authority over the tribal agencies, but after the 9/11 attacks, the region came under the scrutiny of the United States as Taliban and al-Qaeda members took refuge there. Under U.S. pressure, President Musharraf ordered a counterterrorism maneuver involving the deployment of eighty thousand Pakistani troops over the course of the operation, which took place mainly in the agencies of North and South Waziristan. But the operation backfired when the forces failed to win a decisive victory. The conflict became increasingly unpopular with the Pakistani armed forces, the core of Musharraf’s support, among which there is a sense they are fighting their own countrymen under U.S. pressure. (Pashtuns are the second-largest ethnic group represented among the troops.) The Taliban also received past—and, some say, present—support from the Pakistani military and intelligence agency. On top of that, Gannon says the military’s operation in the Waziristan agencies stirred up the Pashtun desire for vengeance. “The more tribespeople you killed, the more you created a whole group who had to seek revenge,” explains Gannon. By June 2006, Musharraf realized he had to negotiate with tribal leaders to end the unpopular conflict.
Peace Deals with Tribal Areas
Since 9/11, Musharraf has been trying to control militancy in the tribal areas through various peace agreements. But so far, these deals have brought negligible success. The Pakistani government has little means to force tribal leaders to hold up their end of the bargain, given the unpopularity of military intervention in the region. Also, the peace agreements have been widely criticized for strengthening militancy and are perceived as the central government’s defeat at the hands of the militants.
In 2004, the Pakistani government reached a deal with Pakistani Taliban led by Nek Mohammed in South Waziristan whereby the militants agreed to live peacefully and not use Pakistani soil against any other country. Hailed as a breakthrough, by late 2007 the deal was regarded as a failure.
In September 2006, the Pakistani government reached a controversial peace treaty called the Miramshah agreement with North Waziristan tribal leaders and members of the Taliban. As part of the accords, Islamabad withdrew troops, released 165 militants, agreed to economically compensate tribe members for their losses, and allowed them to continue carrying small weapons. In return, tribal leaders said they would stop the infiltration of militants across the Afghani border and prevent attacks on the military. However, in July 2007, militants renounced the deal and cross-border operations surged.
In March 2007, the government signed another deal with pro-Taliban militants and tribal leaders in the Bajaur agency. The tribesmen and the militants agreed not to give foreign militants safe haven in the area and the government pledged not to make arrests without consulting tribal elders. But bombings and attacks on government property in the area followed, prompting renewed government efforts in August 2007 to negotiate with tribal elders and the militants. The militants insisted they were not responsible for the new violence while at the same time demanding the release of fellow militants arrested by government forces.
In August and September 2007, the government also signed peace treaties with different tribes in Mohmand agency, in which the tribes made similar promises of not sheltering any foreigners or supporting the militants. But journalist Rashid says, “I think what is important to understand is these agreements are extremely dangerous because they leave the Taliban in place.” He suggests a better course of action would be to round up Afghani Taliban leaders and send them to Kabul.
Looking to the Future
Experts agree that resolving the complex political issues in the region will take a long time. Gannon concedes that “it’s not as easy as just providing infrastructure” in a region where people have a long-standing code of behavior, but suggests that building roads and providing services can function as one step to draw tribal leaders “into the system.” Roggio says he is not an advocate of putting U.S. troops into the tribal lands, but says security in the region could be boosted by offering Pakistan counterinsurgency training and providing intelligence. The best hope would be to hold an informal meeting between Karzai and Musharraf to resolve how to control the tribal area on both sides of the border as well as the movement of insurgents across it, says Tarzi. But, he warns, “I think the winner here will be the terrorists, unfortunately.
*************************INTRODUCTION ***************

S. Iftikhar Hussain Shah/ Edited by M.Y. Effendi,
Area Study Centre (Russia, Central Asia, and China), University of Peshawar and Hanns Seidel Foundation,
Germany, 2000, pp. 252.

Some Major Pukhtoon Tribes along the Pak-Afghan Border by S. Iftikhar Hussain Shah is a 2000 publication of the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar and Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany. It is one of the Ph. D theses published by this center in the year 2000. The study has focused on an important subject of the day, i.e. the Pukhtoon tribes living along the Pak-Afghan border (The Durand Line), and in the Tribal Agencies of Pakistan. The writer, however, has not discussed all the tribes and the agencies. He has taken a sample of Afridi, Mohmand, and Wazir tribes and the areas they live in.

Introducing the Tribal Areas of the Pukhtoons, the author says that the Tribal Areas of the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan have always served as the crossroads of many ancient cultures, dating back to more than 10,000 years. Before the arrival of the British in this region, there had been no special system for dealing with the independent Pukhtoon tribes. The British, in order to enhance their hold over the then Indian N.W. Frontier, established the Khyber Agency in 1879 for the Afridi Tribe, headed by a Political Officer. The Kurrum Agency was created in 1892 one year before the demarcation of the proper Indo-Afghan boundary, the Durand Line. In the year 1895-6, three more agencies, Malakand Agency, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan were also established. These agencies were directly administered by the central government through the political officer. In 1901, the then Viceroy, Lord Curzon, changed the title of ‘Political Officer’ into ‘Political Agent’ and introduced further administrative changes along the Indian North-Western Frontier.

After the creation of Pakistan three more agencies were established. These are the Mohmand Agency in 1959, and the Orakzai Agency and Bajaur Agency in 1973. Besides these seven agencies there are some small tribal pockets as well called the Frontier Regions. These are administered by the district administration of the contiguous district. These include Frontier Region Peshawar, Frontier Region Kohat, Frontier Region Bannu, and Frontier Region Dera Ismail Kahn. Some tribal pockets are kept under the provincial administration as well. These are called the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas. For example Malakand Agency, which now is under the provincial administration.

In the second chapter, the author has discussed the salient features of the Pukhtoon Society, which is mainly dominated by the Pukhtoons’ traditional code of life called ‘Pukhtoonwali’. It is an unwritten sort of constitution of the Pukhtoon tribal society and is keenly observed by those living in the Pukhtoon tribal areas. Its injunctions and sanctions have not been affected with the passage of the time. Basically, as the author brings out in his study, the edifice of Pukhtoonwali is built upon four pillars: Milmastiya (hospitality), Badal (revenge), Paighour (taunt) and Nanawatay (begging for pardon or protection). The violator has no place in that society. To get a true picture of the Pukhtoonwali Code, the author suggests that one must live in the midst of the Pukhtoon society for a sufficiently long time. The British did so during their rule over India.

He says that a true Pukhtoon always keeps his door open for his guests and feels pride in serving guests and strangers. To a Pukhtoon entertaining a guest with food or drink is real Islam and he considers it his moral as well as social duty. Taking revenge for some wrong is one of the fundamentals of the Pukhtoon code. It is always in reaction or retaliation against a wrong or an insult. It is considered a social obligation not to let the offender go unpunished, but at the same time not to exceed the limits of the actual wrong done. Taunt is considered a curse in the Pukhtoon society. Some commissions or omissions lead to taunts, which ultimately end on bloodshed. Usually it happens when someone is taunted for not taking, or being unable to take revenge, or not paying back his enemy in the same coin. When a person realises his wrong, whether injuring or insulting another person, he goes to the Hujra (guest house of that family), house, or mosque of the aggrieved party and throws himself at its mercy, confesses his fault and begs for pardon. Usually no Pukhtoon refuses such request. The elders, influential and religious leaders always play a prime role in all these matters.

In the third chapter, the author discusses the main Pukhtoon tribes living along the Durand Line. The Afridis live entirely within the Pakistani side of the Pak-Afghan border, mainly in the Khyber agency. Afridis inhabit the most important geo-strategic point of the border, the Khyber Pass. This pass has remained and is an important gateway to the Sub-continent. In all historic movements to and from India the Afridis have played a decisive role. They have eight large clans: Malikdin Khel, Kuki Khel, Qambar Khel, Sepay, Aka Khel, Adam Khel, Zakah Khel, and Kamar Khel. The tribal chieftains hierarchy has been divided into two groups according to their status and influence in their respective clans. These are Muwajib and Lungidar. At present there are 779 Muwajibs and 2493 Lungidars in the Khyber Agency. The number of the Muwajib elders is fixed while that of the Lungidars keeps varying. The former is by succession, while the latter is by nomination. They all are called ‘Spin Giree’, or the white beards and they act as a bridge between the Tribal Political Administration and their respective tribes.

The area inhabitted by the Afridis stretches from the eastern spurs of the Sufaid Koh to the northern half of Tirah and from the Khyber Pass to the west and south of Peshawar. Besides the Afridis, small pockets of Shinwari, Mullagori, Mohmand, and Shalmani tribes also live in this region. Some of the Afridis are very well off, but the majority is poor. They come down to the plains in order to find means of earning, mainly by labouring. They are very strict in their religious beliefs, which is blended with the Pukhtoowali, and some times they have no hesitation in following practices which go far into antiquity. The author has quoted a British writer, Major Ridgway, in this regard:

‘The tribes of the Frontier are generally ignorant of everything connected with their religion beyond its elementary doctrine. In matter of religion they confine themselves to belief that there is a God, a Prophet, a resurrection and a day of judgment. But their practice is un-Islamic. Though they believe in one God, but they almost invariably prefer to worship some saint or tomb. Indeed, superstition is a more appropriate term for the ordinary belief of the people than the name of religion.’

Further he has discussed the local sites, customs and traits of the Khyber Agency.

In the fourth chapter, regarding the Shinwari Tribe, the author says that, by and large, they inhabit the Afghan side of the border. However, a significant number of them live on the Pakistani side as well. The Loargi sub-tribe of Ali Sher Khel Shinwaris inhabits along the Kanda ravine–Landi Khana section of the Durand Line. Durand Line has bifurcated the Afghan and Pakistani Shinwaris into two nation states. They, however, conduct cross-border social and trade interaction, and have always stood steadfast against every invader. The British, however, used them against the Afghan government in the 1920s. They are also superstitiously religious like the Afridis and hold great respect for Pirs, Faqirs, and Mullahs. A great number of them are engaged in the profession of transport sector throughout the country. Agriculture is their second major profession.

Another larger, powerful and important tribe, the Mohmand, is discussed in the chapter five. In the north of the Mohmand Agency, there is the Bajaur Agency, and some portion of Kunar province of Afghanistan. On the west is the Kunar Valley and the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. The Khyber Agency is in the South while the Peshawar District is towards the east. The Mohmands are an influential tribe and are divided into two sections: The ‘Kuz’ (lower) Mohmands and ‘Bar’ (Upper) Mohmands. The Kuz Mohmands live in the plains, in the south-western corner of the Peshawar District, mainly in the Kotla Mohsin Khan, Bahadur Kalay, Kagawali, Landi, and areas around them. The Bar Mohmands inhabit the network of hills between the Kabul and Swat rivers. Their main concentrations are Lalpura, Kama, and Gosha, along the Pak-Afghan border. They are mainly divided into eight clans: Khawezai, Baezai, Halimzai, Tarakzai, Aka Khel, Burhan Khel, Dawezai, and Utmanzai. A small pocket of Safi Pukhtoon tribe also lives in their areas.

According to the author, clerics and sufis have a strong hold over the Mohmands and they seek the advice of the clergy concerning even mundane affairs. Over a number of occasions, they have fought wars against their enemies under the leadership of their Mullahs and Pirs. Another characteristic of theirs is that they mostly resolve their disputes through jirga, instead of taking law into their hands. Their major occupation, like that of the Shinwaris, is transportation. Other occupations are agriculture, sheep breeding, and trading firewood. Their areas have enough water but their lands are not plain for proper agriculture.

In chapter six, the author discusses the Wazir Tribe. Wazirs are the most important tribe in the tangle of mountains that runs southwards, beyond the Kurrum Agency and Dera Ismail Khan, and finally form the western border of the North-West Frontier Province with the Zhob District of the Balochistan Province. This area is commonly known as Waziristan. Administratively it is divided into two agencies: North Waziristan Agency and South Waziristan Agency. In the north, the North Waziristan agency is bounded by Paktia Province of Afghanistan, and Shawal tribal region of Pakistan in the west. The Birmal area of Afghanistan and the South Waziristan Agency of Pakistan in the west, and the Frontier Region of Bannu District in the east. The North Waziristan Agency is to the north of the South Waziristan Agency, Zhob District of Balochistan in the south, Katawaz area of Afghanistan in the west and Dera Ismail Khan District in the east.

The Wazirs are further divided into the Utmanzai and Ahmadzai clans. The former live in the North Waziristan Agency, while the latter live in the South Waziristan. Besides the Wazir, Mahsuds, Baitanis, Urmars, and Daurs also live in the Wazirsiatn region. There are 1424 Muwajibs and 66 Lungidars in the North Waziristan Agency, while 1028 Muwajibs and 137 Lungidars in the South Waziristan Agency respectively. The Wazirs are considered true lovers of Sharia and they follow Sharia orders in their Jirgas. Jirga decisions are binding upon the parties concerned. They are also very conservative and adhere strictly to their traditional tribal ways of life. Like other Pukhtoon tribes they also have great respect for and are influenced by Pirs and Mullahs. The Wazirs’ main occupations are agriculture, sheep breeding, and trade. They often resort to kidnapping, and usually kidnap visitors and government officials, and seek ransom in return.

In the last chapter, the author has discussed some non-Pukhtoon tribes living along the Pak-Afghan border in and around the Chitral area. These are the Wakhi, Khow, Kirghiz, Tajik, Kalash, Sarikuli, Yedgha, and Brushgali. Almost all of them have a Central Asian origin and live in small pockets.

Since the book is based on a selected sample of the tribes, it has not touched upon many other large and important Pukhtoon tribes living along the Durand Line. For example, the Yusufzai, the largest Pukhtoon tribe living in and around Bajaur Agency in the extreme north-west of the Durand Line; the Mahsuds, another large and influential tribe of the South Waziristan Agency; the Durrani, Achakzai, Kakar, Popalzai, Nasir, etc. in Balochistan as well as the Daur, Sherani, Burki, Bangash, and many others in Waziristan. The author has covered the facts on historical events, local customs, local heroes, poets, writers as well the administrative and economic developments about the Afridi, Mohmand and Wazir tribes and their respective agencies.

The book is a useful sociological account of the tribes discussed in it, and provides an informative guide for those who intend to work in the Tribal areas of Pakistan.

Pakistan's badlands: new ground zero for terror

Seven years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the "war on terror" is increasingly focused on Pakistan's tribal zones, a lawless sliver of land near the Afghan border from where re-energized terror networks are threatening to undermine the global fight against terrorism.

Despite a $25 million bounty on his head, Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is still at large. Most intelligence analysts believe the al Qaeda chief – as well as Ayman al Zawahiri, his second-in-command - are based in the region.

A sparsely populated landscape dotted with dusty, often armed, walled compounds, Pakistan's tribal zones is currently home to a veritable Who's Who of wanted men, including Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistani Taliban and the alleged brains behind the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Two days before the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at his swearing-in ceremony, Bhutto's widower, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, pledged to work with Afghanistan to fight terrorism.

At a joint press conference with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, Zardari addressed Afghan concerns that Pakistan was not doing enough to curb cross-border militancy.

"I assure you if there are any weaknesses on this side or that side of the border, we shall stand together," said Zardari.

'Land of the lawless'

The Pakistani side of the 2,600 kilometer Afghan-Pakistan border has been plagued with weaknesses since the birth of the Pakistani nation in 1947.

In more than six decades, there has been plenty of talk, but little political will to tackle the administrative mess that lies at very root of the problem, according to several experts.

"This is an area that is over-investigated, but surely the most under-implemented," said Afrasiab Khattak, a prominent Pakistani politician and human rights activist.

Khattak should know. As the leader of the leftist Awami National Party in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, Khattak is at the forefront of the "tribal question" that has systemically challenged Pakistani authorities.

Squashed between the Afghan border and the North West Frontier Province, Pakistan's tribal zone is officially called FATA, short for Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

In popular Pakistani discourse though, the tribal region is simply referred to as "ilaka ghair" or the land of the lawless.

Colonial laws, cash handouts and collective punishment

But experts say Pakistan's tribal zones are inherently lawless, simply because the laws of the land do not apply to the region.

Home to more than 3 million people, mostly Pashtun tribes, FATA is governed by colonial era laws designed by the British to pacify tribes. Under the 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), the British maintained order by simply paying tribal leaders to secure their cooperation. Failure to do so resulted in the "pacification" of the entire tribe.

The laws were adopted wholesale at independence and more than 60 years later, has resulted in administrative mismanagement of Kafkaesque proportions.

Political parties are legally barred in the tribal zones, denying residents the political representation guaranteed under Pakistani law.

Social order is – theoretically, at least – maintained by buying the support of elders, or maliks, through cash handouts or personal privileges.

Failure to secure the order results in the collective punishment of a tribe, which contravenes the Pakistani Constitution.

"This kind of law is unacceptable," says Ali Dayan Hasan of the New York-based Human Rights Watch. "The provision of collective punishment contravenes international law. Under the war on terror, the Pakistani government is using the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulations to justify the use of methods such as collective punishment, and economic blockades of civilians."

Laws that aid the militancy

But experts say that far from stemming militancy, the colonial-era laws are aiding the militancy.

"It is the state's failure to extend its control over and provide good governance to its citizens in FATA that has enabled the militants to mount their powerful challenge," concluded a December 2006 report by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

The officially sanctioned policy of appeasement has led the Pakistani government to provide militants amnesties in exchange for "empty" verbal commitments to end attacks on Pakistani forces, according to the report.

What's more, it has allowed militants to establish parallel, Taliban-style judicial systems that are threatening to percolate into neighbouring North West Frontier Province and Balochistan.

While successive Pakistani governments have emphasized the need to overhaul the tribal administrative system, Khattak maintains that very little is done on the ground.

"The fact is, there are elements in the ruling circles in Pakistan that have used these areas as a shadow space rather than an area where human beings live," says Khattak. "There are elements in the ruling circles who want to keep FATA a no-go area, a secretive zone where everything is possible and they are preventing political parties in terms of political organization so that extremists and militants will have no competition."
The lawlessness in the tribal zones, complete with a thriving parallel economy, enables corrupt political agents as well as tribal elders to enrich themselves.

A change in the letter of the law?

Shortly after he was nominated prime minister following the February 18 elections, Yousuf Raza Gilani called for the scrapping of the FCR, a move that was widely welcomed in and outside Pakistan.

A committee subsequently set up to recommend changes has proposed renaming the hated FCR the "FATA Regulations, 2008". But while the committee has proposed banning the arrests of women and children, it has also maintained that if a tribe fails to hand over an accused member to the government, close relatives and other tribal notables may be arrested.

A draft of the proposed FATA Regulations, 2008, is set to be presented to Gilani and once it secures the prime minster's approval, the draft will be sent to the president. Under the Pakistani Constitution, only the president has the authority to make amendments to the FCR.

It remains to be seen if Pakistan's new president has the will to take on the weaknesses on his side of the Afghan-Pakistan border.