Clergy and intelligence agencies are playing dirty game on the blood of innocent Pashtun

We strongly condemn the inhuman incident of car bomb in Peshawar city in which more than 100 innocent civilian mostly women and children martyred and more than 200 seriously wounded. Pashtun Democratic Council consider it as a genocide of the Pashtun nation by the barbarian negative and anti-Pashtun forces which are bent upon to annihilate this nation but one has to understand that neither Changez khan nor Sikandar have ever succeeded to annihilate this nation. Those terrorists who are playing as agents of the conspirators who are sitting miles away from the pashtun area should try to understand that playing havoc with own nation is treachery. Today Pashtun ask the question as to who are doing this barbarism with them. The answer is simple that only and only Pakistani establishment, military, ISI and their partner militants (Terrorists) are responsible for this enmity against Pashtun. Pakistani religious clerics and religious parties are trying to hoodwink the people and international community about the real situations. In Pakistan mulla-military have formed an alliance to wipe out the pashtun. Mulla has been working for the nefarious designs of the ISI and establishment. ISI and Pakistan never ever want to see a prosperous, developed and peaceful democratic Afghanistan and for this purpose these two forces with the connivance of some hidden forces have joined hands to sabotage the development in the region. Today we hear religious parties in Pakistan asking Americans to go back to America from Afghanistan and at same time they denounce Lugar bill. American forces are sitting in more than 100 countries of the world but no where there happens any violence or opposition to American forces but here in Pakistan clergy is mobilizing people against the Americans and international community. It means that Pakistan through its clergy sees the dream to the capture Afghanistan after the departure of the Americans. All the nationalist and democratic Secular political and tribal Pashtun are being or have been assassinated by the notorious hands of the terrorists. The sole aim of self made insurgency in Pashtun region is the handi work of the intelligence agencies and it is quite foolish to believe that Americans and Indians are doing it. No one except the Pakistani intelligence agencies are responsible. This is just to befool the people and international community and divert the attention from the real players in region. Today we see that a particular religious party Jumati Islami, known as B-team of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has been protesting Kerry Lugar bill. They both know that the bill in question is meant to develop the social sector in Pashtun areas including FATA and malakand, Swat etc. When this religious party was in government in Musharraf era then there was no hue and cry over such donations. But when Americans made their mind to spend the money on development and for the betterment of the People of Pashtun region then religious parties started hue and cry saying that now the dooms day will fall on them. This is once again a conspiracy against the pashtun and they do not love to see Pashtun be educated and prosperous. They are doing this nefarious job to keep the pashtun backward and ignorant; their sole aim is to use them against foreign forces in Afghanistan. Now international community including Americans should realize the gravity of situations and leave Pashtun be their friends. Americans do know where are the centers of terrorism? They are situated in Punjab. Then what are the hurdles which stop Americans and international community to hit the real centers of terrorism. Only fighting against Pashtun will not prove to be real solution. Unless and until the sources are targeted the problem will not be solved and this process will continue. Pashtin will be dying, American and NATO forces will be martyred in Afghanistan and the real conspirators will get dollars and lead a comfortable life. Oh, Americans and international community for God sake leave Pashtun to lead a peaceful life and go to the real places from where the terrorism originates, I mean Punjab and Islambad. Fault does not lie in Pashtun region rather it is in Islamabad. We once again condemn the attacks on innocent Pashtun and demand of international community to come behind terrorists and annihilate their nests in Punjab and befriend Pashtun which is the only and real solution if interested. We condole the death of all those Pashtun women, children and young who embraced martyrdom in suicide attacks in Peshawar and other parts of the Pashtunkhwa. The clothes of Pashtun women and children were hanging through the walls of high buildings and most of our women were made nude and naked but still Pashtun and international community both are slumbering in ignorance. We Pashtun know our enemy well and enemy is still busy making conspiracies against us.

(The Writer is Chairman Pashtun Democratic Council and can be reached at his email,

Pakistan Doubles Down Against the Taliban

The letter was simple and direct. "To the brave and honorable people of the Mehsud tribe," it started, in both Urdu and Pashtu, the two languages of Pakistan's troubled tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. "The operation [by the Pakistan army] is not meant to target the valiant and patriotic Mehsud tribes but [is] aimed at ridding them of the elements who have destroyed peace in the region." Dropped from helicopters above the mountain scrubland of South Waziristan the day before 28,000 Pakistani troops went in to wrest control of a militant stronghold, the letter was signed by General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the Pakistani military. To drive home the point that Pakistan's most powerful man was speaking directly to a people largely ignored by the country's laws and politics, his photograph, flanked by the Pakistani flag and the crossed-swords insignia of the military, was splashed across the top of the note.

The unprecedented letter, along with an army operation in a part of the country that has seen little of the central government since Pakistan's birth in 1947, signals an extraordinary about-face for the nation's military establishment. For decades, Pakistan's armed forces have been obsessed with India, its foe in four wars, rather than the enemy within. But is the change of heart enough to stop Pakistan's endless death spiral toward becoming a nuclear-armed failed state?

No general wants to take war to his own people. Kayani was forced to do so by a surge of violence radiating from the South Waziristan headquarters of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group of several militant organizations seething with grievances against the state and influenced in part by al-Qaeda. The 10,000-strong TTP, which was led by Baitullah Mehsud until he was killed by a U.S. drone in August, is largely made up of members of his Mehsud tribe, though an increasing number of militants from the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, along with an estimated 1,500 Uzbek and Arab fighters, have joined the force. Since Mehsud's deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud, assumed leadership in August, there has been an escalation of violence throughout the country that has seen dozens of suicide-bomb attacks, lethal raids on security installations — including the army headquarters — and more than 200 deaths.

The attacks, which have targeted an Islamic university, shopping centers and police academies, have done the seemingly impossible: turned Pakistani public opinion against militants who had formerly been considered holy warriors fighting international forces in Afghanistan. That has allowed the army to go in with popular support. "This operation is not against an area or a tribe," says military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas. "The objective is to regain the space lost last year when Baitullah Mehsud declared war on the state of Pakistan."

An Ideal Place for Jihad
Truthfully, Pakistan never had that space to begin with. South Waziristan is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which are governed by political officers rather than elected officials. The people of FATA have few constitutionally protected rights and privileges. Central government's presence is minimal; so is development. It is the ideal place for a militant group seeking to set up an Islamic caliphate from which to launch a global jihad.

Three times, the army has gone into South Waziristan, only to be forced into ignoble retreat. But Kayani, 57, seems determined to win this time. He is leading his army into a war that is both guerrilla in nature — the militants know the terrain and have local support — and conventional in its goals. "For the military, the goal is limited: to degrade and destroy these elements and not let them use South Waziristan as a sanctuary from which to spread terrorism in the rest of Pakistan," says Rifaat Hussain, of Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University. "But for the TTP, it is a battle for survival. If they lose, the whole movement is finished."
It is not the first time Kayani has led an operation against militants. This summer he fought an offshoot of the TTP in the Swat Valley, where a failed peace accord had encouraged the local Taliban to attempt a takeover of an entire district. That experience proved the turning point for the army. Intelligence operatives revealed the extensive links between the Swat militants and those fighting for Baitullah Mehsud, fueling fears of a nationwide insurgency. The army "realized that the gains they had made in Swat would not be sustainable unless and until they go after these guys in South Waziristan," says Hussain. "The government does not want to be in the position where these guys have made themselves so strong that the Taliban take root in Punjab, because then the game is up."

For all its intentions to root out insurgency, the military has been forced to make risky deals. Most civilians have fled the area of fighting in South Waziristan, enabling the army to use extensive airpower against militants without fear of collateral damage. But there are only 28,000 ground troops in an area the size of Rhode Island, fighting a well-fortified enemy that has bunkers, ammunition depots, land mines and an extensive network of caves. To prevent TTP fighters from escaping over the border to Afghanistan, the army has reached out to what it perceives to be the lesser evil — militant groups that may have fought the government in the past but that detest the TTP more.
As recently as February, the leader of one such group, Maulvi Nazir of the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe, joined forces with Baitullah Mehsud and declared war on Islamabad, Kabul and Washington. The alliance ended with Mehsud's death, and Nazir resumed his tribe's long rivalry with the Mehsuds. Both Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, another local militant, have entered into nonaggression pacts with the army and have been promised money and reconstruction projects in exchange for their neutrality. The Haqqani network, led by former Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani — one of the U.S.'s most-wanted militants, whose network has concentrated its efforts on attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan — is also expected to remain passive throughout the operation, military officials tell TIME. Army spokesman Abbas defends these agreements. "If you have to defeat the main serpent, would you like to isolate that from the others or deal with them all at once?" he asks. Hussain thinks the tactic makes sense in the short term but worries that in time, the groups that are neutral now may just become a new threat. Baitullah Mehsud, he points out, was once an ally of the Pakistani military.

The Pakistani army's relationship with its lesser-evil militants is unlikely to please the U.S. These are groups that have trained their guns principally on U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan and have assisted Afghan Taliban who have established bases on the Pakistani side of the border. But Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, says the army is not strong enough to take on the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan and their friends in the tribal regions. The army, he says, doesn't have "the numbers or the equipment to do that."
It does, actually; it's just that most of Pakistan's army is still based far from its western border with Afghanistan, along its eastern frontier with India. The military establishment has belatedly recognized the threat posed by internal militants, but it is difficult to overestimate Pakistan's continuing paranoia about India. Many commanders serving today cut their teeth during wars with India and remain convinced that the country is bent on destabilizing Pakistan and taking back all the disputed territory of Kashmir. That is why analysts like Nawaz say the only real solution to Pakistan's militancy is a regional détente with India. That, he says, would allow "Pakistan to divert resources — not just troops but monetary resources — to the civil sector for better governance."
Maybe. On the other hand, Pakistan's civilian officials have hardly done much to improve lives when they have had the chance. It was governmental neglect that enabled militants to establish a foothold in the tribal areas in the first place. Unless the government can follow the army's offensive with development, infrastructure, jobs and justice, extremist groups will always thrive in the tribal areas. Taking the battle to the militants in South Waziristan, says Lieut. General Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, the former governor of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, "is a requirement, but not a solution — a first field dressing to a battle wound." The solution, as is usually the case in regions that breed insurgencies — and not just in Pakistan — is better governance. No sign of that yet.

Clinton's Pakistan visit reveals widespread distrust of U.S.

We don't really trust your country.

No matter how hard Clinton tried to reassure audiences in Lahore and Islamabad with talk of providing economic aid where it's needed most, Pakistanis seized on her visit as the perfect moment to lash out at a U.S. government they perceived as arrogant, domineering and insensitive to their plight.

At a televised town hall meeting in Islamabad on Friday, a woman in a mostly female audience characterized U.S. drone missile strikes on suspected terrorist targets in northwestern Pakistan as de facto acts of terrorism themselves. A day earlier in Lahore, a college student asked Clinton why every student who visits the U.S. is viewed there as a terrorist.

The opinions Clinton heard weren't the strident voices of radical clerics or politicians with anti-American agendas. Some of the most biting criticisms came from well-mannered university youths and respected, seasoned journalists, a reflection of the breadth of dissatisfaction Pakistanis have with U.S. policy toward their country.

In those voices, a sense that Pakistan was paying a heavy price for America's "war on terror" rang clear.

"You had one 9/11, and we are having daily 9/11s in Pakistan," Asma Shirazi, a journalist with Geo TV, told Clinton during the Islamabad town hall meeting.

Clinton's visit came at a time when Pakistanis' suspicions about U.S. intentions in their country were at an all-time high.

A five-year, $7.5-billion aid package to Pakistan recently signed into law by President Obama has stoked much of the animosity. Measures in the legislation aimed at ensuring the money isn't misspent have been perceived by Pakistanis as levers that Washington can use to exert control over their country.

Pakistanis also continue to be incensed by U.S. reliance on drone missile strikes to take out top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border.

CIA-operated drone strikes have killed at least 13 senior Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas in the last 18 months. But Pakistani government and military leaders say the strikes have also killed hundreds of civilians and amount to violations of Pakistan's sovereignty.

At the Islamabad town hall meeting, a female student from a university in Peshawar, a city shaken by a car bomb blast Wednesday that killed 118 people, summed up the anger over the drone attacks.

"What is actually terrorism in U.S. eyes?" the woman asked. "Is it the killing of innocent people in, let's say, drone attacks? Or is it the killing of innocent people in different parts of Pakistan, like the bomb blast in Peshawar two days ago? Which one is terrorism, do you think?"

Pressed by the forum's moderator whether she thought U.S. drone missile strikes were tantamount to terrorism, Clinton answered, "No, I do not."

On the one occasion when Clinton struck her own assertive tone, the message appeared to get through. Her suggestion to Pakistani journalists in Lahore that elements within the Pakistani government likely were aware of the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leaders but were not acting on the information struck a chord on the opinion pages of major Pakistani newspapers.

"If we are honest, we cannot deny that much of what she said was true," remarked an editorial that appeared today in the News, a major English-language Pakistani daily.

Clinton repeatedly acknowledged the mutual lack of trust that has held back the relationship, and she stressed the Obama administration's commitment to addressing crucial issues for Pakistanis that reach beyond terrorism, such as shoring up Pakistan's beleaguered electricity grid and improving schools and healthcare.

Pakistanis, however, clearly remained unconvinced that Washington was as interested in improving quality of life in Pakistan as it was in tracking down terrorists. And on several occasions during her trip, Clinton was confronted by Pakistanis who blamed the previous U.S. administration's policies in Afghanistan for the militancy now wreaking havoc across Pakistan.

"Look, Madame Secretary, we are fighting a war that is imposed on us," journalist Shirazi told Clinton. "It's not our war. That was your war, and we are fighting that war."

Assessments of Clinton's trip in today's Pakistani newspapers were gloomy.

"One cannot help feeling that [Clinton's trip] was an abortive exercise," remarked an editorial in the Nation, an English-language newspaper, "and she went away fully conscious of that failure."

Waiting for Obama to get down to war
THIS past week has seen appalling terrorist violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bombings in Pakistan were designed in part to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As always, these bombings were designed to kill, but they were also designed for the evening news in every Western country that has troops in Afghanistan and a stake in Pakistan.

The war is going very, very badly in both countries. Meanwhile, the whole world waits for yet another US review of its Afghanistan and Pakistan policy.

To simplify rather drastically, the two possible alternatives are counter-insurgency, which often travels under the acronym COIN, and counter-terrorism, or CT.

COIN is advocated by General Stanley McChrystal, US commander in Afghanistan. He wants 40,000 more US troops. Right now there are 68,000 Americans in Afghanistan, 35,000 from other nations and roughly 170,000 Afghans divided between the police and army.

CT is advocated by US Vice-President Joseph Biden. It is based on the idea of lowering the number of US troops in Afghanistan and concentrating the US effort on killing terrorists as they emerge.

President Barack Obama has a mandate to win in Afghanistan. All through the election campaign he promised to give the Afghanistan campaign the resources it needed.

He then held a policy review after he came into office and declared in March: "To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq."

But as Der Speigel asked, can a Nobel Peace Prize winner wage and win a war in Afghanistan? The Obama administration seems overwhelmed. It is simultaneously dealing with healthcare reform, the fallout from the financial crisis, the Afghanistan/Pakistan disaster and the demand for a global warming agreement.

One response of hard-pressed leaders is to commission further study, so that while that's under way they can concentrate for a time on one of the other pressing issues. But while understandable, that's nowhere near good enough for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At the moment the allies look, perhaps not entirely accurately, as though they are losing in Afghanistan, while Pakistan increasingly appears caught in a monstrous civil war that will challenge every institution in that fragile, broken-backed society.

To try to understand what's going on, it's helpful to disaggregate the forces at work. In Afghanistan, the US-led coalition, of which Australia is part, in alliance with the government of Hamid Karzai, is fighting the Taliban.

This Taliban is made up of several different forces. There is the central, and profoundly ideological, group led by Mullah Omar, the former head of the Taliban government. There are regional Taliban movements as well, some of which were in government with Omar. Beyond this, smaller tribal groups and clans have made alliances of convenience with the Taliban. Some elements of the Taliban are less ideologically committed than the Mullah Omar group.

The top Taliban leadership base themselves in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

At the same time, there are now Pakistani Taliban, whose leadership is also based in Pakistan's tribal areas. They, too, are increasingly allying themselves with other Islamist movements within Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban were initially sponsored by the Pakistani military, who have also sponsored other Islamist extremist groups, mainly to attack India.

However, the Pakistani state is in danger of being eaten by the monsters it created. The recent wave of attacks against Pakistani military bases shows there is now an all-out war against the Pakistani state by the Pakistani Taliban.

The Pakistani military, having recently retaken control of the Swat Valley, is now involved in a massive, anti-Taliban campaign in Waziristan.

One of the world's foremost experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Anthony Cordesmann, told me this week he's sceptical about what the Pakistani military will be able to achieve in Waziristan. "Tactically, they'll be able to smash their way in all right," he said. "But it's another question whether they can clear, hold and build. They are basically a flat-land army designed to deal with India. They have some heavy learning experiences ahead of them.

"Whether they can adapt and learn effectively is the question."

There is some consolation to be had from the fact that the Pakistani military now sees the Pakistani Taliban as unambiguously its enemy, and the enemy of the Pakistani state.

Pakistani soldiers are infinitely more likely to be effective fighting for their own country, than they are in meeting international obligations to police international terrorism, where perhaps they don't see their own interests fundamentally at stake.

However, the Pakistani military has still not severed its links with the Afghan Taliban, which it believes might come back into power in Afghanistan and which might, in Pakistani eyes, rule Afghanistan in a way which is compatible with Pakistani interests.

This is so even though the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are in broad alliance and frequent contact.

So where is al-Qa'ida in all this? The best intelligence guess is that al-Qa'ida's leadership is also headquartered in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Al-Qa'ida has a symbiotic relationship with the Afghan Taliban. Those who favour the Biden CT approach against the McChrystal COIN approach often argue that it should be possible to detach al-Qa'ida from the Taliban, and fight the former and make a deal with the latter.

The problem is there is very little historical evidence that this can be accomplished. After the 9/11 terror attacks, Washington gave the Taliban government in Afghanistan every chance to give up Osama bin Laden or at least expel him. Even though Mullah Omar knew that sticking with bin Laden could see his government destroyed and his rule over Afghanistan ended, he did stick.

Since then, if anything, the relationship between al-Qa'ida and the Taliban has grown closer. Al-Qa'ida has trained the Taliban in every terror trick they know, so that Taliban insurgent operations have become ever more sophisticated. They also acknowledge the Taliban's leadership. At the same time the Taliban continues to provide hospitality and support to al-Qa'ida. Osama bin Laden may move around a lot, but he almost certainly isn't hiding in caves. He is staying as an honoured guest with old and deep friends.

Stephen Biddle, who was a member of McChrystal's assessment team, has written a devastating critique of the CT approach as a way of lessening the US troop commitment. He summarises McChrystal's COIN approach as being focused on protecting the Afghan population, expanding its army and police, reforming government, providing economic development, weaning Taliban fighters away from Mullah Omar and targeting those who refuse. To do this effectively requires doing it all, and it requires more resources.

Biddle goes through the alternative approaches of CT. One is: train the Afghans, don't fight on their behalf. This won't work, he says, because effective training effectively requires more US troops. The only really effective training involves mentoring by integrating coalition troops with Afghan troops in battle. This requires a lot of coalition troops.

Another suggestion is the greater use of unmanned aircraft to attack al-Qa'ida leaders. But to be effective this requires human intelligence which is only available from a sympathetic government and a large presence on the ground. Yet another is to buy off warlords. This is indeed also part of the COIN strategy, but the warlords won't stay bought if they think the US and its friends are losing or withdrawing. They'll take coalition money and then join the enemy when it turns up in force anyway.

Another line favours sending civilian aid rather than troops, but no aid project survives in contemporary Afghanistan without security protection. The Taliban will never allow civilian aid to prosper if it has the power to obliterate it. The final piece of CT advice is to tread softly, because having too many foreign troops annoys the Afghans and creates a bigger backlash. But tread softly was Donald Rumsfeld's policy and it got Afghanistan into the mess it's in today. There are enough foreign troops already to annoy a lot of Afghans, but not enough to provide security.

The situation has been vastly complicated by the corrupt presidential election and the loss of credibility for Karzai's government. And the polls are bad for the Afghan war in America. But this is exactly when presidential leadership is most needed. A Taliban victory in Afghanistan would put huge pressure on nuclear-armed Pakistan, empower al-Qa'ida terrorists and could well see Taliban-style terror armies replace al-Qa'ida as the jihadist modality of preference, such that similar groups emerge in Central Asia and even other parts of South Asia.

It is overwhelmingly in US, and Australian, interests for this not to happen. Whatever strategy the US adopts must be coherent and resourced to succeed.

The world continues to wait, and wait, for Obama to make up his mind.

It's Pakistan's war too
As a car-bomb attack in Peshawar tragically demonstrates, Pakistanis and the U.S. have a common enemy in Islamist extremists.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton set out for Pakistan this week on a charm offensive, hoping to curtail anti-Americanism by speaking directly with students and journalists not simply about fighting terrorism but about economic development and other issues of common interest. Then a car bomb tore though a crowded market in the northwestern city of Peshawar, slaughtering more than 100 men, women and children, instantly drawing attention back to the conflict.

More than anything Clinton can say, a series of assaults that have taken the lives of more than 500 civilians this year should serve to convince typical Pakistanis that this is not just a U.S. war. The United States and Pakistan have a common enemy in Islamist extremists, and the Pakistani state is fighting for its survival.

Militants around the world have cynically targeted marketplaces to weaken support for governments that fail to protect their people, even though killing innocents rarely wins over public opinion in the long run. That's a point the Obama administration also should note. More than 500 civilians have died in U.S. missile strikes against the Taliban by unmanned drone aircraft, Pakistani officials say, which may partly explain why polls show that a majority of Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy.

The Peshawar bomb appears to be the work of the Pakistani Taliban, which is fighting not for its brethren in Afghanistan but to destabilize the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Officials regard the bombing as retaliation for a 30,000-troop Pakistani military offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan. Despite his many shortcomings, Zardari sounds as if he understands that he has no choice but to fight back. We hope that the often-ambivalent Pakistani army is convinced it must continue the offensive and ultimately defeat the Pakistani Taliban. Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif also should speak out against the bombing and help unify the country against radicals who want to control it.

The United States is aiding Pakistan's military with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons, helicopters and surveillance equipment, and U.S. Special Forces soldiers are training Pakistani counterinsurgency troops. All of this is done under the radar, so to speak, to avoid a backlash against the United States. But while it's true that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, is shoring up the nuclear-armed Pakistani government to protect U.S. interests and those of its allies, it's also time for Pakistanis to acknowledge that it's in their interest as well to keep extremists at bay. This is Pakistan's conflict too.

Pakistan’s war for survival


A car stuffed with 150kg of explosive material has been blown up with remote control in a busy bazaar of Peshawar, killing over a hundred innocent citizens and injuring over two hundred. This is the big escalation that should convince the nay-sayers in the war against terrorism in Pakistan. The enemy has clearly defined himself and cannot be interpreted as a “wronged party” whose cause must be “understood” as a part of the process of removing the “roots” of terrorism.

It is too late for that kind of diagnosis. Now it is the survival of Pakistan which is at stake and the lives of the women and children of the NWFP which have to be answered for. The NWFP government has understood what the killers are trying to do. It says, “We may all die in the process but we will not stop fighting the terrorists”. This statement comes from a mind that knows that the war against terrorism has gone beyond the point where “talks” could bring peace. This is the attitude which must prevail in Pakistan so that the country can stand united against the Taliban and their foreign killers.

The terrorists have now turned to killing common people gathered in markets and other public places. This was the second such “blind” attack in Peshawar telling us that now the war is no longer tied to any ideology but is a war to the end. The new strategy has been embraced because the post-Baitullah action from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not been too effective. There are signs of failure written all over the attacks suffered by Pakistan. In these cases the TTP “success” was limited to creating fright; and in most cases the terrorists have been traced with remarkable ease.

TTP’s new leader Hakimullah has always been reputed to be less scrupulous in his thinking than his predecessor Baitullah. His approach has become more unscrupulous after the scattering of the TTP and the arrest of a large number of second-echelon Taliban leaders. He is reckless and unmindful of the unpopularity the TTP will earn among the people. The new development — as in the case of the GHQ attack — is that intelligence against the elements that assist the TTP has improved. The attacks against the FIA headquarters and the two police centres in Lahore were of weak intent and were thwarted in their objective by the response of the police.

Action by the Pakistan Army has helped in strengthening the resolve of the common man to endure the hardship of war against the Taliban. Where it has operated, local populations have formed their own private militias and begun to hunt elements that killed their women and children. Once intimidated by warlords in Khyber and Malakand, they are now willing to defend the state if the state is willing to fight back. The “normalisation” of the Swat-Malakand region, once predicted to be of long haul, has taken place rapidly because of the support of the people who were subjected to the cruelty of the utopia that people like Sufi Muhammad had promised them over the past quarter century.

The war is going well in South Waziristan but the impression it makes in the rest of the country is mixed because of the lack of unity over the war among our politicians. They are in fact divided over matters other than war and treat war against terrorism as a kind of distraction. Sitting in parliament, the political parties have given the go-ahead to the war against terrorism but continue to differ over its details. The two mainstream parties are locked in a battle for another kind of survival. The PMLN says it supports the war against terrorism but differs in detail when it pleads for a focus on the “root cause”. The truth is that it is already too late to look for the “root cause”.

The root cause of war is in fact clear and present: the terrorists are killing our women and children. They are damaging our economy by scaring away domestic and international investment. They want Pakistan to collapse into a “state of nature” to serve them as the hub of their global terror. Pakistan has to fight them and see to it that the international community is lined up behind it with every kind of support and sympathy.

Frontier CM must resign
A blazing inferno and a heart-rending holocaust it was, with some 92 people, including 11 innocent children and 22 women lying dead on the spot and many more writhing in pain with wounds in this Wednesday's brutal terrorist car-bombing on ladies' shopping bazaar of Peshawar metropolis. Perhaps the deadliest-ever so far, the strike unmasked evil faces of perpetrators, showing them up for what they really are: mercenary murderers who slaughter their own innocent people for money on their foreign paymasters' bidding, wearing deceptive masks of religiosity and jihad. They are, contemptibly, outright infidels and traitors of the worst kind. But couldn't their thuggery be preempted or prevented? The day earlier, local law-enforcement authorities had been issuing warnings that two explosives-laden vehicles had entered the metropolis for terrorism. Then, why had they left undefended this shopping bazaar, always a bustling place, crowded with women shoppers and their accompanying children. The bazaar was potentially a target, needing to be protected impregnably. Yet it was found left totally unsecured, with not even a single duty cop in sight. Why? Had cops been withdrawn from all over to mount redoubled security on ministers, bureaucrats and other VIPs, while ordinary citizens were simply thrown out to be mowed down and devoured up by terrorist wolves? Chief Minister Amir Haidar Hoti must now admit his incompetence and failure and resign, so conclusively has he demonstrated his ineptness and unfitness for the job. The Frontier's residents give a damn to brave talk he and his ministers ooze out so churlishly after every terrorist strike in the province. They have heard him and them churning out the bunk nauseam that terrorist cannot break their resolve to face up to them unbendingly. But seen him they have not doing anything practical to secure their lives and properties. For months, he has been telling them he would recruit tens of thousands cops to beef up the province's police force. But, appalling, he is still to move beyond talk to concretize that recruitment, even as prowling terrorists are on the rampage increasingly bloodily. Maybe, he is awaiting lists from his ANP flocks to recruit political favourites, not right meritorious candidates, to the force. So incompetent has indeed he been that, leave alone the rest of the province, he has spectacularly failed even securing the provincial metropolis. In these very days, terrorists have come again and again, have struck Peshawar lethally and fatally again and again, and he has shown nothing else to confront them except his puerile talk. Verily, he has shown in every manner not be the man capable of steering a troubled province as is the Frontier presently. He must now spare the province's distressed people the atrocity of his inept and incompetent stewardship to make way for some able hand to handle its critical security situation, sparing himself thereby too all the time for dancing and frolicking at wedding parties and other festivities of his kith and kin in garrison clubs and their mansions. He indeed can save some shame to his disgraced face by emulating the example of chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra, who owned up moral responsibility and stepped down when terrorists struck his state's capital, Mumbai. Certainly, this Wednesday terrorist assault on Peshawar is no lesser horrific. It indeed was more deadly. The Mumbai terrorism also saw Indian home minister quitting. And this Peshawar carnage must set our interior minister Rehman Malik thinking too of following a precedent that comes natural to responsible people with a sense of honour and dignity in such tragic calamitous events. Heads must also roll in the provincial police hierarchy, particularly for its horrendous failure in averting a thuggish strike when it knew before hand that terrorists had entered the city for their wicked act. The provincial top cop, who holds his court in the city, and Peshawar city police chief have to go forthwith, in any case. Their incompetence in the given conditions is obvious and just indefensible. Punitive actions must also come against the rest found derelict in an inquiry into the carnage, which must be quick so as to prevent recurrence of such an intolerable holocaust. And to hell with CoD, 17th Amendment and all such-like forays, keeping the country's top leadership engrossed. The people can do without these adventures. They need security of life at least, first and foremost. The president and the prime minister must take a pause, sit down earnestly and work vigorously into implementing the action plan that the high-level inter-provincial security meeting had worked out in Islamabad. Terrorist thugs are visibly getting viler, bolder and deadlier. They have to be curbed and crushed quickly and at every cost.

U.S.Aid To Pakistan:Where did the funds go?


As the Obama Administration focuses more on the social sectors of the Pakistani economy and separates its aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Bill from assistance to the Pakistan Army, new information about how the old US funds were utilised by the Musharraf regime has come to light. The revelation is that the army was not given all the aid meant for increasing its capacity to fight terrorism, but that most of it was diverted by the Musharraf regime to prop up the civilian government.

A couple of retired generals have decided to speak out. General Mahmud Durrani (Retd), who was Pakistan’s ambassador to the US under General Musharraf, says: “It went to things like subsidies, which is why everything looked hunky-dory. The military was financing the war on terror out of its own budget.” And how was this made possible? By the fact that General Musharraf was both army chief and de facto “ruling” president of Pakistan.

According to a report, the additional shocking fact is that some sections of the army, faced with the terrorism of the Taliban, received nothing till 2007, the year when Musharraf’s era began to crumble under pressure from the mistakes the general-president made. In these lean years for the army, “helicopters critical to the battle were not available; the limited night-vision equipment was taken away every three months and returned three weeks later; and old equipment fell out of repair and training was lacking.”

There have been rumours about money getting “siphoned off” on Musharraf’s watch. Some US circles thought Pakistan’s military was more obsessed with India and spent what it got not on the war against domestic terrorism, but on its state of preparedness against India. But if, between 2002 and 2008, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, what kind of defence against India was Pakistan able to secretly mount? On the other hand, the PPP leader President Asif Ali Zardari has been talking of the “misuse” of nearly $10 billion in American aid.

Pakistan doesn’t make public its defence budget. So one cannot track what happens to the money that goes into it. Such sectors as intelligence are kept away from public scrutiny although most of what the spooks do affects the civil sector and the economy. We know that General Musharraf “saved” the army some money by inducting a large number of serving officers into civilian jobs. Pakistan already pays its army’s pensions from the civilian budget, but the charge that wasteful subsidies were paid out of the money meant for the army needs investigation. The “circular” debt that General Musharraf’s regime left behind indicates how reckless his government was with the economy he never tired of discussing.

The Americans were willing to fund the Pakistan Army because in comparison with their own troops it was cheap. By 2008, the US paid Pakistan $8.6 billion for the military, and more than $12 billion in all. The army would send in the bills and the US would pay, barring some cases when delays took place till lack of trust began to prevail and the bills remained pending.

General Mahmud Durrani, whose thesis is that Pakistan has disadvantaged itself politically and economically by pursuing India-centric strategies, says money went into buying equipment better suited to fighting India in Afghanistan than to fighting terrorists. It bought armour-piercing TOW missiles, sophisticated surveillance equipment, air-to-air missiles, maritime patrol aircraft, anti-ship missiles and F-16 fighter aircraft. As a result, in 2007, Pakistan had only one working helicopter for use in FATA!

Pakistan was the largest recipient of US assistance under General Musharraf. It is about to receive even more of it under the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Because of what has happened in the past, there is a lack of trust between the donor and the recipient. Also, those who want to fight terrorism in Pakistan without American help — they actually believe Pakistan doesn’t need to fight terrorism — want the American assistance rejected. Until an inquiry is held — and the time for that will come later — we will not know what actually happened. Now is the time to back the army and do whatever it takes to increase its capacity to fight the terrorists.

Quetta question

The rumours about key Taliban leaders lurking in Quetta are not new. They have been around for months, even years. Some claim that at one point big meetings of the Taliban were held quite openly at a set location each week and attended by hundreds if not thousands. Vague claims of the sighting of the one-eyed Mullah Omar have surfaced from time to time. The presence, in the Balochistan capital, of Taliban elements is also borne out by the fact that last year women were barred from certain restaurants whose owners were warned not to serve them. Against this background it is hardly surprising that a brand new controversy has sprung up. The Pakistani government, in response to an interview given to the US media by Anne W Patterson, US ambassador to Pakistan, has insisted there is a disconnect between her and Washington. The ambassador's claim that the Taliban are orchestrating anti-US operations from Quetta has been vehemently denied. Once more Islamabad has emphasized zero-tolerance policy against militancy. This is all very well. We hope it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. However we must point out that a crisis of credibility has existed in the past. Given this, we must ask why so many stories about the Taliban activities in Balochistan persist, if there is no truth to them at all. News reports with no substance tend to wither and die away. It is also a fact that these accounts have appeared in the media from many different sources. It is questionable if they can all be entirely inaccurate.

A point of crisis is now approaching. Washington is adopting an increasingly belligerent tone, combining praise with demands for more action. There has been mention in the media of proposals to send drones to strike targets in Quetta. The city is clearly emerging, as much as Waziristan, as the focal point of attention. Pakistan has every right to be angered by false charges. It must also oppose the strikes over cities with all the force it can muster. The very thought of bombs and missiles dropped over urban centres is just too terrible to contemplate. It must never happen. Washington itself must realize this. We hear there are officials there who have spoken out against the idea. These voices of sanity must prevail. But Pakistan too, while issuing its denials, needs to look into the facts. Its officials need simply to explore the Internet or articles written in past years about Taliban gatherings in Quetta. The reasons for the conviction that key members of the Afghan Taliban are indeed present in Balochistan need to be examined. The province after all neighbours Taliban strongholds and has been used in the past too as a place of refuge by those fleeing Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai was once among the safety-seekers. There may be others who have followed the same route. This possibility must not be ignored. Islamabad must build credibility and persuade the world that it is ready to hunt down the Taliban wherever they are based. In this strategy lies its own future safety and good standing in the international community.