[Dawn] After decades of waging the propaganda war against India for its highhanded treatment of Kashmiris, Pakistain is now the subject of a similar campaign by India who has highlighted the plight of Shias being murdered by sectarian cut-throats in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Asian News International reported recently that "in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistain's only Shia dominated province, ethnic cleansing is being carried out systematically." At the same time, the Shia-dominated town of Kargil ... three months of unprovoked Pak aggression, over 4000 dead Paks, another victory for India ... in the Indian controlled Kashmire recently shut down the main bazaar in solidarity with the Shias of Gilgit and Chilas who were murdered in cold blood in early April. Several Sunni Mohammedans also bit the dust a few days later when sectarian violence broke out in the region.
The comparative statistics on terrorist violence between India and Pakistain speak volumes of how the tide has indeed turned against Pakistain. The data compiled by South Asian Terrorism Portal reveals that in the current year alone, approximately 150 civilians, mostly Shias, have died in sectarian violence in Pakistain. In comparison only 23 violent deaths were recorded in the Indian controlled Kashmire in 2012.
Even with a six-times larger demographic footprint, 62 civilians reportedly died in terrorist violence in India in 2012, whereas 734 civilians became victims of terrorist violence in Pakistain during the same time period. For decades, Pakistain had pointed finger at India and accused her of failing to protect the life and property of religious minorities. Today, Pakistain stands accused of the same where Mohammedans belonging to minority sects and others are being murdered while the state's machinery has failed miserably to protect their lives and property.
Sectarian violence has spread to all corners of Pakistain. Only last week several Shias belonging to the Hazara tribe were bumped off by the Sunni Death Eaters in a crowded market in Quetta. Later, Sunni hard boyz called local newspapers and grabbed credit for their murderous accomplishment. Over the past few years hundreds, if not thousands, of Shias have been murdered in Kurram Agency ...home of an intricately interconnected web of poverty, ignorance, and religious fanaticism, where the laws of cause and effect are assumed to be suspended, conveniently located adjacent to Tora Bora... by Sunni Death Eaters and Taliban factions who are reportedly aligned with Pakistain's intelligence agencies. In other parts of Pakistain Shias have been taken off buses, lined up, and bumped off.
As of late, the followers of majority Sunni sects, such as Barelvis, have increasingly become targets of hard boyz who are followers of radicalised Sunni sects. The attack on Data Darbar, the mausoleum of Lahore's patron saint, in July 2010 left almost 50 moderate Sunni Mohammedans dead. In an earlier post, I reported police statistics which showed that almost 90 per cent of incarceratedcut-throats in Pakistain were followers of the Deobandi sect.
It is only recently that the moderate Sunnis have been targeted by the followers of radical Sunni sects in Pakistain. However, the way to a man's heart remains through his stomach... for decades, Shias and other minorities were the only victims of turban violence. The majority Sunnis, who never agreed with the murderous agenda of the few radicalised groups, however remained complacent and maintained a deafening silence over the murders of Shias and others, which escalated during the dark days of General Ziaul Haq. It was during General Zia's time when madrassas were turned into military academies where intelligence operatives trained hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Arabs, and Paks in warfare; equipped them with Kalashnikov assault rifles and Stringer missiles; and marched them into Afghanistan.
The widespread distribution of small arms weaponised the Afghan society to such extremes that after the withdrawal of the Soviet Army in 1989 successive Afghan regimes collapsed because of the in-fighting that continued between heavily armed Afghan militias who could not agree on a post-Soviet governance formula. While Afghanistan imploded in the early 90s as a direct result of military interventions by the Soviets, Americans, Saudis, and Paks, several thousand alumni of the Afghan war returned to Pakistain to establish their own mini jihad factories in every nook and corner of Pakistain. For over a decade, the jihadis used Shias for target practice until they waged a full-fledged war against Pakistain's establishment in 2001.
The patron-in-chief of the jihadis, including the Taliban, has been General Hameed Gul, who headed Pakistain's Inter-Services Intelligence during the formative years when Russian-made weapons were shipped from Egypt and elsewhere to equip Afghans and others to fight the Red Army in Afghanistan. General Gul was recently confronted by an inimical group of Shias who were protesting outside the Parliament in Islamabad. As the crowd complained against his longstanding relationship with the hard boyz leading terrorist attacks against Shias, the General instead came off as the biggest dove as he addressed the crowd while his son whispered speaking notes in his ear. General Hameed Gul claimed to have initiated deweaponising the hard boyz before he was removed from ISI in June 1989.
I happened to meet General Hameed Gul in a suburb of Toronto in the mid-90s when he visited Canada. Sitting among a large group of devotees, General Gul spoke with pride of the "successes" achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I specifically asked the General if he was at all concerned about the excessive spread of small arms and assault weapons in Pakistain and Afghanistan. His answer then was quite different from what he stated on April 10 in Islamabad. General Gul looked at me with barely concealed disgust and observed that weapons were the ornaments for men. "It is the same weapons that will come in handy to ward off the enemy," proclaimed General Gul.
Since his proclamation in the mid-90s, the same ornaments have dispatched thousands of Paks to their graves and have brought the state and the society to a near default. In the comity of nations, Pakistain is increasingly being referred to as a pariah state. Even the overseas Paks now march outside Pak embassies to protest against the massacres of minorities that continue unabated. Wherea,s once Pakistain complained of human rights One man's rights are another man's existential threat. violations by India in the United Nations ...the Oyster Bay money pit... , other are now accusing Pakistain of the same.
As the violence increases in Pakistain, the rest of the world loses its confidence in Pakistain's ability to meet her economic, legal, and moral obligations. If the sectarian and factional violence, which no longer targets only the Shias and other minorities, continues in Pakistain, it is likely that the state and the society will implode, as it has already in the neighbouring Afghanistan.
It is imperative for Pakistain's military and civilian establishment to recognise that the time to act decisively against Death Eaters in Pakistain has arrived. There is no room or time to play favourites and support the "good beturbanned goons" who may side with the establishment for a short while, but the same good hard boyz will most likely turn against their handlers, as they have done so repeatedly in the last few years.
ION SECTARIANISM, DEFENCE.PK/FORUMS > TTP CLASH WID HAQQANIS IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN | [Express Tribune] NOT ALLIES[?]:EIGHT DEAD AS TTP, HAQQANI NETWORK CLASH IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN.
SOme DPK Bloggers believe it relates to a weeks-old internal tribal incident = affair/matter of Org-vs-Org honor, but I'm inclined to think it has more to do wid 2014 = powersharing profile of the Pak Govt???
[Dawn] WHAT is one to make of the coordinated attack that the Taliban launched on seven sites in Kabul and three sites in Paktia, Pashtun-infested Logar and Nangarhar? The unfortunate Afghan province located adjacent to Mohmand, Kurram, and Khyber Agencies. The capital is Jalalabad. The province was the fief of Younus Khalis after the Soviets departed and one of his sons is the current provincial Taliban commander. Nangarhar is Haqqani country..
It was certainly the most dramatic and widespread assault in the Afghan capital since an attack in September on the US embassy and NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A collection of multinational and multilingual and multicultural armed forces, all of differing capabilities, working toward a common goal by pulling in different directions... headquarters. It took the Afghan national security forces and their NATO mentors some 18 hours to clear out the last of the 36 hard boyz involved in the attack in Kabul.
An Afghan front man explained that so much time was taken only because the Afghan cops were anxious to avoid civilian casualties. They did acknowledge that while 35 of the 36 hard boyz in Kabul were killed, eight members of the Afghan cops and four non-combatants were killed while another 40 security personnel and 25 civilians were maimed.
The attacks at the Jalalabad airfield used by the Americans and on Afghan installations in Paktia and Pashtun-infested Logar were, it seems, largely casualty-free though three of the four hard boyz attacking the airfield were killed.
Taliban front man Zabiullah Mujahid, in a detailed briefing, told a Rooters' correspondent that the 30 specially trained mujahideen had spent months working with mock-ups of the targets to rehearse the attacks. He claimed that heavy machineguns, rocket grenades and ammunition had been put in place before the assault with inside help from the Afghan cops.
This attack has been termed as the start of the 'Taliban spring offensive' and one can assume that this was the Taliban version of creating 'shock and awe' -- very different from the military dominance that was proclaimed by this term when used in describing the American attack in Iraq -- to let the Afghans know that the Taliban could attack at will the most sensitive installations in the best-guarded parts of the capital.
According to Mujahid, "The attacks were very successful for us and were a remarkable achievement, dealing a psychological and political blow to foreigners and the government."
On the other hand, NATO saw things very differently. In his statement, Gen John R. Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, maintained that the Afghan cops "were on scene immediately, well-led and well-coordinated. They integrated their efforts, helped protect their fellow citizens and largely kept the hard boyz contained".
President Karzai, while being critical of both NATO and Afghan intelligence failures that permitted the hard boyz to infiltrate into sensitive areas, maintained that "Death Eaters must know that by launching such attacks they cannot prevent the determination of the peoples of this homeland of ours from the path of rebuilding and progress, as well as our goal for reaching peace and tranquillity in our country".
Separately, a spokesperson at NATO headquarters in Brussels, while conceding "we still face security challenges" and that "this was not the first such attack, and I don't expect it will be the last", went on to say "such attacks don't change the transition strategy. They don't change the goal and they don't change the timeline." Not much publicity has been given to the fact that NATO helicopters were used in the final assault on the bully boy positions which would seem to suggest that the Afghan forces may have acted "largely" on their own but needed critical help from NATO forces to clinch the issue.
In other words, the NATO perspective is that this was a "largely ineffective" attack and not the "remarkable achievement" that the Taliban would like to think it was. Rather, it established that the Afghan cops have proved their ability to take on responsibility of handling whatever the Taliban can throw at them. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between these contradictory assertions.
Certainly the Taliban have reinforced the belief that they have sympathisers among the most well-placed of the security forces and can enlist their support to place weaponry in sensitive sites and to allow infiltrators to reach and use these caches. But it is also established -- if this is the start of the 'spring offensive' -- that the Taliban cannot yet mount frontal assaults and cannot retake territory lost to the foreign and Afghan cops.
From Pakistain's perspective the most important element is the assertion that the one bully boy captured has said that he was a member of the Haqqani network. The American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, told CNN that "frankly, I don't think the Taliban [are] good enough" to pull off such an attack. In another interview, he said that the attacks may be the work of the Haqqani network since, in his view, "The Taliban are very good at issuing statements, less good at fighting".
As surely as night follows day we will see in the next few days a spate of leaked reports confirming that the attack was the handiwork of the Haqqanis and dismissing contemptuously the Taliban front man's statement that the Haqqanis, even while being with the Taliban, were not involved in this attack. Pressure will then mount on Pakistain to take action in North Wazoo. How will we react at this time when relations are at a particularly delicate juncture?
Another point to ponder. Was there any connection between the assault in Kabul and the similarly well-planned attack on the same day on Bannu prison, which resulted in the escape of several high-security prisoners? There, too, the assault was rehearsed over a period of time. The attackers had inside information about the location of the cells occupied by the high-security prisoners. There was no resistance to the assault by the prison guards. Not one attacker and not one defender was even injured.
Does this suggest that the same people planned both attacks? Worse, does this not prove that, because of venality or incompetence, our security is now worse than that prevailing in war-torn Afghanistan?
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