US drones are pounding Pakistan's North Waziristan. Here's why.

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ajtr, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    US drones are pounding Pakistan's North Waziristan. Here's why.

    US drones have stepped up bombing raids to combat new alliances cropping up between disparate militants coming to Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

    After a CIA Predator drone fired a missile in the village of Issori in North Waziristan last month, Jamshed Khan and other tribesmen rushed to the mud home that was the target. Mr. Khan recalls that as the tribesmen started to remove bodies, a group of men drove up, offered prayers for the victims, and left.

    The tribesmen say the visitors were well known: Some belong to Al Qaeda and some are the followers of powerful leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who once had ties to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the main Taliban umbrella group there.

    Thousands of TTP militants fled here after last year’s military crackdown in South Waziristan, adding to the already mixed crowd of militants seeking shelter there post-9/11. And despite diverse nationalities, they appear able to work in sync.

    CONSIDER THIS: 5 key players in Pakistan's tribal belt

    “Our bonding force is our common cause of waging jihad in Afghanistan,” says Azam Tariq, TTP spokesman. Their ultimate goal, he says, is to implement sharia law. “Then why wouldn’t we be united?”

    That unity has prompted the United States to urge Islamabad to again crack down – this time, on North Waziristan. But Pakistani security officials are hesitant to get involved there.

    “You have to hold the ground permanently after cleaning up the militants rather than leaving the footprints of boots,” says a senior security official, citing military operations in Swat, Bajaur, South Waziristan, and other areas, as well as the Army’s commitment to help victim’s of the country’s devastating floods.

    That reluctance appears to have driven a new US predator battle against Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders and militants who turned North Waziristan into what analysts are calling one of the most dangerous places in the world.

    Since early this month, the US has launched 12 drone attacks on mud houses believed to be militant hideouts or training centers, killing 77 people including foreign militants.

    Old Jihadi contacts to get new alliances

    Commanders use their old jihadi contacts to recruit young warriors into their own training camp. The head trainer usually belongs to Al Qaeda, but now contacts are broadening to create a more complicated network of alliances.

    The Punjabi Taliban – so named for their roots out of southern Punjab, and distinguishable by the fact that their members do not speak Pashto and traditionally have ties with groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed – now operate out of North Waziristan and fight alongside Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    With shoulder-length hair, and armed with Kalashnikovs and rockets, these young militants roam around in four-wheel-drive jeeps.

    “They are loud and short-tempered and fight among themselves. They show off, unlike Arabs who are generally quiet, maintain a low profile, and mostly use ordinary cars like us,” says Javed Wazir, a local tribesman.

    The Arabs he refers to are highly trained Al Qaeda militants of Moroccan, Egyptian, Algerian, and Sudanese origin, operating under the command of Mustafa Abu-al-Yazid, also known as Sheikh Saidal Masri, who was killed in May this year in a drone attack. Now, Siraj Uddin Haqqani, the most powerful militant in Waziristan is believed to coordinating with these Al Qaeda militants.

    Al Qaeda militant hideout

    According to US estimates, there are about 2,000 Al Qaeda militants in the region. Their main hideouts, the prime target of US drones in the spring, are located in the mountains between Miramshah and the Afghan border. Additionally, there are Uzbeks, Chinese Uighurs, Chechens, and Tajik militants collaborating in North Waziristan.

    It is estimated that around 3,000 Uzbeks (not to mention a number of militants belonging to other Central Asian states) have taken shelter in the region.

    Since last year’s killing of Tahir Yledeshev, chief of the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement, there have been splinters, but Uzbeks mainly fight alongside TTP leaders.

    There is also a group of hundreds of militants belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist extremist movement of Uighurs fighting against China for the independence of Xingjian Province. The commander, known as Abdul Shakoor, succeeded Abdul Haq al-Turkestani after he was killed in a drone attack early this year.

    Intermarriages help

    Tribesmen say they have attended at least two marriages of Uzbek commanders to local girls. Sources say that intermarriages between the foreign militants and tribal families indicate that the bonding has strengthened cross-recruitment and connections.

    Once new militants are trained, they are sent to towns along the Pakistani-Afghan border to the camps of the Haqqanis and Mr. Bahadur before crossing into Afghanistan, using connections there.

    “Pakistan’s resistance to go into North Waziristan stems from the fact that mostly, Pakistani militants are nestled under the banner of Siraj Haqqani and Gul Bahadur and Al Qaeda,” says Imtiaz Gul, author of the book “The Most Dangerous Place.”

    “The apprehension is that if we [Pakistanis] launch [a] full-scale operation in North Waziristan, we will also face severe backlash in the cities,” he says.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    5 key players in Pakistan's tribal belt


    Pakistani military operations in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan have steered clear of North Waziristan, allowing the area to become a haven for militants. Tribal and local intelligence sources say some 15,000 militants shelter in this semiautonomous tribal belt.
    “It’s a cobweb,” says former Pakistani diplomat Ayaz Wazir.
    New alliances between militant commanders in Waziristan have turned this area into a dangerous labyrinth, from which fighters can launch suicide attacks in Pakistan or missions against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
    “It's an international war which has engulfed us,” says Malik Khan Marjan Wazir, an influential tribal elder in North Waziristan. “The volcano is in Afghanistan but it erupts in our tribal areas.”
    For Marjan Wazir, peace won't be found through military operations or drone attacks, but in negotiations at what he calls “real” jirgas (tribal assemblies). “My elders would always tell me a story that if a woolen blanket gets leeches, you don’t put to fire the whole blanket. You pluck them out with care.”
    Based on interviews with local tribesmen and intelligence sources, here’s a list of the five biggest players in the region:
    - Owais Tohid, Correspondent

    1. Ilyas Kashmiri
    [​IMG]
    The notorious Kashmiri leads a militia of around 3,000 men. He is operations chief of Harakat-ul Jihad Islami, a group the US government classifies as a terror organization with ties to Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban. He is accused of being behind the 2009 suicide attack on Pakistan’s spy agency in Peshawar. He's also accused of carrying out attacks against senior military officials and cross-border attacks against US forces.

    2. Qari Hussain

    Widely considered the deadliest of all commanders, Mr. Hussain is reported to be second in the TTP’s hierarchy, after his cousin Hakim Ullah Mehsud. His expertise lies in producing teenage suicide bombers.

    He is believed to have trained the Jordanian militant Humam Khalil Muhammad Abu Mulal al Balawi, who blew himself up in Khost, killing seven CIA personnel last December.

    The Pakistani government has put $600,000 on his head.

    3. Moulvi Noor Saeed Wazir

    Another 3,000 TTP militants operate under the leadership of this local commander known for his ruthlessness. His stronghold is his home region, the Razmak Valley, which links North and South Waziristan. He is reported to be illiterate, and until a few years ago ran a grocery shop.

    4. Hafiz Gul Bahadur

    Mr. Bahadur is believed to be based between Miramshah and the Afghan border. He hit the headlines when his militia fought against Pakistan’s security forces in 2006-08 and again when he struck peace deals in 2009.

    It is reported that each of the nine members of his Shura, or council, commands up to 1,000 local tribesmen, apportioning control of various areas across North Waziristan. Bahadur is honored as a descendant of legendary tribal warrior Fakir of Ippi, who fought against the British rule in the subcontinent. This lineage affords the cleric immense influence, both religiously and politically.

    He severed formal ties with the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), but still reportedly provides shelter to its militants.

    5. Sirajuddin Haqqani
    [​IMG]
    Jalaluddin Haqqani, father of Sirajuddin Haqqani and Taliban commander. (Mohammad Riaz/AP/File)

    He is head of the Haqqani network and believed to be the main bridge between Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban, and militant outfits in North Waziristan. Known among jihadis as “Khalifa” and the “soul of Jihad,” Mr. Haqqani has ties to Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri.

    He is the son of commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former Taliban minister for tribal affairs. Siraj’s four brothers – Nasiruddin, Badruddin, Khalil, and Ibrahim – are the group's military shura (council). Nasiruddin is believed to have conducted fundraising in Saudi Arab and other Gulf states between 2006 and 2009. Badruddin handles politics, settling disputes between militant outfits. Siraj's youngest brother, Mohammed, was killed in February this year by a US drone strike.

    The Haqqani network mainly operates along the border with Afghanistan's Khost province. The US is offering $5 million for information leading to the capture or death of Sirajuddin Haqqani.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Pakistan Taliban: US drone strikes forcing militants underground

    Some Pakistan Taliban officials say leaders now meet in secret for fear of US drone strikes. But they vow to keep up their own offensive, as evidenced by a string of bomb attacks last week that killed 70 people.

    Bajaur Agency, Pakistan; and New Delhi
    Some Pakistan Taliban members in the tribal areas say the onslaught of US drone attacks and Pakistani offensives in recent months is forcing the group underground and creating fractures.But they threatened to maintain their own suicide and car bomb campaign – a threat borne out over the past week in a string of suicide bombs in Lahore and the northwest that killed at least 70 people.

    Such attacks serve as a reminder that the Pakistani Taliban remain far from finished off despite losing territory, momentum, and top leadership over the past year.

    “Our meetings take place on a regular basis, but the leadership is underground due to security concerns…. It is not only because of drones, but the Pakistani Army, too, is targeting us,” says Taliban spokesman Tariq Azam in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.

    “The Taliban will continue to strike back if the drone attacks are not stopped,” he says.

    Taliban on the run

    A visit over the weekend to the Bajaur tribal agency on the Afghan border appears to back up recent military announcements that the region has been cleared of militants.

    Local tribesmen, with the help of Pakistani security forces, have formed lashkars, or armed posses, numbering in the hundreds. Together they have torched more than 100 homes of Taliban members and supporters and destroyed some training camps.

    The operation in Bajaur follows a series of campaigns in the northwest meant to stop the Taliban’s expansion into new territories. The offensives have pushed in multiple directions, to South Waziristan at the southern end of the tribal belt and to Bajaur in the north.

    Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who escaped Bajaur have fled with their families to Charmang, in a corner of Bajaur. The retreat came at a cost: A large number of weapons, stolen vehicles, explosives, and drugs have been recovered from their houses and cave hideouts.

    But still launching attacks

    Despite the dramatic rollback, the group has claimed a string of suicide attacks this week in Lahore and the Swat Valley – a reminder that fighting is nowhere near over and that that the Taliban continues to maintain a presence in settled parts of Pakistan. Suicide bombers in Swat killed 13 people on Saturday and two attacks last week in Lahore killed at least 58.

    "The TTP [Taliban] is definitely under pressure. It's no longer working in a very coordinated way, they are on the defensive, and the initiative has been taken away from them," says Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood, a security analyst in Islamabad. But "it may take months and years in order to eliminate what happened in Lahore in the last few weeks. It's a very long-term conflict."The militants may be on the run in parts of Pakistan's tribal belt but they could still establish new strongholds and – if the government fails to stabilize reclaimed territories – return to old ones.

    Bajaur illustrates that threat: The Pakistani military declared victory there a year ago, and set up local lashkars, only to have to return in force to flush out the Taliban again this year.

    Countering that threat will require a near-total wiping out of the Taliban leadership, safe havens, and training camps, says Masood. And it will need a widespread rejection of the extremist mindset that the movement represents.

    The Pakistani public, Masood worries, has not been prepared by political leaders to support such a long-term struggle.

    Drones sow dissent among militants

    In the meantime, the US has ramped up its assault from the air. The pace of drone attacks has quickened since Obama took office a year ago. In 2009 the US conducted 53 airstrikes over Pakistan; already this year it has fired 21.

    The Taliban themselves admit they fear the drones not just as dealers of death but also of dissension.

    "Drone attacks have created a rift in the Taliban ranks as people are suspecting each other of spying," says a member of a Taliban faction that split from the main group after death of Baitullah Mehsud, the founder of the Pakistan Taliban. The militant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that such suspicions have led to fratricide within the group.

    A drone strike on Jan. 14 also killed Mr. Mehsud’s successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, according to Pakistani officials and some tribal and Taliban sources, though top Taliban officials say he’s still alive.

    "We are also suffering losses, but mainly the drones are attacking the civilian population, says Mr. Azam, the Taliban spokesman, whose real name is Master Rais Khan.

    A study this month from the New America Foundation estimates that 32 percent of drone victims over the past six years in Pakistan's tribal areas have been civilians. Critics in the US argue that by killing civilians drone attacks end up creating more enemies.

    Support for the drones

    Many in Pakistan also denounce the drones as a violation of national sovereignty and as a trigger for more suicide attacks. But anecdotal evidence suggests that the anger over the drones in safer parts of Pakistan may not be entirely shared with civilians in war-torn regions.

    In Peshawar, a peace movement comprising six political parties, rights groups, business leaders, and a cross-section of society released on Feb. 18 a "Peshawar Declaration" expressing support for drone attacks.

    "If the people of the war-affected areas are satisfied with any counter militancy strategy, it is the Drone attacks which they support the most. According to the people of Waziristan, Drones have never killed civilians," reads the declaration.

    "A component of the Pakistani media, some retired generals, a few journalists/analysts, and pro-Taliban political parties never tire in their baseless propaganda against Drone attacks.”
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Drone strikes



    A barrage of drone strikes in parts of North Waziristan Agency recently has once again thrust the controversial programme in the spotlight.

    The escalation appears to be linked to time running out for America’s strategy to stabilise Afghanistan and prevent that country and the border areas with Pakistan from remaining a safe haven for groups inclined to attacking the US.

    Beyond that, little is certain. The strikes over the past couple of weeks have focused on specific areas of one of the three divisions in North Waziristan, areas believed to be largely Haqqani strongholds.

    This indicates that the pursuit of Al Qaeda has gone down a notch, perhaps because that group’s size is believed to have shrunk to no more than a few hundred members.

    Increasing pressure on the Taliban, however, should not be read as a fixation with just the Afghan Taliban. In North Waziristan, even the Pakistani Taliban are believed to be oriented towards Afghanistan and as such would also be in the cross-hairs of the US drones.

    When the strikes in North Waziristan are considered along with US pressure on militants in eastern Afghanistan, the other side of the border from North Waziristan in particular, it becomes evident that America is willing to act even in the absence of the much- demanded military operation in North Waziristan. The window for America to produce military results is closing.

    The Pakistani government, rather the security establishment led by the Pakistan Army, needs to come clean about the drone strikes.

    US Special Representative for AfPak Richard Holbrooke has claimed the government and the army are very much on board regarding the drone strikes — something privately acknowledged by the Pakistani side.

    If there isn’t cooperation on every strike, then broad permission appears to have been granted by the Pakistani side. Secret deals on strikes which are public appear to make little sense. Ideally, the US should transfer drone technology to Pakistan to remove qualms over violation of sovereignty.

    For this, greater mutual trust is needed. Till then, a private understanding on drone strikes would have to suffice as the use of Pakistani bombers could mean greater collateral damage.
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    US drones keep up heat on Haqqani group


    ISLAMABAD: Apparently frustrated over Pakistan military’s inaction against the Haqqani network, the United States has this month unleashed a relentless wave of drone attacks in North Waziristan, hoping to downgrade the operational capabilities of the group it considers to be the most lethal militant outfit in Afghanistan.

    Since Sept 2, there have been 13 strikes by unmanned Predator drones in North Waziristan — the highest number in a month since the US began using them to hit targets in Pakistan in 2004. The number of drone attacks this year has already crossed 70 — the highest figure for a year.

    According to military sources, an operation in North Waziristan got delayed because the army was preoccupied with fighting militancy in other tribal areas and flood relief. This window was fully exploited by the group to intensify its activities, defence analysts believe.

    “The Americans want to check that freedom of space available to the Haqqanis through intensified drone attacks,” a source said.

    There are few takers for the Pakistani explanation in the US and many describe the delay as tactical. Besides, Pakistan had in June initiated efforts to secure a place for the Haqqanis in post-war Afghanistan by working out a rapprochement between the group and the Karzai government. US opposition to the initiative halted it.

    Sources suggest that Pakistan would make fresh moves to discuss peace with the Haqqanis, in the context of the overall reconciliation plan, during Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s current visit to Pakistan.

    The pattern of the attacks this month shows that the primary target is the Haqqani network, even though his host Hafiz Gul Bahadar and foreign militants of Al Qaeda have also been targeted.

    The strikes this month have predominantly been in Miramshah sub-division, where the Haqqani network’s headquarters are based and where the group carries out its financial dealings, acquisition of weapons and strategic planning.

    Five of the attacks occurred in Datakhel tehsil, which is home to Gul Bahadar’s clan Uthmanzai Wazir.

    Dandi Derpakhel, the scene of another attack in Miramshah, is where members of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s family live.

    Gul Bahadar, who leads the other major militant grouping in North Waziristan, is more than a host for the Haqqanis. He not only provides them with the tribal support the Haqqanis lack, but also gives them passage to the border.

    The only attack this month outside Miramshah was in Shawal, where foreign fighters loyal to Al Qaeda have sanctuaries.

    The US, while targeting the Haqqanis, is pursuing the ‘hammer and anvil approach’. Alongside the spike in the drone attacks, US Special Forces have launched an intense operation against the group in eastern Afghanistan, killing a number of its ‘commanders’.

    The Haqqani network has been the focus of US action for the past two years. However, after the Dec 2009 suicide attack on the Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, a key facility of the CIA, the network again came under renewed focus.

    In this unprecedented intense bombardment by drones, military officials see a shift in US policy in Afghanistan from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism.

    They say the US, notwithstanding international denunciation of the drone attacks, feels encouraged because the strikes in the past took out second- and third-tier leadership of militant groups.

    Philip Alston, a UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has criticised the attacks as ‘licence to kill’ that creates a ‘major accountability vacuum’.

    Analysts opine that the drone attacks have been counter-productive, providing militants with an effective recruitment tool and inflaming opinion against the US and an embattled Pakistan government, which has lately gone silent on the attacks.
     
  7. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Afghanistan-Pakistan Al-Qaeda chief 'killed by US drone'

    by Staff Writers
    Peshawar, Pakistan (AFP) Sept 28, 2010
    Al-Qaeda's operational chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan's lawless tribal border areas, Pakistani security officials said Tuesday.

    A covert American drone campaign has this month ramped up attacks on Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives in the region as part of efforts to bring an end to a nine-year war in Afghanistan so that US troops can return home.

    Sheikh Fateh was reportedly made Al-Qaeda chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan after Al-Qaeda's purported number three and former Osama bin Laden treasurer Mustafa Abu al-Yazid was killed on May 21, in another apparent drone strike.

    Fateh, whom the intelligence officials said was also killed in North Waziristan, is relatively unknown and his name -- a likely nom de guerre -- does not feature on the US list of most-wanted terrorists.

    But security analysts said that any killing of a senior Al-Qaeda operative would be a victory for the US campaign.

    Pakistani security officials said the Egyptian was killed on Saturday in a US drone strike on North Waziristan, a hub of Al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders where the covert American missile war has been concentrated.

    Reports of high-profile killings by drone strikes -- which the US military as a rule does not confirm -- are generally based on intelligence intercepts, with much of the semi-autonomous region off limits on the ground.

    "Yes, he has been killed," one Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Suspected US aircraft have significantly stepped up attacks on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked operatives in the country's semi-autonomous border areas with Afghanistan this month, with at least 21 attacks reported in September.

    Two other Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed Sheikh Fateh's death, also speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information to the media.

    [​IMG]
    Pakistan appoints new chairman joint chiefs
    Islamabad (AFP) Sept 29, 2010 - Pakistan's president Tuesday appointed top army commander Khalid Shamim Wyne as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, presidential spokesman Faratullah Babar said. "President Asif Ali Zardari promoted Lieutenant General Khalid Shamim Wyne to the rank of full general and appointed him Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani," Babar told AFP. Wyne, who is currently serving as the army chief of general staff, will replace General Tariq Majeed, who is retiring early next month from the post on completion of his tenure. Wyne is the senior most officer after army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who recently got a three-year extension in the top job to ensure continuity of command in the on-going war against militants.

    Pakistan, US discuss cross-border NATO strikes: Pentagon
    Washington (AFP) Sept 28, 2010 - The Pentagon on Tuesday said recent cross-border strikes by NATO helicopters in Pakistan were marked by "communication breakdowns," as allied officers were not able to contact their Pakistani counterparts about the operation until afterward. Pakistan on Monday denounced last week's helicopter air strikes as flouting the country's sovereignty, but the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in neighboring Afghanistan has insisted its troops had the right to defend themselves. "I don't know that I'd call it a disagreement but there are certainly discussions under way between our forces and the Pakistanis about this particular incident," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters. The talks were focused on "what were the communication breakdowns, what happened, what was supposed to happen," Lapan said. Procedures call for ISAF forces to contact Pakistani officers if coalition troops must cross the border, either before or during an operation, he said.

    But ISAF forces were not able to notify Pakistani officers about the helicopter strikes until after the operation, he said, without offering more details. "I think I can say that clearly in these instances things didn't occur in the way that they're supposed to. And that's what we're trying to get to," he said. ISAF, which is battling Taliban militants in Afghanistan, said in an earlier statement that the helicopters went after insurgents in Pakistan after an Afghan security forces' outpost in Khost province came under attack on Friday. The choppers fired on the militants, killing more than 30 insurgents, ISAF said, and two helicopters returned to the border area on Saturday and killed several more. The US military's presence in Afghanistan and its covert drone strikes in the border tribal belt are subject to fierce criticism and suspicion in Pakistan.

    The rare NATO cross-border attacks came amid a surge in drone strikes in the northwest, which is considered a safe haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked operatives. Pakistani security officials said Tuesday that Al-Qaeda's operational chief for Afghanistan and Pakistan had been killed in a US bombardment by an unmanned aircraft. Though Washington talks of taking the fight to Al-Qaeda, the US government does not openly discuss the drone bombing campaign, which is reportedly run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Pakistan also reportedly cooperates with the drone strikes.

    "He was head of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan," one official said. Locally, he was known as Abdul Razzaq, the official added.

    "He was in a Datsun pick-up. He was accompanied by three local people. Two of them were identified as Haji Niaz and Naimatullah. They were killed in a drone attack on September 25," the official said.

    Shortly after Saturday's attack, Pakistani officials reported four militants killed in a strike on a vehicle in Datta Khel village area near the town of Miranshah, but there had been no immediate word on their identities.

    On Tuesday, another US drone killed four more militants, destroying a rebel compound in Zeba village close to the Afghan border in the district of South Waziristan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

    The identities of the dead were not immediately clear.

    September has seen the highest number of suspected US drone attacks in a single month, surpassing the previous high of 12 in January, according to an AFP tally.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that the CIA had stepped up the attacks to try to foil a suspected terror plot against European targets, which was believed to target multiple countries, including Britain, France and Germany.

    Washington has branded Pakistan's northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which lies outside government control, a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

    "It seems the US has reinforced its intelligence gathering and capabilities in FATA and that is why we have seen more than 20 strikes (so far this month)," Pakistani security analyst and author Imtiaz Gul told AFP.

    "Al-Qaeda might be running out of senior experienced operational commanders in these strikes," Gul said.

    Although the US military does not as a rule confirm drone attacks, its armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy pilotless drones in the region.

    Around 1,140 people have been killed in around 140 drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, including a number of senior militants and Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
     
  8. sesha_maruthi27

    sesha_maruthi27 Senior Member Senior Member

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    The U.S. should declare a full scale war on Pakistani terrorists.:emot154:
     
  9. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    New Poll: Pakistanis Hate the Drones, Back Suicide Attacks on U.S. Troops | Danger Room | Wired.com

    [​IMG]

    The CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

    Only 16 percent of respondents to a new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes “accurately target militants.” Three times that number say they “largely kill civilians.”

    CIA director Leon Panetta, by contrast, has staunchly defended the drone program as meticulously targeting terrorists. In a war that depends heavily on perceptions, it’s a big discrepancy.

    There’s more bad news for Panetta and his boss in the White House. A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans. That comes as NATO accelerates incursions into Pakistan. Just this morning, it announced that a pursuit of insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province led to a U.S. helicopter shooting at the militants from Pakistani airspace. Enraged Pakistani officials responded by shutting down a critical NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

    Whatever NATO says, very few in the tribal regions are inclined to believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan and occasionally in Pakistan to fight terrorism. They think the U.S. is waging “larger war on Islam or… an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region.”

    On the brighter side, wide majorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas disapprove of al Qaeda (over three-quarters), the Pakistani Taliban (over two-thirds) and the Afghan Taliban (60 percent). There’s also strong support for the Pakistani army: almost 70 percent want the army to directly confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region; 79 percent say they wouldn’t mind if the tribal area were run by the army.

    Now for the qualifiers. Polling in the conflict-heavy tribal areas is a dicey proposition. A survey last year of the tribal areas published in the Daily Times found that almost two-thirds of respondents wanted the U.S. drone campaign to continue. So either support for the drones has bottomed out or there’s significant methodological discrepancies. The Pakistani firm that actually conducted the new poll of 1000 respondents across 120 FATA villages, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, has polled the area for years.

    Not everyone is convinced. During a trip to Pakistan this summer, Georgetown University’s Christine Fair, an influential defender of the drones, heard a lot of support for the drone strikes among her hosts. (Though one imagines that those willing to host Americans would probably be favorably inclined to the drones.) From her perspective, the opposition to what she’s termed the “most successful tool that the United States and Pakistan have” against militants is based on a “disinformation campaign” spread by terrorist sympathizers in the Pakistani intelligence services.

    Fair says she’s unsurprised by New America’s poll. “The biggest problem is that they fail to control for the proximity to the drone strikes,” she tells Danger Room. “That is, the farther from the actual point of impact [of the drones] the distrust and ignorance of the program expands, due to the prevailing propaganda.” The upshot from the poll, in Fair’s view, is to “impress upon [Pakistani intelligence] that the disinformation campaign needs to stop,” not to stop the drones.

    Indeed, stopping the drones is a remote possibility. As (possibly dubious) fears of a FATA-based plot to attack European cities expand within the intelligence community, September alone has seen 20+ unmanned attacks, making it the most drone-intense month of the war thus far. Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, revealed a behind-the-scenes decision late last year by the Obama administration to intensify aerial and even ground assaults on the extremist safe havens in Pakistan. It’ll take more than local outrage over the drones to get an administration fearing domestic terror attacks to place them back in their hangars.

    Photo: USAF
     
  10. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    War, and another peace plan
    By Syed Saleem Shahazad

    ISLAMABAD - As peace overtures with the indigenous Afghan resistance move forward, the United States is stepping up efforts to eliminate al-Qaeda and other foreign militants.

    In what could be a severe blow to al-Qaeda, Sheikh Fateh al-Misri, its chief commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is reported to have been killed at the weekend in a drone strike in Pakistan. The Egyptian Misri, previously not a member of al-Qaeda, in May replaced Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was also killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal area. [1]

    The development coincides with Washington impressing on all key players in South and Central Asia to combine efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. The groundwork has already been laid for the US to negotiate with the Taliban, with the Pakistani military and Saudi Arabia acting as go-betweens.

    However, Taliban sources in the southern regions of Pakistan confirmed to Asia Times Online that while different Taliban groups had been approached, the Americans would prefer to talk to one of the major anti-US forces in Afghanistan, the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by former Afghan premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The HIA is likely to strike a deal with the Americans before the Taliban, and notably HIA fighters showed no hostility during this month's parliamentary elections in the areas they control in Kunar, Nuristan, Baghlan, Qunduz and Kapisa provinces.

    Talking to Asia Times Online from Los Angeles on phone, Hekmatyar's main negotiator with the Americans, Daoud Abedi, confirmed that in the ongoing backchannel negotiations, Washington is leaning towards the HIA, the reason being that the HIA's plans for Afghanistan are considered more practical than those of the Taliban. The Taliban are insistent on the revival of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan, which crumbled following the US-led invasion of late 2001. The Taliban do, however, agree to give representation in government to "clean" people of other groups.

    "At the moment, the HIA's peace plan, which we presented to the Afghan government early this year, is now the central focus at all relevant forums," Abedi said.

    Abedi was invited by the White House-appointed Afghanistan Study Group and the Center for International Strategic Studies to give a detailed presentation of the HIA's plan on September 17 in Washington. The plan, "Mesaq Milli Nejat" (Afghanistan Rescue National Agreement) covers internal and external issues [2].

    The plan calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and a subsequent commitment to expel foreign militants. The draft does not aim to immediately dissolve the government or the presidential parliamentary system. However, it aim is that once foreign forces leave, fresh elections will be held at all levels and power should be transferred accordingly.

    "At the moment, the Americans don't want to make public their viewpoint on this proposed agreement as the [November] mid-term American elections are near. They want to form their opinion next year," Abedi said.

    In the Taliban camp, the activity in the HIA camp is viewed as a bid to divide the resistance.

    In parallel with the peace efforts, the top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, is stepping up the battle, with gunship helicopters this week crossing into Pakistani territory to kill about 50 insurgents. Petraeus has also established an extensive intelligence network in the tribal region. This led to the extremely reclusive Fateh being pinpointed and then eliminated.

    According to an American official who spoke to Asia Times Online, peace agreements will slow down the war antics of the insurgents. If the US succeeds in getting a complete ceasefire, that would be good. Alternatively, partial peace agreements would provide breathing space before next summer and increase the pressure on the Taliban to come to terms.
     
  11. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    At this rate, I think that once the Afghanistan evacuation plan is complete, US is thinking of moving into Pakistan. Diego Garcia is pretty close and Pakistan is the red light attention point of the world right now.
     
  12. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Occupying Pakistan is something USA cannot afford.Best option for USA will be to nuke Pakistan . They may use Nukes which are made in China and stored in Pakistan. Pakistan has nothing to offer to USA except its geographical location. Best option is "Na rahanga Baans Na bajegi Bansuri " Meaning if there is no Bamboo there wont be any flute.
     
  13. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    i think us policy makers are foolest in this word . once HIA comes in Afghanistan Taliban would come to power by backdoor entry. may be democracy biggest tool i.e elections would be used to legitimize their entry in Afghanistan government and then we should be ready for another 90`s like situation in Kashmir as i thunk current unrest would be used as FOUNDING STONE for terrorist attacks. current mis-guided can be easily used as terrorist for carrying out deadly acts.And then a full-fledge war as current posturing by Pakistan government indicates.

    i think its high time we should be alert as well prepared for war at 2 fronts. And should stop to have any diplomatic ties exchanges form pakistan. as we can see how low-it has went at UN summit
     
  14. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Pakistani tribesmen protest against US drone strikes

    Tribesmen in Pakistan's most notorious militant stronghold observed a shut-down Thursday to protest against a major surge in US drone attacks, witnesses and elders said.

    "We are protesting against the drone attacks. Americans are killing innocent civilians but the government has completely failed to protect us," Malik Jalal, a tribal elder and one of the strike organisers told AFP.

    Shops, markets and bazaars closed in the four main towns of North Waziristan on Thursday, including the district capital Miranshah, an AFP reporter said.

    Pakistani officials have reported that at least 21 US drone attacks have killed around 120 people in September, the highest monthly tally of attacks.

    The overwhelming majority of the attacks have been carried out in North Waziristan, considered Pakistan's most notorious bastion of Al-Qaeda-linked and Taliban commanders opposed to the US-led war in Afghanistan.

    Most of the strikes have targeted the Haqqani network, one of the strongest US foes in Afghanistan whose leadership is based in North Waziristan.

    But local tribesmen claimed the US missiles were killing civilians.

    "They are attacking civilians, they are killing women, children and old-age people," Jalal told AFP.

    "The government should take immediate steps to stop drone attacks otherwise it should resign," said former lawmaker Maulana Mohammad Deendar.

    Washington has classified Pakistan's tribal belt on the Afghan border as a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

    A covert US drone war in Pakistan has killed around 1,140 people in about 140 strikes since August 2008, including a number of senior militants, but the attacks fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

    Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens, Pakistan has stepped up military operations against largely homegrown militants in the area.

    But commanders have so far avoided a major offensive in North Waziristan, arguing that gains elsewhere need to be consolidated to prevent their troops from being stretched too thin.
     

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