All of Pakistan becoming warzone


May 29, 2009
Peter Goodspeed: All of Pakistan becoming warzone

As Pakistani troops battled on Monday for control of the small South Waziristan town of Kotkai, the hometown of the Pakistani Taliban's two top leaders, suicide bombers walked into the heart of the University of Islamabad and blew themselves up, killing seven people and wounding 26 others.

Within hours, Qari Hussain, the man responsible for recruiting and training the Taliban's suicide bombers, laid claim to the attack in a telephone call to the BBC and said his organization now considers all Pakistan to be a war zone.

Four days into the main military offensive of Operation Rah-e-Nijat (the Path to Salvation) and Pakistan is bracing for more bloodshed. There is a clear possibility the country could plunge into civil war.

Yesterday's near-simultaneous bombings outside a packed women's cafeteria and at the Islamic law faculty were the seventh major terrorist attack in Pakistan in just two weeks.

Recent suicide bombings in Peshawar, Shangla, Kohat and Islamabad, combined with full-blown military assaults on police targets in Lahore and Peshawar and the Pakistan Army's general headquarters in Rawalpindi, have dramatically picked up the pace of a terror campaign that appears increasingly to be co-ordinated between the Pakistani Taliban and Punjabi Islamist insurgents with links to al-Qaeda.

Rather than restricting their activities to the troubled tribal areas or to slinking across the border into Afghanistan, the Taliban are threatening to spread their fight into the heart of Pakistan.

Hours after yesterday's bombings, the southern province of Sindh closed all private and public schools for a week out of fear of further Taliban attacks.

Islamist terrorism has broken out of its boundaries in the tribal belt and become a national threat. Rather than staying to fight a full-blown war with the army in the hills and gullies of South Waziristan, Hakimullah Mehsud, head of Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan (TTP, the Pakistani Taliban), appears to have adopted a strategy of spreading chaos.

A guerrilla leader who sprang to prominence leading attacks on NATO's Afghan supply convoys in the Khyber Pass, he is now threatening to step up attacks on government services across Pakistan.

If the core of the TTP's leadership is not crushed quickly during the current military offensive, there will likely be a rash of suicide bombings, insurgent attacks and car bombings all over Pakistan.

Karachi, the country's commercial capital and home to nearly three million Pashtun tribesmen, could easily become a major terrorist target, the site of a bloody and brutal urban battle like post-war Baghdad.

The Pakistani Taliban have already shown signs they have learned the deadly trade secrets al-Qaeda employed so effectively in the Iraq insurgency. They are expanding their use of sophisticated explosives and suicide bombers with the intention of inflicting massive civilian casualties.

A stepped-up terror campaign will seek to drive a wedge between Pakistan's military and the fledgling and fractious civilian government.

It would also aim to sap public support for continuing to fight in the tribal belt.

The South Waziristan offensive is the military's fourth attempt since 2001 to crush rebels in the tribal areas. Three earlier operations bogged down in bloody fighting and ended with the government signing peace deals that ultimately allowed the Taliban to regroup, even expand their influence.

It is obvious the army has no intention of fighting a prolonged battle in South Waziristan. The 30,000 troops committed to Operation Rah-e-Nijat are nowhere near the 370,000 to 430,000 soldiers the New America Foundation says would be needed to hold the tribal areas and meet the minimum force-to-population ratios prescribed by traditional counter-insurgency doctrine.

By focusing its assault on the portion of South Waziristan occupied by the Mehsud clan, the military has already cut a non-aggression pact with other Pashtun tribal leaders who continue to send insurgents into Afghanistan to fight NATO troops.

Pakistan is only interested in crushing those elements of the Taliban that pose a direct domestic threat. The army in South Waziristan has agreed not to bother two rival Wazir tribal leaders, Maulvi Nazir and Gul Bahadur, in exchange for being allowed to move freely through their districts in North Waziristan.

That's bound to infuriate the United States and NATO countries who have been pressuring Islamabad to crack down on all Taliban who are destabilizing Afghanistan.

But Pakistan's generals, the original patrons of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are reluctant to renounce the group entirely.

They fear the United States and the West may suddenly abandon the region before Afghanistan is stabilized and want to retain enough influence with the Taliban to have a say in any final settlement.

"There is always a strategy to isolate your main target," Major General Athar Abbas, Pakistan's chief military spokesman, said yesterday as he described Pakistan's understanding with elements of the Taliban in North Waziristan.

"Sometimes we have to talk to the devil in this regard."

National Post


May 29, 2009
Pakistan suffers reverses in offensive against militants
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers Saeed Shah, Mcclatchy Newspapers
Tue Oct 20, 4:39 pm ET

DERA ISMAIL KHAN , Pakistan -- Taliban guerrillas recaptured the birthplace of the Pakistani Taliban leader from the Pakistani army Tuesday, inflicting the heaviest military losses so far in Pakistan's high-stakes offensive in South Waziristan , a refuge for Pakistani extremists, Afghan insurgents and al Qaida .

A government attempt to foment a tribal uprising against the Pakistani Taliban also failed Tuesday. In a meeting with the top Pakistani official for the tribal areas, elders of the area's Mehsud clan refused a request to form a traditional militia, known as a lashkar, to battle the Taliban who've taken over their territory.

Separately, two suicide bomb blasts at an Islamic university in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, killed six people and wounded at least 20. In response, many educational institutions, including all schools and colleges in the Punjab, the country's most heavily populated province, announced that they'd close.

The Pakistani offensive appears to be first serious operation against extremists in South Waziristan since 2004, when the military entered the area for the first time. Pakistan has thrown some 30,000 soldiers into the fight against an estimated 10,000 Taliban , plus some 1,500 foreign jihadists closely liked to al Qaida .

However, Kotkai, a town surrounded by high mountains in the Sararogha area of South Waziristan , remained in Taliban hands late Tuesday after Pakistani forces were beaten back on the fourth day of the ground operation in South Waziristan .
The town is the birthplace of Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban. The group's top trainer of suicide bombers, Qari Hussain , also comes from Kotkai, and he has a madrassa, or Islamic school, just outside the town in which hundreds of children and young men have been indoctrinated into suicide attacks.

Security officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to journalists, said that Pakistani troops had thrust into Kotkai only to be hit by a determined counteroffensive that killed seven soldiers, including an army major, and wounded seven more.

There was no official announcement about the Kotkai clash. In a statement, the army reported that four soldiers had been killed and three wounded Tuesday in South Waziristan , but those casualties were sustained elsewhere, bringing the total to 13 soldiers killed since the operation began Saturday. Twelve "terrorists" also were killed Tuesday, the army statement said, bringing the official total to 90.

"We gave them a really tough time in Kotkai," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq said, claiming that 40 to 45 soldiers had died in the battle:thumbs_thmbdn:. He said three militants were killed and four wounded in the Kotkai battle.

Meanwhile, Owais Ghani , the governor of the North West Frontier Province , who's in charge of the tribal area, which borders Afghanistan , called together Mehsud chiefs in the town of Tank on the edge of South Waziristan and asked them to join the fight.

In a letter dropped from a plane over the tribe's territory, Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani , described the Mehsuds as courageous, loyal Pakistanis and urged them to "rise collectively" against the militants.

"The ongoing operation by the Pakistani army is not aimed at the patriotic Mehsud tribes," he wrote. "Instead, the target is for the good riddance of the Mehsud tribes from the cruel clutches of terrorist elements who have ruined the law and order and peace of this area."

However, the Taliban have cemented their hold on South Waziristan by killing hundreds of traditional tribal leaders, and the tribal chiefs told Ghani that, "In the current hazardous situation, it is not possible for us to support you," an official who was present told McClatchy .


May 29, 2009
Few people argued that Karachi has adequate security and till date; hasn't seen severe brutalities of TTP. But the situation is even grievous in Karachi as TTP network is more stronger here then JeM/ LeT dominant Punjab. I am posting another interesting/worrying argument exposing TTP cultivation grounds in rich Karachi.

Why Taliban Won’t Disturb Karachi – by Sabrina TaverniseTaliban In Karachi.TTP In Karachi | PK on web

AUG 29: Taliban fighters have long used this city of 17 million as a place to regroup, smuggle weapons and even work seasonal jobs. But recently, they have discovered another way to make fast money: organized crime.

The police here say the Taliban, working with criminal groups, are using Mafia-style networks to kidnap, rob banks and extort, generating millions of dollars for the militant insurgency in northwestern Pakistan.

“There is overwhelming evidence that it’s an organized policy,” said Dost Ali Baloch, assistant inspector general of the Karachi police.

Jihadi-linked crime has surfaced in other Pakistani cities such as Lahore. But Karachi, the central nervous system of Pakistan’s economy, and home to its richest businessmen, is the hub. It has been free of the bombings that have tormented Pakistan’s other major cities this year, and some officials believe that is the result of a calculated strategy.

“This is where they come to hide, where they raise their finances,” said a counterterrorism official in Karachi. “They don’t want to disturb that.”

The danger is not of a Taliban takeover; Karachi is run by a powerful secular party that despises the Taliban — but of an urban sanctuary for financing and equipping the insurgency from this southern port.

These criminal syndicates helped drive kidnappings in Pakistan last year to their highest numbers in a decade, police said, and they have

also generated a spike in bank robberies. Eighty percent of bank heists are now believed to be related to the insurgency and other militant groups, authorities said.

“The Taliban are a group of thieves,” said a currency exchange owner who was robbed of nearly $2 million last year and who did not want to be identified for fear of further trouble. “If it were God, they’d steal from him, too.”

Pakistani counterterrorism officials say they believe that kidnapping for ransom may have been the single largest revenue source for the Taliban’s top commander in the country, Baitullah Mehsud, before he was killed this month in a U.S. drone strike. Last year, Mehsud’s network may have held as many as 70 hostages, said a Pakistani counterterrorism official who did not speak for attribution for reasons of protocol.

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