Kurram Agency


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Protest by Kurramites

Posted on June 4, 2011
F.P. Islamabad Office
ISLAMABAD: Despite teargas shelling and baton charge by the ICT Police, hundreds of youth belonging to Kurram Agency Friday managed to reach the Prime Minister Secretariat Chowk and block the crossing for hours by staging protest sit-in for acceptance of their  demands during the Budget session of the National Assembly.  Hundreds of Kurramites assembled outside National Press Club and staged a protest rally to condemn the intentional ignorance by the government in lifting the siege of the area by Taliban and to open Parachinar-Peshawar Road.

 

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Daily Times
Saturday, June 04, 2011
ANALYSIS: Military operation in North Waziristan? —Farhat Taj

The very fact that the operation has been announced prior to its commencement indicates that the generals are not serious in eliminating the Taliban

Conflicting reports are being seen in the media these days regarding a military operation against militants based in North Waziristan, under US pressure. One report even informs that the authorities have quietly asked aid agencies in Pakistan to be prepared for an influx of thousands of IDPs from North Waziristan in the event of an operation. Then the media reported on June 1, 2011 that no decision regarding a military operation in North Waziristan had been taken by the military and the government of Pakistan. 

North Waziristan is a stronghold of al Qaeda-linked militants from all over the world. One Mehsud tribesman described the ethnic diversity of the terrorists in these words: “They (the terrorists) are people with blue, green, brown and black eyes.” From Waziristan they plan attacks all over the world, on anti-Taliban forces inside Pakistan and the security forces of the country. The militants have overpowered the tribes. The Pakistani state has abandoned the area to global terror networks, including the pro-military establishment militant groups, the Haqqani network and the Gul Bahadur Taliban. The area has been a target of most US drone attacks. There has to be a targeted military operation in the area to release the tribes from terror, restore the writ of the state and to eliminate the bases of global terrorism. 

Before the operation, a strategic shift has come in the security paradigm of Pakistan. The strategic depth that seeks to impose a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan through jihadi adventures has to be given up. There is nothing in the national scene that suggests so. Parliament has surrendered to the generals in the aftermath of bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad by the US and its joint resolution is no more than, in the words of human rights activist Asma Jahangir, “a toilet paper” that fails to demonstrate control over the security establishment that has landed the country in the jihadi mess. The PPP-led government has no political will to assert itself and, in the words of journalist Jugnu Mohsin, is “laying like a dead body” in front of the generals, who are running the security show like a mafia. The generals’ obsession with strategic depth has not disappeared. The pro-military establishment journalists, who dominate the Pakistani media, are spreading conspiracy theories implicating the US, India and Israel in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. 

A military operation in such a context will be just like the previous operations in FATA — useless, devastating for civilians and the Taliban safely relocated elsewhere. In previous operations in FATA, no leading Taliban commanders were killed or their networks disrupted but thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers of the army and FC were killed, properties worth millions of dollars destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced from the region. The generals seem to accept all this as ‘collateral damage’ in pursuit of state ‘interest’ that only they have a right to define, not the ‘bloody civilians’. 

In 2007, the Waziri tribesmen in South Waziristan clashed with the Uzbek terrorists in the area. Pakistan Army weapons were freely used against the Uzbeks. And yet, instead of killing all the Uzbeks with the help of the Waziri tribe, they were allowed by the military to flee to North Waziristan. In other words, the Uzbek terrorists were pushed into the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network so that their terror energies could be directed towards the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

The very fact that the operation has been announced prior to its commencement indicates that the generals are not serious in eliminating the Taliban. Quoting “highly placed sources”, news reports even disclosed the strategy of the military operation, i.e. the Pakistan air force would start the operation through aerial bombardment to ‘soften’ the militant targets, and would then be followed by a ground offensive. Is this a signal to the North Waziristan-based Taliban and al Qaeda to relocate elsewhere before the operation? The previous operations in FATA were announced before their commencement and, consequently, the terrorists relocated to areas outside the ambit of the operations. 

People in FATA wonder why the security forces of Pakistan cannot launch operations unannounced against the Taliban. Why is it so important to announce the operations before they are launched? The Pakistan Army launched sudden and unannounced assaults on Indian positions in Kargil. Even the Indians were taken aback. In the initial phase of the war, the Indians suffered great casualties. Why can similar unannounced and prompt assaults not be carried out against the Taliban in FATA by the security forces of Pakistan? It is thus no wonder that the tribesmen doubt the intentions of the authorities to combat the Taliban. 

Negotiations under the auspices of the ISI were already underway in 2010 with the tribal leaders of Kurram to relocate the Haqqani Taliban to the Kurram Agency. The Haqqani Taliban, part of al Qaeda’s global terror syndicate and close to the Pakistani generals, might have been relocated to Kurram or elsewhere. Leading Haqqani family members live in the big urban centres of Pakistan. They cannot do so without the consent of the military authorities. 

Siraj Haqqani, the operational commander of the Haqqani network, is one of the terrorist leaders wanted by the US and the country has recently asked Pakistan to provide intelligence about his whereabouts to capture or kill him. Will he be handed over to the Americans? Will Hafiz Gul Bahadur, another North Waziristan-based Taliban leader close to the military establishment, be arrested or killed? Only time will tell. Any future military operation will be fake unless all the Taliban are assaulted without ‘good’ or ‘bad’ distinction, including the Haqqani Taliban. 

Pakistan’s jihadi proxies for strategic depth in Afghanistan have become part and parcel of the global terror syndicate led by Arab terrorists. They are part of the terror threat to global peace and are killers of the FATA people as well as other Pakistanis. Pakistan’s allies in the war on terror should reject any military operation in North Waziristan as elsewhere in FATA before the generals give up their idea of strategic depth in Afghanistan via jihadi proxies. In the meanwhile, the US drone attacks must continue on terrorist positions in Waziristan.

The writer is a PhD Research Fellow with the University of Oslo and currently writing a book, Taliban and Anti-Taliban

 

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Operation in Kurram Agency an option to make peace: Army

KURRAM AGENCY: Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik Thursday warned the militants that the army could soon undertake a military operation against them in the agency.
Addressing to a grand tribal Jirga here at Kurram agency, Asif Yasin reiterated that the government was doing every effort to make peace in the region but a massive military operation was not out of question to purge the agency of terrorists.
He said the army action was an option to bring peace and stability in the tribal region.
Corp Commander assured the Jirga to take every possible action for release of abducted people of the agency.
He appealed the leaders of Jirga to play their role in maintaining peace in their area. Corp commander asked them to help security forces for elimination of terrorists from their region.

 

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Islamabad: A delegation of International Human Rights Association (HRA), Kurram Agency Chapter led by Ghazanfar Ali Mehdi called on Minister for Health Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada on Wednesday and discussed matters pertaining to law and order situation in the agency. 

They apprised the minister that there is acute shortage of food and essential medicine in the hospitals of Kurram Agency and demanded of the government to ensure supply of food items and essential medicines. They also demanded deployment of army to ensure peace and security in the area. They demanded opening of road between Peshawar and Parachanar, which is closed for the last four years.

The minister listened to their grievances patiently and assured that their problems would be brought to the notice of prime minister and other authorities concerned.
 

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Four more killed ahead of Kurram ceasefire

PARACHINAR, May 25: The warring tribes of Shia and Sunni sects agreed to ceasefire in violence-ravaged Baleshkhel area of upper Kurram tribal region on Wednesday.
However, four more persons were killed and 18 others received injuries in the area before announcement of ceasefire.
To bring an end to clashes in different areas of the agency, the elders of Turi and Bangash tribes during a meeting with the political authorities and FC officials in Parachinar agreed to take urgent steps for a truce and restoration of lasting peace in the volatile tribal region.
The elders of six tribes of Ahle Sunnat had already declared a unilateral ceasefire in Sadda tehsil a day earlier.
Anjum-i-Farooqia president Fazal Qadir Orakzai, Qari Taj Mohammad and Abdul Karim told journalists that they had directed their men to hold fire even if armed men of rival Turi and Bangash tribes continued targeting them.
The Turi and Bangash tribes made a formal announcement of ceasefire after talks with the government authorities. The leaders of Shia community, Haji Yousaf Turi and MNA Sajid Turi, demanded of the government to take effective measures to end hostility between the warring tribes.
They promised to cooperate with security forces and administration in bringing durable peace to the restive region. “The war is imposed on us as the rival tribes target our men and properties without any provocation,” they said.
They added that Kurram Agency could no more bear lawlessness and appropriate steps should be taken for exemplary peace in the region.
Political Agent Syed Musadiq Shah and FC officials welcomed the ceasefire by Turi and Bangash tribes and hoped the other side would also abide by the decision.
Later, a jirga led by MNA Sajid Turi left for Baleshkhel area to stop clashes by implementing the truce in letter and spirit. The FC personnel also started moving to Baleshkhel to take control of the area and ask warring tribes to vacate bunkers.
Before the ceasefire, four persons were killed and 10 others injured in Baleshkhel area. Eight members of Turi tribe were also injured in the clashes. The number of casualties reached to 26, including two militant commanders. The injuries were reported as 80 so far in the clashes started a few days ago.
Two persons were injured when a mortar shell fired by militants on populated area of Shalozan from hilltops hit a house. The wife of Zenath Bangash and another person sustained injuries in the attack. They were taken to a hospital in Parachinar in critical condition.
The educational institutions remained closed, affecting thousands of studnets in the region. The continued closure of Tall-Parachinar Road has also paralysed life in the restive region. The shortage of essential food items and life saving medicines has further aggravated the situation.

 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011
Four killed in Kurram clashes
By our correspondent
PARACHINAR: Four persons were killed and 18 others sustained injuries in fresh clashes between the Turi, Bangash and other tribes in Balishkhel in Kurram Agency on Wednesday, tribal sources said. The clashes that have assumed sectarian colour continued for the last six days. Four persons were killed and 18 were injured.

 

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The cost of Pakistan’s double game

BY DAUD KHATTAK, MAY 25, 2011     Share

The past week has witnessed major attacks on key Pakistani military and intelligence facilities by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group that for the past several years has fought an increasingly brutal and brash war in the heart of the Pakistani state. Yet while the attacks, and in particular the lengthy siege of the Mehran naval base in Karachi, have brought condemnation on the military for lax security procedures, few within Pakistan have openly questioned the state’s long-running dance with militant groups, many of whom cooperate closely while alternately working with and fighting Pakistan. But a string of events in the past few years have made the question of Pakistani support for – or allowance of – terrorist and militant groups unavoidable.
In the days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush’s remarks that nations would from then on be “with us or with the terrorists” and his direct threats to Pakistan to sever ties with militants forced then-military leader Pervez Musharraf to take a U-turn and begin targeting selected al-Qaeda and other militant leaders.
However, as the dust from the U.S. warning started settling down, truck-loads of Arab and Uzbek fighters and their Taliban facilitators from eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province and other parts of the country started traveling to and settling in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Through the payment of money along with various kinds of intimidation, those terrorists and their supporters won the loyalties and support, or simply the acquiescence, of the tribesmen, many of whom continue to suffer at the hands of their unwanted guests.
Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikesthat these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.
Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.
The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy.  Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.
Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.
For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.
And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan waskilled in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.
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One key problem in the Pakistan-U.S. relationship, particularly in the present situation, is that both countries are dependent on each other despite pursuing contrasting interests in Afghanistan and in South Asia. And to keep this marriage of convenience going, the U.S. will likely come out with some praise for Pakistani efforts, more than Sen. John Kerry did during his recent Islamabad trip, while Pakistan may launch some kind of sham military operation in North Waziristan and may kill or arrest some Haqqani, Taliban or al-Qaeda leaders just to brush aside the U.S. and international opinion about its support for the al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Just last week the Pakistani Army announced the arrest of a “senior Yemeni al-Qaeda operative” named Mohammed Ali Qasim, or Abu Suhaib al-Makki, in the teeming city of Karachi. While al-Makki’s place in the al-Qaeda hierarchy is in dispute, he was somehow able to live undisturbed in Pakistan for 10 years, only to be arrested just days after bin Laden’s death. Expect to see more “senior” leaders arrested or killed, whether in operations or drone strikes, in the coming weeks and months.
Meanwhile, the Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates, drawing covert support from some individuals in the intelligence apparatus, may carry out attacks in cities, on mosques, and even on military and government installations just to remind the world that the country is itself a victim of terrorism – just look for example to last week’s devastating suicide bombing in Charsadda on a paramilitary constabulary post, claimed by the TT
P, the attacks last week against the Saudi consulate and a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, or this week’s attacks against the Mehran base and yesterday’s attack on the police Criminal Investigations Department in Peshawar.
The Pakistani media does not and will not help ease the heightened tension between Pakistan and the United States. Heavily influenced by the security establishment, it presents an image of the society that is anti-American to the core. This image is simply not true, but instead originated from the handpicked anchorpersons of the private Pakistani TV channels, who run after interviews with Taliban commanders to increase their profiles, and some selected analysts and commentators, who present that picture of Pakistani society to the United States, constantly raising the specter of a Pakistan on the edge of a collapse into fundamentalism.
But instead of turning away from Pakistan, the United States must listen carefully to the demands of the Pakistani security and political establishment, while also plainly conveying their own. And instead of investing in the generals and politicians, the U.S. should focus its attentions more thoroughly on Pakistani society and its long-term economic and social needs that have nothing to do with the Taliban. It is the army and the government who always disappoint the United States, and it is the Pakistani people who always end up disappointed with the United States.
These are the simple but key steps that have to be taken. If not, instability will prevail in Afghanistan and terrorist safe havens will survive in the tribal areas. Innocent people in all parts of Pakistan will continue to fall prey to the Taliban and other jihadist groups, and the eventual U.S. withdrawal from and the hastily arranged peace deal in Afghanistan will not alleviate the situation. But no change can take place unless President Obama and the world revive Bush’s ultimatum, and tell Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership that they are either “with us or with the terrorists.”
Daud Khattak is a journalist working with RFE/RL’s Pashto language Mashaal Radio in Prague.

 

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