February 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

KOHAT: Militants fired two rockets at a security forces’ post in the mountains of Bostikhel in Darra Adamkhel on Sunday. Sources said that the rockets were fired from an unknown direction but no human or material losses were caused. 

In retaliation, security forces also fired with heavy artillery at the hideouts of militants, but there was no word about any losses suffered by them. Our correspondent adds from Parachinar: A man was killed and another sustained injuries in a roadside blast in Taida village in Kurram Agency on Sunday, tribal sources said. 

The sources said the family of Wahab Ali, a member of the Hazara community in Parachinar, was on way from Taida village to Parachinar, the agency headquarters of Kurram Agency, when their vehicle hit an explosive device planted by militants on the roadside. Two persons identified as Hamid Hussain and Sadiq Ali sustained injuries in the explosion. They were rushed to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar where Hamid Hussain succumbed to injuries.





Pakistan Observer

War and Peace

Yahya Ahmad
Sunday, February 27, 2011, Rabbi-ul-Awwal 23, 1432

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” George Bernard Shaw. Pakistani authorities for the last ten years have been fighting pitched battles against terrorist and militant outfits in North-West Pakistan. At least 3300 security forces personnel have laid down their lives since 2003. The terrorists have been utilizing guerilla tactics of inflicting losses, while trying to avoid a prolonged and direct confrontation. It is expected that, The Sate of Pakistan should now be well aware of the effectiveness of the peace accords that have taken place on numerous occasions, with these outfits. Judging from history, it is quite evident that these outfits have used these interim periods of peace, to recuperate and later strike whenever they have regained their capabilities. 

The examples are present in the peace accord of Swat and various truce agreements carried out in the Tribal Areas. The militants have always used these truce agreements to buy time, for preparing themselves for a stronger confrontation. The installation of parallel government and judicial system has been a norm for these militant groups. The summary judgments carried out by kangaroo courts, the harassment and killings of government supporters are how these elements exert their authority. With the success of military operations in the areas of Swat and South Waziristan, it is a verified assumption that peace, stability and prosperity cannot be reached unless the violent and subversive elements are not removed.

The breaking of sectarian violence in Upper and Lower Kurram regions in November 2007, engulfed Parachinar and the Peshawar-Parachinar road has been closed since then. According to some estimates, 2,000 people have died and more have fled their homes after clashes between the rival tribes, intensified. The Taliban have been widely known and condemned for inflaming and taking part in this violence. Recently, a truce has been reached among the warring tribes, which has been welcomed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is understandable that the peace in the area after three-four years of fighting is an encouraging step, especially for the local people. But the question is; can these banned outfits such as TTP be trusted for holding on to such a truce. The tacit approval which has been given by the state, points to the disturbing fact that there are still some vocal voices present in the policy circles, who still consider that these elements can be negotiated with. It should be pointed to them, that the TTP has not only been the part but the instigator of violence in the area. 

While peace is being restored in one part of the Tribal Area, the events, have taken a turn in Mohmand Agency. The operation against militant outfits in Mohmand Agency seems to be intensifying. According to the UN, up to 22000 people have already fled the area, while this number could rise to an estimated 90,000, by the end of February. This again is turning into an exodus and a humanitarian crisis for the country. A necessary evil, if terrorism is to be defeated in those areas. But it has to be followed up with a rehabilitation effort on war footings, a scale somewhat similar to the rehabilitation that, has taken place after Swat operation. It is imperative, that even if a truce agreement is reached, the terms should not be undermining the government’s role in the area. The state apparatus should also keep a proper check on these groups and monitor their activities, while the agreement is in place. The government on the other hand, should use this time to establish their writ in the area.

The state should make effective strategies for a public outreach and also concentrate on the developmental projects in the area. Previously, these kinds of agreements have gone up in smoke because, these outfits gained unchecked strength and influence in the area and resultantly they shifted their goal posts, demanding more each time. They have also used these time periods, to exert their authority and establish a parallel government in the areas, based on their ideological perceptions. Providing the locals, with security for their lives and property, will boost their confidence. Taking the locals into confidence by the state is crucial for the implementation such agreements, in the spirit. The locals are the ones directly affected by the conflict and with the knowledge that the state has not left them on the mercy of these outfits, they will put their firm support behind the government.







No end to attacks in Kurram

From The Newspaper Today

KOHAT, Feb 25: The local military fort has become a temporary shelter for people of Tora Ghundi and Tora Warai parts of Hangu, which have been turned into a battleground due to regular skirmishes between the troops and guerilla militants since 2006.

The militants had been attacking the region for several years now to regain control of the strategic region and expel the armed forces from Orakzai Agency and Kurram Agency, a local elder Inayatullah told Dawn on Thursday.

A couple of days ago five tribal children were killed and eleven others seriously injured when one of the six missiles fired at a security checkpost by militants hit a house in Tora Ghundi area.

According to the army publicity wing, militants fired seven rockets from the nearby mountains at a security checkpost in Tora Warai on Thursday. It said that the troops retaliated with artillery fire.

Officials said that the rockets were fired from an unknown side and they could not judge whether they had been launched from the mountains of Kurram Agency or Orakzai Agency. They said that the militants had increased attacks at the checkposts in the area. — Correspondent





Daily Times


Troops kill 10 terrorists in Kurram Agency


Thursday, February 24, 2011


PESHAWAR: At least ten terrorists were killed and several others were wounded on Wednesday as security forces targeted terrorists’ hideouts in parts of the Kurram Agency, a security official said. The security forces backed by gunship helicopters launched operation in two areas of Kurram Agency. Security sources pounded suspected terrorist hideouts. At least ten terrorists were killed and several were reportedly wounded and two terrorist hideouts and a vehicle were destroyed in the operation. app


SOURCE: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C02%5C24%5Cstory_24-2-2011_pg7_7


Thursday, February 24, 2011

COMMENT: Kurram: sacrificed at the global jihad altar —Dr Mohammad Taqi

While the Pakistani media went hoarse over Raymond Davis, it conveniently ignored several other foreign thugs of the tallest order, operating with impunity inside Pakistan

As the world at large focused on events in the Arab world and Pakistanis remained preoccupied with CIA contractor Raymond Davis, a jirga composed ostensibly of tribal elders from Kurram Agency announced on February 3, 2011 a ‘peace’ accord between Shias and Sunnis in Parachinar, the headquarters of the Kurram Agency.

However, a closer look at the players involved in brokering the deal shows that what appears, prima facie, as a welcome solution to years of deadly impasse, is nothing but the Pakistani establishment’s attempt to roll out its own version of the end game in Afghanistan. Never mind the jihadist history of reneging on deals, but without actually addressing the grievances of the Sunnis displaced from Parachinar or the Shias dislodged from Sadda, Jalamai and Chardewal — let alone restitution for the thousands killed and maimed on both sides — the deal is bound to end in failure. A senior Pashtun leader, Abdul Lateef Afridi, speaking to this writer, stated: “While the opening of roads is a welcome sign, unless the establishment changes its policy towards Afghanistan, the Kurram deal spells more trouble for the region…an agreement under the auspices of the Pakistani Pashtun elders may be the only route forward but, unfortunately, none of them were consulted.”

The Kurram Agency’s geo-strategic importance, with its proximity to the Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan on one hand and North Waziristan (NW) and Orakzai Agencies on the other, is well established. A neutral Kurram is imperative for the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) to stymie the influx of jihadists from this region into Afghanistan. Conversely, any sustained Taliban intervention into Afghanistan from the Pakistani side requires open access through upper Kurram. The contiguity of lower and central Kurram to NW and Orakzai can allow jihadists easy transit into Afghanistan. The northeast reaches of upper Kurram, adjoining the Tirah valley and the Tora Bora complex in the Spin Ghar mountain make for a retreat and retraction route for the jihadists — a conduit used to the fullest benefit by al Qaeda in 2001.

Pakistan has resisted US pressure to take action against the jihadists, especially of the Haqqani network, holed up in NW. However, with the July 2011 date for the start of the US drawdown from Afghanistan looming, the US demand has become urgent. The establishment remains convinced, however, that the US will leave Afghanistan sooner rather than later and therefore hedges its bets for the Kabul throne through its jihadist assets like the Haqqani network. The de facto leader of the network, Sirajuddin, has even been tipped as Pakistan’s choice for Mullah Omar’s eventual replacement. These assets, therefore, had to be moved to safe havens that could also double as bridgeheads, and Kurram fits that bill.

However, the Turi and Bangash tribes of Kurram refused to play ball with the agencies and their jihadist proxies, with whom they have significant religious doctrinal differences. An armed resistance by the Kurram tribes effectively denied the al Qaeda-Taliban a thoroughfare into Afghanistan, something that directly drew the wrath of Rawalpindi. The deep state then worked overtime to manufacture a sectarian crisis in Kurram in April 2007.

When attempts to gain a foothold in Parachinar failed, the establishment allowed a siege of upper Kurram by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their al Qaeda overlords, blockading the Tal-Parachinar road. A humanitarian crisis in upper Kurram was averted only through the efforts of several Pashtun elders, who helped secure the long and arduous Parachinar-Khost-Gardez-Kabul-Peshawar route as an alternative. Cessna flights to Parachinar operated by the Peshawar Flying Club, though very expensive, were an added relief line. The reprieve thus gained by the Turis and Bangash of upper Kurram reinforced their resolve to fight on and continue denying sanctuary and conduit to the jihadists.

Watching the keystone of its plan for post-US Afghanistan unravelled by the ragtag Kurramis, the establishment decided, in the words of one Colonel Sajjad, to “teach the Turis a lesson”. In September 2010, Colonel Tausif Akhtar of the Pakistani security forces announced closure of five border entry points to “clamp down on sectarian violence”. The Kurramis were thus squished between the hammer and anvil of a state-sponsored double embargo. The state also interrupted the small aircraft sorties from Peshawar. The isolation of upper Kurram was now complete. Having pushed them against the wall, the establishment felt that the Kurramis might be amenable to a settlement.

While the Pakistani media went hoarse over Raymond Davis, it conveniently ignored several other foreign thugs of the tallest order, operating with impunity inside Pakistan. The media has portrayed a TTP commander, Fazl-e-Saeed of Uchat village (lower Kurram), as the guarantor of the Kurram deal. The fact, however, is that the Pakistani establishment imposed Khalil Haqqani (an uncle of Sirajuddin Haqqani) as an arbiter, as early as October 2010 (as noted then in this column). Khalil Haqqani was the most influential jihadist involved in getting the February 3 deal off the ground.

The irony is that while Pakistani intelligence services and that drama queen of a foreign minister were wailing about a CIA man running amok in Lahore, Khalil Haqqani was conducting a jirga a stone’s throw away from Islamabad in Bhara Kahu, where he reportedly maintains a business concern. These meetings were attended by some six Shia Kurramis, including Haji Aun Ali, Laiq Hussain, Captain Yousaf, Councillor Iqbal Hussain and MNA Sajid Turi. MNA Munir Orakzai and Senator Rashid Ahmed were among the eight Sunnis representing lower and central Kurram. Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, reportedly, also attended the meetings with Khalil Haqqani — a man declared a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’ by the US earlier this month.

The Haqqani network has freely used the Pir Qayyum, Sateen and Shasho camp (an old hub of Rasul Sayyaf in the 1980s) areas of lower Kurram but really needed open access to its bases in Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga in upper Kurram to launch attacks into Afghanistan in the upcoming summer fighting. By coercing the Kurramis into accepting the writ of the Haqqani network, the Pakistani establishment has cast its lot with the jihadists.

It remains to be seen if this strategy to use upper Kurram against the US will work. But for now the deep state has sacrificed Kurram at the altar of global jihad.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com


SOURCE: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011%5C02%5C24%5Cstory_24-2-2011_pg3_2


Pakistan Observer

Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Rabbi-ul-Awwal 19, 1432

Tree plantation campaign starts in Kurram Agency

Parachinar—The spring tree plantation campaign 2011 has been started in Kurram Agency and samplings of different species were dispatched to farmers, educational organizations and other stakeholders to make the agency lush green. Syed Musadique Shah, Political Agent Khurram Agency inaugurated the plantation campaign by planting a sampling of Deodar at his office’s premises on Tuesday.

Speaking on the occasion, the agency’s top administrator said forestry resources are playing key role in socio-economic development of people and issue of desertification, climatic change and soil erosion could be addressed by planting maximum samplings. Local communities are being encouraged through their respective village/tribes developmental committees (VDCs) to help carry out most of the planting, while individual farmers will be facilitated on their farms and fields.

He urged tribesmen to sow maximum samplings of different species in their lands/farms to make Kurram Agency lush green. The Political Agent directed the Forest Department to sow maximum plantation at Toothgar Dam to ward off the affects of soil erosion and will protect land from soil. DFO Nisar Muhammad and SDFO Hazrat Mir said that Kurram Agency has been divided in Central, Lower and Upper Kurram Agency and fit planting stocks have been sent to the stakeholders for plantation.

The saplings of different species would be planted with the assistance of education institutions, armed forces, NGOs and civil society to boost forest resources in Kurram Agency. The saplings are being sent to government departments, farmers and NGOs to achieve the target also, they added. They urged stakeholders to contact with Forest Department for provision of samplings.

The Comsats Institute of Information and Technology (CIIT) launched an extensive drive for spring tree plantation here Tuesday. Rector CIIT Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi inaugurated the campaign by planting a sapling. Addressing to the gathering he said trees provided pollution free environment so it was necessary to ensure maximum growth of trees for better environment. The director CIIT Dr. Sherzada said 2500 trees would be planted during the campaign. He said funds of Rs 472 million had approved for construction of new building of the campus over the area of 300 kanals. Later students of CIIT Attock planted trees in different areas of the campus.—APP





Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HANGU: Six people including three minors and two women were killed and 10 others sustained injuries Tuesday when suspected militants fired rockets from central tehsil of Kurram Agency at the troops’ checkpoint in Torghundai village in Hangu district, local sources said.

The sources said the militants fired six rockets at the security forces checkpoint. One rocket hit the checkpoint of the forces set up inside the Government Primary School, while others struck houses of Hameed Gul and Sakhi Marjan in Torghundai village.

Six houses were damaged in the attack while three kids including eight-year old Fayyaz, Adnan aged 3, and Umar, 6, sons of one Abidur Rehman were killed on the spot. Two women — Asma wife of Sharif and Romana Bibi daughter of Munir Gul — were also killed in the incident, the sources added. 

The sources said another villager, Ilyas, was also killed in the incident. The wounded included Hameed Gul, Irfan, Abidur Rehman, Zubair, Noor Jahan, Nazia Bibi, Noreena Bibi and security forces personnel Hafiz Sajid.

There were unconfirmed reports that security forces retaliated by targeting the hideouts of militants in central tehsil of Kurram Agency with heavy artillery for more than an hour. Sources said eight militants were killed in the shelling and two of their hideouts destroyed. However, the claim could not be verified from independent sources







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